23 Best Adult Games in 2021 That Are Way Too Fun to Pass Up

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by  William Barton | Last Updated: 

It’s time to party.

And what’s better than staring at a platter of cubed cheese? 

Besides just about everything else in the world; games. 

Whether you’re looking for an intellectually stimulating strategy game, or just an excuse to drink too much and yell at your friends (in a good way), I’ve got you covered. 

These are the best adult games out on the market today, and you’re absolutely going to have a blast playing them, so let’s dive straight in.

Types of Adult Games

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The last time you went to play a game, you opened up your closet and saw Monopoly, right? 

I know what happened after: you sat down inside the closet, turned off the light, and sat in silence. 

Honestly, I also think that sounds like more fun.

Building a small collection of games is one of the absolute best ways to liven up a party if you have a few newcomers, and a great way to pass the time if, say, you’re quarantined with your partner for several months in a row. 

Not like that would ever happen. Cough, cough (woops, wrong onomatopoeia). 

Adult Board Games

family time board game GIF

Toss out Monopoly. You may not know this, but there’s a full-on board game renaissance happening right now. 

You’ve probably heard of Catan, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

More game designers have been building faster board games, games involving more strategy, more humorous, more adventurous, more of anything you’re looking for. 

Many of these new board games are too complicated for kids, but they’ll provide hours of fun for adults. And unlike The Game of Life, they don’t get stale after two play-throughs. 

After all, how many times can you “have two children and buy a car”?

Adult Card Games

punch card computer GIF

The adult card game industry absolutely exploded with the introduction of Cards Against Humanity

To be sure, this game is irreverent, shocking, and was an absolute blast when it came out. 

But I’ve left it off our list for a few key reasons: one, it’s literally on every other list, and you’ve no doubt heard of it by now. Two, the shock factor wears off really quickly, and I’ve found that Cards Against Humanity stops being fun after about 30 minutes of total play time. 

Which means if you own the game, you get 30 minutes of fun, and a lifetime of owning a deck of sassy, mildly offensive cards. 

Still, there are tons of different adult card games that provide laughs at a party or serious, deep thoughts against a bitter rival. 

Adult Party Games

fox tv GIF by loveconnectionfox

If you thought Twister with Jello-shots was the only party game available, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. 

Lesser known games like Catchphrase are crowd-pleasers, easy to learn, and can make standing in line at Disneyland fun. A few friends and I once played Catchphrase on a train with a group of eight Amish people—and it was one hell of a party (of course, they turned down the invite to play Twister with Jello-shots). 

An adult party game should be accessible enough for everyone to have a good time—even the introverts—and should be able to scale up to at least 12 people. Nothing’s sadder than seeing your buddy’s new girlfriend chilling in the corner alone while everyone else is having a blast.   

Adult Drinking Games

drunk the rock GIF by ALL SEEING EYES

In Russia, the only drinking game is simple: two people sit down, face to face. You take a shot of vodka and slap the person across from you right in the face. Then he takes a shot of vodka and slaps you in the face. Repeat until you no longer feel the bitter cold. 

If you don’t live in Russia, there are tons of other fun drinking games. You’re probably already familiar with the rules of Beer Pong and its hundreds of variations. Our list will focus less on the college type of “I need to get obliterated in 20 minutes or else it’s not worth it” drinking, and more of the social, enjoyable type of drinking. 

You probably know the games designed for getting you drunk as quickly as possible, so I’ll stick to introducing you to games that are fun to pair with a few drinks.

23 Best Adult Games Of All Time

Best Topical Game: What Do You Meme?

1.
What Do You Meme?
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For topical games, you can’t get much closer than the most popular internet memes around today. 

What Do You Meme? packs in all the raunchiness and irreverence you want from games like Cards Against Humanity, but because there’s a graphic element (the cards have popular memes printed on them), the game has much better replay value. 

How it’s played:

Each player holds a series of “caption cards.” The “judge” (rotating role) selects a “photo card” with a meme, and puts it out in front of the rest of the crowd. Each player puts down a caption card they believe will get the most laughs. The judge selects the best caption card, and the winner receives that meme photo card as a single point. The person with the most photo cards at the end of the game wins. 

