Whether you’re throwing a game night or just hosting a casual get-together of any kind, there’s always a tough question to answer: How do you keep a large group of people entertained and engaged?
You could let them naturally break off into smaller groups, where they can chat about whatever they want, and people can migrate from discussion to discussion as they please. There are certainly times for that. But what if you want everyone to have fun together? Video games, TV shows, and movies aren’t very good for getting people interacting with each other. But board games are perfect for that!
Here are the best board games and party games for bigger groups—let’s say 8 players or more—that are easily accessible to all kinds of people, gamers and non-gamers included, and will make you the host to beat for large gatherings.
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Telestrations is the ultimate party game, and may just be the funniest game I’ve ever played. Everyone starts with a stack of blank sheets and writes a phrase to guess on the top sheet. Everyone passes their stack to the next player at the same time, who then uses the next sheet to draw the phrase. Everyone passes again, but this time tries to guess what the drawing means. It keeps going around in a circle until everyone gets their stack back, and then it’s ROFL time as each stack’s progress is revealed.
Note: The actual Telestrations game only supports up to 8 players, but you can literally play this with a stack of paper and pens, so there’s really no limit to how many can play.
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In Concept, there’s a central board full of different abstract icons and images. On their turn, players are given a word or concept to depict—but they can only do so by placing different colored pegs and pips on the various icons and images on the board. It’s tough, but extremely fun.
Note: The game’s “rules” involve teams, but ignore all that. Concept is much better when played as individuals, with 2 points given to whoever guesses it correct and 1 point given to whoever is doing the concept. Set a time limit for even more fun (1 minute for Easy concepts, 2 minutes for Medium, and 3 minutes for Hard).
3. A Fake Artist Goes to New York
Max players: N/A
Everyone is given an object to draw, but one person is left out and doesn’t know what it is. One by one, players take turns adding lines to the drawing—but they don’t want to make it too obvious! The outcast is trying to blend in, while everyone else is trying to figure out who the outcast is. A Fake Artist Goes to New York is extremely fun to play and guaranteed to draw out lots of laughs.
Note: This is another game that can be played with paper and markers. The official game only supports up to 10 players, but you can play with as many people as you want using your own supplies.
4. Two Rooms and a Boom
Max players: 30
Two Rooms and a Boom is literally played across two rooms. There’s a President, a Bomber, and a bunch of other roles that are either on the President’s team or the Bomber’s team—but everyone’s identity is hidden. Every round, a certain number of players move from one room to the other. If the President and the Bomber are in the same room after the last round, the Bomber wins. If not, the President wins. Active and interactive! Great as an office game, too.
Unfortunately, I believe Two Rooms and a Boom might be out of print at the moment. You might be able to grab used copies on BoardGameGeek’s Marketplace, eBay, and other such sites. It’s worth it if you can find it!
5. Dead Last
Max players: 12
In Dead Last, each player is assigned a color as well as a deck of cards, one card per player color. Every round, players discuss who they want to kill, and simultaneous reveal which targets they’re attacking that round. If targeted, that player is out for the round—but be careful, because players also have ambush cards that counter anyone who attacks! The last person standing in a round gets some gold, and then on to the next round. Fun, fast, and great because it doesn’t demand too much attention.
Max players: 10
In Saboteur, players excavate a mine by placing path cards in a grid layout in hopes of reaching the ore. But some of the excavators are saboteurs, and their goal is to prevent the good guys from reaching the ore. The trick is, nobody knows who’s good and who’s not! Saboteur is straightforward but exciting, and made all the better if you implement a few house rule variants from the BoardGameGeek forums. Plus, it’s super cheap!
7. Incan Gold
Max players: 8
Incan Gold, also known as Diamant outside of the US, is a push-your-luck game where everyone ventures into a cave to find treasure. With each turn, more treasure is discovered—and hazards wait around every corner. If a player leaves the cave early, they keep whatever they found, but if they’re still in the cave when disaster strikes, they lose everything. Who can walk away with the most treasure after exploring a bunch of caves? Very fun, especially when the cave comes crashing down on everyone and you’re the only one who left safely!
Max players: 8
Spyfall is similar to A Fake Artist Goes to New York in that everyone except the outcast knows what’s going on, and the outcast needs to figure out what everyone else knows, while everyone else needs to pinpoint who the outcast is. But instead of drawings, Spyfall gives everyone a location, and the answers are eked out by asking each other vague questions that pertain to the location but don’t give it away. Creative, hilarious, and full of twists!
Note: There’s a similar game that’s available on mobile devices, which you can play for free. Check out our article on mobile games to play with friends in the same room for more on that.