The optimal number of players for a game can be extremely varied depending on your personal taste and when and where you play.
In this article, I will be covering the best games for large groups of people. For the sake of this article I will (somewhat arbitrarily) define this as games that play 7 or more players. These game are often synonymous with “party” games and while most of them do fit into that genre, that is by no means a requirement for this list.
Gather ’round everyone, it’s time to begin.
10. Sushi Go Party! (2016)
- Players: 2-8
- Time: 20 Minutes
- Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
- Publisher: Gamewright
- Mechanic: Drafting, Set Collection
Sushi Go Party is essentially the deluxe version of Sushi Go. It is a simple drafting and set collection game in which players will simultaneously pick a card to play and then pass their hand to the person next to them. Players are attempting to form sets of maki, sashimi, edamame, pudding, etc.
The thing that sets Sushi Go Party apart from it’s predecessor is that you can include the a’la carte menu which allows you to choose which dishes you will use for this game (each dish is scored in a slightly different way) and you can also play up to 8 players. It adds a ton of variety and replayability to the game.
As the name implies, this is a great game for parties because it is super simple to teach and play. Even the most novice of gamers can grasp both how to play and the strategy behind it within the first round or two of the game.
9. Mascarade (2013)
- Players: 2-13
- Time: 30 Minutes
- Designer: Bruno Faidutti
- Publisher: Repos Production
- Mechanic: Hidden Role
Mascarade is very similar to a popular game called Coup, but this plays a much larger number of players. The way that the game works is that each player is given a role card FACEDOWN and that role card will give them an ability. For example, the Queen gets to take 2 coins from the supply.
On your turn you can do 3 things. Firstly, you may announce your role and take the action. Secondly, you may take another player’s card, put theirs and yours under the table and then shuffle them (or not) and give one back to that player. Thirdly, you can secretly look at your role card.
The thing is, you can claim that you are any character. If nobody else has that role card, or at least, doesn’t feel comfortable enough to say they have it, you take that action as though you have that character. However, if someone does call you out on it and reveals that character card, they take the action instead and you lose a coin.
This game is a bit chaotic because you may think you know who you are, but you probably don’t. There are so many ways the game state can alter that keeping tab of everything is virtually impossible and this makes for a great hidden role game.
8. Decrypto (2018)
- Players: 3-8
- Time: 15-45 Minutes
- Designer: Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance
- Publisher: iello, Masked Scorpion
- Mechanic: Deduction, Word Association
|IELLO Decrypto Board Game, 30 Min Play Time, Age 12 & Up, 3-8 Players, Transmit Secret Codes &...||$21.17||Buy on Amazon|
Decrypto is a team vs. team word game that has quite an appeal to it. It uses this old-timey art and graphic design style similar to what you might see in Fallout 4, and it has these 3D cardboard slots for cards with red covers on it. The cards themselves have hidden words, only revealed through the red cover. Each team takes a set of 4 words and inserts them into their 4 card slots.
The object of the game is to guess the code for your words, however, you want to do so in a vague enough way that your opponent doesn’t intercept the code.
So for example, you might have 1. red, 2. onion, 3. spacecraft, and 4. laboratory as your code words. Your code card this turn is 1.3.4 so you as the clue giver say apple, wormhole, and equipment. Your team looking at the clues can easily determine that the code this turn is 1.3.4. Your opponents (who cannot see the words) likely will not know. But after a few rounds of giving clues to represent your code words red, onion, spacecraft, and laboratory, they may be able to use their notes to piece together what your words actually are, and that’s when you lose the game.
This game is an amazing word game and some would even argue that it is better than the consensus best word game of all-time Codenames, but I think it falls a little flat of that simply because of the accessibility. While this game is not difficult to understand, it is difficult to teach and it is more like an advance version of Codenames.
7. Monikers (2015)
- Players: 4-20
- Time: 60 Minutes
- Designer: Alex Hague, Justin Vickers
- Publisher: Palm Court
- Mechanic: Charades
Monikers is the most party game of all party games on this list. This game is team vs. team where one player on the team will be on the clock for 1 minute and the rest of the team will be guessing.
At the beginning of the game a large number of cards will be selected depending on the number of players. These cards will consist of random pop-culture, historical figures, events, etc.
The clever bit in this game is the round structure. Each round lasts as long as it takes to go through that deck of cards. Let me rephrase that, as long as it takes to go through that SAME deck of cards. In the first round, you can say anything and everything you want (besides the title of the card) as your clue. In the second round you can only say 1 word clues. In the 3rd round, you can’t say anything, you have to use charades to get the clues across.
This is a brilliant progressive system that involves typical party game mechanics but extends it with a sort of memory game. What often ends up happening is you end up getting these non-sensical inside jokes that span the entire duration of the game and are exclusive to your little set of players. It is also hilarious to see the game in action, especially when you don’t know what is going on.
