It’s game night and you’ve got a LOT of people coming over. You can’t set up Catan or any of the classics, as you don’t want anyone missing out on a game, and getting everyone to play something gargantuan like Twilight Imperium is out of the question. The solution? Get some party games!
Party games are small-box, inexpensive, and super quick board games for big groups that you can play over and over. They have you guess, draw, and even act out some wacky scenes, bringing tons of laughter to an event.
Whether you have an upcoming team building, an actual party, or are organizing a big game night, these are the best party board games to accommodate a huge crowd of players.
Party Games – Out Top Picks
- Blood on the Clocktower
- Ready Set Bet
- A Fake Artist Goes to New York
- The Resistance: Avalon
What Makes a Good Party Game
Before we can talk about the games in more detail, we need to ask and answer one simple question – what is a party board game? Although there isn’t a strict definition per se, there are certain factors that make a game, well, a party game.
These games are usually meant to be played in large groups, are light on the rules, and a single game shouldn’t take more than half an hour. Now it’s pretty obvious why they’re called party games, isn’t it? It’s not just because you can play them at parties or pubs since they have a small footprint.
On top of that, not every game in this genre is a particularly good board game by itself. There are a lot of party games that are either too gimmicky or don’t offer more than a simple trivia experience like Trivial Pursuit.
Truly good party board games are engaging and make everyone around the table feel like they’re actively participating even if it’s not their turn. They have clear rules that you can explain in a single breath or at least in about a minute tops. It also doesn’t hurt when the components are nice and sturdy, especially as you’ll be carrying that game with you.
Finally, these are the games your group will want to play over and over again in a single game night. With quick matches and oftentimes hilarious rounds, it’s clear why party games continue to be popular even today.
|Number of players:||2 to 8|
|Play time:||15 minutes|
Codenames is easily a favorite in any best party game discussion and one of the best-selling games of all time. When Czech Games Edition released Codenames in 2016, it was immediately met with praise, winning Spiel des Jahres for that year among many other awards.
In Codenames, the players are split into two teams – blue and red. One member of each team is assigned a spymaster role and those two players are sat next to each other, secretly looking at a 5×5 card where their team colors are marked.
From a deck of cards, you draw 25 and place them in a 5×5 grid. These cards include various words and, you guessed it, the spymaster’s goal is to give a one-word clue to their team, so they only guess the words that match their own colors on the target card. Along with the clue word, they must also give a number representing the number of cards that the clue corresponds to.
What’s great about Codenames is how replayable it is. There are 400 words total in this game! It plays great in any number of players, too, but it’s recommended to have at least six people around the table so more players get to be clue-givers.
If the words are not your thing, there’s also the Codenames Pictures version of the game. This one plays exactly the same but, instead of words, each card only has a black-and-white picture on it. Either way, you’ll end up playing a hilarious card game your gaming group will love to bits.
- Almost infinitely replayable
- Affordable and great for travels
- Quick to set up and play
- Players prone to analysis paralysis will hate it
|Number of players:||2 to 12|
|Play time:||30 – 40 minutes|
Wavelength is a game that tasks you with the strangest goal ever – reading your friends’ minds. Seriously!
In each round, one player from a team (the Psychic) spins the plate in the central contraption and checks, secretly, where the bullseye is hidden. They then draw a card that has some sort of comparison written on it. For example, on the left, it will say “cold” and on the right, it will say “hot.” Now, their job is to give a clue (a word, or a phrase) in that range so their team can set the dial as close to the bullseye as possible.
That spectrum Wavelength asks you to put your clues on is what makes this game truly shine. You’ll have to start thinking out of the box and truly get in the head of your teammates to score big in this game. It also helps that the wheel with the dial offers such a tactile, fun experience, making for a standout experience at every game night.
After a while, though, scoring probably won’t matter to your group. You’ll just pop out Wavelength because it’s a blast to play and so easy to set up – you just open the box, flip up the dial and you’re good to go. It’s truly the best board game for parties and an amazing icebreaker.
