Best 2000s board games: Which stood the test of time?

I’ve previously done 1980s and 1990s lists, and started my annual top 10s at 2009. So the completionist in me felt I had to do a ‘best 2000s board games’ list. But as you can imagine, there are way more contenders to choose between.

At Board Game Geek, the Top 20 games released between 2000-2009 are all in its top 150 of all time. And the first 100 are in the Top 500. I’d made a list of 15 favourites just from those. And ended up struggling to whittle down a list of 25, all of which get a mention below. Impressive for a set of games many of which are now 20 years old.

I’ll mention a few big-name contenders first (which made my 25, but not the final 10). Power Grid, Agricola and Puerto Rico are all deserved BGG Top 50 euro games I’d play any time. Dominion also deserves a mention, as it sits just outside the BGG Top 100, introduces the excellent deck-builder mechanism, and still sits on my shelves. While Pandemic put co-operative games firmly on the map. So if not them, what did make it?

The best 2000s board games: My top 10

The majority of these games are reviewed elsewhere on the site, so please click the links below for detailed reviews. And when you go pick any of them up, be sure to click through to Board Game Prices to help this site out. In no particular order:

Family games

Ticket to Ride (2-5 players, 60 mins, ages 8+): Still my go-to game for introducing new players to our hobby. A little long with five, especially with new players, but otherwise a flawless mix of set collection and route building with an accessible theme.

Thurn and Taxis (2-4, 60 mins, 10+): More transport-based card play and route building. But there’s a little more going on here and it can be a little more punishing. Some doubt its multi-award-winning credentials. But for me it’s still one of the best family games on the market.

Ingenious (2-4, 45 mins, 8+): My favourite Reina Knizia game. It’s an abstract tile placement/colour matching game that gets the mix of skill and randomness just right. It’s all about spotting the tipping point, where you move from point scoring to sealing the win.

Tumblin’ Dice (2-4, 30 mins, 5+): Darts with dice and added chaos. What’s not to like? Flick dice to land on multiplier spots. But four times one is still only four – so a six in a basic spot is better. But who cares? The fun is in trying to knock other people’s dice off the board

Gateway games

Stone Age (2-4 players, 90 mins, ages 10+): A fantastic introduction to worker placement, one of the main concepts in modern hobby board games. It’s colourful and approachable with relatively simple rules. While a dice-based luck element keeps things spicy if you want to ride the odds.

Maori (2-5,30 mins, 8+): A super elegant tile-laying game, which benefits from three difficulty levels when you want to ramp up the challenge. Simple rules and pretty components help make it approachable. And for me, it has more legs than Carcassonne.

Euro games

Race for the Galaxy (2-4, 30-60 mins, 12+): My number one game. A wonderfully complex engine-building card game that plays fast. So if you don’t get something going, you just play again. A mess of iconography makes it hard to learn, but it is totally worth the effort.

Brass: Lancashire (2-4, 60-120 mins, 14+): The original ‘Brass’, recently repackaged and renamed, is an unforgiving but fantastic strategy game. Plan your transportation routes and ship your goods through the romantic towns of Stockport, Rochdale and Runcorn. But forget the theme – this is passive euro-style interaction at its best.

Twilight Struggle (2 players, 2-3 hours, 14+): Arguably a war game, but the card play makes it feels more like a euro to me. Sure, it has cardboard chits and you play out a global conflict on a world map. But the game is all about clever card play and political influence.

Macao (2-4, 60-90 mins, 12+): Use dice to trigger cards, which you use to make a point and resources engine. There’s lots going on, and big risks can lead to complete disaster. Or glorious victory. Surely the way a game about trading in the 17th Century should be?

The best 2000s board games: Also worth a mention

I could comfortably done a top 10 just of family games, with Alhambra and Downfall of Pompeii only just missing the list. And silly Knizia dice game Pickomino is also a perennial favourite of mine.

It was also a great decade for small box card games. filler games such as Parade and Coloretto should be in every serious gamer’s collection. While set collector Archaeology: The Card Game is another of my favourite lighter offerings.

A few party games also need a mention. Dixit is still brilliant, if you have a group with strong imaginations (more for a dinner party than a raucous one). While Cards Against Humanity lives very much at the other end of the party scale. People are quite snobby about it. And it is crass. But I’ve had a couple of hilarious nights playing it after a few too many adult beverages.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to some lowlier titles in terms of BGG rating. Uptown, at 2,015, is a fantastic abstract tile placement game. Uruk, a long way further down at 3,686, is a clever, puzzley civ game in a single deck of cards. While my favourite sports game – Pizza Box Football – is even lower at 4,123. It’s not big or clever, but is a fun dice-chucker that manages to create surprisingly accurate American football scores. And I feel I need to mention the lowliest game on the list I own. At 8,061 comes set collection card game Im Auftrag des Konigs from the wonderful Adlung Spiele.

Online play?

Want to delve into some of these ‘old’ (eep) titles, without risking your hard-earned? Well, you’re in the luck with the below – try online before you buy at these web sites:

Board Game Arena: Agricola, Alhambra, Coloretto, Pandemic, Puerto Rico, Race for the Galaxy, Stone Age, Thurn & Taxis and Uptown.

Yucata: Downfall of Pompeii, Macao, Maori, Stone Age and Thurn & Taxis.

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