Clue (Hasbro)
Clue is the perfect game for creeps like me who like getting away with murder, and who also like tiny, dangerous objects, like a teeny candlestick and revolver, which would make really cute earrings if I ever felt crafty. I have an older set, which is way better, because the newer one swaps out classic characters for boring ones, like washed-up celebrities and video-game moguls. If you’re taking the time to play a board game, you don’t actually wanna be reminded of internet culture, you feel me? As you move your token around the board, you have to guess the suspect, weapon, and location of the crime, keeping track of your discoveries in your “Detective Notes.” I love playing as Miss Scarlet, the femme fatale. I also like to put on the movie while I play—Tim Curry is the butler, and it’s as good as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Anyway, I love killing people in a fictional way. —Arabelle

Operation (Hasbro)
Operation is terrifying. It is the stuff of nightmares. The board itself is an operating table, complete with a naked, horrified-looking patient whose insides are both exposed and electrified. Your job, as a player, is to carefully remove body parts from the patient using a set of tweezers, and without setting off the buzzer (his nose) by touching the sides of his open orifices. If you successfully remove a body part, you are paid for your services, but if you screw up, your opponent can try for twice the reward. I’ve never met anyone who actually played the game the proper way, so I’m not the most trustworthy source. What I can tell you is that it’s a game of steady hands. Honestly, crew? I had to dissect a rat in 10th grade and that haunts me far less than the face of Cavity Sam staring up at me while I tried to remove his funny bone. Although I must say that if you can pull off a “Cavity Sam” Halloween costume, you’ll probably be the hero at any party you go to. —Pixie

Apples to Apples (Mattel)
The first time my friends tried to get me to play Apples to Apples, I was skeptical: “I’m not playing some WHOLESOME game about apples!” But I was wrong. DEAD WRONG. Apples to Apples is B-A-N-A-N-A-S (hehe). An hour into it, I was convinced that my friends and I were subversive geniuses. The game is simple, and works best if you have six or more players. (But it gets a little unwieldy with more than 12.) There’s a deck of red cards and a deck of green cards. Each player draws seven red cards, which list a person, place, thing, action, or event, so you might draw: my high school prom, ear wax, lollipops, giving a hug, Chernobyl explosion, cleaning the bathroom, and Bill Murray. Each player takes a turn as the judge, and that person draws a green card. Green cards have adjectives on them, like clueless, fragrant, or relaxing. The judge puts the green card face-up on the table, and everyone has to quickly pick a red card from their hand that would be the most hilarious, witty, appropriate, or inappropriate match for the green card. This is super fun if you are playing with a group of friends, because you can tailor your moves to their sense of humor. Sick and twisted things will happen. Once, a fight erupted because one of my friends chose “atomic bombs” as the best match for addicting, and we had to put Apples to Apples on hiatus for a few months. If you are feeling extra creative, you can make your own red cards. One time, during a beach outing, I chose “my crotch” as the best match for sandy, ’CAUSE WE WERE AT THE BEACH, HAR HAR HAR. This game makes you think like a poet, enables you to make absurd, brilliant, and sometimes incredibly offensive connections, and basically serves like a gateway drug to inside jokes. GO PLAY IT NOW, YOU GENIUSES. —Jenny

Scene It? (Screenlife/Mattel)
If you’re a movie trivia fanatic, like the type that immediately pulls up the IMDb trivia for every movie RIGHT after you’ve seen it, which is me after every movie, then this is the game for you. The game’s rules are pretty straightforward: roll an eight-sided die to figure out what your challenge will be. These can range from a trivia question to a DVD challenge. DVD challenges are crazy. It could be a clip from Annie Hall, and the question could be anything from “What year was this movie released?” to something about the dialogue from the clip, so you have to pay SUPER CLOSE ATTENTION. Other DVD challenges are more abstract, like a movie poster that comes together like a puzzle, so you have to try and guess what it is before your opponents. I always know Kill Bill within one second, from only the yellow background (not that I’m bragging or anything). The worst part about this game is that when you play it with friends, people can never help wandering into the room and yelling out answers at the screen (“WAIT! OMG! BOOGIE NIGHTS!”), because people always want to prove how superior they are at movie trivia. The best part about this game is that there are genre-, movie-, and TV-specific editions, so you can get a Seinfeld-centric one, or The OC, or the ’80s. I’ve played this game so many times, and I’m STILL getting stumped. —Hazel

Balderdash (Mattel)
This is one of those games you either love or hate. I grew up playing it, so I looooove it, but it’s not always easy to find people who feel the same way. It’s a game of obscure words, and here’s how you play: one person in a group of at least four draws a card with rare words on it. That player (the leader) then rolls a die to figure out which word to give everyone. Let’s say it’s Skoptsy—the leader reads it out loud, and everyone else has to write either the definition, if they know it, or their best guess/fake definition. You pass your answers to the leader, who reads the definitions, including the actual one (in this case: self-castrators) in random order. The more people who choose your definition, the more points you get, so you want your invented definition to sound legit. Pros: If you’re good with words, this game makes sure everyone knows it (it’s really good to play with someone you have a crush on, because it’s like wearing a T-shirt that says GOD I’M WITTY). And you can make up filthy definitions if you get bored. Cons: Balderdash takes awhile. And it needs to be played by people who are honestly interested. It is also annoying to play with your father, who is a scientist, and can think up legit-sounding scientific definitions without even trying very hard. —Krista

