Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and you can have an awkward meal with your in-laws, but the whole time doesn’t have to be awkward because there are party games that everyone from the crazy uncle to the clingy aunt can enjoy. Now, might be a little bit late to order them today or you might not want to run out to a store as they might be a bit busy as well, but Christmas is coming up and New Years, and you probably will have to spend extended time with family again, or even with friends, and you might want something to do with them.
So, what makes the best party games?
Replayability is one of the biggest things for me. Having a game that I can go to multiple times without it feeling like all the jokes and moments are done is key.
Large group number so that you can get everyone playing is also important. You don’t want someone to feel like they have to sit out because there aren’t enough parts of the game to go around.
Simplicity so that even Grandma and Grandpa can pick it up is key. They might not want to play, but your parents might not be that much better at picking up either.
Limited or contained down time is also important in these games. You can have moments of people sitting around and thinking or writing something, but you don’t want to have people having too much down time while on person does something. That either leads to distracting conversation and people just checking out of the game.
Can you play the game with your parents? Seems like a lot of these other ones cover that suggestion, but there are games that have more of a dirty or adult twist on things, and you have to know if your parents are going to be fine with that, or even your grandparents, depending on who you might be playing with.
The game can end while everyone is still having fun. This can be because you can just end the game whenever, but it could also be because the game is a shorter game. If the game can’t end in 30 minutes, it’s probably too much for a party game.
So what are some games that fit the bill?
Balderdash is a game where people write down definitions to words, what acronyms mean, complete weird laws, and then get to vote on which one they think is real. This game is easy to teach and while the replayability is slightly more limited than some, simply because you might actually remember a categories answer from before, you can always go with another one of the options on the card. Like most good party games, this game is about the laughs. It can have a run away leader problem, but really, scoring is optional, being silly is more important.
Wits and Wagers
Very similar to the game above, except everyone is putting down a number instead of some other written answer and then people bid on which is the closest without going over. There is technically an ending to the game, but you can always just pick how many questions you want to do, or when people are winding down do a single final round where people can go crazy with their bidding for a chance to win.
Another trivia sort of game where people are looking to fill in answers for various categories but it all has to start with a single letter. What makes this game work more often than not is that someone who might be able to come up with more answers is probably still going to have a number of common answers with other people so can end up with fewer points. Trying to come up with something that is unique, but not unique that someone else might come up with as well is the balance, plus the limited amount of time for doing so.
A bit more abstract, but a similar basis for the ones above, in this one person picks from four things, occupation, life time supply, super power, and dream job that they’d want. That’s all great, but then everyone else gets to write a stipulation and the person who picked gets to pick their favorite because it’s the least bad one or because it’s the funniest one, their criteria is there own. This game works really well because depending on who you’re playing with, you can make the game dirtier or more family friendly, the choice is yours. This game is good for laughs, it comes with white boards for writing on, but you could easily expand it to a larger number by just taking post-it notes or some other smaller piece of paper and giving one to each person.
First game to actually have a board in the classic sense. Tsuro is a simple game of staying alive the longest as your dragon follows it’s path. The game plays very fast, so you’ll likely play a couple of times. For a game that seems like it could have some decent strategy, it really works well because you can only plan on your turn, and you have a limited number of choices, especially at higher player counts. It’s always fun to see how people take different strategies in the game as well, as some people might try and avoid everyone, while others might try and instigate conflict.
Sushi Go! Party
By far the most complex game, this is one that you won’t be able to pull out with everyone, but if your family is a gaming family, Sushi Go! Party offers interesting decision making as you are drafting cards. The game plays quickly, though the first hand might take a bit longer as people figure out their strategies. This game also offers the most variety in the play as you can swap out the meal that you are creating. The others all have a similar feel and rhythm every time you play it, but this one could have wildly different strategies each combination that you play.
ice Cool/Ice Cool 2
Now, this is a new one and probably the silliest out of all of them. All you are doing is either flicking delinquent penguins around a school as they try and avoid the hall monitor and collect snacks of fish, or you’re racing around the board to see who can circumnavigate the fastest. It is also different because you’re up and moving about as you cannot sit around a table to play this game, in fact you have to pull the chairs away from the table. This is limited to eight players, but it’s also the best on the list for kids, because what kid wouldn’t want to send a penguin flying around a board. And while the game is made for kids, it’s a lot of fun for adults as well as you try crazy shots to see if you can bank through a couple of doors or are you going to get stuck in a corner.
There are a lot of other options as well, but as you are looking at the store thinking about something about you might buy, remember the suggestions laid out at top of the article. Keeping it simple, replayable, and good for a large group are going to mean you’ve probably found a winner of a party game.
What are some of your favorite party games? Are there some that you actively avoid with your family?
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