10 board games and game night activities that are actually fun
Beat boredom on your next game night
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There's two kinds of people in this world: People who love board games, and people who hate 'em (or as I like to call them, party poopers). Personally speaking, game night is my favorite way to bring my friends together and keep the laughs (and wine) flowing. Whether it's a buzz-worthy new app or a classic board game that's been around for ages, you're in for an amazing bonding experience and perhaps a test of friendship (should you face a devastating loss). Below, I've rounded up a few favorites that are sure to test allegiances, get the adrenaline pumping, and make the night a memorable one.
1. A civilization-building game: Settlers of Catan
If you haven't geeked out with your friends while playing Settlers of Catan at least once, this is your sign to do so. The aim of the game is to build settlements, cities, and roads by acquiring the resources on the board: grain, wool, brick, ore, and lumber. Players can also score points by collecting development cards, creating the longest road, or having the largest army. A word of caution: this game is known to test friendships once the robber comes into play, which allows players to steal another's resources and block them from collecting more on their settlements.
There's plenty of expansion packs up for grabs as well, which allow you to play with even more friends and incorporate different tiles and actions into the game to make it even more challenging (and fun!).
Get Settlers of Catan at Amazon for $41.28
2. A game you can play virtually: Jackbox
Jackbox Games has long-been my go-to solution for entertaining guests or getting the laughs going on game night. Each one of Jackbox's seven Party Packs consists of about half a dozen various party games that may involve funny prompts, trivia, drawing, or even freestyle rapping, amongst other amusing activities.
Our reviewer's personal favorite is Party Pack 4, as he found each game to be super inventive and fun to play. Everyone gathers around the TV (or screen of your choice), and pulls up the website on their phone to play, or you can opt to go virtual over Zoom or Google Meet while the game host shares their screen. Most games are for three to ten players, meaning the whole gang can join in on the fun.
Get a Jackbox Party Pack at Amazon from $12.49
3. A murder-mystery that's up to you to solve: Hunt a Killer
Any true-crime fans looking to add a little thrill to their game nights should check out Hunt a Killer, an immersive mystery-game subscription box that tasks you with solving a fictional crime using the clues provided. The main objective while playing Hunt A Killer is to use the props within each box to try to crack a complex murder mystery. Customers receive one "episode" box each month delivered right to their door (or more frequently, if you become hooked!), over a period of six months (six boxes total) that will eventually lead them to uncovering the killer.
Players can work together to decipher clues and solve the murder mystery. When we tried out this unique subscription box, we were impressed by how detailed the components of each box were and found that these finely-crafted clues delivered a truly rich, engrossing detective story.
Sign up for a Hunt a Killer subscription box for $30 a month
4. A trivia-bluffing game: Balderdash
Whether you're a convincing liar or extremely gullible, you'll find Balderdash to be a riot either way. The game challenges players to come up with fake definitions for extremely obscure words, with the goal of convincing everyone else that your definition is the real one. After all definitions are read aloud, points are tallied: If you guess the correct definition or trick your opponents, you score. Make sure to practice your bluff!
Get Balderdash at Walmart for $14.97
5. A game to outwit your friends: Psych!
Similar to Balderdash, Psych! (created by Ellen Degeneres) requires players to submit creative answers to questions, and then vote for their favorite. The task is simple: make your friends laugh as hard as they can and they'll probably vote for your submission. My personal favorite deck, 'The Truth Comes Out,' is funniest when playing with those you know best (it helps if you have a thick skin for this one, as answers can get pretty personal). You'll need everyone to download the app to play, and for an extra $2.99, you can remove ads.
Download the Psych! app
6. A beloved word association game: Codenames
The beauty of Codenames lies in its simplicity. Players square off into two teams—red and blue—each with a “spymaster” who is trying to get their teammates to guess either the red or blue words on their grid by providing them with one-word clues. Spymasters must try and connect as many of their words as possible while avoiding the other team's words, so it requires a bit of creative thinking—while the guessers must spitball various possibilities with their team—all while their spymaster observes silently. It's family-friendly, a great icebreaker, and is super easy to set up—so count on playing a few rounds at your game night, at least.
Get Codenames at Amazon for $14.49
7. A game of silly voices: Utter Nonsense
If you're ever in the mood to try your hand at voice acting, look no further than Utter Nonsense. The game involves two decks of cards: one with stereotypical accents and the other with outrageous phrases. Similar in gameplay to Cards Against Humanity, one player draws an accent card, while the rest take turns reading their phrase aloud (in said accent). The judge then votes for their favorite impersonation. It's silly and laugh-out-loud funny—especially if you're into improv. There's also a naughty edition that's even more hilarious (for consenting adults, of course).
Get Utter Nonsense at Amazon for $17.48
8. A ruthless, social deduction game: The Resistance
Nothing gets a game night as heated as when you must decide who to trust. Designed for five to ten players, The Resistance pits a team of Resistance Operatives (the good guys) against Imperial Spies (the bad guys). For three to five rounds, your team's goal is to carry out missions while each player tries to deduce other players’ identities. Players secretly vote whether a mission will succeed or fail, so it's up to the group to figure out who can be trusted. Game on.
Get The Resistance at Amazon for $18.60
9. A question-and-answer game with a twist: Loaded questions
As the name suggests, Loaded Questions involves players taking turns reading off questions from cards, which the other players must answer by writing down their response. Then, the question-asker must pick their favorite and try to match each answer to a player. Try and get as funny and creative as you can with your answers, and you might just win! It's essentially like Cards Against Humanity, but with more freedom.
Get Loaded Questions at Kohl's for $18.74
10. A rail-way themed game: Ticket to Ride
If you prefer strategy-driven games, Ticket to Ride is one you should add to your collection. Players race to build train routes cross-country, connecting major North America cities, in the hopes of completing their destination tickets the fastest. The more routes you build, the more points you earn—but you'll have to be quick to avoid opponents' obstructing your route with their own. P.S.: If you have the longest train route by the end of the game, you'll score extra points.
Get Ticket to Ride at Walmart for $44.97
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.