So you're planning a gathering, and you want to ensure that the night goes off without a hitch — or a lull. The best party board games can keep everyone entertained and interacting, but opt for the wrong type, and it'll quickly transform into a bored game, instead. Obviously, you'd prefer to avoid yawns and glazed-over eyes, so these picks can help you take your party to the next level.
First, know how many people you're trying to accommodate. When you've got a sizable amount of guests, you'll want to avoid things like massive rulebooks and tons of easy-to-lose game pieces. For the most part, the simpler, the better; people will probably be coming in and out of the game, and if it takes a half hour just to learn the rules and get set up, your guests will lose interest real fast. If possible, you should also avoid games with low player caps — you want as many people engaged as possible. (Maybe next time, Harry Potter-themed chess.)
Second, know your audience. Adult party games are a surefire hit with your favorite friend group from college, but your grandma or six-year-old nephew might not appreciate a riveting game of Cards Against Humanity. So do yourself a favor and narrow down your audience first, then take your pick of the best, most entertaining party games out there right now.
1. The Number-One Best Selling Board Game On Amazon
How To Play: To get started with Codenames, split into two teams. Choose one member from each team to be the spymaster; everyone else is a field operative. Randomly pick 25 code name cards and place them in a 5-by-5 grid pattern on the table. Then pick a key card — only the spymasters can look at this. The key card corresponds to the grid, so the spymaster knows which code names refer to the blue agents, the red agents, the bystanders, and the assassin. The spymaster then gives one-word clues to help the teams determine where their agents are located on the board. The first team to make contact with all of their agents wins, but if you accidentally pick the assassin, you're done. Check out this video for a visual explanation.
Target Audience: Anyone who's 14 years or older.
Amount Of Players: It's recommended for groups bigger than four and up to eight, but reviewers say they've played with as many as 12 people without an issue.
What Reviewers Are Saying: Those who have tried this game say it's "really genius" in its simplicity. "It's a fantastic party game because it can be taught in under 5 minutes and provides a ton of fun. It has definitely been a hit in my gaming group and with my family over the holidays."
2. The Best Board Game For Any & All Age Groups
How To Play: Every player gets a dry-erase notebook and a marker for Telestrations. They write their name on the front and open to the first page. Everyone draws a card, and someone rolls the dice. The number on the dice then corresponds to words on the cards, and everyone needs to draw their particular word. Once the timer is out, everyone passes their book to the player on the left. That player has to guess what the drawing means, translating it back into word-form. The next player on their left has to draw the new word, and it continues around the circle like this. Once it gets back to the initial player, the whole group gets to see how far their initial word has evolved — and how bizarre the drawings and interpretations got.
Target Audience: Any age, though older than 8 is recommended.
Amount Of Players: Four or more is ideal, and you can play with up to eight.
What Reviewers Are Saying: "It's honestly a great game that works well with a wide variety of people," one buyer says. "The instructions are fairly easy and the fun is looking to see how people interpret your original drawing. It's best played with a large group of people, as the more drawings and interpretations you have, the wilder and crazier the guesses can get."
3. The Best Board Game For Anyone Who's Sick Of Cards Against Humanity
That's What She Said
How To Play: Technically, it's a card game — but since it's fast-moving, easy to get the hang of, and any amount of people can play, That's What She Said is ideal for a party setting. Pick a judge at random and have that person flip over and read a red set-up card. Everyone else chooses the most inappropriate white phrase card they have. The judge picks their favorite and awards that player the red card. Each white card is a hilarious double entendre that's designed to work alongside any red card, and you're allowed to discard one per round to avoid getting stuck with phrases you dislike.
Target Audience: Adults with an inappropriate sense of humor. Some of the cards are definitely NSFW.
Amount Of Players: Four or more people — there's really no maximum cap for this one.
What Reviewers Are Saying: "Bought this game for a game night party. My friends and I were laughing the entire time. Very similar to [Cards Against Humanity] but the cards are all dirty and funny rather than just some of them," says one reviewer. "It's a great game for a big or small group."
4. The Best Board Game For The Group That Loves Karaoke
How To Play: For Spontuneous, you give each individual player a pawn or split into teams. All players write down a few popular song words on their Hit Lists, like city, rain, mountain, or rock. The first "Tunesmith" turns the timer and announces a word from their Hit List. The winner of the round is the first player to sing five words or more from any song that contains the keyword; then they roll the dice and advance that many moves. The first player to reach the end of the board wins the game.
Target Audience: Ages 8 and up.
Amount Of Players: Four to ten players, but you can play with teams if you have more than that.
What Reviewers Are Saying: "This game was hilarious. We played it at a Thanksgiving gathering with 20 family members [and] we never laughed so hard," says one reviewer, while another raves, "Basically, this game is a thematic abridgment of karaoke night. It's the most amusing game ever, even if you don't win. And for those of you who aren't gifted in the musical arts, it's hilariously good fun anyway. Just sing as lousily as you can as loud as you can."
