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The Best Board Games for Large Groups

A family playing a board game at home.
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

Another holiday family get-together is winding down. Tables of food are waiting on the second and third servings, and the afternoon game is wrapping up. Now’s the time to sell your family on a new board game. But, which game will you sprint to the backseat of your car for?

The larger the group wanting to play a game, the trickier the game selection process will be. Do you have a significant age gap that makes up your crowd? Camel Up may be the right fit. Is your group competitive and appreciates deeper complexity? Decrypto might be the right grab. And there are many other great selections to help you foster a competitively fun atmosphere, trigger your darker sense of humor, or just create an absolutely hilarious time.

Best Team Puzzle Game: Codenames

Codenames game cards laid out in the game format.
Czech Games Edition

Codenames is a two-team game that pits players’ wit and word prowess against the other team. This is a cyclical game that presents the ability to expand or shrink the number of players mid-game, you can even drop down to just two players opposing each other.

Each team has a spymaster that leads the word association game process with a word and a number. The team has to decipher the codes to find their team’s agents, which is how you score points. You also try not to discover the other team’s agents while keeping the bystanders out of harm’s way and avoiding the assassin. All this as you are working with a potentially flawed associative word web that, more often than not, comes from excessive reaches for associated words.

The beauty of the Codenames format, when everyone is invested in the game, you can flip the cards over, lay out a new group of 25, and start again. This fast-paced and affordable game is a staple in both our games under 30 minutes and under $25. This game challenges the group’s higher-level thinkers and may create an opportunity for the younger crowd to add their voices to the guessing element.

Best Team Puzzle Game


Fast paced, team game that can adapt to the size of the group.

Best Family Game: Camel Up

Camel Up board game and box set out on a flat surface.
Plan B Games

Camel Up is a board game that plays like a crazy night at the track, betting on the camels. A simple concept, dice are rolled, camels move, and you bet early and win. The changes from the first version to now have taken a simple idea, objects moving in a circle, and packaged it into an escapade of camels hitching rides, other players diverting your camels’ progress or inadvertently jumping on the back of a camel going the wrong way.

With chance and manipulation, this game can be highly addictive for your children as much as it is for you and your friends. Visually, this game is a lot of fun out of the box, with a pop-up oasis that launches up from the board and a fairly ingenious pyramid that helps roll dice cleanly and efficiently. Unless the pyramid is propelled in frustration, your dice won’t have much chance of disrupting the game.

This game has appeal for all ages and can be addressed in a simplistic way, or you can amp it up with more players and introduce partnerships that add good wrinkles to the gameplay.

Best Family Game

Camel Up

Family freindly camel racing game that can draw all ages to the fun.

Best of the Best Party Game: Decrypto

Decrypto game pieces laid out on a flat surface with multiple awards listed below the game pieces.
Scorpion Masque

Decrypto is a monochromatic hidden gem. Visually, this game may not initially jump out at you. As you break down the visuals and game interaction, you will see that from the box to the setup to the gameplay, this game will begin to foster a hidden fondness for cold war era spy competitions.

Decrypting the other team’s code is a process, a level of manipulation, utilizing a tangential connection to words, all while needing to be a bit of a word snob. The game forces you to detect your teammate’s word associations and the opposing team’s lack thereof. Altogether, these elements make this game aggressively fun at its basic implementation.

This soft espionage endeavor is best played and experienced rather than grasping the intricacies through a description. The box says up to eight players, but the reality is you can make the teams as big as you are comfortable with. The game’s large capacity helps younger players participate as a teammate rather than isolating them as code givers.

The Best of the Best Pick


A cold war era code breaking game that challenges the mind and the word connections.

Best Non-Competitive Party Game: Telestrations: 12 Player Party Pack

Game components for Telestrations: 12 Player Party Pack spread out and arrayed over a white background.

Telestrations: 12 Player Party Pack is an amalgamation of Pictionary and the telephone game. This game is a phenomenal choice for those looking for fun rather than competition, you can keep score, but this game’s premise is more heavily built on fun rather than the win. You’ll find this written in the rules as well. Each player begins with a clue or rolls the dice to choose from the 600 clues provided.

