Have you ever wanted to host a game night but weren’t sure what game would be best to play or if people would even like it? Maybe the first thing that comes to your mind are games like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit and all the “fun” arguments that broke out because of them. I’m happy to tell you that there are so many different types of games available nowadays that you can pretty much cover any crowd’s personality! There are even games that allow you to play cooperatively, so if you’re trying to prevent fights this might be your route.
I am a huge game lover. Huge.
Growing up, whenever we’d go to a family event on my dad’s side of the family, we’d play games after dinner. I have so many great memories from these nights! If you think about it, playing games helps in so many different areas: breaking the ice, bonding, finding out more about an individual, learning skills, bonding, and having fun.
These days I feel weird when I don’t play games after a family dinner. It’s harder to do now because the family has grown exponentially and live in various places in the world. Whenever we can, we still get together to play games.
Now, you might be thinking you don’t like games or that you don’t have time or they’re too hard to play. The good news is, I seriously believe there are games for everyone. You just need to find the right one. Nowadays there is such a wide variety to choose from compare to the Monopoly and Candyland days.
One of the things I encourage people to do, is to have a gathering of friends/family at home instead of going out. Make dinner, or just serve drinks and appetizers, or coffee and dessert—but stay home, talk, and play games. It’ll save you money and you’ll probably make a lot of memories doing it.
Here are the most important steps in picking a game for your group:
- How many players
- Length of time people are willing to sit
- What is the difficulty level
- The personality of the players themselves
Below I’ve listed out a large number of games broken down in categories. With each category I give a short description on what type of crowd goes best with these games.
I’ve listed each game with a breakdown of :(Amount of players/time/learning curve) AND to make things even easier, I’ve added an asterisk next to the cooperative games.
For those who are just breaking into games or who prefer to relax rather than get into an intense battle with the other players. Casual games also have shorter time lengths and are good for those who have work the next day or who don’t want to sit down for too long.
Love Letters (2-4 players/20 minutes/easy) – The goal is to get your love letter to the princess and to keep the other suiters’ letters from reaching her! This game only has 16 cards which makes it fantastic for traveling. It’s simple and a perfect ice breaker game.
Sushi Go (2-5 players/20 minutes/easy) – Match sushi and make sets from the every moving conveyer belt (the card hands that are constantly passed) and rack up the most points! Another small game that’s great for travel and for breaking people into the game playing mood!
Code Names (2-8 players/20 minutes/easy) – There are two spy masters and each one must communicate to their team where they placed their secret agents. Be careful not to accidentally confuse your team into selecting the opposite teams agent, a bystander, or the assassin. My friends looked at me like I was crazy when I pulled this out, after one game, they were addicted. Great for getting your thinking wheels turning.
Ticket to Ride (2-5 players/30-60 minutes/easy) – Each player has various train routes they must connect. Don’t let the other players know where you’re headed or they might try to block you! A fun game that involves strategy but at a less intense rate. Great for families or new gamers.
Machi Koro (2-4 players/45 minutes/easy-medium) – Build your city and compete to finish your landmarks before anyone else! This is an extremely fun game that has multiple strategies that can be used. I’ve purchased this game for both my parents and my sister and her family because they liked it so much. A great gateway game.
Great for when you have a large number of people. These games are fairly easy to learn to play and jump right in.
Anomia Party Edition (3-6 players/30 minutes/easy) – Each card you draw from the deck has a symbol on it. If the symbol matches another players, yell out an answer the topic on their before they can yell out yours. A fun family game and great for playing with kids and building vocabulary.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf (3-10 players/10 minutes/easy) – Each player is given a role to secretly play. The team must figure out who the werewolf is to win the game. Are you the werewolf? Don’t let them know its you! This game is a lot of fun and even has a phone app that instructs players what to do. It’s fun and fast and you’ll most likely want to play it over and over.
Scattegories (2-6 players/30 minutes/easy) – An old game from my childhood, I just couldn’t leave it out. The goal is to fill out as many categories with words starting with the rolled letter. Fun after dinner game and also helps build vocabulary.
SuperFight (3-10 players/30 minutes/easy) – Each player must select one villain and one super power from their draw. They are given one additional super power once they’ve selected. Battle with your neighbor, coming up with a story to the ridiculous fight. The table decides who wins. A lot of fun and completely goofy. Guaranteed laughs.
Red Dragon Inn (2-4 players, but you can add more players with expansions/45 minutes/easy) – You and your friends are the classic fantasy adventurers and have gone to the tavern after a long day of stereotypical escapades. Be the one with the most money and sobriety at the end of the night and you win. This is a fun game that pokes fun of fantasy. Easy to learn and a great for people who like to mess with their friends.
For those who like a real challenge. These games are longer and can cause some serious brain power to kick in. These are perfect for small groups of people.
