10 of the best new games according to geniuses at Mensa

Kick off your next game night with these Mensa-recommended board and card games.

Assorted board game piece and dice
Photo by Robert Coelho on Unsplash
  • Mensa members judge an annual competition to determine which games are the best on the market.
  • Hundreds of board, card, and party games are considered each year but only a select few can win.
  • These 10 top games are available to purchase and play right now.


Grabbing a controller and getting lost in an open world video game is amazing, but nothing beats a good old-fashioned board game night with family and friends. You'll find classics like Monopoly or Clue in every household, but there are new games hitting shelves all the time that are worth purchasing. To eliminate some of the guess work for gamers, members of the high-IQ association Mensa meet once a year to judge the best of the best. Making the list is an honor, but getting to play the games is the real win.

Each year Mensans consider hundreds of submissions across numerous genres during a multi-day event called Mind Games. Aesthetics, instructions, originality, play appeal and play value are the criteria that the judges consider when rating the new titles. The top five games are given a literal seal of approval and join the list of Mensa Select Games. Mensa members also choose worthwhile runners up for its Mensa Recommended Games list. Whether you're into whodunnits starring mischievous cats, or you're looking to play a game as a colorful invertebrate, there is something for everyone. Here are 10 games from the lists that you can add to cart and purchase right now.

Your job is to build landmarks for the King. Will you curry favor with the Crown, or will others slow your progress?

Set at the end of the Carolingian Empire, Architects of the West Kingdom is a 1-5 player tabletop game designed by Shem Phillips and SJ Macdonald, with art by Mihajlo Dimitrievski. The objective is to end the game with the most victory points, which are earned by building various structures and making progress on the Archbishop's Cathedral. Along the way, players must hire apprentices, collect materials, and make deals that advance their efforts, but the wrong decisions could prove detrimental. Architects of the West Kingdom was one of five Mensa Select winners for 2019.

Can your invention beat the competition at the Great Science Fair?

Designed by Phil Walker-Harding, Gizmos is a 2-4 player card game centered around building machines for the Great Science Fair. As you play, you use energy marbles to purchase new parts for your creation and amass victory points. What makes a great machine? You'll have to play this Mensa Select game to find out.

Have what it takes to grow a planet?

Designed by Urtis Šulinskas with art by Sabrina Miramon, Planet is a tile placement strategy game that gives players the power to cultivate a world from scratch. How the ecosystem is built (elements, regions, etc.) determines which animals can live there, which in turn earns cards for the world builder. The game is rated ages 8+, was designed for 2-4 players, and is a 2019 Mensa Select title.

Embrace your evil side to complete missions and cause destruction.

Wreak havoc across Europe while collecting parts for your weapons of destruction and sabotaging your fellow bad guys in "Victorian Masterminds." The Secret Service is on your tail, so don't get caught! Yet another Mensa Select winner, the game was designed by Antoine Bauza and Eric M. Lang, features art by Davide Tosello, and can be enjoyed by 2-4 masterminds at a time.

Clean up the space debris as fast as you can.

This fast-paced game challenges players to clean up space trash and keep it from cluttering up their planet. Included on 2019 Mensa recommended list, this family board game is designed for space cadets ages 6 and up.

How are your mind reading skills?

The better you are at predicting what others players are going to say, the more points you'll score. This Mensa-recommended game can accommodate up to 8 players so get a group together and bring your best words.

Identify the furry friend responsible for various living room crimes.

According to Amazon, over 50 million copies of Cat Crimes have already been sold. That's because everyone loves cats, even when they're criminals. With innocent names like Pip Squeak and Sassy, which of the 6 suspects will you choose? There are 40 crimes to solve, so you can bet that this single-player game will get a lot of use.

Cooperative games are great for bonding and learning to think strategically.

This strategy game asks players to work together to launch a rocket before the floating platform they are on is struck by lightning. It sounds very stressful but also super fun and challenging. C. B. Canga provided the art for this set, while Matt Leacock is credited as its designer.

Keep your trains chugging along as meteors fall and volcanos erupt around you.

Draw and connect train routes and exit points while avoiding natural disasters. Easy right? Railroad Ink: Blazing Red Edition is designed by Hjalmar Hach and Lorenzo Silva with art by Marta Tranquilli,

Become one with a coral reef.

The name tells you all that you need to know. In this abstract strategy game by designer Emerson Matsuuchi and artist Chris Quilliams, you are a living reef that can grow and change colors. If that's not enough to sell you, then maybe give the previously mentioned games a chance?

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