Best Topical Game
What Do You Meme?
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Best Simple Board Game: Azul

2.
Azul
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If you’re not looking to spend an hour explaining the rules of a board game, but still want a decent amount of strategy that’s accessible to a diverse group of people (board game lovers and non-board game lovers), Azul is my top choice. 

Azul offers a good blend of trying to build something for yourself while simultaneously blocking out your competitors. It’s quick and easy to learn, and it can be played with two to four people at the table. 

How it’s played:

Each player pulls resources from the center to try and build their colored tile wall. The mechanics behind how this works is a bit too nuanced for this article, but your goal is to balance what you’re building while also making sure your opponents aren’t able to grab the tiles they need to win, either. 

Best Simple Board Game
Azul
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Best Complicated Board Game: Gloomhaven

3.
Gloomhaven
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If you’ve ever wondered what it’d be like to live the life of a sentient rat-person, Gloomhaven is what you need right now. 

It’s a bit like Dungeons and Dragons, but more self-contained. Gather around three of your best friends and dive into this 60-120 minute game. 

A cool tid-bit about this game is that you can play several sessions, so it’s a fantastic option if you want to start a board game night with serious gaming devotees. 

How it’s played:

Listen, I said this was a complicated game for a reason. It takes at least 20 minutes to explain the game, so I’m definitely going to paint with broad strokes here.

Essentially, it’s a cooperative game where you fight monsters in dungeons with your pals. At the beginning, you select a character that you’ll continue playing for as many sessions as you’d like. 

Every action you take increases your fatigue, and if you get too sleepy, you die. Don’t die.

Best Complicated Board Game
Gloomhaven
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Best Gambling Game: Camel Up

4.
Camel Up
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If you’re looking to make some friendly wagers and have a total blast, there’s no finer game than Camel Up

It has an old-timey, late 19th-century aesthetic, where the men have fantastic handlebar mustaches and the fact that the women are wearing pants says everything you need to know about them.

In each round, you place a series of bets on which camel you believe will win the race. Players can either make a bet or roll the dice. When the dice are rolled, the camels move into position. 

You never truly know which camel is going to win the round, and your bets are constantly changing. And every once in a while, you come up huge—the camel you’d been betting on all game suddenly makes a miraculous move into first at the very end and wins. You look like an oracle. 

How it’s played: 

If you’ve recently downloaded the Robinhood app and you’ve found yourself saying “diamondhands” and “yolo” too often, just bet on the blue camel as many times as possible from the very beginning and blindly hope it wins. 

Otherwise, you can select which camel you think will win the stretch (one full turn), which will win the race (first to cross the finish line), and even guess the order in which the camels will finish. Each correct wager earns you gold, and each incorrect wager loses you gold.

The person with the most gold at the end of the game wins.

Best Gambling Game
Camel Up
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Best Strategy Game: Terraforming Mars

5.
Terraforming Mars
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Straight out of an Elon Musk fever dream, in Terraforming Mars, 2-5 players gather around as CEOs of rival terraforming companies undertake huge projects to make Mars habitable for human life. 

Sure, you’re all trying to make Mars comfortable enough to sit back and enjoy a few coconut cocktails, but the corporation that’s done the most work gets the credit and wins the game. 

This is a long game (two hours), but it goes by quickly. It’s not too difficult to learn, and it’s not super complicated. It’s my favorite strategy game because anyone can learn it, and there’s very little reliance on chance. 

Terraforming Mars is really the best game if you want to pit your strategist’s mind against your pals. 

How it’s played:

You want to have the biggest impact on the habitability of Mars. You can either aim to complete dozens of small terraforming projects, or you can go big and aim for two or three monstrous projects to win the game. 

It requires a delicate balance of drawing resources, saving cash, and orchestrating details to make sure you can get your projects done in time.

Best Strategy Game
Terraforming Mars
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Runner Up Strategy Game: Scythe

6.
Scythe
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It’s a steam-punk alternate universe from the 1920’s, and “The Factory,” a capitalist country near Eastern Europe, has just failed. 

You and up to four other players play as different nations aiming to claim “The Factory” as your own. 

The civilization you play as has certain qualities to it that will give you a competitive advantage in a given area. Your goal is to exploit that advantage more than your opponents exploit theirs. 

Whether you’re more adept at farming, or you’ve got an army of giant mech-warriors, Scythe is all about finding your strengths and your opponents weaknesses as quick as possible. 