Seasons (2-4 players/60 minutes/medium) – Each player is a mage and is battling for the title of archmage in a 12 month competition. Building your deck and playing your cards wisely will earn you points. Player with the most points at the end of the 12 seasons win. This game has a fun mechanic where you select your cards at the beginning of the game and put them in a a pile for each of the three years in the game. You can’t play cards from a year you’re not in yet, so plan wisely.
Dominion (2-4 players/60 minutes/medium) – Another deck building game. Your goal is to build your dominion and have the most victory points at the end of the game. With a ton of available expansions to this game, there are a lot of options to suit your group of players.
Small World (2-5 players/60-80 minutes/medium) – Another game that makes fun of fantasy. Each player controls a fantasy race (trolls, elves, vampires) and each race has a different attribute. The race is played to expand your empire until it goes into decline and the player picks a new race. Collect the most land and gold to win.
Pandemic* (2-4 players/45 minutes/medium) – Not to be confused with Pandemic: Legacy (which I’ll talk about later on), Pandemic is a cooperative game where players fight to find a cure to different diseases which have spread over the globe. A great game if you don’t want to deal with competition and a lot of strategy involved. If you have a serious group of gamers who are consistent, I would highly recommend Pandemic: legacy over this version.
Letters to WhiteChapel* (2-6 players/2-4 hours/medium) – One of my favorite games. One player takes the role of Jack the Ripper and up to five other players act as the detectives out to catch Jack. The five detectives play cooperatively against Jack, so it’s half co-op. You have four nights to catch Jack on the streets of historic London before he completely disappears and wins the game. They say this game lasts about 120 minutes, but I’ve seen it go up to 4 hours. Have fun and put your sleuthing hats on! This has more mature themes.
The Grizzled* (2-5 players/30 minutes/medium) – Another one of my favorites. This game is beautiful and depressing. A cooperative game where you and your friends are trying to survive the trenches of WWI. A player’s hand must be kept a secret from the rest of the team and must be played (or back out), which each card bearing a threat to the team. If there are too many threats repeated after a play, the mission fails.
Dead of Winter: The Long Night* (2-5 players/1-2 hours/medium) – So much love for this game. This is the stand alone expansion that can be played like the original game. I like this one because it comes with two different events/creatures: Raxxon and raiders. The game is co-op, but there can be a traitor amongst you. Each player gets a secret objective they must solve, and the team has an overall goal to win the game—all while trying to survive the Zombie apocalypse. This has more mature themes.
Looking for a game that is heavy on story? Do your friends love uncovering mysteries or having the game change by their actions?Depending on what happens in these games, the story will change and each play through will be different.
Betrayal at House on the Hill* (3-6 players/60 minutes/medium) – A cooperative with a possible traitor. They won’t know they’re the traitor though until the last stage of the game! You and your team are exploring a haunted mansion. Different doors lead to different events and monsters that the group must face. Each mission comes with a story and an end goal. A lot of fun with a large group of players. This has more mature themes.
Pandemic Legacy* (2-4 players/60 minutes/medium) – My very favorite right now. This game is completely story based and each play through you change and destroy the board. New events, pieces, players, etc are added as the story and game progress. Like the original pandemic, your team must find cures for the diseases that have sprouted around the globe. I can’t tell you any more than that without giving spoilers, but this game is absolutely amazing. You play January through December so 12 play throughs. Make sure you have a dedicated group that wants to play often. We met twice a month. You might ask yourself why you’d want to get a game that doesn’t have replay value, but I’ve never played a game so much or consistently and I feel it’s 100% worth it.
I wasn’t exactly positive what category to put these under because they are strategy, but they don’t really involve a board. This are more interactive games where you have to do your research as you play and get creative. Fun for those who want to try something a bit different but still have heavy strategy.
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective* (1-8 players/1-2 hours/medium) -You and your team are given a mystery to solve. Through maps, interviews, and clues, you must use all your smarts to figure out what happened within a certain amount of moves. There is no board for this game (which really was hard for a few of my friends to wrap their heads around) but there are letters, a map, and a book with interviews. Fun for those who love to solve mysteries.
Diplomacy (2-7 players/3-4 hours/hard) – This game has players acting as one of the seven Great Powers of Europe before WW1. Negotiation, betrayal, attack—this game has it all. The board is a map, but you don’t sit around and play on it. You walk around and talk to the other players/countries and work your magic. This is a brutal game, but a ton of fun if you like history and diplomatic type games. We had everyone come dressed up according to the country they played (we anonymously selected countries before playing) to make it easier for people to remember who was who.
I hope this list helped give you an idea of all the different games available! Sometime in the near future, I’ll be working on a post on my very favorite games.
What are your favorite games? Have you played any of the ones I’ve listed above? Let me know in the comments or send me a tweet @apronwarrior
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