Free Games for Large Groups

Basic Rules for Easy Games to Play With Friends

Chris Garrett

Bring the life to the party with these great, free games that can be played with a large group, requiring only paper, pencils, and perhaps a single six-sided die or a deck of cards. In some cases, no equipment is needed.

  • 01 of 07

    Wink Murder/Murder Handshake

    • Players: 6 to 30 players (best with at least 10 players)
    • Equipment: None

    Wink Murder is a great parlor or party game for many players. In this game, one player is chosen to be the killer and another to be the detective. All of the players sit in a circle with the detective in the middle. The murderer kills people by winking at them or giving them a special handshake. When a player is killed, he should lay down or leave the circle. Many players like to make the killing dramatic by, for example, pretending they've been shot. The detective has three chances to guess who the murderer is.

  • 02 of 07


    • Players: 3 or more players (best with 6 to 8)
    • Equipment: Paper, pencils

    Categories is an entertaining party game that is inspired by the board game Scattergories. Each player draws a five-by-five grid on a piece of paper, then writes the five-letter keyword across the top, one letter per column. Five categories—which can be virtually anything, such as capital cities, professional wrestlers, or musical composers—are selected and written down the side of the grid, one per row. Players then have a set time (generally 5 to 10 minutes) to fill their own grid with words that fit each category and start with the letter at the top. When time expires, answers are compared. One point is scored for each player who has a unique word, in other words, a word that does not match anyone else's answer. The player with the most points wins.

  • 03 of 07


    • Players: 2 or more players
    • Equipment: None

    Ghosts is a word game played entirely verbally. No equipment is needed unless players want to keep score with a paper and pencil. It's convenient but not necessary to have access to a dictionary. The first player says a letter and then, in turn, each player adds a letter to those already said—either at the start or the end—to form an ever-growing word fragment. The objective is to not form a valid word. Try to force another player to spell a word, or else try to get a player to say a letter that makes it impossible to form a word. If a valid word of four or more letters has been formed, then the next player starts a new word.

    On the next player's turn, instead of adding a letter, any player may challenge the previous player to form a valid English word using the sequence of letters that have been built, if that player thinks a word does not exist that starts with that fragment. The loser of the challenge is given a letter in the word "Ghosts." When a player has accumulated all of six letters in "Ghosts," that player is eliminated.

  • 04 of 07


    • Players: 2 or more players
    • Equipment: One six-sided die, paper and pencil (for scoring)

    Although the downtime between your turns grows longer with each additional player, Pig can work with any number of players. The goal is to be the first player to reach 100 points but that can be adjusted to either shorten or lengthen the game.

    On a turn, a player rolls the die repeatedly and adds up the numbers until either a 1 is rolled or the player chooses to hold or stop rolling. If a 1 is rolled at any time during a player's turn, the turn ends and that player earns no points. If the player chooses to hold, all of the points rolled during that turn are added to the player's score.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Poker Squares

    • Players: 2 or more players
    • Equipment: Paper, pencils, a deck of cards

    The goal of this game is to score the most points by placing cards into the best possible poker hands in a five-by-five grid. Players first draw their grids, and then one is chosen to select cards from a shuffled deck. That player draws the top card and announces it. Each player then writes that card's rank and suit into one of the 25 available squares. This is repeated until 25 cards have been drawn and announced. All 25 squares will be filled on every player's grid. Each column and each row are then scored, with, for example, a royal flush being worth 50 points and a straight flush being worth 30.

  • 06 of 07


    • Players: 3 to 13 players (best with 6 to 13)
    • Equipment: Deck of cards, spoons (optional)

    Spoons is a clever card game that can be played by children and adults together. It is also known as Pig and Tongue, and spoons are not necessary to play that version of the game.

    There are two goals: Ideally, you want to be the first player to collect four cards of the same rank. Secondarily, if an opponent beats you to that goal, you want to avoid being the last to realize it.

    After the cards are shuffled, players continually pass cards (one at a time) to their left. When a player collects four of a kind, that person takes a spoon from the center of the table as subtly as possible. Every other player then must do the same. The last player to grab a spoon is eliminated. Or, in the tongue version of the game, when the first player collects a four of a kind, they say nothing. Instead, they discretely stick out their tongue and stay in that position. Once a player sticks out their tongue, all the other players must do the same, even if they themselves do not have four of a kind. The last person to stick out their tongue is out.

    It is funny how many players are usually so busy looking at their cards that they don't notice the tongues wagging around the table.

  • 07 of 07

    Word Squares

    • Players: 2 or more players
    • Equipment: Paper, pencils

    Word Squares is great for a group of word lovers. Each player draws a five-by-five grid on their piece of paper, and one of the players is chosen to go first. That person calls out a letter, and each player writes that letter in one of the 25 available squares.

    The next player then calls out a letter, which may be the same as or different than any previous letter. Each player writes that letter into one of the remaining squares. This continues until all 25 squares are filled. Then, you count up the words made. Words in each column and each row are scored. A valid five-letter word is worth 10 points, a four-letter word is worth 5, and a three-letter word is worth 1.