Trivial Pursuit's stale wedges have given trivia games a bad rap among gamers, but it doesn't have to be this way. There are a whole host of trivia board games that offer more replay value, better balance and fairness, and game design that helps keep everyone engaged. At their best, these are simple games of skill that anyone can enjoy. They also have the potential to be hilarious. And if you're okay with attempting a higher hurdle of complexity, you can get some strategy along with your skill and slapstick.
In a market dominated by cheap copycat titles, finding the gems can be harder than the toughest historical fact question. So we've done the research for you. These are seven of the best trivia board games, ranging from the fiendish to the funny to the family-friendly.
See our list of the best board games overall for more options.
TL;DR: The Best Trivia Board Games
- Wits and Wagers
- Mr. Lister's Quiz Shootout
- Stay Cool
- Half Truth
- Box One
Don't have time to skim the blurbs? Here's a quick look at our favorites.
In a genre full of dull art and flat text, iKNOW's smooth minimalist aesthetic stands out a mile. It's used to track the bets and guesses around which the game revolves. For any given question, you can choose to get more or fewer clues for fewer or more points respectively. Right away, you're in a conundrum over how safe you want to play it. Then the problems pile up as everyone bets on whether they think others will get it right or not before giving an answer which may – or may not – be a bluff. Between these elements, iKNOW straddles an extraordinary mix of strategy, guile and trivia knowledge.
Speed and simplicity combine in this popular series of card-ordering titles. You get a hand of cards showing historical events dependent on the set: Discoveries, say, or the acclaimed Inventions set. Then players take turns trying to get rid of cards by getting them in the correct order of when they occurred. It's a smart system because few people memorize dates, but they can memorize pictures and orders. That levels the playing field a bit, and provides educational value. And with sessions wrapping in 15 minutes of 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 pulls a ton of fun from the unlikely combination of trivia and snap. Each player flips through a stack of cards, each with a symbol and a trivia category, watching one another like hawks. If two reveal the same symbol it's a mad race to shout an example of the other's category. Winner wins the card, revealing another symbol and another possible race. Although fast and simple, every card flip is a cauldron of tension as everyone waits to spot a match and get a head start on the ensuing trivia sprint.
Balderdash stretches 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 an odd acronym or take some similar guess at a bizarre query. For maximum hilarity, most are absurd, such as outlining a film plot from a title which turns out to be about a businessman's talking feet. Then one player reads out all the guesses along with the real answer, and awards points to those that fooled the most. It's an intoxicating cocktail of humour, skill and social misdirection that rarely fails to please.
Wits and Wagers
Another game that relies on player ignorance, Wits and Wagers is as much about betting as it is about trivia. It stumps players with obscure statistics, like asking the age of the world's oldest cat. Everyone writes down an answer, then lays bets on the guesses they think are closest. This adds some basic mathematical strategy to the mix, making it a party favourite with more hardcore hobby gamers. Tensions rise as the chips go down before the explosive reveal of the answer. Like real gambling, you can win or lose huge amounts in a turn of Wits and Wagers, except you're guaranteed fun instead of risking your life's savings.
Mr. Lister's Quiz Shootout
Instead of asking for a specific answer to a tough question, Wild West quiz-master Mr Lister asks for many answers to easy ones. This makes the game stand out for family play: it's inclusive and enjoyable for younger players. As such it's perfect entertainment for holidays, complete with rubber mustache for comedy miming. Fake mustaches are always funny. And there's more skill under that mustache than it first appears, since ordering your answers well can deprive the other team of a chance to score. Ties get broken with a "closest to" guess at a numeric question which, as a bonus, means the cards also work in Wits and Wagers.
Most Trivia games aim to catch you out but Stay Cool’s mix of tasks and questions is as easy as pie. Maybe you’ll be asked some simple maths, the name of the game you’re playing, or even something personal like your maternal grandad’s occupation. So where’s the stress, or even the game? Well, the catch is that you have to answer two questions at once, one verbally and another by spelling out the answer on a set of custom dice. As the game progresses, it turns the screws, asking players to monitor their own sand timer, and then hiding it, so answering the trivia becomes anything but trivial.
You might recognise the name of designer Richard Garfield from his famous collectable card game Magic: The Gathering. So when he puts his mind to a trivia game, you’re going to sit up and take notice. His take on the genre is a broad question with six answers, three right and three wrong. To advance you just have to pick one of the correct ones. What could be simpler? Well, the lure of advancing ever further by choosing two or even all three right answers, except if you’re wrong, you go nowhere. It’s a game that challenges your confidence and reminds you that after hubris, nemesis tends to follow.
We’ve all played some trivia game where an argument broke out over what was really the correct answer. Smart10 takes this to the next level by asking questions that have multiple answers, such as “what animals have become extinct in the past 100 years” and providing ten answers. Other questions ask you to rank the answers, like countries by geographical size. On your turn, you pass or pick an answer that you think is right to get a point and stay in the round with a chance to answer again. But in a neat push your luck twist, if you get an answer wrong and you’ll lose what you’ve accumulated that round, cranking up the tension with every pass around the players.
When you think of Trivia games, you tend to think of dinner parties. And while you can play Box One with a group at a dinner party, it’s really designed for solitaire play, just you and your trivia knowledge against the game. Only it’s not just trivia: you’ll be challenged with a mixture 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 a load of quiz questions thrown in, you’ll have a good time. It’s also resettable so you can play again, or pass it to a friend.
Speaking of hobby gamers, one of the more eccentric designers on that scene is Friedemann Friese. This is his take on the trivia game, redeveloped from his earlier game Fauna. Each round players get questions about a geographical subject. 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 subject, or by being good at knowing who else at the table is good at a particular subject.