5. The Best Board Game For A Huge Group Of People
The Game of Things (2018 Edition)
How To Play: With The Game Of Things, the answers are open-ended and there's no player cap. The judge picks up a card and reads it out loud. (The prompts say things like, "things you shouldn't do in an elevator," and "things you would do with a million dollars.") Everyone else takes the first thing that comes to mind and writes it on one of the given sheets. The judge collects them, reads them all aloud, and has to figure out who said what.
Target Audience: Anyone who's old enough to write.
Amount Of Players: Four or more players — and as long as you have enough pencils and paper, there's really no maximum cap.
What Reviewers Are Saying: "We spent hours playing this game over the summer with more people than the game suggests. I think we had 15 people playing it at one point during the family reunion," says one buyer. "It was a great hit with everyone. I plan on giving it as a gift to fellow game lovers... It's a great way to get to know people better while having a lot of fun."
6. The Best Board Game For People Who Lose Interest Fast
Speed Charades Board Game
How To Play: Think charades, but without having to brainstorm ideas first. In this new, fast-paced game, players split into two teams. Each team chooses one actor and competes head-to-head at the same time. If an actor can get their team to guess four out of five words on their given card, they score a point and the round ends. After ten rounds, the team with the most points wins.
Target Audience: Players can be any age — but heads up, because it's going to get loud.
Amount Of Players: Teams can be as big as you want, so there's no cap.
What Reviewers Are Saying: "I recently bought this for a holiday family party and it was a blast... Because both teams are acting at the same time, it removes the attention that some people don't like about charades. As teams got closer to guessing their [four] words, the louder and more frantic both teams became," says one reviewer. "I like that the game can be played with a large group and the words are challenging, but not to the point where [the teams were totally stuck.]"
7. The Best Board Game For Drinkers
How To Play: If beer pong and flip cup are getting a little old, but you're still looking to keep the alcohol flowing, Drink-A-Palooza is the board game for you. Give everyone a pawn or split into teams. Determine house rules (like how many sips per challenge), and spin the bottle spinner to determine who goes first. Each player or team rolls the dice and completes the mini-game on their landing space — like pong, quarters, high low, kings cup, or waterfall. When you win, you collect a mini bottle, and the first to fill out a six pack is the champion.
Target Audience: 21 or older — and preferably those with a sizable alcohol tolerance.
Amount Of Players: The board game has up to six pawns, but you can also split into teams.
What Reviewers Are Saying: "Yes! This game is a lot of fun," one reviewer raves. "When I first bought it, I was concerned my friends would find it "cheesy," as they do many of the games I coerce them into trying... But we have played it a few times and EVERYONE has really enjoyed it and called it "cool" with complete sincerity." But a piece of advice from buyers? "Play this game at the beginning of the night."
8. A Classic Favorite To Break The Ice
Cranium Three-In-One Board Game
How To Play: This one's a classic, and makes for an awesome ice-breaker if your guests don't know each other too well. Pick a pawn or split up into teams. Team A rolls the dice and lands on a colored space. The team to their right (Team B) picks a card with the corresponding color and reads it to Team A. If Team A successfully completes the challenge, they get to move. If not, they stay there, and the next team goes. The challenges involve sketching, charades, humming, puzzle-solving, and molding keywords out of clay — so it's a great way to get people out of their shells. The first team to reach the end wins the game. Thanks to this genius folding board, you can adjust the size of it to lengthen or shorten the game.
Target Audience: Any age
Amount Of Players: Four or more
What Reviewers Are Saying: "This game is so much fun!" says one reviewer. "Played it with friends and enjoyed it so much that I bought one for our family. Plays to everyone's strengths, so we all loved it — those who are great with words/language, art, trivia, and charades. Highly recommend."
9. A Supremely Fun Game That Doesn't Require Any Set-Up, Clean-Up, Or Hassle
How To Play: If all the aforementioned board games seem a little too complex, Taboo Buzzd is an awesome way to simplify your entertainment. Just split into two teams, choose a player to start, and give them the electronic tablet. When they press start, the "taboo" word appears on the screen. They then have to describe their taboo word to their team without saying it — or any of the four descriptive words underneath. Their team guesses as many as they can before the timer runs out, and the device automatically keeps track of the points for you.
Target Audience: Any age.
Amount Of Players: This game requires a minimum of four, but has no cap; the more people you have, the more fun it is.
What Reviewers Are Saying: "I love, love, LOVE Taboo. I use to have the game with the cards and enjoyed that but this takes all the hassle out. Actually, I didn't realize there was hassle until I got this electronic version. It tracks your score and you don't have to fumble with the cards or worry about pulling the same card twice. Many of my guests hadn't seen or played this version and said they will be getting it!"
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