It is amazing what a difference an extra player makes. Most of the games on my best 4 player game list are long and complex games, but as soon as a 5th player enters the equation, I find myself mostly grabbing short party style games with bluffing and general tom-foolery. Here is a list of some of the best games to play with 5 players:

7. Cockroach Poker (2004)

Cockroach Poker is a great 5 player board game
  • Players: 2-6
  • Time: 20 Minutes
  • Designer: Jacques Zeimet
  • Publisher: Drei Magier Spiele
  • Type: Bluffing
Drei Magier Spiele Kakerlakenpoker Board Game
  • Age: 8 - 99
  • Playing Time: min
  • Number of Players: 2-6
  • German (Publication Language)

Cockroach Poker is a bluffing game that is easy to pick up for people who don’t play a lot of games. It makes a perfect game for five players when not everybody in the group is interested in sitting down to learn a heavier game. Cockroach Poker works like this:

On your turn, you take one card from your hand, place it face down and give it to someone, stating what type of bug it is. You may tell the truth or you may lie. The player who receives the card then can choose to guess whether you told the truth or lied OR they may choose to look at the card and pass it to someone else, again telling the truth or lying about what type of bug it is.

The game’s really interesting twist is that Cockroach Poker is a game where there is only one loser and everyone else wins. This makes for some “all-in-good-fun” group shaming, obviously, not mandatory, but definitely encouraged (at least in my group).

6. Sheriff of Nottingham (2014)

Sheriff Of Nottingham
  • Players: 3-5 Players
  • Time: 60 Minutes
  • Designer: Sergio Halaban, Andre Zatz
  • Publisher: Arcane Wonders
  • Type: Bluffing
Edge EntertainmentThe Sheriff of Nottingham, Board Game (edgaw01)
  • One of the best games of the year without a doubt
  • Innovative and with great replay value
  • Main Language : Spanish

Sheriff of Nottingham is a game about trying to smuggle goods into Nottingham. Each round, one player will be sheriff and the other players will be merchants. The merchants will stuff their bags with up to 5 goods cards but they can only claim that they are bringing 1 type of good. For example apples, or bread.

You can bluff and send other goods as well, or you can even send illegal goods for extra points. However, each round the sheriff can choose to open your bag. If you get caught with goods you didn’t claim, you will have to pay fees to the sheriff. However, if the sheriff opens your bag and you were telling the truth, they will pay you instead.

It’s a clever bluffing game that has a lot of fun moments and it plays much better with the full player count of 5.

5. Mysterium (2015)

Mysterium
  • Players: 2-7
  • Time: 42 Minutes
  • Designer: Oleksandr Nevskiy, Oleg Sidorenko
  • Publisher: Asmodee
  • Type: Asymmetric Cooperative Deduction
Sale
Mysterium
  • Cooperative investigation, everyone loses or wins
  • Strong and immersive story line
  • Ghostly fun for 2 to 7 players with a high replay value
  • English (Publication Language)

Mysterium is a cooperative game that has one player as a ghost of a murdered victim. They must give clues to mediums via abstract art cards. These clues are meant to give the mediums information about who, where, and what item was used to murder them.

One catch is that the ghost cannot talk, they can only hand cards to the mediums and hope they figure out the reason you gave them that card. The mediums can discuss among themselves, but each player must individually select a suspect, a location, and an item in order for the team to be successful. Then they must as a group decide which set is the correct one.

This game works very well at 5 or 6 players and is an excellent game for families and parties.

4. Celestia (2015)

Celestia 1
  • Players: 2-6
  • Time: 30 Minutes
  • Designer: Aaron Weissblum
  • Publisher: Blam!
  • Type: Push Your Luck
Quick Simple Fun Games Celestia
  • Aboard an aircraft, discover the cities of Celestia and recover their wonderful treasures.
  • Each turn, a new captain must face the adventures of the trip. A clever risk-taking game in a dreamlike world.
  • 2-6 players, 30 minutes play time.
  • Polish (Publication Language)

In Celestia, players are steampunk airship pilots traveling from city to city but dealing with threats such as fog, lightning, giant birds, and pirates along the way. Players will be taking turns as captain and at each city all players (other than the captain) will have the opportunity to exit the ship.