Taboo (Hasbro)
A good game, like a good soundtrack, can take over everything, until it’s not the occasion you remember, it’s just the crazy things someone said while trying to get their partner to guess “Joan Rivers.” Case in point: I went to the Berkshires with some friends six years ago. It rained a lot, but other than that, all that sticks with me is: “It’s like a helmet for your phalanges!” (Thimble.) For anyone who hasn’t played, the goal of Taboo is to describe the word or person on your card (Carl Weathers, socks, pagers) without using the five most common clues, which are likewise printed on the card. If you do, someone is there with the buzzer—which makes a flatulent noise, because the batteries are always dying—to disqualify you. I also recall a New Year’s that included: “Last name: flies through the air and shits indiscriminately.” Answer: “Bird. Larry Bird!” Obviously, people who know each other really well have an advantage, because they can rely on inside jokes or give obscure clues like, “That thing that you hate that we saw this morning.” (Butterflies.) But it’s more fun the other way. What’s disappointing is that Hasbro doesn’t sell refill cards, or none that I can find, which is why we are still playing with Carl Weathers and pagers. —Phoebe

Monopoly (Hasbro)
I’m new to Monopoly (very new, as the origins of the game can be traced back to more than a century ago). I was at a house party a few months ago when someone suggested that we play. As someone who not only can’t stand math, but is also hopeless at it, the idea of a game about finance, mortgages, and yucky real estate prices terrified me. But that’s the best thing about Monopoly—HAVING PAPER MONEY. You don’t have to start stressing, because IT’S NOT REAL! It’s also much simpler than I thought it would be: someone is the banker, and they deal out the money. You choose a novelty token and move around the board according to the roll of the dice. You can buy property and then collect rent when people land on it (yay!), but then you also have to give away money when you land on their property. You can end up in jail, or worse, BANKRUPT (boo). By the end of the night, my friends and I were seriously battling it out to get the best squares, and the game dragged on for hours. I’ve been trying to play online ever since, and my dreams are filled with chocolate monopoly sets. There is also a $2,000,000 set made of 23-carat gold, which, if you can afford, suggests to me that you’ve already won at Monopoly, or just the game of life. —Caitlin

Dream Phone (Milton Bradley)
Dream Phone is the greatest game of all time. My high school crew and I spent many a dumb Friday night eating crap, talking about actual boys, and laughing at the jerk-hunks of Dream Phone, who would help you figure out the identity of your dream date by giving you hints when you dialed their numbers on the game’s main attraction: the giant electronic phone. The hints allow you to eliminate certain dudes based on their preferences: a typical clue is something like “He’ll wear almost anything…except yellow.” (On occasion, you dial a creep who’ll say, “I know who it is, but I’m not telling, ha ha.” That guy is the worst!) In any case, the winner usually ended up with a dude named Brad or Trevor or Todd, who was immediately dumped back into the box until we decided to play again. Sorry, Todd. I’m not into guys who will eat almost anything…except pizza. Who doesn’t eat pizza? You are so dumped. —Pixie

Boggle (Parker Brothers)
Oh my god, Boggle forever. In high school, I ran with a crew of three or four other kids who would convene in a field at an office park and play Boggle until it got too dark to see the letter cubes. It was a wild time in my life. Boggle is addictive, because it’s like a more frenzied version of Scrabble. You have three minutes to make as many words as you can out of the board, which changes with every round. Because it’s so quick, it’s easy to get sucked in for hours on end. You haven’t lived until you’ve missed curfew because of a game for word nerds. —Amy Rose

Scruples (High Game)
Scruples advertises itself as “the game of moral dilemmas.” It could just as easily be “the game that causes friends to get pretty testy with each other.” It’s the risk you take, but it’s perfect for those of you who like picking at scabs and finding out what people are really made of. Scruples offers moral-dilemma questions that can be answered with a “yes,” “no,” or “depends.” (Example: “You are asked to go on television to discuss your views on abortion. Do you?”) At any given time, each player has a card with only one of those three answers, and five cards with the aforementioned predicaments. In order to win, you need to ask a question to an opponent that you think will answer according to the answer card you’re holding, which can mean directing the question to the friend that you feel pretty sure would steal a cab from somebody else, or boycott the birthday party of an ex. This is where people can get offended. Players can also challenge each other’s answers, and back up their arguments with real-life examples of a person’s moral fiber. That’s where things can get even worse. Still, there’s a strategy—you have to guess what your opponent thinks you will say, and try to answer otherwise (but be prepared to make a convincing case for why you wouldn’t hold the elevator for an elderly person). It’s fun if you want to play at being a TV lawyer, or a jerk. —Phoebe