- Amazing production quality
- Plays great with any number of players
- Requires almost no desk space
- Scoring is a bit arbitrary
|Number of players:||3 to 8|
|Play time:||15 – 45 minutes|
Word games have always been a party favorite, so getting another twist on the classic word-guessing formula is always a plus. Decrypto is exactly that neat twist, as not only will it have you guess the words, but you’ll be trying to send codes across the table, too.
Two teams are sat across each other, facing this strange contraption where four cards need to be slotted. Through the red-tinted windows, you’ll see words revealed. But, you’re not guessing words here, you’re guessing a sequence.
One team member will try to help the rest of the team guess the sequence by giving them four hints, one for each of those words, and the rest of the team’s goal is to guess the sequence that the player drew from the deck. At the same time, the opposing team is trying to intercept the message and, if they guess the sequence first, they’ll be the ones to score a point. Both teams get to intercept the opponent’s messages, and the first team to score two points wins. Similarly, if one team makes two mistakes, the other team will be declared the winner.
Decrypto is incredibly simple to play but becomes devilishly difficult as the game goes on, as you’ll keep trying not just to figure out what’s happening at the other side of the table, but think of new words to use in your clues so the opponents don’t guess them.
- Unique take on word-guessing games
- Easy to teach
- Looks really cool
- Ends a little bit too fast
|Number of players:||3 to 8|
|Play time:||30 minutes|
Dixit has been a staple of game nights ever since Libellud released it in 2008 and is the top party board game for families. Its staying power is mostly thanks to its beautiful artwork and the cutest little bunny meeples you’ve ever seen. Of course, being an awesome party game helps, too.
This is another clue-giving game. One player called a storyteller, will play a card facedown and give a clue – either only one word or a sentence, a sound, a charade… whatever they like. All other players add one of their cards to the pile, trying to match the clue and score points.
After mixing the cards and revealing them, everyone but the storyteller secretly guesses which card is the original. If they guess correctly – they score three points. If they’re wrong – the player whose card was chosen gets a complimentary point. Being a storyteller in Dixit is tricky, as you want at least someone to guess your card, but not all players as, in that case, you’ll get zero points.
The art on Dixit cards is what truly makes this game shine. Each oversized card has a dreamlike, surreal painting on it, sparking the imagination of the players. Libellud has released a bunch of expansions for this game, so you’ll never get bored of playing Dixit.
- Gorgeous components
- No reading skills required
- Easily expandable
- Limited staying power within a single group
|Number of players:||4 to 10|
|Play time:||10 minutes|
What happens when you add word guessing to the age-old game of Werewolf and spice it up with a race against the clock? You get Werewords, an absolutely hectic party game of distrust and wild guesses.
Like in the game it’s based on, a round of Werewords begins with dealing out hidden roles to players and that famous “everybody close your eyes” phase where werewolves get to know each other and start plotting. But, the goal is not to snack on the poor villages. Instead, everyone is trying to guess a secret word that the Mayor knows by using simple “yes or no” questions. If the team guesses the word – the villagers win. Otherwise, team Werewolf wins. But, werewolves can also try to guess who the Seer was to score a big turnover win, so you need to be on your toes all the time.
Werewords uses an app to handle word randomization and keep track of time. It will also tell you when each of the roles may either look at the secret word or at each other. It comes with a massive dictionary and plenty of settings – the time limit (default is five minutes), difficulty, and language. You can even download additional dictionaries for free and make your own. Try a round of guessing the Pokemon, or Marvel superheroes, for example.
Werewords is a blast to play and its only downside is that you’ll spend almost as much time setting it up as it takes to play a full round. But, it’s worth it, and it’s a great game to pack in your suitcase when traveling.
- Blazing-fast gameplay
- Tons of free extra content
- Great use of the app
- Takes longer to set up than to play
6. Blood on the Clocktower
|Number of players:||5 to 20|
|Play time:||30 – 120 minutes|
A murder mystery game of sorts, Blood on the Clocktower has become one of the top party board games in recent years thanks to the sheer spectacle it creates. It comes in a big box that opens up like a book, has one player becoming a storyteller while sitting everybody else in a circle, and is one of the best takes on hidden role games ever made.
