The field of board, card, miniature, and role-playing gaming continued its meteoric growth this year, exploring hundreds of innovative designs and varied themes. The selections here run the gamut from family-friendly stacking games to complex strategic affairs for dedicated hobby veterans.

If you want more tabletop gaming recommendations than what you can find right here, you can check out our dedicated Top of the Table hub, as well as selections from recent years, including picks for the best tabletop games of 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.

To explore the full article, click through the selections on page one (here), two, and three for ten of the best in board, card, and miniature gaming, ordered alphabetically. For five of the most compelling role-playing releases of 2016, hop to page four

Captain Sonar
Publisher: Matagot

Think of Captain Sonar as if Battleship grew up, layered on a wealth of new facets, and invited more players into the mix. Teams of up to four take on distinct roles as captain, first mate, engineer, and sonar operator, and navigate their submarine through treacherous waters in search of the enemy. A divider screen splits the table in half as each crew operates in secret, leading to tense but laugh-inducing confrontations. The game’s components, in particular, are a surprise; rather than cards and dice, the game is almost entirely played with dry-erase markers on erasable plastic sheets. Captain Sonar is ideally played by a full complement of 4v4 player teams, but it can also work with as few as two players; the focus on cooperation, coordination, and detection makes for a thrilling competition. Read a more complete write-up to learn more.


Codenames Pictures
Publisher: Czech Games Edition

The follow-up to last year’s widely-praised Codenames is just as fun as its predecessor. Two opposing teams of spies try to hunt down agents in the field, but instead of secret words, the guesswork is all about surreal pictures. Spymasters give clues that relate to specific cards, and the rest of the team puzzles out which pictures match. Innovative, deductive, and highly replayable, this new variation is great on its own or can seamlessly combine with the original game. In addition, Pictures offers some new variant play options that are a lot of fun to discover, even if you’ve already played dozens of sessions with the first game. Codenames Pictures (and its predecessor) are a perfect choice for parties where you might expect team sizes to fluctuate, as the game easily supports players drifting in and out of the fun. Of all the tabletop game releases of the last few years, the Codenames family of games has an almost universal appeal that is unmatched. You can get more details about the game in our full recommendation.

Publisher: Monolith

Fantasy miniature combat takes center stage in this adventure game in the one-vs-many style. A single player takes the role of the overlord and his minions, while everyone else controls Conan or one of his companions. Scenario-based battles put tremendous control in the hands of players to shape how a fight unfolds, while the Overlord employs a brilliant and balanced control mechanic that keeps the action taut and moving fast across the four included board maps.  Adult fantasy fans will thrill at the constant battles, even if the sex and violence of the art and actions makes this a no-go for some, particularly younger players. 

Next Page: Build the monuments of ancient Egypt, and uncover the secrets of a Lovecraftian mansion