How it’s played:

At the beginning, you pull a hidden agenda card. Your goal is to claim “The Factory” for yourself and complete your secret agenda. 

As the game progresses, you can upskill your nation’s inherent abilities, convert nearby villagers, and hop into giant awesome mech tanks to blow up the bad guys.

Runner Up Strategy Gam
Scythe
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Best Party Game: Catchphrase

7.
Catchphrase
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Catchphrase is an awesome party game because you can play with any even-numbered amount of people. Got six people? No problem. 10? Even better. 

It’s equal parts “hot potato” and wordplay. 

Everyone plays with one Catchphrase device. A word (often a famous person, place, thing, etc.) pops up on the device’s screen. If you’re holding it, you have to try and get someone on your team to guess the word without saying it.

Once they get it right, you pass the device to the next team. 

If you’re holding the device when the timer runs out, the other team gets the point.

How it’s played:

This one’s straight-forward. Just make sure you don’t say the first letter of your phrase, do any rhymes, or say any part of your phrase. Get your lateral-thinking hat on and get started.

Best Party Game
Catchphrase
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Runner Up Party Game: Telestrations After Dark

8.
Telestrations After Dark
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This is one of those games where the worse you are at drawing, the more fun the game is. 

In Telestrations, 4-8 players bust out a sheet of paper and a pencil. You pull a card and roll a dice—that determines which object you’ll be attempting to draw. 

When the time’s up, pass your drawing to the person next to you. They have to guess what you drew. They write the word down, and pass it along to the person next to them. The cycle continues for a full round.

It’s one part Pictionary, one part Telephone, and it’s a screaming-good time, provided you don’t have anyone self-conscious about their drawing skills in the group. 

I picked out the Telestrations: After Dark, which has more adult-themed clues for a vastly less family-friendly game. If you want to keep things PG, stick with the conventional Telestrations, but if you’ve ever wanted to draw “Human Centipede,” After Dark is the way to go. 

How it’s played:

Get a six-pack of your favorite beer, crack one open, and get ready to draw the funniest bit of human anatomy you can think of over and over again.

Runner Up Party Game
Telestrations After Dark
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Most Creative Game: Dixit

9.
Dixit
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Dixit blends surrealist art with almost poetry-like sentences. You never knew your friends were this creative. 

This game is fun even if you don’t win a single round—you’ll have six pieces of surrealist art in front of you, and just pairing one to the judges phrase is enough of a mental-stretch that winning becomes irrelevant. 

How it’s played:

3-6 players gather around a table and draw six cards of surrealist art. When it’s your turn, you will select one of your six cards and say a simple sentence that you feel represents the card.

Then each player selects a card from their hand and puts it into the center. Each person casts a vote for the card they believe inspired the original phrase. 

The goal is to be abstract—if you’re too “on the nose,” you run the risk of every other player at the table guessing the card you put down, and you’ll lose out on points. When it’s not your turn, you’re trying to match the phrase to the correct surrealist card. 

Dixit takes about 60 seconds to learn and the game unlocks a new level of creativity for you and your friends.

Most Creative Game
Dixit
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Best Drinking Game: Monikers

9.
Monikers
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Monikers is based on the classic game Celebrities, but it has a few more rules that keep the fun rolling for longer and add in perfect opportunities to drink.

Now, if you’re looking for a game that gets you obliterated drunk—this isn’t the one. Instead, Monikers is a better choice if you’re having a party, you’ve opened several bottles of beer and wine, and your inhibitions are starting to take flight. 

Monikers gets more fun the more bottles get emptied. 

How it’s played:

You draw a card with a celebrity’s name. Your goal is to have the other players guess your person (and their goal is to be the first to guess correctly). 

In the first round, you can say anything you want, so long as it’s not your celebrity’s name. In the second, you can only say one word. In the third round, you can only use gestures and charades. 

As you can imagine, round three gets pretty interesting as libations flow a bit more freely.

Best Drinking Game
Monikers
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Runner Up Drinking Game: Liar’s Dice

11.
Liar’s Dice
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Liar’s Dice has been around forever, and the most difficult aspect of the game is finding enough dice to play with everyone.

