Best Board Games Trivia
Trivial Pursuit’s outdated corners have given trivia a bad name among gamers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are tons of trivia board games out there that offer more replay value, better balance and fairness, and game design that helps everyone stay engaged. At best, these are simple games of skill that anyone can enjoy. They also have the potential to be hilarious. And if you’re ok with attempting a higher complexity obstacle, you can get a strategy with your skill and slapstick.
In a market dominated by cheap copycat titles, finding the gems may be more difficult than the most difficult question of historical fact. So we’ve done the research for you. These are seven of the best trivia board games, ranging from devilish to funny to family friendly.
In a genre full of dull art and flat text, iKNOW’s slick minimalist aesthetic stands out a mile away. It is used to track the bets and guesses around which the game revolves. For a given question, you can choose to get more or fewer hints for less or more points respectively. Right away, you’re in for a puzzle about which security you want to mess with. Then the problems pile up as everyone bets on whether they think the others will be right or not before giving an answer that may – or may not – be a bluff. Between these elements, iKNOW rides an extraordinary mix of strategy, trickery, and trivia knowledge.
Speed and simplicity combine in this popular series of card ordering titles. You get a hand of cards showing historical events depending on the set: discoveries, for example, or the acclaimed set of inventions. Then the players take turns trying to get rid of the cards by putting them in the correct order when they happened. It’s a smart system because not many people memorize dates, but they can memorize photos and orders. It levels the playing field a bit and provides educational value. And with sessions that end in 15 minutes or less, Timelines lets you pack a lot of learning – and fun – into a small space.
Combining ideas from other games is a fertile furrow for design. But Anomia somehow derives a ton of fun from the unlikely combination of trivia and snap. Each player flips through a stack of cards, each with a quiz symbol and category, looking at each other as hawks. If two reveal the same symbol, it’s a mad rush to scream an example of the other’s category. The winner wins the card, revealing another symbol and another possible race. Though quick and simple, each map flip is a cauldron of tension as everyone waits to spot a match and get a head start on the ensuing sprint.
Balderdash expands the definition of a trivia game because it works best if players don’t know the answers. Each card asks players to define an obscure word, fill in a weird acronym, or make a guess similar to a bizarre query. For maximum hilarity, most are nonsense, like describing a movie plot from a title that happens to be on the talking feet of a businessman. Then a player reads all the guesses with the true answer and awards points to those who got the most wrong. It’s a heady cocktail of humour, skill and social deviation that rarely fails to please.
Intelligence and betting
Another game that relies on player ignorance, Wits and Wagers is as much about betting as it is about trivia. This blocks players with obscure stats, like asking the age of the oldest cat in the world. Everyone writes an answer, then bets on the guesses they think are closest. This adds basic math strategy to the mix, making it a party favorite with more hardcore amateur gamers. Tensions mount as the tokens fall ahead of the explosive reveal of the answer. Just like in the real game, you can win or lose huge sums in one round of Wits and Wagers, except you’re guaranteed to have fun instead of risking your life’s savings.
Mr. Lister’s Shootout Quiz
Instead of asking for a specific answer to a difficult question, Wild West quiz master Mr. Lister asks for many answers to easy questions. This makes the game stand out for family play: it’s inclusive and enjoyable for younger players. As such, it’s perfect holiday entertainment, complete with a rubber mustache to mimic the comedy. Fake mustaches are always fun. And there’s more talent under that mustache than meets the eye, because getting your answers in order can rob the other team of a scoring chance. Ties are broken with a “closest” estimate of a numerical question which, as a bonus, means the cards also work in Wits and Wagers.
Most Trivia games aim to surprise you, but Stay Cool’s mix of tasks and questions is as easy as pie. You might be asked for some simple math, the name of the game you’re playing, or even something personal like your maternal grandfather’s profession. So where is the stress, or even the game? Well, the catch is that you have to answer two questions at once, one verbally and the other by spelling out the answer on a set of custom dice. As the game progresses, it turns the screws, asking players to watch their own hourglass and then hide it, so answering trivia becomes anything but trivial.
You might recognize designer Richard Garfield’s name from his famous Magic: The Gathering trading card game. So when he thinks of a quiz, you’re going to sit up and notice. Her take on gender is a broad question with six answers, three right and three wrong. To advance, you just need to choose one of the good ones. What could be simpler ? Well, the lure of always going the extra mile by picking two or even all three correct answers, unless you get it wrong, you’re not going anywhere. It’s a game that challenges your confidence and reminds you that after hubris, the enemy tends to follow.
We all played a trivia game where an argument broke out over which was the really correct answer. Smart10 takes this to the next level by asking multiple-response questions, such as “which animals have gone extinct in the last 100 years” and providing ten answers. Other questions ask you to order answers, such as countries by geographic size. On your turn, you pass or choose an answer you think is fair to get a point and stay in the round with a chance to answer again. But in a neat sleight of hand, if you get the answer wrong and you’ll lose what you’ve accumulated that round, increasing the tension with each pass around the players.
When you think of quizzes, you tend to think of dinner parties. And while you can play Box One with a group over dinner, it’s really designed for solo play, just you and your trivial knowledge against the game. But it’s not just trivia: you’ll be challenged with a mix of general knowledge, word games and logic puzzles. It’s hard to say much more without spoilers, but if you’re a fan of escape rooms with loads of quiz questions, you’ll have a great time. It’s also resettable so you can play it again or pass it on to a friend.
Speaking of amateur gamers, one of the most eccentric designers in this scene is Friedemann Friese. This is his take on the trivia game, revamped from his previous game Fauna. Each round, players are given questions on a geographic topic. Let’s say it’s the longest urban bridge in the world, and they have to answer its length, location, and year of construction. They take turns placing cubes on the board indicating what they think is right. Friese games always have a twist, and this one is both simple and brilliant. You can win both by being good at a particular topic or by knowing who else at the table is good at a particular topic.
For more inspiration, check out our list of the best classic board games. Or, if you’re looking for ideas for a game night for the whole family, take a look at the best family board games.