For me, there’s nothing better than getting to have a ton of free time that I can play games with those I love. Games always bring people closer together, even if you’re arguing about who gets to play as red. So, from mine to yours, here are some of the most requested party games at my family gatherings (modern classic games that accommodate smaller groups are covered here). Happy gaming!
Time’s Up! Title Recall!
Why Your Family Will Love This Game: Time’s Up! Title Recall! takes the familiar formula of charades and gives it a little more game. Over three rounds, you go from using as many words and gestures as you’d like to just one word to only gestures. Because the clues stay the same throughout the whole game, it’s just not about who is the best performer. Paying attention early on and establishing conventions for clues means every game of Time’s Up! Title Recall! is a bunch of inside jokes that everyone is in on.
Why Your Family Might Fight playing this game: Because Time’s Up! Title Recall! is all about titles to books, movies, songs, and other works of art, not all family members may be on equal footing. Titles do span the decades, but sometimes the first round can lose people before the fun of callbacks in rounds 2 and 3 kick into action. If you can stick it out, hearing your dad try to act out “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” is well worth it.
Why You’ll Want it on your game shelf all year long: Time’s Up! is a perennial favorite in our house. We’ve never played a session where we didn’t laugh, make fun of one another, or have a running joke long after the game ends. Even family members who rather not make fools of themselves end up embracing the spirit of the game.
Publisher: R&R Games
Playtime: 60 minutes
Why Your Family Will Love This Game: Everyone is familiar with 20 Questions. Some picks a word and everyone else has to ask yes or no questions to guess it. Werewords takes this long car ride activity and layers secret roles on top of it. The game can accommodate a ton of people and a round is only four minutes long. What more could you want?
Why Your Family Might Fight playing this game: Like many secret role games, it can be harder to explain the nuances of each character than it is to just play. This means your first few games might be a flub. Also, getting into the meta-game may not be something your family is into. The double-think and accusations that make Werewords shine may be the very thing that fizzles the experience.
Why You’ll Want it on your game shelf all year long: When I said that a round is only four minutes long, I really meant it’s only four minutes long. It’s easy to pull out at family gatherings and play a handful of rounds, allowing everyone a chance at the different roles. The game is even better when you have more players and additional roles getting shuffled in, giving you plenty of variety.
Publisher: Bezier Games
Playtime: 10 minutes
Why Your Family Will Love This Game: This isn’t your usual CMON game with fantastic miniatures and epic combat. In fact, it’s nothing you’d ever expect from CMON. Kaleidos is a search-and-find game in the style of those Highlights for Children magazines that you’d browse through in the doctor’s office waiting room. Each round, a letter is paired with a picture that includes all kinds of crazy and random objects. Your goal is to write down as many things starting with that letter as you can find in just one minute. You score 3 points for each unique name you come up with and 1 for shared names. After 10 rounds, whoever has the most points wins.
Why Your Family Might Fight playing this game: Because you only have one minute to find things in the picture, this kind of frantic scramble may not be everyone’s cup of tea. There’s also some ambiguity in the rules that can cause some bickering about what does and doesn’t count as a valid word.
Why You’ll Want it on your game shelf all year long: With a plethora of word games and charades variants on the shelf, Kaleidos stands out as a wholly different kind of game. No matter how many times you play, different letters means you’re looking for different things in the pictures and always finding inventive new names for mundane objects. While points are fun, most of the game’s entertainment comes in sharing what you found and congratulating others on their astute observations.
Publisher: CMON Games
Playtime: 20 minutes
Why Your Family Will Love This Game: For the family whose copy of Clue is worn out and well-loved, Mysterium is a much-needed upgrade. Instead of working against one another, Mysterium has players working together. One player takes on the role of the ghost who is communicating to the rest of the group who are psychics. Using abstract imagery, the ghost must retell who did it, where, and with what weapon.
Why Your Family Might Fight playing this game: While the fun of the game is in the free association between the vision cards and the clues, some may find having to read the ghost’s mind more tedious than fun. There are also a few rules that may make the experience more game-y than some families are looking for.
Why You’ll Want it on your game shelf all year long: With tons of vision and clue cards and different players taking on the role of the ghost, games are always fresh. Sometimes the debriefing afterward, explaining why you chose a particular card, is more fun than the game itself. It ends up feeling like you learned something about one another, which is always a good thing no matter the time of year.
Publisher: Libellud Games
Playtime: 42 minutes
Why Your Family Will Love This Game: There is nothing sophisticated or deep about Happy Salmon. It is a raucous 2-minute game of high fives, fist bumps, switching places, and the unforgettable happy salmon wrist slap. Each player has a stack of cards they are trying to discard as quickly as possible by finding another player calling out for the same action as them. If your family prefers less noise, there is a silent variant in which you just mime your desired action instead that’s just as fun.
Why Your Family Might Fight playing this game: For families who are more reserved and prefer lower-key activities, Happy Salmon may be far too chaotic. The silliness of Happy Salmon is what makes it fun, meaning the lack of any real strategy or thoughtfulness may grate on some nerves.
Why You’ll Want it on your game shelf all year long: There’s something to be said for a game that can be explained in 30 seconds and played in 2 minutes. With two sets of the game, you can accommodate up to 12 players, making sure no one is excluded.
Publisher: North Star Games
Players: 3-6 (up to 12 with two sets)
Playtime: 2 minutes
What are some modern classic board games for families that you love? Tell us in the comments!
More Family Gaming Goodness!
Image Credits: Grace P.