It’s a bluffing game, and any good bluffing game goes hand in hand with drinking. You can play for money if you want, but it’s much more satisfying to bet drinks (even the losers win). 

How it’s played:

Each player gets five dice in a cup. At the beginning of the round, all players (two and beyond—though the game is really only fun when you reach four players minimum) roll their dice and keep the numbers hidden under their cup. 

Players take turns wagering on how many of a specific die there is (for instance: three threes, or two fours). The following player can only make a higher wager. Eventually, the wagers will become false, and at some point, one player must call another a liar. 

If it turns out the player’s wager was indeed false, they lose (drink). If the wager was true, then the accuser loses (drinks).

Runner Up Drinking Game
Liar’s Dice
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Best Two Person Game: Lost Cities

12.
Lost Cities
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In this card game built for two, players in the Golden Age of Exploration discover lost civilizations.

Lost Cities is the perfect two-person game because, while it’s competitive, you’re never forced into actively sabotaging your opponent (at least, if you are, they won’t know).

I love this aspect of the game because I live with a sore loser. When we play competitive games that require a few Machiavellian moves, she gets legitimately angry at me and starts to wonder how I can be so cold-blooded. It gets existential quickly. 

With Lost Cities, there’s a clear winner, but it’s not the kind of game where there’s a decisive moment you throw the other person under the bus, so to speak. 

How it’s played:

Both players start with eight cards. There are five expeditions represented by colors, and you can choose to start as many as you’d like. 

The numbers on your cards represent points. You must play your cards in ascending order only, and when you start a “new” expedition, you lose 20 points (so only start the expeditions you know you can play several cards on). 

The game gets tricky as both players start to battle over the few cards in the deck needed to make an expedition worthwhile. 

Best Two Person Game
Lost Cities
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Runner Up Two Person Game: Patchwork

13.
Patchwork
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A game where you competitively make quilts? I’m in.

Patchwork is a game built for two where both players strategically buy quilt pieces and place them on their board to try and cover the most space and end the game with the most buttons and points. 

It may sound like something your grandmother would be into, but don’t be fooled: Patchwork is a surprisingly mentally strenuous game that will have you puzzling over the best placement for your quilt pieces. 

Like Lost Cities, Patchwork isn’t cut-throat, so you’re not going to send your opponent into a fit of rage.

How it’s played:

The mechanics of this game are nuanced, but in essence, your goal is to fill as much of your 9×9 board as possible. You buy quilt patches with your buttons, and build your quilt Tetris-style. 

Each quilt piece earns you a certain number of points, and the player with the most points at the end wins.

Runner Up Two Person Game
Patchwork
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Best Three Person Game: 7 Wonders

14.
7 Wonders
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7 Wonders can be played with anywhere between three and seven players, so it’s not technically a three-person game. That said, it’s the most fun game I can think of when you only have three players. 

Each player is the ruler of an ancient city. Your goal is to gain as many victory points as possible, and you can do that through military conquest, gold, and building up your city. 

There’s a bit of a deck-building element to this game as all players are drawing from the same set of cards.

Do you pass along that military conquest card knowing that your neighbor might use it against you? Or do you take it for yourself, even if it’s not part of your strategy? Oh, the drama.

How it’s played:

Through the three ages (rounds), build your city, conquer your neighbor, and collect as much gold as you can. 

Of course, it’s nearly impossible to do all three well, so eventually you’ll want to double-down on a strategy and see if you can exploit it to victory. If you enjoy seeing your friends frustrated, go military conquest all the way and watch their faces turn red.

Best Three Person Game
7 Wonders
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Induces the Most Screaming: SpaceTeam

15.
SpaceTeam
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You can download SpaceTeam on your phone right now and play it with as many people as you want. 

It’s a little like Among Us, but the creators baked in so much more confusion. 

Playing this game feels like what I imagine was going through Hunter S. Thompson’s brain as he pulled into Las Vegas. 

You and your buds are all on a spaceship. And it’s a rickety old one. Everything is breaking. As you travel through space, your goal is to keep the ship together for long enough to reach your objective. 

Everyone has a panel with four or five actions. They also randomly get instructions they must call out. When you have four or five people all yelling instructions like “Powerhose to two,” and “eject the cuater” at the same time, things get hectic. 

The end of each round feels like coming down from an adrenaline high—only to be follow by more intense screaming

How it’s played:

It’s better if you just watch.

