Here we will take a look at the 10 top party board games based on popularity. This is a series to take a look at a specific board game mechanic or category and out of every game ever released in the space, what are the most popular as of right now, the middle of 2021. We will give some information on each title, as well as, some insight into why it might have landed at its particular spot on the list.
The party category is very wide and vague. The basic tenants of a party game is one that can be played with lots of people and a title that's main goal is to facilitate social interaction. For the most part, you are living in the moment and not thinking too far ahead.
Games are not chosen by me, you can see the rankings here.
#10 | Secret Hitler
Do not let the title scare you off, this light party game takes the best parts of social deduction and transforms its participants into liberals trying to do good or evil fascists. Through simple secret voting, trickery and the process of elimination, the group needs to seek out their enemies. A self-published game released in 2016, this title just has the perfect mix of everything for a group of around five people.
Everyone is secretly split into either the evil red communists or the just blue liberals, and one person is Hitler. Red wants their laws past and the liberals want theirs. Each round the “president” role moves around the circle and they name a “chancellor”. A stack of laws is drawn by the pres who removes one and gives to the chancellor who also removes one, then others see the remaining. The point is that you can start to gather clues about who is the evil red based on the cards that are coming through when different people are in power.
#09 | One Night Ultimate Werewolf
There have been many "One Night" games released since this original released by publisher Bézier Gamesin 2014 but it still holds strong. This one throws a ton of information at you in a very short period of time and is great (and necessary) to play with a large group. You have a lot to take in to deduce what is going on and you are sinking into fun roles while you do it. This one is very often discussed as a top party game and has no sign of slowing down.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a fast game in which everyone gets a role: One of the dastardly Werewolves, the tricky Troublemaker, the helpful Seer, or one of a dozen different characters, each with a special ability. In the course of a single morning, your village will decide who is a werewolf…because all it takes is lynching one werewolf to win.
#08 | Just One
Having one of the most simple concepts ever is not necessarily a bad thing because this one won the coveted Spiel des Jahres (board game of the year) award in 2019. Released by publisher Repos Production, you do not really win or lose, it is just about the cooperative journey, and you will never be finer with that than ever before. Reviewer Zee Garcia said this in his 90/100 review "I really like just about everything. There is no theme but I will take this themeless party game over some tacked-on mechanic any day. Such a simple word and guessing cooperative experience that is fun, clever, quick and punchy."
There is a “guesser” that moves around the circle. They show a card with five choices to the other players and calls out a number to signify the word. All other players now write a clue on their board to help the guesser. Before these are revealed, all players compare and if more than one gave the same clue, those are eliminated. If the guesser gets it right everyone gets 1 point, if they get it wrong everyone loses 2 points and if they pass they lose only 1 point. You want to get to 13. The trick is giving clues that don’t get knocked out.
#07 | Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
Another great deduction game on the list, as you can see there is a trend that it is a great genre for the party setting, this one takes it a little further and throws in a lot of detective elements making for a really fun experience for any group. Reviewer Tom Vasel gives it high marks in his review saying "This is a fun game I definitely love a lot. There is tons of variety and I really enjoy the forensic specialist role who puts out clues as you go. I would play this over some of the other deduction murder solving games because it is focused on finding just one key thing well." Released in 2014 by publisher Grey Fox Games, it is no surprise this tops the detective-type games in the category.
You will need to solve different cases and find out what connects them, you are going to use every resource you can, you are going to browse the game's dedicated database simulating your agency's resources, you will enter a city maze of old mysteries and crime, and you will cooperate with other agents or solve the mystery on your own.
#06 | Sheriff of Nottingham
With the tagline "a social game of bluffing, bribery and negotiation" you should already be intrigued. What you might not know is that this sets the stage that really delivers on that promise. Given the name, you may think this might be some Robin Hood kids game, but it is actually an exploration of some of humanity's deepest tendencies to try and push the envelope. Originally released in 2014 by publisher Arcane Wonders, this is a unique title that is a favorite of many.
