Have you ever been in charge of keeping a dozen (or more) teenagers entertained? Or perhaps you were given the unenviable charge to find an ice breaker game for a work function?
Or you have a big family who gets together during the holidays and you just want everyone to have a good time and not talk about politics?
If you are anything like me, you might be tired of playing Mafia and Pictionary. I’m really good at Pictionary though. Just so we’re all clear.
We’ve put together a list of our favorite party games. Some use cards, others use strategy. But we’re sure you can find a board game that’ll make your next gathering a real success!
- Best Party Games for Groups of 3 to 9
- Best Board Games for 10+ People
- How to Organize A Large Group to Play A Game: Herding Cats
- The History of Party Games
- What Makes a Good Party Game?
- In the End
Best Party Games for Groups of 3 to 9
Players: 3-6, 3-9 with expansion edition
It’s loud. It can get super chaotic. It’s only five minutes long? Although there is an app version, this game was meant to be played by multiple players. The more, the crazier. This one is all about teamwork and awareness. If your players are exceptionally good, there are higher difficulty levels.
Warning: This is not a game that should be played late at night if you have neighbors. You may find someone banging on your door after someone wins loudly.
Want to see the game played? Watch this short video.
Players: 4-8, 4-12 with the Party Pack expansion
It’s Pictionary, but this time, it’s okay if you can’t draw. No one is going to get mad at you. In fact, the worse your drawing is, the more hilarious the game becomes. With no competition, the pressure is off, and this simply turns into a fun game that will make everyone last.
You can play as many rounds as people are interested in and this one also allows for some side conversations as you wait to see what the next person comes up with.
Although the box says 2-6, this Escape Room puzzle game can scale up easily. Of course, the more players trying to solve the puzzle the quicker the game, which is why I recommend getting a trio set. The only downside of these games it that there isn’t high replayability, but they really are fun!
More like a traditional tableau game, in Citadels players choose each round from 9 characters which have different character abilities. Problem is, the character you want may not be available when it gets to you.
Meanwhile, you are also trying to build a city with the hopes that the Assassin doesn’t kill you and the Thief doesn’t steal your money before you do. This one is a favorite in my house, more time consuming than most board games, but one that everyone enjoys every time.
I could include Cards Against Humanity in this list, but all the lists have that game and frankly, word on the street is that people are getting kind of tired of it getting pulled out at every party.
It’s time for a different game to play! So, I give you a fun, comic alternative. This irreverent card game lets players complete comic strips with some truly terrible cards. Hysterically terrible cards.
Best Board Games for 10+ People
First, you choose a customer. Once they choose a customer card, other players then work quickly to combine word cards from their hand to create something that the customer “needs”.
Afterward, they each try to persuade the customer to choose their item. The concept is simple, but this one is so much fun and so hilarious. You can play as many rounds as you like and we find it is a good filler game when we are waiting for something.
The premise sounds simple: get your team to guess as many names as they can in 1 minute. The complexity comes with how you guess. Players first guess using as many hints to guess.
Then, using the same exact cards, you must guess what they are using ONLY one word. And then, just when you are feeling confident, come the charades. It feels like a classic game with a new twist.
I love a good trivia game. Since my favorite, Geek Battle, is sadly very niche, I have been forced to look for something to meet that need. Linkee is a simple, fast-paced, and loud trivia game.
The thing that makes this one different is that it isn’t about finding the right answer, but rather connecting the clues together. I especially like this one because so many people can play and there is no downtime in playing.
I know, I said I don’t enjoy Mafia. And basically, this is Mafia with cards added in. However, I think this one is a bit more engaging because there are several different types of characters and every player has a role.
It takes some strategy. The only downside I found to this game is that it doesn’t work well for less adults. Despite stating it could go down to 8, it really works better for 15+.
I put this one last because technically, it doesn’t have a limit to how many players it can have. Sure, the recommended amount is up to 12, but we’ve played with more and it is perfectly fine.
Each to teach and learn, this one is a nice challenge whether you are guessing or giving out clues. Personally, I like playing this one cooperatively, but I know some people are more competitive. Just know, it’s fun either way.
How to Organize A Large Group to Play A Game: Herding Cats
As you can imagine, getting everyone together, quiet, and willing to play a game can be a bit like herding cats. There is no simple way to do it. If you are exceptionally loud you can announce that you are about to play whichever game and it is starting NOW. Anyone who wants to play needs to grab their drinks and join. I’m more of the, canvass the party and see who would be interested in playing.