SpaceTeam
SpaceTeam
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Best Card Game: The Crew

16.
The Crew
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The Crew is unique in that it’s a cooperative card game. It’s a trick-based game, and the premise is that all players are part of an interplanetary expedition. 

Each player has their own mission to fulfill (which they do by winning tricks at specific times), and the conflict comes when two players must win a certain trick to fulfill their own individual missions. 

The game can only be won if all players at the table fulfill their mission, so there’s a significant amount of give and take. There are few other feelings as sweet as when your team can all cooperate and complete a mission together. 

How it’s played:

The Crew is fast paced, as each trick goes around the table once. The fun arises from the lack of communication you have with your table-partners. The rules lay out what you can communicate and how, making it surprisingly difficult for all players to complete their mission. 

The key is that all players must satisfy their objective in order to win the game. So you either all win, or you all lose, and that’s what makes The Crew special.

Best Card Game
The Crew
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Runner Up Card Game: Tichu

17.
Tichu
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Tichu is another trick-based game, and it’s a two vs two powerhouse card game. If your parents (or grandparents) ever played bridge—Tichu is somewhat similar, but a lot more simple and way more fun.

Based on a popular Chinese card game, Tichu takes guts, cooperation, and offers that beautiful moment where you can throw down a card and absolutely crush your opponent. 

How it’s played:

Tichu is complicated at the start, but once you play through a round, you’ll understand how the game works. Each player starts the round with 13 cards—some will be special cards, some are worth points, and others are just filler. Your goal is to earn points, win tricks, play all your cards, and help your partner across the table play their cards, too. 

What’s amazing about Tichu is that even when you have a terrible hand, you can still help your team out by playing everything you have to help your partner.

Runner Up Card Game
Tichu
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Best Family Game: Parks

18.
Parks
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Parks is like the Shrek of board games. It’s kid-friendly, and a wholesome way to spend an evening. But it’s still actually fun for adults. 

With up to five players acting as hikers across U.S. National Parks, the goal is to collect as many fond memories as possible.

This is one of those games that gets you fired up about actually heading out into nature and seeing some of the world’s wonders for yourself. 

How it’s played:

Fill your canteen, grab a camera, and hit the trails. Depending on which park you’re in (a card is flipped that determines where your hiker is), you’ll have access to certain resources. These resources will help you collect memories, or will help you become more efficient down the road. 

You must manage the delicate balance between collecting what you need for the moment, and building an engine for faster growth down the line.

Best Family Game
Parks
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Runner Up Family Game: Zombie Kidz Evolution

19.
Zombie Kidz Evolution
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If you want a board game to play with your kids that doesn’t get old, check out Zombie Kidz Evolution

Zombies have entered school and the custodian has left his post. Up to four players have to lock the doors and clear the halls of the living dead to win the game. 

But there’s a unique twist on this board game—each player can build skills and become better over several games. 

So if you want to plan out a weekly board game night with the kids, each time you play, you’re picking back up where you left off, rather than starting a completely new game. 

The cartoon artwork and simple-but-intense gameplay makes Zombie Kidz Evolution an irresistible pick for family game night. 

How it’s played:

Clear out the zombies as they come in and complete as many objectives as you can as you and your team work to lock all four entryways to the school. 

With Evolution, you can also learn skills that you can bring to next week’s game, too.

Runner Up Family Game
Zombie Kidz Evolution
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Most Likely to Start an Argument: Diplomacy

20.
Diplomacy
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Diplomacy is a game of pure negotiation. It’s the year 1901, and up to seven players act as the major European powers. 

True to history, there’s a good chance you and your fellow players are headed for a World War.

Unlike the other games on this list, there aren’t any dice rolls or card pulls—absolutely no element of chance involved. It’s a game of pure strategy and negotiation. 

So what happens when you trust the person next to you to make a move, only to learn that they’ve done the opposite, outflanked you, and declared war. 

Diplomacy gets heated. 

How it’s played:

The average length of one game is around six hours, so it’s basically a full day event. The gameplay is quite simple, and the goal is to command 18 supply centers (out of 36 total). 

The difficulty is in exerting the influence to get the other players around you to cooperate. The first round of negotiations itself takes 30 minutes, and you bicker and banter about what your overall strategy should be, plus how you can work with others to help you complete your objectives. 