Up to twenty (20!) players can partake in a game of Blood on the Clocktower, taking roles in an eternal good vs. evil struggle, bluffing and scheming their way to victory. The goal for the good guys is to figure out which players are the demons and eliminate them from the game before they grow in numbers.
The games have day and night phases, just like Werewolf. During the day phase, players are allowed to talk, whisper, and send signals to each other. At night, everybody closes their eyes and, one by one, looks up and executes their nefarious moves.
What this game gets right is player engagement. In similar games, people who are shy or simply not loud enough can feel overwhelmed. But, in Blood on the Clocktower, everyone participates as much as they want without feeling left out. There are even rules for players that join a game late. Very neat and inclusive.
The downsides? Well, it’s a ridiculously big box, one that won’t fit into any board game shelf. Although that’s not a problem by itself, Blood on the Clocktower is also very expensive. Over $100 expensive. But, if your entire group chips in, it’s an experience worth dipping your proverbial toes in.
- Great for very big groups
- A new take on the hidden role genre
- Lets players engage on their own terms
7. Ready Set Bet
|Number of players:||2 to 9|
|Play time:||45 – 60 minutes|
Winner of multiple awards for the best party board game of 2022, Ready Set Bet brings all the excitement of a horse racetrack to your home without any downsides of, well, betting your actual cash.
Your goal is very simple – make the most money over four races. One player runs the racetrack, rolling dice and announcing how each of the horses moves, while up to eight players place bets and cheer in this fast-paced board game. It’s even better when the “house” player imitates the racetrack announcer, making the game into an exhilarating (and loud!) event.
Each roll of the dice moves one of the horses, but repeated results activate some cool movement effects that are different for each horse. Well, except for number 7, as that’s the most common result of rolling two dice. Catan players will surely know this. And this all happens in real-time, both dice-chucking and betting!
To make Ready Set Bet more of a, well, game, the designer John D. Clair employed several interesting mechanics. There are VIP and Exotic finish cards with extra rules that make the game even wackier and even the House player can put down some bets if they can handle the chaos.
- Hilarious and exciting gameplay
- Unique mechanics
- Fun even if you’re not a fan of horse racing…
- …but not ideal if you dislike betting
|Number of players:||3 to 6|
|Play time:||15 – 45 minutes|
Skull is one of the simplest games you’ll ever play, but also a game you’ll want to replay hundreds of times. It takes the bluffing and tactics from poker and distills them into such a thrill rush that you’ll need a breather after every round.
To start, players choose a color and take the corresponding set of discs and a square double-sided coaster that’s used for keeping track of points. Your hand of “cards” has three roses and one skull. Your goal is simple – win 2 rounds by either knocking players out of the round or winning a challenge.
The round starts with all players choosing one of their discs and putting it facedown on top of their coaster. Then, going clockwise, players can either add a card or issue a challenge by calling the number of cards they can flip without hitting a skull. This, of course, includes raising the stakes, bluffing, and double bluffing, as you have a skull on top of your stack.
And that’s pretty much it. Winning a round gets you a point, but hitting that skull when you start flipping cards will have you permanently discarding the discs from your hand, leaving you with fewer options in future rounds. Skull is a blast to play at pubs and that artwork is just gorgeous.
- Highly engaging game
- Beautiful artwork
- Easy to learn, hard to master
- Little bit expensive for what it is
9. A Fake Artist Goes to New York
|Number of players:||5 to 10|
|Play time:||20 minutes|
If you love drawing games but got tired of playing Pictionary over and over, here’s an interesting and super portable game for you. A Fake Artist Goes to New York is one part a social deduction game, one part art project, and a whole lot of laughs.
All players around the table collaborate on drawing a single picture. Each player can add just one line to the drawing on their turn. But, one of the players is the titular fake artist that doesn’t know what everybody is supposed to draw, as only they don’t get the secret word but a big fat X on their dry-erase card.
As you can guess, this quickly turns into an absolute blast that feels like you’re trying to play charade while everyone else is spinning the bottle. Better yet, the game is suitable for all ages and is a great choice for big groups that don’t know each other very well. It comes in a cute, tiny box but, as with all Oink Games releases, it is a little bit pricier than what these games usually cost.
