15 Wildly Fun 3-Player Boardgames That Will Help Make The Time Fly By (2023)


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by Kate Miller and Scarlett James


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15 Wildly Fun 3-Player Boardgames That Will Help Make The Time Fly By (1)


There are plenty of board games out there for larger groups, but finding a game suitable for three people can be a little more challenging. Sure, many of the boxes say "for 2+ players" but that doesn't mean they're necessarily riveting for a trio. Yet, the best 3-player board games actually feel like they were designed specifically for this smaller group size and are outrageously fun.

When shopping for a three-player-friendly game, the most important thing to look for is how the gameplay will be affected if you're playing with an uneven group number, because sometimes it will change dramatically when the competition is more triangular than head-to-head. Of course, this can be somewhat hard to determine while shopping online. That's why all of the games featured below have been vetted by Reddit gamers and Amazon reviewers alike, earning high marks for being especially great — maybe even best played — with three players.

Whether you prefer a fast-paced game that's done in less than 30 minutes or a complex strategy game that can last hours, there's guaranteed to be an option here that will keep boredom at bay. The best part: Several of these games cost less than $25, so you might want to load up on more than one.


A Strategy Game With Historical Appeal

Backed by a near-perfect Amazon rating, this board game is a fan favorite for its ever-changing game play. The premise of the game — to expand your Roman Empire while keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing — is a strategy game at its finest. And in terms of it being suited for three players, one Reddit user noted, "I think it’s enjoyable at all counts but with the 3 of us we now have a good rhythm of overlapping turns and little downtime that is very satisfying."

A helpful Amazon review: “[...]The turns are fast, the tension is real, the decisions are interesting and constant, the interplay between players is competitive yet quixotically friendly...there's just not another game like it. Not in theme, not even in gameplay. No, Concordia stands head and shoulders amongst it's peers because it simply excels at...well, every single thing it does. [...]”

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 5
  • Recommended Age: 13+
  • Play Duration: 90 minutes


A Classic Game That Word Geeks *Love*

This classic word game has been around for decades and yet it still feels fresh, in part because every game is different depending on the tiles you get — and how much wine you may or not be drinking while playing! For the uninitiated, the premise is to build words off of the existing words on the board, with different letters varying in their desirability. It's a fantastic game for two, three, or four players, and the deluxe edition features a board that keeps the tiles in place and it can be rotated so each player gets the best view.

A helpful Amazon review: "This Scrabble board has two nice features: there are little walls between the cells so the letters don't drift away, and the board is on a swivel so that everyone can look at it from the top down when it's their turn. I'm glad we upgraded to this board.”

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 8+
  • Play Duration: None specified by brand, but tournament rules specify 25 minutes per player


An Award-Winning Game That's Infinitely Re-Playable

This colorful award-winning board game is deceptively easy to get the hang of but requires some clever strategy to master. Designed by game guru Reiner Knizia, the aim is to place colored tiles on the hexagonal board and to block other people's tiles. It's designed for up to four players, but the intrigue doesn't really change if you're playing with just three players, just the area of the board in use.

A helpful Amazon review: "This game is pretty fun and well made. All the pieces seem solid and they are made out of plastic. The concept of the game is great, I’ve seen a few with the same idea but this one sets itself apart with replay ability. I’ve only played the 3 player version so far but it was very fun and I look forward to playing the 1 person “solitaire” version next.”

  • Recommended Players: 1 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 8+
  • Play Duration: 30 to 45 minutes


A Long-Playing Game For Those Looking For A Truly Immersive Experience

If you're ready to hunker down and get into something, then Through The Ages: A New Story of Civilization is your game. As the name implies, it's a civilization-building game, with one reviewer calling it a “splendid blend of economic, military and technological elements.” It's designed for two to four players, but it topped several Redditors' list for being an especially great three-player game.

A helpful Amazon review: "Wonderful game that benefits from being played by 3 players. Hugely engrossing and a great way to spend time trying to "do over" your mates/family. Bit tricky to grasp initially if you are not used to these types of games - also make sure that you put aside at least 90 mins for a game.”

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 14+
  • Play Duration: None specified by brand, but reviewers mention it takes several hours to play


A "Choose Your Own Adventure" Style Game

For a gateway into Euro-style gaming, you're not going to find a better pick than Above and Below. It has a "Choose Your Own Adventure" premise that's really interactive, and as one reviewer noted, "You just want to explore more." It's designed for two to four players, but since it's not a directly competitive game, it's perfect for three players. One reviewer commented: "I honestly can't see it losing anything by using three or four players instead of two."

