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Whether you’re planning the next game night or just looking for entertainment that’s a little outside the box, party games are a great investment. Having a few options on-hand could come in handy for impromptu gatherings or parties that need an icebreaker.
Here, the best party games that everyone can enjoy.
Best Cooperative: Stellar Factory Spaceteam Card Game
Cooperative games are great for keeping things light and non-competitive. Spaceteam is a fast-paced card game where players race to repair their malfunctioning spaceship to escape the impending black hole. This game can accommodate up to six players unless you buy the expansion pack which allows for up to nine players to join in on the fun. It’s great for larger groups because it’s equally as fun to watch, and it's easy for players to swap in and out after rounds (each round lasts about five minutes).
All players have to work together in real-time to solve one complication after another as well as avoid "hazards" like wormholes and asteroid fields. Victory is achieved when enough malfunctions are corrected to reveal the six hidden System-Go Cards before time is up. Players be warned, this is a frantic, fast-paced shouting game.
Best Strategy: Czech Games Codenames
This word-deduction game may sound basic, but it’s more cerebral than one might think. It's easy enough to teach large groups, and entertaining enough for a wide range of ages. While Codenames is great for groups of at least four to six players (or more), it’s possible to play with two or three players. The game starts with naming two spymasters, one from each team. Spymasters are the only players that know the secret identities of all 25 agents—everyone else only knows these agents by their codenames.
The premise of the game is for the spymasters to get their teammates to guess the words that correspond to their team’s color using just one-word clues. Guess right, and your team could unlock a group of related words to further your position. Spymasters have to be strategic with their one-word clues so they don’t give anything away for the other team, or, worse, guess the assassin card which ends the round immediately.
"Players learn and grow their communication skills without even thinking about it." —Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Best Trivia: Hasbro Gaming Trivial Pursuit
Sometimes the classic games are the best games, and Trivial Pursuit is a party game that’s stood the test of time because it covers an array of fascinating topics like geography, history, art, alliteration, science, sports, and more. It’s accessible to teens, adults, and older players, and allows for younger players to participate by teaming up with older participants.
The objective of the game is for players to progress around the board by answering trivia questions correctly and earning wedges. The Master Edition includes over 3,000 challenging questions on new topics like entertainment, pop culture, and modern technology. The manufacturer suggests players be at least 16 due to the challenging nature of some questions.
Best Murder-Mystery: Hasbro Clue
The game of Clue is an old-school favorite that's sure to delight players of all ages. Perfect for two to six players, the objective is for players to solve three main questions: who was murdered, where they were murdered, and with what weapon. The answers remain in a confidential folder while players move room to room in a mansion and are dealt character, location, and weapon cards. These cards are then used to make an accusation against other characters to uncover clues about who the killer is, the scene of the crime, and the weapon. Through deductive reasoning, players attempt to solve the mystery by guessing all three correctly to win.
Best Icebreaker: Mattel Games Apples to Apples
Apples to Apples is a classic, easy to understand party game that’s great for large groups. The objective is to select a card from your hand that best represents the card played by the player designated as the “Judge." Each player receives seven cards face down to start. In each round, the Judge draws a card that has several descriptive adjectives and reads it aloud to the group. Players then choose from their cards to make the best phrase combination. To win, players must win a certain amount of rounds designated by however many people are playing. This game of comparisons is very similar to games like Cards Against Humanity and What Do You Meme?. However, unlike other versions, Apples to Apples is a family-friendly game with more appropriate topics.
Best Card Game: Cards Against Humanity Cards Against Humanity: The Main Game
Cards Against Humanity is a cult favorite for a reason. Marketed as a “party game for horrible people,” this game is extremely entertaining and wildly inappropriate, so keep in mind that some topics are highly sensitive or triggering for some. However, if you don't mind inappropriate humor, this game is sure to provide hours and hours of laughter and amusement.
Similar to Apples to Apples, a Judge is designated to pick their favorite fill-in-the-blank sentence created by the black and white cards. To play, the Judge draws a black card which has a sentence or phrase for all players to see. Once this card is drawn, each player chooses from their hand of white cards to fill in the blank. Each white card has a word or phrase as well, most of which are hilariously inappropriate. From there, the Judge will then choose their favorite and most outrageous combination.
"Many of us had played the game before, but upon replaying it a few years later, it was clear that some of the cards had not aged well. Many matched cards still drew big laughs...But the insensitive nature of some of the cards was frankly a little awkward—especially among people from differing backgrounds."—Shannon Wells, Product Tester
Best Board Game: Catan Studio Settlers of Catan: Family Edition
Settlers of Catan has been translated into over 30 different languages, so it’s safe to say this one appeals to a range of audiences. This adventure-based board game requires players to battle it out to collect resources and build the biggest settlements on the island of Catan.
The board is made up of 19 hexagonal tiles that are arranged randomly at the beginning of each game—making sure that no two games are ever the same. Each player gets a color-coded settlement, road, and city pieces, and earns “victory points” as they build various structures. The first player to earn ten points wins the game. Catan relies on tactical thinking and decision making, and while it is competitive, it ends up pitting players against the game rather than each other. The manufacturer suggests players be 8 years or older, but we think teaming younger players with older ones works well, too.
Best for Adults: Days of Wonder Ticket to Ride
Ticket to Ride is an award-winning, cross-country adventure from Germany that requires critical thinking and strategy. This version is better for teens and adults as the rules are slightly more complex, although players older than 8 should be able to play this game with a little help.
The goal of Ticket to Ride is to build train tracks across North America, and players who build the longest train and claim the most tracks from one major city to another are awarded points. Because there are so many different strategies, each game will feel new and exciting. Games last about thirty minutes and require two to five players. Plus, this board game is a great choice for those who love strategy games but may not have the patience or understanding for more advanced games.