If you exit the ship you get a reward from that city, however, if you stay on the ship, you are relying on your captain to successfully get you to the next city. If the captain cannot successfully deal with the threats on the way to the next city, then the ship will crash and you will get no reward this round.

Celestia Board Game
image credit: tim norbury/flickr

The game continues like this until one player has 50 points. This is an extremely light and clever push your luck game that adds a bit of cooperation that makes it play a bit smoother than other competitive push your luck games. So long as you are OK with “lazy people” hitching a ride on your airship while you spend your precious cards dealing with threats, this is a great game for groups of 5 or 6.

3. Deep Sea Adventure (2014)

Deep Sea Adventure
  • Players: 2-6
  • Time: 30 Minutes
  • Designer: Jun Susaki
  • Publisher: Oink Games
  • Type: Push Your Luck

This is a Japanese game by Oink Games, but it is readily available around the world thanks to boardgamegeek, Amazon, and other international outlets. The game puts players in the roll of deep sea divers trying to accumulate the most treasure.

Deep Sea Adventure Board Game
image credit: derek bruff/flickr

The catch is that you all share the same oxygen tank and the more treasure you have, the more oxygen you use. If the oxygen runs out before you make it back to the ship, you lose all your treasure. Oh did I mention, carrying treasure weighs you down and makes you move slower?

Ironically, my favorite thing about Deep Sea Adventure is that everyone’s first game is a disaster, they will want to go deeper for more treasure and they never survive. Then they will immediately want to play it again and again.

This game plays great at 4, 5 or 6 players, but I think the oxygen gets used a little too quickly with 6 and the 5th player adds just the right amount of panic.

2. Skull (2011)

Skull board game from 2011
  • Players: 3-6
  • Time: 45 Minutes
  • Designer: Herve Marly
  • Publisher: Asmodee
  • Type: Bluffing
Preview Product Price
Skull Skull $21.19

This game always intrigued me with the beautiful skull candy artwork. Every time I saw it in my friendly local games store, I would pick it up and think about buying it, but for whatever reason I always decided against it. Then I played a friend’s copy of it, and I had to have it. I have played this game at basically every “party” game night since.

It is a simple game where each player has 4 coasters consisting of 3 roses and 1 skull. At the beginning of each round, every player places one coaster of their choice and then in turn order, you choose to either play another coaster on top of your previous one, or initiate a bet of how many coasters you can flip over without hitting a skull.

Once a bet is initiated, no more coasters can be played and players can outbid each other until nobody wants to up the wager. Then the hilarity begins.

Firstly, you have to flip over ALL of your own coasters first, so if you bluffed and nobody took the bait, then you’ll be forced to skull yourself. Secondly, as soon as you trust that someone didn’t play a skull, they will undoubtedly skull you.

With the right group, this game results in hilarious moments where players around the table fall out of their chairs from laughter. I think this game is equally good (maybe even better) at 6 players, but it is definitely worth a spot on this list because it is so great at 5.

1. The Grizzled (2015)

The Grizzled
  • Players: 2-5
  • Time: 30 Minutes
  • Designer: Fabien Riffaud, Juan Rodriguez
  • Publisher: CMON
  • Type: Cooperative Survival

The Grizzled is a very serious game that puts you and your friends in the trenches of World War I. It is a game about survival, friendship, and overcoming the traumas of war. The game is also extremely difficult to win, which seems to encapsulate the theme perfectly.

The way the game works is quite simple, the captain of the mission determines how many cards each player will get and then they must take turns playing cards out into the battlefield. If there are ever 3 of the same threats in the battlefield, the mission is considered a failure and it will have dramatic effects on your chances of coming away from the war without too much trauma.

The other key is that there is limited communication during the game. This makes the game super tense, because you know that any card you play may put your friends into a very poor position and there is no way for them to communicate what they need you to play.

I have mostly played this game with 2 player variant (which includes a 3rd dummy player) and this is a fine way to play, but playing with a full group of 5 makes it much tougher and dramatic.

These were my favorite 5 player board games, but please feel free to comment if there is something you believe we have missed.