A helpful Amazon review: “[...]Absolutely charming game, there is plenty to love and enjoy for all audiences and we find the replayability extremely high. Once you’re familiar with setup and rules actual games are fast and exciting with everyone having a chance to build up a point generating engine, or spend their time doing the adventure driven quests to acquire resources and reputation. These two things combined make for an excellent choice of game to pull off your shelf and play with family or friends. Anyone not already familiar with Above and Below will be very surprised with the narrative adventure decisions they can make. [...]”

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 13+
  • Play Duration: 90 minutes


A Fast-Paced Collaborative Game With Great Graphics

If your group of three tends to get a little too cutthroat, a collaborative game like Forbidden Island might be just what you need. Instead of trying to beat an opponent, this game requires that you work together as a team to accomplish a common goal: collecting treasure before the island sinks. It's a quick game designed to last about 30 minutes. Anywhere from two to four players can play, but it might be especially fun with three players, with one reviewer noting, "With three, you can adjust the difficulty to make it a better playing experience." The fast-paced strategy game comes backed by more than 5,000 perfect five-star ratings, and if you end up falling in love with it, there are two more games in the Forbidden family to extend the game play: Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Sky.

A helpful Amazon review: “We seriously love this game. We play it with 3 people all the time and it's a blast. It seems to be more difficult with more players, as we cannot win when we played with 5 people - oh, but we will.... someday! Best loved family Christmas present this past year!! [...]”

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 10+
  • Play Duration: 30 minutes


A Strategy Game That's Quick To Learn & Play

For card sharks and strategy game lovers alike, Sequence is the perfect hybrid game to pass the night away. It combines cards and chips — and a nice mix of offense and defense. It's designed for two to 12 players, with larger even numbers lending themselves to teams, but for playing as a threesome, it's every man for themselves. Although it's worth noting that with three, some reviewers mentioned that the board does get full. That said, fans love this game for being easy to pick up, without having to labor over instructions.

A helpful Amazon review: "This is a different game which can be played with regular cards but has interesting dynamics which require a player to be both offensive in scoring for their own team while also watching and preventing other players from scoring. Really fun with more than two players.”

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 12
  • Recommended Age: 7+
  • Play Duration: None specified by brand, but reviewers mention about 15 to 30 minutes


A Cult-Favorite Board Game That’s Also Quick To Play

Backed by more than 9,000 ratings on Amazon — the vast majority of which are five-stars — Azul has earned a seriously enthusiastic fan base. It’s great for players who like a game to move at a good clip (and not feel never-ending) since it can be played in as little as 30 minutes. Included in the game are 100 beautiful resin tiles, or “azulejos,” that you must arrange strategically. The tile placement game can accommodate two to four players, but it's a Redditor favorite for three-player gaming, with one user commenting, "I agree with Azul (Sintra version in my case). The draft is better at three players in my opinion.”

A helpful Amazon review: “First, this game is so fun. You can play with two, three, or four people. It’s beautiful, easy to assemble, and can be played for one or one hundred rounds. [...]”

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 8+
  • Play Duration: 30 to 45 minutes


A Portable Game With 5 Different Ways To Play

It's true that Spot It! is technically more of a card game than a board game, but since it has a 4.8-star rating after more than 2,100 reviews on Amazon, it was too good not to include. And since it comes with five different ways to play — for less than $30 — you're getting a lot of entertainment for your money. As the name implies, the main goal is to spot two matching objects faster than your competitors, so it's a game of focus, lightning-fast observation, and quick reflexes. Anywhere from two to eight people can play, but fans love playing it with smaller groups to avoid confusion (especially if younger children are playing). It's also a super portable game since it all packs up into a little tin.

A helpful Amazon review: "We bought this to keep in the camper for rainy days, but have brought it in to the house to share with neighbors, grandparents, cousins, and more! It’s a great, simple game with several different ways to play. It’s a favorite to pull out for a quick round or hours of fun!”