In this game, you are mainly a merchant of Nottingham city, but you also take turns playing the Sheriff himself. Merchants declare goods they wish to bring into the city, goods that are secretly stored in their burlap sack. The Sheriff must then determine who gets into the city with their goods, who gets inspected, and who may have their goods confiscated! You sneak stuff in, you benefit, you get caught you are punished.
#05 | Mysterium
This game is basically the next evolution of Clue and if that doesn't scream fascinating party game, maybe nothing will. The top co-op game on the list, reviewer the Game Boy Geek says it best with his 95/100 point review, "This game is amazing, it is one of my favorite cooperative games. It is quite interesting, you have this ghost who can't talk who is giving clues. These cards that have interesting art show people different things and it creates this communication magic." Originally released in 2015 by publisher Libellud, this one came out of the gate strong and nothing at its level of quality and uniqueness has come since.
One player takes the role of ghost while everyone else represents a medium. To solve the crime, the ghost must first recall (with the aid of the mediums) all of the suspects present on the night of the murder. A number of suspect, location and murder weapon cards are placed on the table, and the ghost randomly assigns one of each of these in secret to a medium.
#04 | The Resistance / The Resistance: Avalon
Sure they are different games but The Resistance: Avalon is an implementation of The resistance and both are on the list (the former at this #4 spot and the latter technically at #8) so I will focus on the original title. This is the top straight role-playing deduction game on the list. Nothing gets the social juices flowing like trying to both gain and hold back information while putting your head in a place it isn't normally at. Released by publisher Indie Boards & Cards in 2009 (original), this icon set the stage for many to come after it.
The Empire must fall. Your mission must succeed. By destroying their key bases, you will shatter Imperial strength and liberate your people. Yet spies have infiltrated your ranks, ready for sabotage. You must unmask them. In five nights you will reshape destiny or die trying.
#03 | Dixit
The submit and judge genre is very popular in a party setting. Games like Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity, which have one person judge the funny or interesting ideas of others are a ton of fun. Dixit builds on that idea with not only an interesting concept but doing it with incredible, aetherial art and, of course, adorable bunny tokens. Released by French publisher Libellud in 2008, there have been many great expansions and other versions of the game that have kept this one going strong.
You play the game with six cards of different interesting images in your hand. Taking turns, one player is the storyteller and needs to use a card from hand and give it a few words to sum it up. The other players have to submit one of their cards they think matches. These are mixed together and everyone votes on which card they think belongs to the clue giver. Point scoring is interesting and basically, the clue giver wants to say something that isn’t going to convince everyone or no one.
#02 | Sushi Go Party!
Simple, easy and just adorable. This card drafting game originally released by publisher Gamewright in 2016 builds on its predecessor to accommodate up to 8 people. It moves quickly and has a simple agenda. It is about as light as they come and perfect for any group, of any age, at any intensity level.
This is a game about playing with your dinner, and there are all sorts of adorable sushi cards (tempura, dumplings, etc) that help you do this. Over 3 rounds players draft one card at a time to complete sets. Each card has its own special thing (like collect 4x of these and get 12 points) and it is up to you to strategically see what is coming around and pick the right card. Points are scored and new cards handed out in between each round.
#01 | Codenames
Everyone talks about how amazing Codenames is so this is no surprise. Originally released in 2015 by publisher Czech Games Edition, this is a phenomenon that has since launched countless iterations and remains at the top of most best party games lists (including Board Game Halv's). Whether you are a fan of the original or the pictures version, the base game is a team game that has you both giving interesting information to your team about your secret cards without giving information that may lead to your opponent's. This multi-layered experience just makes people gidy. It makes sense it is at the top of the top party games even after all these years.
The group is split into two teams. You are spies and you need to get your fellow operatives out of the field before your opponent does the same. This is represented by a grid of many words that secretly each have a blue operative, red operative, bystander or evil assassin under them. Each round, one member from each team gets to look at a decoder card showing all the locations and they need to communicate this to their team by giving 1-word answers. The key is that you need to give clues that apply to multiple spots to win.