Board games with words and board games that build vocabulary come in a number of varieties, so you’ll find something for everyone. You don’t have to be a logomaniac, a lover of words, to enjoy many of these games but if you’re looking for word board games – they don’t get any better than the ones listed below.
Check if your favorite word games made the list, and make your own recommendations at the bottom of this page in case you know any games that other players would love to check out.
1. Codenames (2015)
- Players: 2-8
- Time: 15 Minutes
- Designer: Vlaada Chvátil
- Publisher: Czech Games Edition
One of the most popular board games about words on store shelves is Vlaada Chvátil’s Codenames, and you can find this card game with words at just about anywhere that sells games. The 2016 Spiel Des Jahres winning Codenames is a game where players try to guess as many of their team’s secret words as possible. It can either be played as a team game, or as a two/three player variant.
As the game is played, each team tries to guess which of the words on the 5×5 grid belong to their team, without accidentally guessing the wrong ones. Only the Spymaster knows which words should be picked, so it’s their job to guide the rest of the team in the right direction.
The way this game works is each Spymaster must give their team a single word as a clue, along with a number. The team must then figure out why the Spymaster gave that clue, and which words he’s trying to get them to choose on the board. The number given determines how many words on the board pertain to that particular clue. Although be careful, choosing the wrong words could be enemy operatives, innocent bystanders or even a deadly assassin.
If you haven’t played Codenames before, and you love word board games, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try and to find out why it’s one of the most popular card word games. If you like board games where you have to guess the word, you’ll love Codenames.
2. Werewords (2017)
- Players: 4-10
- Time: 10 Minutes
- Designer: Ted Alspach
- Publisher: Bézier Games
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Werewords is an interesting game that combines word guessing and hidden roles. On the surface the game is pretty simple. Players take turns asking “yes” or “no” questions trying to figure out what exactly the secret word is before the time is up. What makes this game more complex however, is that some of the players will have secret roles and might even be working to throw the other players off the trail.
Among the secret roles are the Werewolf and the Seer. The Seer knows what the secret word is, but must keep their identity secret from the other players. The Werewolf also knows the word, but instead of trying to help the other players they will be attempting to guide the players down the wrong path until the time runs out. Trying to work together is harder when you don’t know who to trust.
3. Bananagrams (2006)
- Players: 1-8
- Time: 15 Minutes
- Designer: Rena Nathanson, Abe Nathanson
- Publisher: Bananagrams Inc
You may have seen the iconic banana-shaped package on toy store shelves, stuffed to the brim with Scrabble-like letter tiles. That’s Bananagrams, the hectic word arranging game that takes place in only a matter of minutes. The objective of the game is to complete a crossword by using up all your letter tiles. It’s a fast paced game that rewards quick thinking. It’s great for anyone who is looking for board games like Scrabble with a bit of a twist.
What separates Bananagrams from a lot of other games on this list is that there is no turn order. Players all play at the same time to complete their crossword before everyone else. It’s a great choice for all ages, whether you’re helping someone learn how to spell different words or just flexing your quick word-building skills.
4. Just One (2018)
- Players: 3-7
- Time: 20 Minutes
- Designer: Éric Azagury, Florian Poullet
- Publisher: Repos Production
If you’re looking for a social game that’s a little less competitive, Just One is a good place to start. Rather than competing directly, Just One has players working together to get the guesser to guess mystery words. Each round one player is the guesser, and the other players are given the same mystery words. They must choose single-word clues to write down and give to the guesser, in hopes that they solve as many as possible.
Just One is a simple game with a ruleset that’s explained in only a few short paragraphs. Making it a great game for the whole family. Even though it’s not as robust as a lot of other games on this list, Just One is a great guessing game that really emphasizes the social aspect of gaming that’s missing in a lot of other board games.
5. Scrabble (1948)
- Players: 2-4
- Time: 90 Minutes
- Designer: Alfred Mosher Butts
- Publisher: Hasbro
It’s impossible to make a list of board games with words without including the one that started it all; Scrabble. As one of Hasbro’s most popular games, Scrabble has been around for generations. The inspiration for Scrabble comes from traditional cross-word puzzles. In Scrabble each player attempts to use their letter tiles to make words on the board, scoring points for each letter and additional points for specially marked spaces on the board.
Scrabble was first created by Alfred M Butts in 1931 under the name Criss Cross. It wasn’t until later on that it was renamed, redisigned. It finally hit store shelves in 1954 and has had huge success since then. I became one of the most owned and played family games, along with Monopoly and Sorry!. Nowadays Scrabble has taken on a life of it’s own, enthusiasts can compete for international rankings and tournaments such as the World Scrabble Championships.
6. Decrypto (2018)
- Players: 3-8
- Time: 15-45 Minutes
- Designer: Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance
- Publisher: Le Scorpion Masqué
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Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance’s Decrypto is a great game for people who love to solve puzzles. Each team must try to guess the sequence of numbers, based only on clues given by their teams Clue Giver. The Clue Giver can use words on the board to try and guide their team to the right answer. Clues can take any form, words, phrases, dances, whatever you want.
Decrpyto takes place across a number of rounds, until one team either has two success marks or two failure marks. In the first round, only the Guesser’s team gets to take a loot at the clues and try to guess the sequence. However, in subsequent rounds both teams get to look at the clues and make guesses, so the clue giver must attempt to make a code that only their team will understand.
7. When I Dream (2016)
- Players: 4-10
- Time: 20-40 Minutes
- Designer: Chris Darsaklis
- Publisher: Drawlab Games
Another great hidden role game that uses words is When I Dream. In this game, each round one player is the “dreamer” who falls asleep (denoted by wearing a cloth eye mask). The remaining players are dream spirits, who are either good, evil, or somewhere in between, depending on which role card they were dealt. Each round lasts 120 seconds while the Dreamer tries to guess as many events as possible with the clues given by the Dream Spirits.
Every time the Dreamer makes a guess, a point goes to either the Good Spirits or the Evil Spirits, depending on if it was correct or not. What makes this game more complex is the Tricksters who are neither good nor evil. Their goal is to simply stir the pot and try to make the Dreamer guess as many wrong answers as right answers. Making it very hard to know which spirits to listen to and which to trust.
8. Cranium (1998)
- Players: 4-16
- Time: 60 Minutes
- Designer: Whit Alexander, Richard Tait
- Publisher: Cranium Inc
It may be a bit disingenuous to put Cranium on this list, because it’s a bit more than just a word game. In fact, Cranium is a game that combines many popular sub-genres into one package. Cranium is a party game that’s broken up into 4 categories meant to stimulate different parts of the brain; Creative Cat, Data Head, Word Worm and Star Performer. So no matter what your team’s strengths are, there’s a category for them.
Cranium combines popular elements from games like Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Charades, and more. Combining 4 unique categories into one fun game. The blue Creative Cat cards use creative categories such as drawing or sculpting. The Red Data head cards are mostly knowledge-based questions and trivia. The yellow Word Worm cards are language games like anagrams or Spelling Bees. Finally, the green Star Performer cards are for those who love the spotlight, these cards contain acting, charades, and impersonations.
Do You Love Board Games With Words?
Let us know your favorite board games with words and we’ll add them to the list so that other players with similar interests can check them out, and hopefully, you found some new games on here that you can enjoy!