Party board games are a dime a dozen these days, and finding the best party games for your group of friends sometimes requires shifting through sodden piles of absolute trash to fish out just a single thimble of gold dust.
But do not despair, we at Dicebreaker are prepared to don the prospector’s hat and ragged old dungarees to pan for tabletop gold on your behalf. We’re looking for the top party games guaranteed to release some inhibitions, loosen some hair ties and, most importantly, generate some good ol’ fashioned fun.
A good party game allows for plenty of bantering and (lighthearted) bickering between friends, can be learnt easily in just a couple of minutes - potentially after a few bevvies - and wraps up in enough time that people start getting sick of playing. (Find some more lightning-fast options in our round-up of the best quick board games that fit into 15 minutes.) If a party game's good enough, though, you'll definitely be playing for an hour or three as the sun begins to rise.
Of course, almost everyone's played Cards Against Humanity at one party or another by this point. Love it or hate it, it's become the cheese and pineapple hedgehog of party board games: a bit predictable and, to be honest, pretty bland by this point. For that reason - and the fact that it's not that nice or fun an experience anyway - you won't find it on this list. What you will find are games that encourage you to laugh with your friends and family, get a bit silly, draw hilarious pictures and even sing. Doesn't that sound like fun? It is, so buckle up for a riotous evening.
Best party board games
So plate up your cubes of pineapple and cheese, pour out a couple of Tequila Sunrises, and crack open the best 10 party games for groups of five or more players.
Despite how complex it may initially seem, playing Concept is a fantastic way to start off an evening of frivolity. Players take it in turns to use the various images scattered across the game’s board to help the others guess an idea (e.g. Tequila Sunrise). By placing the given tokens and blocks (the tokens representing a ‘core’ element and blocks indicating a ‘sub-element’) on select icons, players can paint a picture of what their chosen concept is. For example, for Tequila Sunrise, a player might choose the icon for food and drink as the core element of their concept, and place blocks on the icons for sadness and heat to indicate the dreadful sweating that inevitably follows a night of drinking them. Even with all the puzzling required (which is not much), playing Concept is a surprisingly raucous and undeniably enjoyable affair.
Telestrations is arguably the only game where being worse at drawing gives you an advantage. A bizarre but very effective combination of Chinese Whispers and Pictionary, Telestrations has its players drawing (for example, a pig), guessing (oh look, its a pig!), drawing again (something that looks like a balloon with string poking out the back), before once again guessing (is that a sentient bomb with plug for a face?!). Each round starts with every player writing a randomly-chosen word in their book, before sketching out an image they think accurately depicts this word within a time limit. Once this is done, they then pass their book to their neighbour, who guesses, and the proccess continues. If the last player to guess the word gets it correct, then the book’s owner gets a point. More importantly, points are also awarded for more subjective reasons, such as the ‘best’ sketch in a player’s book. And by best we obviously mean: incredibly embarrassing and anatomically incorrect. Augmenting a game of Telestrations with copious amounts of alcohol and even shorter time limits for drawing, is guaranteed to make this already hilarious party game even funnier.
3. TEAM3 PINK
How many monkeys does it take to play a board game? Well, three, according to Alex Cutler and Matt Fantastic, designers of dexterity party game TEAM3 PINK (and TEAM3 GREEN, which is essentially the same game with slightly different content). Dexterity games are a perfect party activity, because with all the physical exertion and immense pressure involved, players are encouraged to be suitably rowdy. However, TEAM3 places certain restrictions on traditional hallmarks of rowdy behaviour, by forcing one of its players to shut their eyes, another to close their mouth and the last to bridge the communication gap between these two. The silent player must use various gestures and hand signals to describe a hidden blueprint, the middle player should then guide the blind player towards which pieces to use and where to place them. These sensory-deprivation elements makes TEAM3 PINK a more unique dexterity game, in that it doesn’t rely on anything particularly complex (such as Junk Art’s varied challenges) to elevate itself above its many contemporaries.
4. Happy Salmon
What fish could be more symbolic to parties than the humble salmon? With the body of a dancer and a constitution capable of downing infinite sambuca shots, the salmon deserves recognition as the scaly king of party-ing. In Happy Salmon, players are invited to yell the action shown on their card, which can include one of several respectful ways to worship the party-fish, such as the ‘High Five’ palm-clap, the ‘Pound It’ fist-bump and, of course, the quintessential ‘Happy Salmon’, a mutual exchange of frenzied forearm-slapping. The purpose of this yelling is to find another player with a matching card, so that you can perform its action, discard it and eventually get through your entire deck. It may be a laughably simple game, but Happy Salmon is incredibly effective at getting people on their feet and mingling with each other, which is ultimately the goal of any good party.
