Must-Have Board Games To Have On The Houseboat

April 2016 Austa Cook Web Exclusive

Whether the weather is gloomy on the lake or your family and friends are ready to get in their pj’s and have some good laughs, fun board games are a must onboard a well-stocked houseboat. If you’re looking at your game cupboard and thinking, “Things look a little dusty in here…” you might need some fresh new options to enliven your family game time! Here are some of my family’s personal favorites that remain longstanding and well-used additions to our game pile.

Apples To Apples

A straight-up classic, this game comes with green adjective cards, red noun cards, and lots of fun variations. The player in charge draws a green card. Depending on the word (feisty, scary, and American, for example), everyone else will discard one of their red cards to go along with it (like Betty White, morticians, and apple pie, for example). This is a fun test of how well you know each other’s humor, as the player in charge then reads all of the selected red cards aloud and chooses the one they like best—whether it’s literal, opposite, or just plain random. As fun as it is to try to predict what each person will choose, it’s honestly more fun hearing all the fitting and sometimes bizarre combinations that people come up with! You can find Apples to Apples on sale at stores like Target for just $9.99. 

(Photo credited to Target)


This hilarious bluffing board game has five question categories that demand creative thinking for coming up with a plausible answer if you aren’t the one reading the card. The player leading the round reads everyone’s inventions aloud—along with the correct answer—and everyone has to guess which they think is the real deal. Depending on how well you vote and make up stuff, you get points that carry you to the finishing line on the board. From playing this countless times with family—often late at night—I can say that Balderdash starts off fun and only gets better from there. Places like Amazon sell this game for $44.97. (Photo credited to Amazon)


Dubbed “the game for your whole brain,” this clever board game will have you performing some surprising stunts! Cranium can be tough but it’s a lot of fun, with four categories designed to test you in acting, arts, trivia, and words. As you progress around the board, you’ll find yourselves doing fun stunts like impersonating a famous person, sculpting a surprise out of Cranium Clay, figuring out a tricky True/False question or spelling a word backwards, all to the keeping of a timer. Playing on teams helps when you have a lot of people or a mix of young and old to spread out the different skills. Our family has had a ton of fun with this game, and you can find it for a great price of $24.20 at places like Amazon. (Photo credited to Amazon) 

Loaded Questions

I try not to be biased, but Loaded Questions is without a doubt one of my top favorite games of all time. This bestselling board game is another that tests how well you know each other as it has you writing answers to hilarious questions and figuring out who put what. We often have well-timed repeat answers that become longstanding family jokes from then on, and tricksters who start writing like someone else to throw off the guesser’s stride. Especially if you’re into being silly, this game will have you laughing hard enough to have your dock neighbors climbing aboard—either to get you to quiet down or to join in themselves. You can buy Loaded Questions for $24.95 at stores like Barnes & Noble. (Photo credited to Barnes & Noble) 


This game is a newer addition to our family’s stockpile but it hasn’t taken long to quickly become a favorite. Taking a fun and humorous spin on your classic fantasy roleplaying games, Munchkins will ensure everyone has a great time as they compete with and often against each other to fight monsters, steal treasure, and opportunistically backstab one other as everyone fights for the winner’s end. This is a game that has some strategy to it and some luck, and the end can very often be hilariously unpredictable depending on how you stockpile your cards and what you draw. You can find the Munchkins board game at places like Target for $17.99. (Photo credited to Target)


This is one of the rare board games that has everyone actually working together in order to win. Your whole crew is on a team and the enemy you’re competing against is the spread of deadly viruses that are threatening humanity. It sounds grim, but the actual game is fun and suspenseful. Everyone has a different role card and different abilities that contribute to your success (for example, researcher or medic roles). Depending on how you strategize, everyone is trying to work together to cut down and eventually cure all of the diseases before they become pandemic. Another cool thing about this board game is you can adjust the level of difficulty, depending on what ages you’re playing with. Check it out at places like Z Man Games for $39. (Photo credited to

Ticket To Ride

This classic has a fun 1900’s flair to it as everyone is racing to collect train cards that let them claim railway routes between various cities across the country. Depending on what destination tickets you draw, you might be trying to travel anywhere from Miami, Fla., to Seattle, Wash. This game gets especially fun as everyone begins staking their claims on the board and railway routes start to become scarce. You earn points depending on which routes you complete and how long a continuous railway stretches across the board. Take caution, though—plotters can try to anticipate where you’re going and cut you off first! This is a fun game that’s appropriate for all ages. We had a blast playing with everyone from a 50-year-old to a 7-year-old all at once. Check this game out at places like Amazon for $35.99. (Photo credited to Amazon) 

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