Food for thought. Imagine walking into a room at a party and the first thing you see is someone silently and slowly moving their whole body to the ground, and a bunch of other people yelling seemingly random things. Finally someone yells “The Wizard of Oz.” The person on the ground jumps up with satisfaction and points his finger as to prove that it was in fact the correct answer. It is absolute nonsense to see. “How on Earth could anyone have guessed Wizard of Oz from that?” you think to yourself. Well what you don’t know is that the first round the players had the clue “it’s a story that has a witch melting…” and then in the second round someone used the clue “melting.”
6. A Fake Artist Goes to New York (2012)
- Players: 5-10
- Time: 20 Minutes
- Designer: Jun Sasaki
- Publisher: Oink Games
- Mechanic: Drawing, Social Deduction
This is a game in which a question master will give a category to everyone, let’s say “animals.” Then they will write the actual clue, let’s say “Meerkat,” onto a number of dry erase cards equal to the number of players minus 1. They will also write an X on another dry erase card. These will be randomly distributed to the group of players.
Players (with exception of the question master) will then take turns drawing with their uniquely colored dry erase marker. Players can draw as much as they want so long as it is 1 continuous line (once their marker has left the paper, their turn is over and they pass it to the next player). This will continue until each player has drawn twice onto the paper. After that, players will take a minute to look at and discuss the picture and try to figure out who the fake artist is based off the drawing.
If they figure it out, congrats, all the artists win points that round (potentially). If they fail to figure it out, the fake artist and the question master win points that round. However, if the artists guess the fake artist, then the fake artist has one chance to guess the word. If they do so correctly, they and the question master steal the points that round.
This is a simple party game formula that is used in many other games, but it just works so well here because people are trying to be vague so not to tip-off the fake artist, but in doing so, they may be drawing something extremely suspicious thus making the artists think that THEY are in fact the fake artist. It is one big mind game that results, in some amazing and hauntingly beautiful artwork.
5. 7 Wonders (2010)
- Players: 2-7
- Time: 30 Minutes
- Designer: Antoine Bauza
- Publisher: Repos Production
- Mechanic: Drafting, Engine Building
7 Wonders is one of the few strategy games that can play up to 7 players. This makes it one of the most popular and versatile games on the market. In this game you will be drafting cards, placing them into your civilization, and then passing your hand to your neighbor. Players will be attempting to gain the most points for their civilization by building up their engine and being more fruitful with their drafting decisions and long-term strategies.
The great thing about this game (beyond the flexible player count) is that there are many different paths to victory, you can focus on economy, building wonders, sciences, military and each strategy is viable if you execute it well enough.
While the game has a lot of strategy, it is very light mechanically and relatively straight forward to play, so it could be played with 7 players even if some of them are relatively new to gaming. Odds are, those players will not win, because they will not grasp the strategy, but grasping the rules is fairly simple.
4. Incan Gold (2005)
- Players: 3-8
- Time: 30 Minutes
- Designer: Bruno Faidutti, Alan Moon
- Publisher: Eagle Gryphon Games
- Mechanic: Push-Your-Luck
This is a go-to party game for me because it is so incredibly simple and has so many quick moments of satisfaction. This is a push your luck game in which players are treasure hunters exploring a temple. Everyone is given a little tent to hold their treasures and 2 cards. The 2 cards show you going deeper into the temple or leaving the temple.
At the same time every player will pick whether they will go deeper or leave the temple and they simultaneously reveal what they have selected. Anyone who has left the temple, gets to put whatever treasure they have earned up to that point in there tent, making that treasure theirs until the end of the game. Everyone who hasn’t left awaits their doom or an extra handful of treasure.
The deck is full of treasure cards of varying values and threat cards such as spiders, falling rocks, witches, etc. If you are ever in the temple when a second of any type of threat is drawn (for example, spiders are drawn, and there is already a spiders card in the display), you escape from the temple but only because you dropped all your treasure to do so. When everyone is out of the temple because they left, or because they pushed their luck too far, the cards are shuffled and the next round begins.
The really clever thing about this game is that everyone evenly splits whatever treasure is found so long as they are in the temple. So as people start leaving the temple, those going deeper are going to get a bigger share of any treasure they stumble across, thus making people REALLY not want to leave. Of course, the risk of getting nothing is also higher, so you are really pushing your luck as one might say.
3. Captain Sonar (2016)
- Players: 2-8
- Time: 45-60 Minutes
- Designer: Roberto Fraga, Yohan Lemonnier
- Publisher: Matagot Games
- Mechanic: Real-Time, Hidden Movement
This game could be in the argument for my favorite game of all time and definitely would top this list without any question if it were not for one nagging issue. It is SO difficult to get this game to the table. Unlike many games on this list, this one doesn’t quite fit into the “party game” category, but yet, the only way to get a truly satisfying experience in this game is to have 8 players.