If I can garner enough interest I’ll start setting up and wait as players meander into the room to join. But I like my games more chill like that. Explaining rules is hard when you have a lot of players, which is why most of the games on this list are quick and easy to learn. The faster it is to explain, the more chances you are of keeping everyone interested and engaged.
One thing I don’t do (because I have always hated it) is to choose a team based on gender, someone’s marital status, age, etc. Singling out your friends based off arbitrary reasons is a surefire way to get some hurt feelings. Have everyone sit down and if you are doing teams, split the room in half. Only split people up if you know they would have an unfair advantage.
Here are some tips on how to get things rolling!
- Find the loud guy or girl in the group: There’s usually at least one person around that can project their voice well and get people’s attention. Recruit them to announce for people to join you at the table where you’ll be playing.
- Ding Ding: Grab a small bell to grab attention! This is a nice way to just get things focused. Keep it light and fun but make it an unmistakable sound that things are going to begin soon.
- Have a plan: Something as simple as knowing the game and how it functions is going to go a long way towards a successful game. Know how many cards everyone gets, know who will go first, have the rules ready if needed or print out little cards with the games basics on them.
- Keep it Simple: Don’t feel the need to over-regulate and litigate every rule in the game. If you’re running it, be a moderator and make the call for any minor questions that come up. It makes the game run much more smoothly.
- Well defined objectives: How do you “Win”, when is the game over? Pick a game with a clear objective for your group to work towards. If you’re playing Spaceteam, fixing the ship is very rewarding!
The History of Party Games
Parties and games have been synonymous for centuries. The Ancient Greeks played ‘Kattabos’, a party game that required players to throw a cup at a metal stand in the middle of the room. Prizes were offered, although the game could easily turn scandalous as alcohol was usually involved.
During the Renaissance, couples would play ‘Barely-Break’, a game of tag that required players to always be holding hands with their partner, unless you were the couple being chased.
If you have ever seen a version of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol you may recall seeing the Victorian game of ‘Yes or No’, in which players must guess something by asking only yes or no questions, like the game Hedbanz now.
Charades were also very popular throughout the generations and can be found in many cultures and time periods. The 1950s and 60s saw a rise of card games, cribbage, and backgammon, but large groups were usually split up into smaller quartets
When I was a teenager, Mafia was the party game of choice. The problem with Mafia, at least for me, was that I grew bored quite quickly. There wasn’t enough to do if you were an innocent and I was terrible at the discovery phase too.
It just wasn’t my thing, but we played it. All. The. Time. When I questioned why we always played this game, it was explained to me (with an eyeroll) that this was the one game you could play with 30 people.
This is incorrect. Especially now in the era of modern board games. My friends, you are not stuck playing only Mafia.
What Makes a Good Party Game?
One of the most difficult things about having a large group is that you always have to keep all your players engaged and involved. If they start losing interest, players start dropping out or worse, slow down the game with their disinterest and disengagement. The game also can’t run for too long.
Occasionally, you can get away with a longer game (there is one of this list), but for the most part groups, especially if they have non-gamers in the midst, want something that is typically 30 minutes or less.
Now, we all have different ideas of what constitutes as a “group game”. For me, a group game is anything over 6 players as there are a lot of regular board games that can easily play up to 5. Finding a game that everyone at game night can play at the same time is certainly more of a challenge.
Large group games are anything that requires 9 or more players. For an introvert like me, this is a very large group. For some people, this is a regular night hanging out with friends. Or all the people in your immediate family.
Whether you are hosting a game night, want something new for your youth group, are attempting an ice breaker at work, or need to entertain everyone in your dorm, these games are great places to begin.
In the End
It’s always good to have a few of these games sitting in your closet because you never know when you are going to have to break out something to entertain the masses.
At the very least, you’ll have something for the next family get together that is more interesting than listening to your relatives talk about their various ailments.
The point of any party game should be to have fun. It should not end with couples leaving angry because one person can’t draw well enough for anyone to guess that they were attempting to draw a ‘search and rescue operation’.
It should not end with animosity because you decided it was a good idea to pit the men against the women. Which is why I have chosen games that I know are guaranteed to be fun and let everyone leave friends in the end.