Bringing out board games at a party can elicit a variety of responses. Some people will want to keep chatting or dancing. Others will leap at the chance to play a few rounds. Depending on what kind of party you’re at, board or card games can really change the entire mood. In some circumstances, they can be the perfect party pick-me-up.
You will need to choose the right game though. If it’s too complicated and requires a detailed explanation, you won’t be able to hold the attention of the room. That goes doubly so if alcohol is involved. If there are too many pieces or small parts, you may end up losing some. You’ll also need to consider that any cards or tokens you bring out are likely to have food or drinks spilled on them.
That said, it’s not all bad news — and there are still plenty of games you can bring out to spice up the life of your party. Here’s a few to get you started.
Gloom is about making your chosen family as sad as possible, and then killing them in grisly ways — but it’s a lot funnier than it sounds. If you’ve got a good group of four or so mates, it’s the perfect card game to sit down and play at a party. Sure, it’s gruesome, but it’s very, very fun, and has a dark sense of humour everyone will enjoy.
Set bees on your friends. Be terrorised by a pack of clowns. All this and more is possible in Gloom, and all it takes is placing cards on a table.
Like others on this list, the game comes in a variety of themes that may suit your tastes better than the gothic base game. Cthulhu Gloom is a whole bunch of fun, as are the Fairytale and Space versions.
Sonora is a wooden disc flicker board game with a twist. While the gameplay is easy — it’s literally just flicking discs onto a board — a unique point scoring system means you’ll need to be strategic about where your discs land. To get the best score on your sheet, you’ll have to plan ahead, knock other players’ tokens out of your chosen region, and prepare for an absolute blood bath.
It’s simple, it’s pretty and it’s sure to kick off some very passionate fights. The tokens will be a bit finicky and they’re easy to lose if you’re not paying attention, but this is exactly the chaos you need when you’re looking for the perfect party game.
Exit: The Game
The Exit: The Game franchise is practically made for group parties, but it’s also one of the hardest games to kick off when you’re at said party. You need everyone focussed for at least an hour or two so you can work your way through the game’s puzzles. It’s not a format suited to every party, but if you can get a good group together, the entire Exit series is fantastic.
It’s even better if you’re bad at it, which is one of the only times you can say that about a game. While the action is technically timed, you can take as long as you want with these puzzles. If you’re bad enough, you may just end up playing long into the night while you struggle over one particular puzzle or another. Either way, you’re in for an great time with any of these boxes.
Last Message is one of the newest board games on the list (launching July 2021) but it’s also one of the most fun games I’ve played at a party. In Last Message, a chosen ‘victim’ attempts to identify a criminal in a large map by drawing clues for an audience to follow. But before the entire picture can be revealed, a ‘criminal’ can erase particular parts of the drawing to mask their appearance.
It means audience members often wind up with obscure clues and strange drawings to track down and identify the criminal. It’s wildly funny, particularly when the victim has their most important grid squares wiped out in an instant and the audience is left with weird squiggly bits to go off. When Last Message launches later this year, it’s sure to be a great party hit.
Illusion is a game that relies solely on your powers of observation and guesstimation, making it a fun challenge and perfect for a few rounds at a party. In the game, you’re required to study a variety of coloured cards and create a sequential pattern where a select colour increases in size per card placed. But if you get it wrong and the colour hasn’t actually increased (revealed via the back of the card), you lose. If you get it right, the pattern continues to grow.
It’s far more complex than it seems, and requires a hefty amount of concentration and quick-thinking. Rounds take place over 15 minutes so it’s a quick, fun and often intense battle of the wits.
Fluxx is the high chaos card game you need in your life. While it’s a simple game at its core, the primary “flux” mechanic means every time you draw a new card or goal, the rules change on you.
So while you start Fluxx like a regular game (collecting and playing cards), the game shifts and changes with every new card played. If you set down a goal and you grab the ‘keeper’ cards that’ll let you snatch victory, the rules may completely change before you can actually ‘win’. Yes, it can be frustrating, but it’s sure to cause some major laughs along the way.
Dixit is a great party game because it’s so simple, creative and easy to learn. Your own mileage with the game may differ, but it’s great for anyone who has arty friends or people who like a more subjective, wholesome game.
The basis of Dixit is this: one person in the group tells a story based on an art card they hold. Other players select an art card from their hands they think best describes that story, and then everyone is required to vote on which card they think the story told is about.
It requires at least three players to get going, but once you do it’s a fun and gorgeous blast.
Cluedo (or “Clue” if you grew up in the U.S.) is one of the best classic games to bring out at a party because no matter what age group you play with, it’s likely most people will know how to play. And even if they don’t, it’s an incredibly simple game to explain. Yes, there are small pieces you’ll need to keep track of, but not too many that you’ll have to worry about losing them.
It’s a great party game because the premise is so simple: someone’s been murdered, travel around a board and find clues. It’s also great because the outcome doesn’t rely on experience. Cluedo is anyone’s game, making it a great board game to bring out at a party.
What are your go-to games for friend and family gatherings? Have you played any on the list? Pop on down to the comments below and share the games you’d recommend.