This is essentially a real-time team vs. team version of Battleship and it is absolute chaos. There is a massive divider that separates the two teams and each team has 4 roles to take on that work in such close coordination that getting your timing right requires your minds to meld as if you were playing, well, The Mind. You will be drawing on dry erase boards, outlining paths on acetate paper, crossing things off, circling things, and just having a frantically good time.
The roles in the game are Captain, Chief Mate, Engineer, and Radio Operator. The captain will be calling out cardinal directions in which the ship is moving, the chief mate will have to engage the systems after movement, the Engineer will make sure the submarine’s systems remain online, and the Radio Operator will be tuning into the opponents Captain to try to determine their location. The first team to sink the opponent’s ship wins the game.
This game is incredible, but with the player count requirements for this game, it is just a touch too complex to bring out on a regular basis. How often do you have a group of 8 people that are a) attentive enough to learn a somewhat complex game, b) willing to play a somewhat complex game, and c) familiar with games enough to play a somewhat complex game. I’d guess it’s not very often.
I do remember the first time I tried to play it in a “party” environment, the explanation must have taken a half an hour and there were numerous glazed over eyes in the room. We eventually ended up playing it, and everyone there adored it, although it was a struggle that I would argue, was just not worth it since there are so many other games that could have better fit that situation.
2. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong (2014)
- Players: 4-12
- Time: 20 Minutes
- Designer: Tobey Ho
- Publisher: Grey Fox Games
- Mechanic: Social Deduction
|Grey Fox Games Deception: Murder in Hong Kong Board Game, Fast Pace Murder Mystery, 20 min, 4-12...||$34.45||Buy on Amazon|
In this game, one person is the forensic scientist, another is the murderer, and everyone else is an investigator. The forensic scientist will have everyone close their eyes and ask the murderer to point at a piece of evidence and a weapon from their own display of cards. Then everyone will open their eyes and the fun begins.
The forensic scientist will be silently giving investigators clues from a randomly selected set of 6 clue cards. Each clue card will feature a title, like “condition of the body” or “location the body was found” for example, and a few options to select from. Based on the information that the forensic scientist provides, investigators and the murderer will make arguments about which set of evidence was found at the scene and which weapon used. Each investigator can make 1 guess about who the murderer was and what evidence and murder weapon was left behind.
After each round, the forensic scientist can remove one clue card that they feel is particularly not helpful and replace it with a new one, giving a bit more information.
The object of the game is for the murderer to not be caught or for the investigators and forensic scientist to figure out who the murderer was, what piece of evidence was left behind, and what the murder weapon was.
This game is another party game but this one just stands out to me as being superior in many ways: this game feels tremendously thematic, it more often engages players in cooperative discussion versus accusatory discussion, there is an amazing amount of variability to the game (especially if you add the expansion and any number of promos into the game), the game plays super fast, and lastly the roles are unique enough that players will want to play again immediately in hopes of trying another role.
See also: More information about social deduction games.
- Players: 2-8 Players
- Time: 15 Minutes
- Designer: Vlaada Chvatil
- Publisher: Czech Games Edition
- Mechanic: Word Association
This game requires little introduction as it is one of the top selling games of all time. But here it is anyways:
Codenames is a team vs. team game where each team will have a spy master and a team of guessers. The spy master will be giving clues that refer to words displayed in a 5×5 grid. The objective is to associate the words that your team needs to guess and give your team a one word clue. As the spy master, you have to announce your clue and how many words on the board are associated with it. For example, you might say “bark, 2.” Your guessers may see that “tree” and “dog” are both on the board, so one word at a time they guess “tree” then “dog.”
If the guesses are correct, they mark it off with a spy of their color, if not, they mark it off with either an innocent bystander (neutral color) or a spy of the opponents color. Worst case scenario you hit the assassin and your team has lost the game instantaneously. After the turn, the other team’s spymaster gives a clue, and then the first team to guess all their spies codenames wins.
This game is the ultimate party game and the ultimate gateway game. It is so easy to play in large groups, it is extremely accessible, you can bring it out in basically any situation, and everyone seems to enjoy it.
The only real issue with this game may be language barriers since this game is language dependent. However, they have made many different language editions and even a pictures version to alleviate this.
This is a game that I have spent probably a hundred hours playing (15 Minutes at a time) and somehow, I am still not sick of it. That should say a lot.
More of the Best Board Games for Large Groups of Players:
This concludes our top 10 games for large groups, but there are plenty of other games that meet this criterion that are worth checking out. There were quite a few that just missed out on making the list. We aren’t going to go in-depth for each of them, but here are some links in case anything catches your eye:
Let us know if there are any others that you think should have been included or if you have any other recommendations of games for large groups of players.