- Super portable
- Great for players of all ages
- Hilariously funny
- Slightly overpriced
|Number of players:||4 to 16|
|Play time:||30 – 60 minutes|
Monikers is the good, old charades, but amped up to eleven. Based on the public domain game Celebrities, it will have your teams guessing various people and giving out progressively wackier clues.
Over three rounds, you’ll be giving clues by explaining who these people are to your team, and all within the span of one minute. In the first round, you can say anything but the name on the card, in the second round you can only give one-word clues, and the third round is the classic charades.
The twist is that you’ll be using the same stack of cards in all three rounds, so Monikers turns into a game of in-jokes that naturally develop as you play. The cards also have explanations on them, so no prior pop culture knowledge is required.
Now, this game is a little spicier than the rest on this list, so you’ll need to take out some cards if you plan on playing with a younger crowd or people that aren’t into adult humor. Nothing super edgy like Cards Against Humanity, but still some words that could make some of your players uncomfortable.
- Lighthearted and hilarious
- Huge replayability
- Easy to teach
- Not family-friendly
11. The Resistance: Avalon
|Number of players:||5 to 10|
|Play time:||30 minutes|
Do you need the best board games for groups that loved Werewolf (or Mafia) but want something… spicier? The Resistance: Avalon is that legendary game amped up to eleven. You and your friends will become members of the Round Table at Kamelot, but some of you might be evil spies, trying to sabotage the mission.
Unlike, say, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, this game is played across several rounds. One player is designated as a quest leader and they need to choose a set number of players (may include themselves) to go on a quest. The act of questing is just a simple, binary vote. Good guys will, of course, out the success cards in the pile, while baddies get to mess with everyone by bluffing and double-bluffing, with the majority vote winning.
Other than that, the game mostly follows the Werewolf rules, but it doesn’t have player elimination. Instead, the winning team is the one scoring three quest wins. There are also several special roles in the box that mix up the game.
Like its predecessor, Avalon is a game of discussion. It can become a very loud experience, which might not be ideal for everyone, especially when playing in public.
- Classic Werewolf formula expanded
- Great for travels
- Gets very shouty, can lead to fights around the table
How We Chose the Games To Bring to a Party
With so many board games on the market today, especially those that fall into the party game category, it’s incredibly easy to get overwhelmed with the choice. When we chose the best party games for this list, we used certain criteria and methods to pick from the vast selection.
First and foremost, we settled on the games that we had a great time playing at parties and with big groups. The games that “worked” and have proven to be fun to play with our close friends, colleagues, and random people at cons.
These games needed to be easy to learn, fun to teach, and have players not just eager to play a round, but to stick around for another game or two. A lot of them were innovative in one way or the other, too, taking some familiar formulas and mixing them into something that was even more interesting to play.
We also love board games that look good on the table, inviting passers-by to join the game. Additionally, we looked at the component quality and how easy to transport these games are. Party games are often played, well, at parties. Components will fly around, and maybe a drink ends up slipping and spilling on game pieces, so it’s important that the game can at least somewhat survive such hijinks.
Last, but not least, the price of the game played an important part in choosing the best board games for parties. Party games are usually very affordable and provide great value, but we did end up choosing a game or two that might be considered “expensive” in this category, just for their brilliant components, uniqueness, or the sheer amount of stuff you get in the box.
It depends on how big your group is. If there are no more than four of you at the table, we recommend getting some of the popular family games as they’re great bonding tools and are always fun to play. As for the bigger groups, any of the party games we listed here are good, just pick the theme and mechanics you know your friends will enjoy.
The fun factor of a party game comes down to how easy the rules are to teach, whether the players enjoy taking their turns, and the game’s replayability. Of course, if the game makes you laugh, then it’s a surefire sign that it’s a blast to play.
A party game is a board game that can be played by a large number of players and has quick, simple rules. The best party board games tend to be for groups of five to ten people, inexpensive, and almost infinitely replayable.