I love games! Board games, card games, dice games. Action games, strategy games, adventure games, puzzle games. Worker-placement, dice-drafting, roll and move, card-drawing, cooperative play. I love it all! I love that games bring people together (and temporarily tear them apart when things get really competitive). I also love giving recommendations. With that in mind, here are just ten of some of our favorite games to pull out at game night.
If you like peaceful, non-competitive games, try Just One (3-7 players)
This game is perfect for people who don’t like controversy. It’s a group effort to get teammates to guess mystery words by giving one-word clues. The catch is that all matching clues are canceled, so the guesser will have fewer clues to work with in order to guess the mystery word. At game night, we typically play Just One at the beginning as people trickle in or between more controversial games for a peaceful transition.
If you like laughing, try Liar’s Dice (2-6 players)
This game is easy to learn, quick to play, and just plain fun. Players take turns bidding on how many dice of a certain number are in play, ever increasing the bids until one player is called out as “Liar.” One by one, dice are removed from the game as “Liars” are either found out or falsely accused. At game night, we usually bring Liar’s Dice out near the end of the night, when we are all just a little tired and slap-happy. So, as we are making ridiculous bids, we tend to giggle in hopes that we are either correct in our bids or that not one will call us out.
If you like awkwardly winking at people, try Shifty Eyed Spies (4-8 players)
This game is a lot of fun. All players are spies who need to rendezvous with other spies at appointed locations. But the only way to let another spy know that you need to meet is by winking. Then once you’ve successfully established communication, the other player must indicate where to meet by glance alone. Smirks and shifty eyes abound as players are constantly looking around trying to communicate, receive communication, and/or catch other spies communicating. At game night, we like to play Shifty Eyed Spies when we have a larger group. It’s not your typical party game, but we’ve never played with a group who didn’t enjoy it.
If you like classic card games, try Sevens (3-8 players)
Every game shelf… closet… needs a 52-card deck (or two) on hand. This game is one of many great games you can play with a classic deck of cards. The deck is divided among the players, and the player with the seven of spades begins card placement. Each player successively places cards according to the rules of the game. If a player cannot play any of his cards, then he must ask the player next to him for a card. Once one player has placed all his cards, each player has once more chance to place a card; then all remaining cards are scored. Rounds are played until one unlucky player reaches the “high score.” We just recently learned and started playing Sevens at game night, and it’s a good game for when we want to play something simple.
If you like unique games, try Dixit (3-6 players)
This game is so interesting! The primary component is a large stack of cards with beautifully bizarre images. Each player takes a turn as storyteller. The storyteller chooses one of the cards in his hand and creates a sentence that will help other players (but not all) guess his card. Once the sentence is given, all the other players will choose a card from their hands and give it to the storyteller. Then the storyteller will shuffle then display the cards. Players have to decide which card is the storyteller’s. The artwork is easily my favorite part of this game, and while we actually don’t own Dixit, when we go to our local game café, we almost always end up bringing this one to the table.
If you like lying, try Sheriff of Nottingham (3-6 players)
This game is particularly fun for those who have a knack for deception. Each player is a merchant taking his goods to market, goods that might include contraband. Before the merchants can stock their stalls and sell their goods, they must get past the Sheriff of Nottingham. Players will declare their goods to the Sheriff (and might even include a little bribe); then the Sheriff will decide whether to inspect the bags or not. If a merchant is caught with contraband, he must pay the penalty; but if a player is truthful and the Sheriff inspects the bag, the Sheriff must pay the penalty. When we pull out Sheriff of Nottingham for game night, I know I am bound to lose (honestly is not the best policy for this game), yet I still have fun playing!
If you like extreme tension and a lot of shouting, try The Resistance (5-10 players)
This game brings out the dark side of even the kindest humans. Players are secretly divided into two teams: the Resistance and the Spies. Each round a player chooses other players to go on a mission. The group then decides whether or not to approve the team. Once a team is approved, the players on the mission secretly choose whether to pass or fail the mission. The goal of the Spies is to fail missions, and the goal of the Resistance is to pass missions by keeping Spies off the teams. As missions fail, players fall under suspicion and tension runs high, especially because the game is always so close! Players are falsely (or rightfully) accused, and everyone gets just a little defensive. But really, it’s fun! We eventually stop holding on to grudges and move on… or at least we will… right?
If you like taking risks, try Megaland (2-5 players)
This game is fun because players are competing not only against one another but also against the game itself by taking risks to improve their scores. The basic idea is that players are adventurers who go out on runs to collect treasures and encounter monsters along the way. The game is played in rounds. In each round players receive treasures, but if they encounter a monster, they will take damage. If a player takes more damage than he can afford, he is knocked out of the round and loses all the treasures he collected that round. To avoid being knocked out, a player can instead choose to leave with the treasures he has collected. Once all players have been knocked out or have left, they can use their treasures to buy hearts (to better withstand monsters) or buildings that give them coins and other advantages. We usually bring this game out when our game night crew is smaller, and it’s always fun seeing just how far we can press our luck.
If you like aesthetically pleasing games, try Sagrada (2-4 players, or 6 with expansion)
This game is stunning, themed from the stained glass windows of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona. Players are tasked with creating a stained glass window. Each round, they draft colored dice one by one and place them in their windows according to specific rules and restrictions that vary board to board. Players can also use tools-of-the-trade to perfect their masterpieces. Scoring is different each game as objective cards vary game to game. We don’t have the expansion pack, so we bring this game out on small, last-minute game nights.
If you like commitment, try Near and Far (2-4 players)
There are actually three different ways to play this game, two which require a little less commitment. However, my favorite way to play the game is Campaign Mode, which is played over the course of ten separate games. Players choose a character that they will use throughout the campaign and develop their characters’ talents as the game progresses. With each game, players go on quests and gain experience points that will benefit their characters throughout the campaign. The quests are particularly enjoyable as they are read from a storybook and the character on the quest can choose how he responds to the story. This is not your typical game-night game since the same players have to meet regularly to finish the campaign. But if your game night crew is small and you like the idea of exploring a different world and developing a story, then this game is for you.
Looking for more?
I hope to write more posts like this in the future, but if you are looking for more recommendations, feel free to ask me in the comments or email me. I would love to recommend the perfect game for you and your game night crew!
Also if you have some suggestions of your own, I’d love to read them!