A good party game has to fulfill certain criteria. It must very easy to teach and play, and support a large number of players. Party games don't need to be limited to thinly-veiled icebreakers, however. And they should definitely be (mostly) playable while drinking.
The modern board gaming scene is full of a diverse collection of games. Many of them are specifically suited for casual groups and parties, and most you can grab for less than $20.
If you've graduated from the days of beer pong into the wonderful world of tabletop gaming, here are some suggestions for your next favorite party game.
Cards Against Humanityby Cards Against Humanity LLC
The now-infamous card game has garnered a raunchy reputation. The game itself is so simple to play you can even print off your own cards. It's the adult version of Apples to Apples — one player reads a phrase, and everyone tries to fill in the blank from a hand of cards. Answers range from silly to horrifically racist, so make sure you know your group will enjoy it before you break it out at grandma's birthday party.
Cash 'N Gunsby Asmodee
There's no honor among thieves — but you do get a gun! Play as fun characters with unique powers like The Hustler, The Kid, and The Good Friend. Point your foam weapon at your fellow players every round to see who survives to get a cut of the dwindling loot. Fits of giggling laughter and shocked assassinations soon follow.
Codenamesby Czech Games
Codenames is the latest sensation sweeping through the board gaming world. It's basically a combination of Battleship and Pictionary with words. Divide up into two teams. Each team gets a Spymaster that must give their team one-word hints, while their team searches for the hidden spies. Guess wrong and you could reveal spies on the other team! Teams can be any size and the game translates well to larger groups that can bicker about their answers.
Exploding Kittensby Exploding Kittens LLC
You may have heard about this card game from its incredible 8.7 million dollar Kickstarter campaign. It's like a violent version of UNO for adults. Take turns drawing cards and trying not to explode, using other cards to harry your fellow players. The funny artwork is by Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal fame. Grab a second deck to play with more players.
King of Tokyoby IELLO
King of Tokyo is the most complex game on this list, but it mostly boils down to Yahtzee with giant monsters. Players roll dice to attack, heal, or gain new powers for their colorful beasts as they race to tear into Tokyo and each other. A follow up, King of New York, changes some of the gameplay for the better, but also makes it a bit more involved. For parties that skew toward gamers, I've had a lot of success with King of Tokyo.
Liar's Diceby Front Porch Classics
Many people have heard of this classic dice bluffing game but few have played it. If you have enough sets of dice and cups (red plastic cups work just fine) this can be an incredibly fun party game. Everyone knows how to roll dice and count. The mind games that emerge from pointing out liars or winning by the stroke of luck makes any game night fun and memorable.
The Resistanceby Indie Boards & Cards
All the cool kids are playing Resistance, the latest incarnation of classic social bluffing game Werewolf. Players are given specific roles in a neon world of corporate espionage, including a hidden number of spies. These betrayers must hide themselves with their actions while working to undermine their fellow players.
Accusations, mistrust, and betrayal can tear your friends apart, but hopefully bring them closer than ever.
Shut the Boxby Front Porch Classics
Another classic game that adapts well to parties, Shut the Box has you passing around the titular box as you roll dice and lay down the matching numbered tiles. It's almost pure luck with just a dash of strategy on which tiles to lay down. Go around the table challenging friends to the lowest score. Bonus points if you're all hanging out in an English pub.
Wits & Wagers: Party Editionby North Star Games
Wits & Wagers has been a staple party game for years, even before this latest Party Edition. The intuitive combination of Trivial Pursuit and The Price is Right means everyone can have fun guessing answers and betting on the results. The Party Edition takes the best mechanics of the original and Family Editions. The game scales to larger groups by dividing into teams.
Zombie Diceby Steve Jackson Games
Armed with a single cup of 13 dice, players roll three dice at a time to acquire as many brains as possible. But if you roll three shotgun blasts, you're dead! Zombie Dice is a simple press-your-luck game that plays so quickly you can pass it around the table while setting up other games. You can stop after any roll, but what self-respecting zombie would pass up the chance for more brains?
By Eric Watson, Special Contributor