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Written by Elaine Tu
Hosting a party? There’s nothing like a great board game to stir things up with your group of friends. Throw in some drinks, and it’s going to be a wild night. We’re crazy about board games, and we’re excited to share some of our favorites, and in our opinion, the best board games, with you!
Seriously, if you’re looking to change things up, discovering new board games to become obsessed with is going to be a game-changer (pun intended). They even make excellent holiday gifts for your loved ones! (White Elephant? No problem. Secret Santa? We got you.) We’re definitely adding some of these to our wish list this year!
If you’re hosting a party or even just having a chill night in with your BFFs, board games can be a breath of fresh air from the usual, or an excellent ice breaker for people who just met, or just something to bring the party together! We’re breaking down our list of favs starting with the easiest to pick up and learn to more complex gameplay. Happy board gaming!
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Get the party started with a fast-paced sushi-themed card game like Sushi Go! Imagine you and your friends are sitting at the bar watching sushi boats go by, and you’re picking out things to eat—only in this game, it’s a point system, so you’ll need to strategize which foods to pick up when the ‘boat’ comes your way. It’s easier than it sounds. Keep a pen and paper handy to tally up points at the end of each round! The player with the most points, wins!
Playing Time: 10-15 minutes
This super fast and easy game of bouncing ping pong balls into your opponents’ cups will give you ‘rage cage’ vibes. If you’re not familiar with the game, no worries! It’s super easy to learn and is totally family-friendly (but you can absolutely turn this into an after hours drinking game if you want to)! Be the last one of your friends standing by eliminating their cups with each shot. We love this game for when your friends have a short attention span, or just want something to liven up the mood.
Players: 2-5 (2-10 with Exploding Kittens Party Pack)
Playing Time: 15-20 minutes
Ah, the game of exploding kitties! Beware of these pesky exploding kittens—they’ll be the death of you (in this game). Take turns drawing a card from the deck where a few exploding kitten cards are hidden. This is a game of luck, so don’t think too hard about what you’re going to do next! Some cards have special abilities to help you avoid an exploding kitten or to sabotage other players. Be the last one standing, and you’ll win the game. It’s also a lot of fun reading the text on the cards–trust us, this NSFW deck is for adults only, but you can buy the family-friendly version here.
Playing Time: 20 minutes +
The party game of all board games—Taboo is a super fun, adrenaline building board game that you and your friends (kids or adults) will love playing. Get your friends to guess the word on as many cards as you can without saying the forbidden words. The group with the most points wins! Tbh, we could play all night if it were up to us!
Playing Time: 2 minutes +
Okay, this isn’t technically a “board” game but it’s a free & portable app game! Pick a category to play, hold this up to your forehead, and let your friends scream clues at you to guess the word! Time is of the essence. It’s hilarious watching your friends “Act it Out” or try to hum the songs under “Hits of the 2000s”. Open this up when you’re in a long line at Disneyland or while you’re waiting for your table at a restaurant. You’ll have fun passing the time with your friends!
Playing Time: 15-30 minutes
Codenames requires a bit of time to set up, so we’d actually say it’s going to take a bit longer than expected if it’s your first time. Your party should be divided into 2 teams (red and blue), and one person from each team will be appointed as the “spymaster”. The spymasters will give clues to their teams to try to get them to figure out which words on the 5×5 grid are theirs. First team to guess all of their ‘codenames’ wins! The challenge is that some words will be really difficult to tie together in a few turns.
If you and your friends are on the same wavelength, you’ll want to be on the same team! Knowing how your spymaster thinks, or how your teammates think plays a big part—some of your friends may even surprise you! This game is one of our favorite of these party board games–mainly because you can basically play with any amount of players of 4 or more, so it’s perfect for large groups!
Playing Time: 15-45 minutes
Erase most of what you know about the traditional Monopoly board game. Monopoly Deal is way more fun to play, and requires less time (depending on who you play with of course). Yes, you’ll want to build property, but you’ll do it by charging rent on your property or making deals. Monopoly Deal is another turn-based game of strategy game that both adults and kids will much fun playing. The addition of action cards for this card game is a fun twist on the original (and painless). It’s a fun game of sabotage and strategy that’ll get your heart rate going!
Players: 3-4; (5-6 with expansion pack)
Playing Time: 60 minutes +
Settlers of Catan is a commitment of your night, so if you’re planning to play this with your group, be mentally prepared to have a long, agonizing, but deeply fulfilling game of bartering and building settlements! There are points for each asset you have on your settlements, and the first player to get 11 victory points wins! This is a game for the ages. Sure, it’s a bit complex at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an utterly addicting and fun tabletop strategy game!
Playing Time: 30 minutes +
The Resistance, Avalon and Secret Hitler are all variations of the same ideas—deduction & deception. There are subtle differences in each game that can appeal to different crowds, but mostly the themes are what drives people to each game. If you’re a fan of the game Coup, you’ll enjoy The Resistance. Fans of Merlin and King Arthur mythology will love Avalon. If you’re keener on behaving more like parliament in post WWII, Secret Hitler will get you in the right mood.
In The Resistance, each player will be dealt a character card from one of two teams. The objective is to approve the teams you decide to take with you on your missions, and if enough missions are successful, the Resistance team wins the game! If most of missions fail, the spies win. Make like Sherlock and use your skills of deduction to figure out who’s who. You’ll love figuring out and arguing about who’s who in this game (warning: this may ruin friendships).
Players: 3-6 (2-8 with expansion packs)
Playing Time: 5 minutes
Spaceteam is a ridiculously fun game of building a spaceship. It’s a cooperative game, so no sabotage is needed here. Work together to get all the pieces together before time’s up! Yup, it’s 5 minutes of craziness and lots of yelling, so be sure to not wake the neighbors. It’s an easy game to play over and over again.
We hope you and your friends & family enjoy these as much as we do! They make excellent holiday or birthday gifts for board game fanatics, and surely make things more exciting during any gathering! What were your favorites?