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 8
  • Recommended Age: 7+
  • Play Duration: None specified by brand


A Nostalgic Game That's Great For All Ages

For many people, Sorry! is a game that evokes strong childhood memories, whether you loved it or thought it was downright ruthless. But playing it as an adult means you can lean into that ruthlessness and have a blast. That said, it's a simple enough game to play with young children too (it's designed for kids ages six and up), and some of the rules have been modified in this version to make it slightly easier. While it can accommodate anywhere from two to four players, three is really the sweet spot since game play can drag on with all the pawns in play. One note: This newer version of the game comes with three pawns per player versus the older version that came with four (a point of contention for some).

A helpful Amazon review: "This is memory flash back, from when I was a child. So playing with my kids is a joyful experience. I plan on having "game night" once or twice a week, with this and many other games."

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 6+
  • Play Duration: None specified by brand


A Star Wars Board Game With Iconic Characters

Smuggle cargo and collect bounties in the seedy underbelly of the Star Wars universe when you play Outer Rim. Each player assumes a character and competes to carry out objectives while building a ship and recruiting crew. Whether it’s rigging a game or stealing supplies, it’s every scoundrel for themselves. Up to four players will get two or three hours of game play, but it seems to hit the sweet spot at three.

A helpful Amazon review: “Three players on this one. I could see four players getting a little crowded and possibly extending the game out a little past its welcome. Three player’s plays really good even with a short game...with lots of actions and things to try and accomplish before someone nabs the win.”

  • Recommended Players: 1 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 14+
  • Play Duration: 3 to 4 hours


A Steampunk Game Of Cross-Country Strategy

Another Reddit favorite, Ticket To Ride has you criss-crossing North American in 1900 to win a bet among friends. You must build your train routes between key cities by (hopefully) drawing and playing the required number of matching cards, with longer high-scoring routes requiring more cards and, therefore, more risk. Another catch? Someone else might be after the same line: strategy and good-natured ruthlessness are key. The principles are simple, but the complexity increases with every player. Two to five people can play with an average game lasting less than an hour.

A helpful Amazon review: “It is a good family game that requires some strategy. Game doesn't take too long, sweet spot for number of players is 3 to 4, with 3 being ideal (shorter game, but enough players to be interesting).”

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 5
  • Recommended Age: 8+
  • Play Duration: 30 to 60 minutes


A Cooperative Board Game With A Premise Of Saving The World

With a near-perfect Amazon rating, shoppers deeply identified with this cooperative board game, and the reviews are hilarious. Two to four players form a team of specialists that must work together to fight infectious diseases, with each member leveraging their unique expertise as new outbreaks become progressively worse. Be warned: There’s only one way to win, but three ways to lose — and you win or lose together. May the odds be ever in your favor.

A helpful Amazon review: “my wife and I love this game we invited a friend over to play and we ended up playing 3 times back to back because we were having so much fun.”

  • Recommended Players: 2 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 8+
  • Play Duration: 45 minutes


An Award-Winning Fantasy Board Game Worth The Splurge

Although it’s expensive, serious Amazon gamers say Gloomhaven is “worth every penny,” with the ratings and awards to back up its legendary status. Several Redditors signed off on it as a good three-player game specifically. “Gloomhaven is definitely best at 3, 2 is not enough, 4 is slightly too many,” one user noted. Essentially Dungeons and Dragons in a board game format — no 12-sided dice required — this Euro-style game has players assume a character along with their latent abilities to cooperatively embark on campaigns requiring strategy and combat. It’s also an excellent solo game.

A helpful Amazon review: “Massive amounts of fun. This game is big enough to keep the most avid solo gamer busy for months, while still being great for 2 or 3 players (shining in lower player counts).”

  • Recommended Players: 1 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 14+
  • Play Duration: 60 to 120 minutes


A Highly Strategic Board Game That Fans Call A “Masterpiece”

An unexpected Reddit favorite, Agricola was repeatedly mentioned as a solid contender for a fun and relaxed three-person game. Think of it as an analog version of The Sims: you’re an old-world farmer who must build a homestead and compete for resources against your neighbors. From having children for extra help around the farm to gathering enough food to feed a growing family, success or failure can be critical. Cards contain actions and advantages, and the player who can best capitalize on the moment stands a better chance with every harvest. Fans loved the unexpected complexity and theme, especially calling out the solid components including carved wooden figurines.

A helpful Amazon review: “This game is amazing! It’s not for the faint at heart who can’t handle many decisions at once. For anyone wanting to journey into a game and seek mastering your own area with dynamic player interaction and endless replay value, this is for you.”

  • Recommended Players: 1 to 4
  • Recommended Age: 12+
  • Play Duration: 90 minutes

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