Then the players pass the dry-erase booklet down the line, the next person reads the word, draws this out, gives it down the line again, and the next person either draws out what they read or writes a guess of the first word. The creativity cycle continues until the booklet returns to the initial owner to finish the round.

Everyone has a drawing booklet, starts with a clue, passes it down, and the drawing communication adventure ensues. This cycle creates a mixture of bad drawings and misappropriated guesses while having a good time. This game highlights fun as the ultimate goal, or you could play to win, but who wants to play for boring old points?

Best Non-Competitive Party Game

Telestrations: 12 Player Part Pack

A creative based game that focuses more on having fun than winning, though winning is always an option.

Best Social Deduction Game: Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

Deception game box art on a red gradient background.
Grey Fox Games

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a departure from the party game styles you may find elsewhere in this list. A game of death and investigation, social deduction, and flawed communication that takes the game Clue to another level. This game will take you down a fraught journey of accusation of those you’re playing with while a traitor hides in your midst. Despite the element of murder, Deception has multiple aspects of complex fun. Deception also made Review Geek’s 10 Best Mystery-Themed Board Games.

As dark and twisted as this game can be, Deception can also be hilarious. It helps to have a dark sense of humor or really just a basic sense of humor to make this game an emotional expedition.

With a murderer and accomplice secretly battling against the investigators in the room, the forensic scientist will keep the game rolling while misdirections potentially derail accusations.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong can be an amazing egress from a normal party game night, and with its fast pace, multiple rounds could be played in one sitting, which leads to multiple murders and murderers.

Best Social Deduction Game

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

A change of pace from "normal" party games, fast paced, fun, and an investigative thriller.

Best Couples Game: Time’s Up! Title Recall!

Time's Up! Title Recall! game box sitting in the center of a white to light blue gradient background
R&R Games

Time’s Up! Title Recall! relies on how well you communicate with your teammate or your partner. The format pits teams of two facing off against however many sets of two are in the room. There’s also a format for odd numbers. Forty cards are drawn, a 30-second timer starts, and one teammate gives as many clues as possible within the time of the hourglass using words, grunts, gestures, and sounds sans humming and singing for their teammate to guess the keywords. You keep the cards you guess correctly to tally up the points. Those you’ve missed, you pass to the next team.

The second round starts when all 40 cards have been successfully interpreted. Now, you may only use one word while also utilizing all the gestures, sounds, and grunts you can make. And the third round proceeds without word clues. Only gestures, sounds, and grunts are allowed.

Time’s Up! Title Recall! is a great game but lengthier than others on this list. This game manages to take a niche pop culture format and develop a challenging strategic structure into a contest. At first glance, the game appears to be a relatively simple guessing game but evolves into a two-person team word battle royale with grunts, animal noises, and misinterpretations.

Best Couples Game

Time's Up! Title Recall!

A multi-layerd word battle between teams of two that levels up complexity with each round.

Best Pop Culture Pick: Monikers

Monikers game box sitting in the center of a white to blue gray background

If you are looking for your pop culture fix on this list, Monikers checks this box but also introduces an escalating complexity. Monikers and Time’s Up! Title Recall! are very similar in game style, format, and gameplay. Though these games parallel very well, significant differences make each of these games fantastic large-group possibilities to choose from.

While Time’s Up! Title Recall! is set up for teams of two to compete, Monikers incorporates large groups facing off. Every player draws eight cards, which they add to the game’s total. Each team has the opportunity to guess as many cards within the time to rack up points.

You can use anything to describe the hidden word in the first round. The second round drops to one word. And the third round devolves into charades.

Monikers is another creative take on the simple guessing game format with a good blend of topics that will keep this game a staple for anyone’s large-group game night.

Best Pop Culture Pick


Hilariously driven, pop-culture based, team faceoff.

Andrew Weitner Andrew Weitner
Andrew Weitner has experienced the growing transformations of technology from many angles. Being an early adopter of the gadgets that were a little less popular, the Microsoft Zune, the less than heralded HTC Hero, and the first generations of the Samsung tablets, has brought an appreciation of the growth of technology. Andrew Weitner is a Mass Communications graduate with a focus in Journalism at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, TX. Read Full Bio »