There is nothing better than getting friends and family together for a board game night and having everyone at the table engaged. For more hardcore gamers, getting a dedicated group to get invested in a game with tons of rules isn’t too tricky, but these board game companions aren’t always available. Sooner or later, a board game enthusiast will want to spend some time at the table and will be surrounded by a group that just isn’t going to get invested in playing Root or The Witcher: Old World. This might be at a party or a holiday gathering, and there will often be more than four players at the table during these occasions, which isn’t ideal for most of the meatier board games. Those players need a few games to break out during these occasions.
Party games don’t have the best reputation in the board game community. After Cards Against Humanity happened, the market became saturated with games in which one player has a prompt of some sort and judges the funny responses that everyone else provides. Seriously, What Do You Meme, Joking Hazard, and WTF Did You Just Say are just three of dozens of party games that follow the same formula and can be found filling half of the shelf at Target. They all have the same procedure, tend to rely on being offensive, and are sometimes just mean-spirited.
Most people at the table of a party game will be okay with this, but there is much more out there than just being NSFW and mean. These games can get just as much laughter out of the crowd and will still engage everybody at the table at once. We don’t mind admitting that snide remarks and lewd jokes can be fun at the table, after all, we never have a bad time when Trust Me I’m A Doctor, Scrawl, or Telestrations After Dark makes it to the table, but it’s nice to play something a little more wholesome.
We believe that good-natured fun and entertainment can be a part of every party game, so here are five exceptional board games that perfectly exemplify this principle. These party board games not only guarantee an absolute blast but also foster an atmosphere of inclusivity, collaboration, and respect. Everyone will be brought together in a way that only board games can do, and no one will leave the table feeling sour, even with a few drinks. Let’s get to playing!
Medium is a cooperative word association game where players work together in pairs to form a psychic connection. The turn player reveals a word from their hand, and the player to their left does the same with the objective of creating an easy connection between the two words. Both players will simultaneously reveal a word that connects the words, and if both players say the same word, they score points. If they say different words, they will need to connect those. If they fail once more, they will try one more time to make that psychic connection.
Medium encourages players to think alike and create a seamless connection. It helps to know the players you are with since there is a deeper pool of references that they can pull from, but this isn’t necessarily required. The best Medium players find easy ways to connect. As a whole, Medium promotes positive collaboration and communication. It feels great to get the correct word on the first try. There are many little celebrations throughout Medium, which brings everyone together. When players miss, it can be hilarious, especially when the answer should have been obvious. There is little room for mean-spiritedness in this game aside from light roasting, making this an excellent and wholesome party game.
Codenames is a word-based party game that challenges players to work together in teams to uncover secret agents from a grid of code words. One player on each team acts as the spymaster, giving their opponents only a word and a number as a hint. The players will then use that information to detect the number of words on a board that can be associated with the hint. Choosing the wrong word can end the game immediately.
Codenames require communication, teamwork, and clever word association. It’s also admittedly the least party of these games, so if you want a word game that will be better with drinks, go for Medium first. Still, with the right crowd, this is another word-party game that can bring people together, especially when they are in sync. For a more raucous time, shoot for Codenames Deep Undercover, which is NSFW but still isn’t very offensive or mean.
Telestrations is a hilarious drawing and guessing game, a mix of Telephone and Pictionary. Players take turns drawing a word or phrase on a sketchbook, passing it to the next player, who then tries to guess what the drawing represents. The game continues until it returns to the original player, and laughter ensues when comparing the initial and final drawings. It’s unlikely that anyone will get it right, and it’s usually disappointing when a drawing makes it all the way to the end.
Telestrations promotes lighthearted fun and creativity without any need for mean-spiritedness. It is flexible and can be whatever the table needs, but it is often a family game. For those who want something a little raunchier, but still want to avoid offensive card games, Telestrations After Dark is there for you.
Wavelength is a party game that challenges players to gauge their friends’ perceptions and understanding of different spectrums. One player gives a clue that corresponds to a specific range on a spectrum, while the others have to guess where the clue falls on that spectrum. It encourages discussion, debate, and understanding without resorting to offensive topics or humor.
Few party games allow players to get to know each other on an intimate level without sacrificing fun, but Wavelength pulls it off. Plus, the components are pretty cool.
Stay Cool is a fast-paced party game that challenges players’ multitasking abilities. One player asks the turn player questions that must be spelled out on dice with letters, while another challenges the turn player to verbally answer questions. One more player will keep up with the timer.
And that’s the easy round.
Eventually, players will need to multitask the two sets of questions and the timer itself, and the end results are hilarious. Most of the questions are simple, but players will be so overloaded that everyone else will get to laugh at how ridiculously easy it should be to name just three dog breeds. For some reason, the turn player can’t do it and we are grateful for it.
There you have it! What are your favorite wholesome party games? Let us know in the comments.