The 10 best outdoor board games in 2021

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Summer is here and that means meeting friends and family outside. Picnics and barbecues can be a great time to bring a new board game to the table or bring out an old classic to share. The trick is to find the right game for your audience – and your surroundings.

Here are our top 10 tips for board games to play outside this summer. They were all chosen for their size, portability, and durability. You can buy them all online or pick them up at your friendly local game store.

Photo: Next Move Games

One of the more attractive games on our list is called Azul. It is a competitive tiling game inspired by Moorish art found in the Portuguese palace in Évora. Inside the small, square box, you will find a number of brightly colored resin components that you will use to build mosaic patterns on the table. It is very easy to learn the rules, travels well and is not easily blown off the table. The 30-45-minute game offers space for 2-4 players, ages 8+.

Azul

Prices at the time of publication.

gloom is a hilarious card game where players battle to be the first to kill their fictional family members while keeping the loved ones of their opponents alive. All of the cards needed to play are made from clear plastic, making this the only game on our list that you can safely play in a pool, on the beach, or while lounging in the hot tub. If your group is excited about the game’s gritty comedy, there are tons of expansions to add to your collection as well. The 60-minute game offers space for 2-4 players, ages 8+.

gloom

Prices at the time of publication.

A Kingdomino game laid out on the table, the many numbered pieces of which are randomly arranged in stacks.

Photo: Blue-Orange Games

Tile laying game Kingdomino is a sturdy game that comes in a small package, making it perfect for traveling. There’s no need to blow away playing cards, and the tiles easily lay flat on a picnic table or blanket. The fast playtime makes it a hit with kids and new gamers alike. The game for 2-4 players only takes about 15 minutes and is suitable for ages 8 and up.

| Blue-orange

Kingdomino

Prices at the time of publication.

Kingdomino was the winner of the prestigious Board Game of the Year 2017.

A close up of the playing surface in Klask showing the wear and tear of the table from the striker's sliding.

Photo: Charlie Hall / Polygon

Not everyone at your summer get-together is going to be interested in board games, so this is where you can sneak in where they don’t expect. It’s called Klask, and it’s more or less a portable version of air hockey. It’s just the thing to put on a sturdy table next to the cornhole set. Just grab a pack of spares because if you lose those little white pucks in the grass, they’re gone forever.

This game is physically the largest on our list, but the sturdy box comes with a plastic handle. This 10-minute game for 2-4 players is suitable for ages 8 and up.

Klask

Prices at the time of publication.

Invented by a Danish father, Klask is a tabletop bar game that is cheaper, more convenient and more fun than air hockey. It’s easy to play around with with a beer in hand and food for a lot of trash talk.

Flick ’em up

Skill-based games are always a hit at parties, however Flick ’em up takes things to the next level. Players will use their fingers to hit pucks across the table to make their opponents fall. The classic western-themed version of the game is a hit, but you might want that Dead of winter– themed version for the zombie lover in your life. Just make sure you have a smooth, even surface to play on and you’re done. The game offers space for 2-10 players, ages 8+.

Two black dice with small green something inside.

Photo: banana gram

Whenever my family gets together, simple dice games like LCR invariably tend to come out of the wood. This summer I plan to confuse things with The furglars. What is a furgle, you might ask? It is a small green puffball with googly eyes that are wedged in a hollow plastic die. Roll the dice, grab these furry furgles and sell them for gold bars. It’s fast, family-friendly fun that fits in your pocket. The game for 2-6 players takes only 20 minutes and works with players aged 7 and over.

Santorini

A Santorini game in progress with miniatures and buildings protruding from a rocky plastic base.

Photo: Spinmaster Games

Modern board games tend to weigh heavily on the plastic miniatures, however Santorini increases the stakes with a range of ingenious, modular plastic buildings. Inspired by the picturesque Greek vacation spot, players compete to build the tallest buildings. The game board is on a raised platform, which further enhances the visual profile of the game on the table. Put it up at your next party and you’ll have people in no time. The 10-inch square box makes it reasonably portable, and the 20-minute playtime means everyone has a chance to try their own thing. Plays 2-4 years from 8 years.

Santorini

Prices at the time of publication.

Sonora is a self-contained “Flick and Write” game released in 2020. Players shoot colored targets across the field and then use the results to fill out their own individual scoresheet. The game’s small footprint and easy-to-learn mechanics make it accessible to everyone from 10 years of age. At family gatherings, consider teaming up a youngest player (to do the batting) with your oldest player (to take advantage of the hard-won bingo Strategy).

Sonora

Prices at the time of publication.

Built by game designer James Ernest and author Patrick Rothfuss, Tak is a small game that has a lot of power. It’s a stripped-down, abstract kind of chess with beautiful components and a tiny table surface. Learning the rules is pretty easy, especially with a good video tutorial. But developing offensive strategies and counterattacks is surprisingly satisfying. If you play a few games against an eager opponent, the hours will go by. Tak is a game for two players, ages 12 and up.

Tak

Prices at the time of publication.

No matter what setting, Telestrations is a fantastic game for any gathering. The party game mixes Portrait-Style drawing with the folk game phone. It uses dry-erase markers and laminated player booklets, which means you have everything you need for a good time in one little box. The base game seats up to eight players, but you can easily add a few sets to expand it. There are also Telestrations after dark, an adult-themed version when the kids are all in bed.



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