Of course, the end goal is to be the dominant power, so any alliance you form must eventually break. 

Most Likely to Start an Argument
Diplomacy
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Best 30 Minute Game: Codenames

21.
Codenames
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Codenames is a quick and fun game that takes five minutes to explain (i.e. it’s a fantastic game to have on the shelf for parties and small get-togethers). 

Up to eight people can play, and there are two teams (you can have up to four people on a team).

The game requires a bit of wordplay to help your team guess which of the cards represent your spies in the field. The first team to guess the correct location of all their spies wins. 

Codenames can feel quite competitive, and requires close teamwork, so it offers an excellent balance for mid-sized groups. 

How it’s played:

The teams are divided in two, and each team has a spymaster. 25 cards with just a single word and placed on the board. 

The spymaster knows the location of their spies, the enemy spies, and the assassin (instant loss). 

The spymaster’s job is to give one word clues that will lead their team to identify their own spies, while avoiding revealing the enemy spies or the assassin. 

When the first team picks out all their own spies, they win. It’s an easy-to-learn party puzzle game that pairs well with drinks.

Best 30 Minute Game
Codenames
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Best 10 Minute Game: Coup

Coup
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Short and sweet, Coup combines strategy and backstabbing in a quick 10-minute card game. You can think of it as a much more developed version of the classic card game B.S., but it’s actually fun.

The object of the game is to collect tokens and launch a coup, which forces one of your opponents to turn over their influence cards. Each player only has two, so if they have two coup’s launched against them, they’re out. 

At the start of the game, you have two special powers. You need to balance using those powers without having them discovered by the other players. If you use the same action over and over again, there’s a good chance you’ll become too powerful and the rest of the table will team up and crush you. 

How it’s played:

Start the game with two influence cards. These determine your special actions. Your aim is to collect tokens to launch a coup. 

Depending on which influence cards you have, you can draw tokens from the center, or just steal them from your opponents. 

When you have seven tokens, you can flip over one of your opponent’s influence cards, thus putting them on the brink of destruction and removing one of their special powers. If you lose both of your influence cards, you’re out of the game.

Coup
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Best Games to Play with Kids: Spot it!

23.
Spot it!
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If you don’t want to spend more than three minutes explaining a game to a kid, Spot It! is the way to go.

It’s a simple pattern recognition game, so even 6-year-olds can play. There’s one center card with nine objects on it. You have a deck of cards that all also feature nine objects—some of which overlap with the card in the center. 

The goal of the game is to find the similar objects on your card, and if you’re the first to find a matching object, you play your card in the center. The first person to play all their cards wins. 

How it’s played:

The video above shows you how to learn the game in two minutes, but if I’m honest, you’ll understand it in 30 seconds, and so will any kid. 

While I picked this game as a great choice to play with kids, it’s a fun way to pass the time even for an all adult group. Each round takes about five minutes, and Spot It! can serve as a great segue between more serious games.

Best Games to Play with Kids
Spot it!
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Game On

Charades is a bit cliche for your next party, don’t you think? 

There are so many other options today for amazing adult games—from large party games to intimate four-person strategy games.

This list has something for geeks and frat-bros alike. And if you’re looking to start a regular game night, pick up a few. Mix up negotiation games with strategy and a few lightweight games to get the group laughing. 

This is how you get your friends to meet at your place every week. 

FAQs

What is the most popular board game for adults?

The most popular board game for adults is likely Catan. While it’s fun, it’s quite basic and can become unbalanced very quickly, leaving a few players struggling to stay competitive. That’s why I left it off my list, as there are much more fun games available.

Which is better: Catan or Carcassonne?

I prefer Carcassonne because it’s easier to teach, more fun with a fewer number of players, and has the same level of strategy and intrigue. That said, games like Terraforming Mars and Scythe are better options for you if you love the strategic elements of Catan and Carcassonne.

What is the “number one” board game?

Boardgamegeek.com has the most comprehensive database of board game rankings in the world, and the top ranking board game on the site is Gloomhaven, which made our list as the “best complicated game.”

TAM's Top September Picks Under $50

Bespoke Post Weekender
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Armaf Club De Nuit Intense Man
Quality, affordable Creed Aventus clone
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