Mystery at Hogwarts (Mattel)
Mystery at Hogwarts is like Clue, except much, much cooler, because there’s magic. Someone has cast a spell in one of the classrooms at Hogwarts, and it’s your job to figure out who it is, which spell they cast, and in what classroom the spell was conjured. At the start of the game, you draw three cards and put them in an envelope with a picture of Fluffy on it. The remaining cards are dealt to the players, and you sleuth around from classroom to classroom, making accusations and asking your friends, one eyebrow raised, if they can prove you wrong. Unlike Clue, the board is a little more interactive. There are shortcuts and secret passageways to uncover, and players can use the ghost that sits in front of the Great Hall to block people’s way, or send them back to the center of the board. The only drawback of the game is that instead of getting to choose a character, you’re just a little witch’s hat. However, it’s kind of nice to not argue over who has to play Colonel Mustard. Also, if only for a little bit, you get to pretend that you attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which means you’re halfway to being able to make something levitate with your mind. —Katherine

Ouija (various)
I believe. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Once, in third grade, I played with my mom, and we asked the board if I would get any Valentine’s Day cards. It said I would, and when I asked from whom, it spelled out A-N-O. Clearly, it meant “anonymous,” and sure enough, a few days later, I got a card from a secret admirer whom I’m certain was Terrence, and not my mother doing her best boy-handwriting. As if this wasn’t proof enough, in high school, I took the board to a slumber party in order to communicate with the recently deceased River Phoenix. I read that quoting the person can help, and according to Tiger Beat, River’s mantra was: “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.” (I’m not sure about the fact-checking at Tiger Beat, but it looks like this was a quote from his band, Aleka’s Attic.) Anyway, with our fingers on the planchette, my friends and I repeated this over and over again, and what should happen? The phone rang. And nobody was there. Clearly, it was River Phoenix. We contacted him through the board, and he called me. That’s the only explanation. —Phoebe

Checkers (various)
Ah, good ol’ Checkers. I feel like this game is unfairly maligned for being “boring,” which it ISN’T AT ALL. DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT FUN IS, PEOPLE? Fun is never moving your back row of pieces until the other person wants to throttle you, because they’re stuck without any kings. Fun is tricking some sucker into thinking they have a prime move, because you sneakily prompted them to jump you only once just to be IMMEDIATELY hit with a sick triple-jump that you’ve been orchestrating for the past three moves. Fun is chess for stupid people, like me, so fun is checkers. Now you know. —Amy Rose

The Game of Life (Hasbro)
Life is one of my favorite games because it provides endless opportunity for shenanigans with your friends. There’s no strategy and no point to it, really. You just get in your car, spin the spinner, and decide whether you go to college or not. Then you just make your way through the board game while it decides how many children you’re going to have or adopt, and whether or not you get to buy a second home, and whether you lose everything in a fire. It doesn’t sound super fun, but it is when you get really involved and create complicated narratives for yourself and your friends. In the end, I think whoever has the most money wins, but who even knows, because winning at Life is relative, JUST LIKE REAL LIFE. —Laia

Mall Madness (Hasbro)
Mall Madness—which you can still buy on Amazon or eBay—is an electronic board game that basically teaches you the fun of conspicuous consumption while also, I guess, teaching you how to be a smarter shopper. The game is controlled by an electronic voice that dictates how many spaces you’re allowed to move at any given time. Every so often, the voice will announce a sale, which is important, because getting a deal will help you cross another item off of your shopping list without going broke or having to waste time going to the ATM, and the goal is to be the first one to finish your shopping and leave. It is totally ridiculous and fun and almost like an actual trip to the mall, except nobody shoplifts from Claire’s or buys one tube of mascara for the specific purpose of getting the Clinique gift bag. —Pixie

Guess Who? (Hasbro)
This is a two-player guessing game in which you each pick a character on a card, and the other person has to guess who it is! The best part of this game is the board you each get, filled with cute cartoon faces with fun little traits. You ask a yes-or-no question like, “Is this a man?” If the answer is no, you can flip down the faces of all the men, and it makes a satisfactory clicking noise. If you guess correctly before the other person, you feel superior and decide to begin a career as a private investigator. —Naomi

Therapy: The Game (Pressman Toys)
This is another personality-driven game. Each player moves around the board as a couch (hee), and in order to win, you must get a peg from each of the six stages of life, from Infancy to Seniority. Mainly, this means answering trivia questions based on (somewhat outdated) psychiatric studies. Occasionally, you will have to go into therapy with another player. Your “therapist” will ask you a question about yourself (“On a scale of one to 10, how much pleasure do you take in the downfall of your enemies?”), or about other players (“Which player is best at keeping a secret?”), and the object is to have your answer match. Other questions involve Thinkblots, Rorschach-style drawings, and answering incorrectly can send you into Psychosis. It’s a great ice-breaker if you want to skip all the small talk and get straight to how screwed up you are. —Phoebe ♦