Boardgames can test your intelligence. They can be tactical, they can be strategic or they can just be simple and fun. Some boardgames offer a taste of all of these aspects, although not everyone finds a heavy Euro as fun as I do. That’s when we turn to party games, which put fun in the center. That’s not to say a party game can’t be strategic, but it won’t be like a night playing Caylus stressing your mind out whether you made the perfect, most efficient move. Party games also have the benefit of bringing a lot of people together at the table, whether you’re having a small beer-sipping event with your six close friends or having a nerdy cocktail party with more than 12 people. (Sorry, there aren’t a lot of options for your thousand-person rager.) So next time you’re throwing a small party and looking for the right boardgame to play, consider the 10 games below.
1. The Resistance
The Resistance is not a game to play if you’re looking for a nice, quiet night of gaming. People across the room will be screaming at each other. Girlfriends/boyfriends will “promise” that they’re not spies because “when have I ever lied to you?” Players will constantly shrug their shoulders in confusement. The Resistance is a social deduction game that is so simple that I’ve replicated the game on paper when I left it at home. There’s also The Resistance: Avalon if you’re looking for depth, but I actually prefer simple, vanilla Resistance due to how easy it it is to teach. If you’re really feeling the itch on this one and want to expand your player pool to even more people, I’d recommend checking out Ultimate Werewolf: Ultimate Edition, which can play up to 68 people. If you want a game that is purely table talk (my friend likes to refer to these games as an “opportunity to lie to friends”) and replayable to an amazing degree, check out The Resistance.
Number of players that can play: 5 to 10
2. Cash ‘N Guns
Cash ‘N Guns is a great game to have in your collection because it is so easy to convince your non-gaming friends to play when you dump out the styrofoam pistols and explain that you’ll be pointing them at each other. The guns feel cartoonish, almost ridiculous—they are clearly a fake silhouette of a pistol in styrofoam with an orange tip just to make 100 percent sure that no one thinks it’s a real gun. The game is themed around a group of robbers trying to get the most amount of loot for themselves. At the start of each turn, each player points a gun at their choice of a player, although it might be one of their blanks. Each player that didn’t back out or get shot gets a share of the loot. Rinse and repeat for eight rounds and the player who gained the most of money will be crowned the winner. This is a party game that can lean on the mean side, which can call for a “don’t take things personally” speech. It has a natural Mario Kart blue shell-type handicap, where being an early frontrunner usually means having a lot of guns pointed at you. Many people like to argue that this isn’t a party game—it has elements of set collection and negotiation seen in heavy games—but everyone I’ve played this with has a great time that seems to increase with the level of alcohol in their bodies.
Number of players that can play: 4 to 8
I am awful at drawing. I’m a creative guy and can come up with big ideas, but I wouldn’t be able to put it in (pretty) picture form to save my life. That’s why I love Telestrations. In a mix of telephone and pictionary, players all have a word that’s chosen by a dice roll that they then draw under a short time limit and pass. Players then rotate between guessing the drawing and then drawing that guess until the card reaches its original owner. The thing about this game is the experience improves when you throw in some bad drawers like myself in between some great, inspiring artists. It’s a funny game—there will be a lot of “WHAT IS THAT?!” and innuendos if you’re playing with an immature group. If you’re looking for a simple game that people will understand in seconds and that gives an opportunity to draw goofy pictures, check out Telestrations.
Number of players that can play: 4 to 8 or 4 to 12 depending on the edition
4. Bang: The Dice Game
Dice games are fun with a big group because bad things can happen no matter how hard you try to prevent them—which is hilarious with the right group. In Bang: The Dice Game players all have secret roles that affect how they play the game. You could be a deputy and attempt to protect the sheriff by killing all of the bandits or you could be a renegade with the goal of being the last man standing. The fun in all of this is that no one really knows whether their neighbor is who they say they are. This so called deputy may have healed the sheriff just to stay on the people’s good side and could easily turn the tables at any given moment. This is another game that will have people screaming at each other claiming that they would never lie, not even in a game. If you’re looking for a game that has some hidden role elements mixed in with a lot of luck (and laughter), Bang: The Dice Game is the way to go.
Number of players that can play: 3 to 8
5. Wits & Wagers
I love trivia but I’m not good at trivia. Thankfully, Wits & Wagers has a solution to my dilemma. It is a trivia game that is all based on numerical answers—questions like “How many Sports Illustrated covers has Michael Jordan been on?” Instead of simply answering the question, players write their guess (and believe me, it is a game that requires a lot of guessing) on a mini-dry erase board and put them in the middle. Then, players bid on the answer that they think is correct, even if it isn’t their own. You always have at least $300 to bid with, but as you earn more poker chips (the reward for bidding on or guessing the right answer) you can use those to increase your potential earnings. This game is really good at making people feel dumb, but luckily everyone will eventually be put on the idiot spotlight. There are plenty of different editions (I like the party edition), so it takes A LOT of playing to get through all of the questions and honestly it’s fast paced enough that you could forget a lot of the answers to the questions. Also, for the ultimate factoid collector, each card adds some context to the answer as well as the source material. The game box claims that it plays up to 7, but you could set up teams to play a huge crowd—which is when the game shines the most. If you need a game to convince your family to stop playing Trivia Pursuit or are just really into trivia, make sure to add Wits & Wagers to your collection.
Number of players that can play: 3 to 7 or 4 to 18 depending on the edition