5. Sparkle Kitty Nights
Not only is Cards Against Humanity terribly repetitive to play, it also encourages you to say really mean things. And we’re not mean people at Dicebreaker. So we’re recommending a naughty card game that is also nice. Sparkle Kitty Nights is an ‘adult’ version of the original card-matching game Sparkle Kitty, which basically means you have permission to say suggestive phrases in a public setting. In the game, a group of knights are inadvertently locked in a tower after attempting to rescue a band of princesses who’ve unexpectedly freed themselves. These knights are split into equal teams of naughty and nice, with players freeing their fellow knights by playing cards and casting spells. All spells must be correctly spoken out loud (e.g. Sloppy Daddy), otherwise the offending player must suffer a punishment (which usually involves getting cards added to their tower). The vocal gymnastics players are required to perform, particularly with the inclusion of alcohol, makes playing Sparkle Kitty Nights an absolute ball.
Buy Sparkle Kitty Nights from Breaking Games.
6. Cash ‘n Guns
If you’re looking inject your party with a hearty dose of pulse-pounding thrills and (imaginary) criminal activity, then Cash ‘n Guns should definitely make an appearance. In Cash ‘n Guns, you and your party guests have just pulled off a successful bank robbery. Now it’s just the simple case of splitting the loot and trotting off home. But criminal syndicates are, of course, inherently greedy folks and won’t be satisfied with an equal cut. Which is why you spend the majority of Cash ‘n Guns in a Mexican standoff, with each player pointing a foam gun at another and threatening to shoot if they don’t back down. However, each player’s supply of bullets is limited, so successfully deducing whether your assailant is planning to play a fatal Bang! card, or is simply bluffing, is the key to winning a game of Cash ‘n Guns. The nifty little props do a lot to make playing Cash ‘n Guns fun, but it’s the brilliant bluffing mechanics behind the game that make it memorable.
Want to watch Cash ‘n’ Guns in action? Enjoy this heated crossover between our video crew and the Eurogamer team, filmed live at EGX.
Music is an essential element to any party worth attending. After all, how do you expect your guests to ‘get down’ if you don’t provide some appropriately banging tunes? But you can forget the boombox. Simply grab a copy of Spontuneous and get ready to belt out some absolute classics. Each round begins with one player (the ‘tunesmith’) setting a timer and choosing a trigger word from a hit list. The other players must then start singing a song with lyrics containing that word. For example, if the word was ‘cow’, then one might start rapping Ludacris’ section from that bonafide R’n’B classic: Usher’s ‘Yeah!’ The first person to start singing (or rapping) a qualifying set of lyrics scores the point for that round. As you can imagine, a game of Spontuneous is not the most dignified of pastimes, which of course, makes it the perfect game for getting the party going.
Playing a game of Skull takes a lot of guts, a little brains and a ton of luck. In Skull, each player receives a set of four cards, three with the comforting illustration of a beautiful bloom and one with the titular terrifying skull. Rounds consist of three phases: a card-playing phase, where players take it in turns to secretly add a flower or their skull to a growing stack; the bluffing phase, where people can instead bet on how many cards they can reveal from their own pile (which must be revealed in full first) and other players’ stacks without encountering a skull; and the reveal phase, wherein the player who bet the most cards attempts to successfully fulfill said bet. If a player inadvertently turns over a skull, then they must randomly lose one of their cards, which only serves to add yet another layer to an otherwise deceptively simple, adrenaline-inducing bluffing and betting game.
9. Mafia de Cuba
Too many games of Werewolf have devolved into mindless shouting and untenable bickering. Which is why we’re recommending Mafia de Cuba as our social deduction party game of choice. A round of Mafia de Cuba begins with every player but one passing a box of diamonds and tokens in a clockwise direction, during which players must decide what to take (and they must take something). If they wish to stay loyal to the Godfather, then they can choose to take one of the hidden role tokens; otherwise, they must take diamonds. Once the box reaches the Godfather, they reveal its contents and then interrogate the other players as to the whereabouts of their precious gems. The Godfather must successfully identify every disloyal mobster in the group to win, with any incorrect accusations resulting in an automatic loss. Whether you’re being questioned or doing the questioning, the level of tension involved remains addictively high, making for an undeniably engaging party experience.
Based on a long-time piece public-domain property (a game called Celebrity), Monikers is the modern day version of the classic family board game Articulate. As in Articulate, players take turns to describe a word to their teammates without uttering the phrase itself. What makes Monikers better than than Articulate, is the fact that its word pool focuses on the names of famous people, religious icons, mythical animals, and yet more bizarre figures of cultural significance, making every single card interesting to describe (there aren’t any obscure geographical locations here). Additionally, games are split into three separate rounds, with round one sticking to the basic formula explained above; round two cutting descriptions down to just one word and round three involving a lot more gesturing and flailing of the arms like charades. This means that playing Monikers rarely gets stale, as each round mixes things up just enough to keep the game fresh and fast-moving. Perfect for a party.