Sometimes you just want to sit at the table with your friends, have a few drinks and have fun. Maybe you’re just not in the mood, are too tired or you have someone casual along who is not interested in a more complex board game. I have researched what are the best party board games for adults currently on the market.
You can’t go wrong with any of the games on the list, but my personal favorites are mentioned in the conclusion of this article.
All of these games are easy to pick up, have simple rules and you can be competitive the first time you play them. Therefore, are an excellent choice if you want to include players, unfamiliar with board games (like your grumpy uncle).
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Competing with your friends in knowledge is always fun, even more so if you’re any good at it and you listened in school. Game mechanics are similar in these games: you move on the board (by die or by points) and you answer questions of different categories (i.e. history, sports, geography, popular culture). Answering correctly makes you advance faster.
Just be careful, if one of the players, is too smart (or contrary) – that can kill a game.
The classic from 1981 is synonymous with the genre. Players move on the board by die and there are six categories of questions (geography, entertainment, history, arts & literature, science & nature and sport & leisure) – collect all six pieces of the pie and win.
Similar, in this game players, also progress by die, but here their goal is to reach the center of the circles by answering correctly. All categories of questions exist, focus is on analogies, slogans and definitions.
Trying to guess a hidden word or words is the point of these games. One of the players, is trying to “show” the word to other players, by pantomime, drawing, explaining, singing etc. and other(s) is/are trying to guess it.
Popular since the 16th century, you don’t have to buy anything to play this. One of the players, comes up with the word, slogan, title (or whatever house rules you decide to play by), tells it to the next player who then tries to express the phrase by pantomime (or sound effects). Remaining players, try to guess it. For the next round the role moves to new winner.
We played this a lot couple of years ago with my friends, down to the point that we got too good for it. I remember one time the guess word was “Four riders of the apocalypse”. To a disbelief of all of us, it only took a couple of minutes to guess.
Another Classic. Players draw cards in turns. On a card there is a word or a phrase they must describe to their partner, who must guess it. Trick is, that on the cards are five more “taboo” words, which the explaining player is not allowed to use. Of course, these words are usually the ones, who describe the first word most easily.
Players form teams who compete against (moving on the board). Phrases are drawn from the cards and are communicated to others by drawing, pantomime or explaining. In activity2, players can wager on how hard they want to play.
A faster version of charades. Players choose from easy and hard words (drawn from cards) and have limited amount of time to guess, before the card is eaten by the timer machine.
Action and Reaction Board Games
Common theme here are two phases. In the action phase, a card is drawn or a sentence is said, and in reaction phase players, react to this either by answering or playing cards. Results can be scored, but the main drive are the hilarious combinations that arise.
Cards Against Humanity
Card Czar chooses a black card, which has a question or fill-in-blank, and other players, pass their white cards (answers) to him. Czar then decides on the answer he likes the best (is funniest, most cynical or sarcastic) and that person receives a point and games moves on to the next Czar.
What makes the games special are the topics it covers: taboo subjects like race, gender, religion, torture, poverty, drugs, sex, child abuse, black humor etc. The more controversial the topic (and your answers), the merrier. Just play this with (good) friends.
That’s What She Said
Almost identical rules as in Cards Against Humanity, only that this one focuses mainly on the dating/sexual topic. This is better for a group that is not yet acquainted (Cards Against Humanity would offend them) with each other.
The Game of Things
Draw a card with a topic like: “Things zombies do when they’re not eating people.” or “Things a proctologist nicknames his finger.” and each player writes a response. After a good laugh, you try to guess who wrote what.
Asking questions like “What do you consider your nicest feature?” and “What cartoon would you like to be a character in?” and then guessing who wrote which answer will test who well the players, know each other and provide a lot of laughter and embarrassment. For even more of the latter, check the Adult Version or the Party version.
This one is not for everyone, since I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with singing. But if you are not of those, this one is great. Players try to find a song containing a “trigger-word”, and the first one to sing a five word portion of a song containing that word gets a point.
Mad Gab is all about pronunciation. Your team gets a card with some funky word like “Abe Each Dwell”. One player reads that out loud and others try to guess what he really said – in this case “A beached whale”.
Storyteller makes up a sentence from a picture on one of his 6 hand cards and says it out loud. Each player then gives a card of his own to the storyteller (one he thinks represents said sentence the best). Story teller shuffles the cards and places them face up on the table and players, bet on which card was storyteller’s, earning points.
Social Deduction Board Games
Players are given secret roles (often unknown to others) and are trying to complete their agenda while guessing who the others are and what they are trying to do. These games are slightly (but only slightly) more complex; they require a bit of deduction, social interaction skills, bluffing and deceiving.
Inspired by the Mafia/Werewolf, in Resistance, players, are split into two teams (Imperial Spies and Resistance Operatives). Round starts with discussion and attempts to guess other players’ identities and gain trust.
The leader then sends some players on a mission (passing them cards) and all the players vote to approve the assignment. When the assignment is passed, chosen players, decide to support or sabotage the mission in secret, giving point to either Resistance or Empire.
The Resistance: Avalon is a version based in the medieval world with King Arthur against Mordred. New addition is Merlin, who knows the agents of evil. Avalon is stand-alone game, but can be combined with The Resistance.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Another role-playing game, this one can be finished in ten minutes. Players assume the roles of numerous characters, each with a special ability, and in a single morning decide who is the werewolf. Or the werewolf wins if they fail.
Can you get more controversial than having the name of Nazi leader in the title? Secret Hitler is a role-playing game, where players, assume the roles of fascists versus liberals and one player is Secret Hitler. Roles are partially hidden and each turn President and Chancellor are elected trying to pass policies to enact Hitler or assassinate him.
Codenames is towards the top of every party game list out there, and justifying so.
Two teams are trying to guess the names of their agents (25 words on the table). Each team has a spymaster, who is guiding his team by giving them hint words (and adding how many of agents this word affects). First team to guess all their agents, wins.
Interesting wording in the title, but the game is very simple – think of Russian roulette. Players are drawing the cards from the deck and the one that draws the exploding kitten, loses. Trick is, that the deck also contains cards, that allow you to peek before you draw, shuffle the deck or force your opponents to draw more cards. Game intensifies towards the end when fewer cards are available and the exploding kitten card inevitably comes up.
I promised you to give the ones I like best and here they are (in no particular order):
Do you have any favorites of your own? Do you agree/disagree withy my choice? Let me know in the comments below.