Game Night.

gamenightWe have a lot of game nights around here. James likes to pretend that he hates games, and perhaps at one point he really did, but his objection has been ignored so many times that we have all forgotten about it. Maybe it is marriage or maybe it is just that I have always been lame, but I love that our parties with friends involve comfy clothes and games instead of fancy clothes and dignified pursuits more often than not these days. Some of our best friends live just a couple of blocks away and we just keep a running tally of who has won the most games, adding to it every weekend. We have other friends who live out in Fairfax and throw epic game nights every so often, the kind where there is a lot of yelling, calling foul, and [good natured?] bickering. Here are some of our favorites to have on hand for game nights. (Obviously, you can fudge the numbers a little, as we usually have a group of four that plays all but Rollick. For that one numbers are essential.)


  1. For groups of four: Monopoly Deal Millionaire. What is the worst part of actual monopoly? The part where it NEVER ENDS and you are just stuck there limping around the board, praying for some community chest love that will never come. Here is the card game version. All the fun, none of the tedium.
  2. For groups of five: Ticket to Ride. Do not even try telling me this game is like Settlers of Catan or we might have to stop being friends. There are several irrationally strong dislikes that bond James and I together including Tapas restaurants and Settlers of Catan. Instead, Ticket to Ride just lets you build massive rail empires and viciously block your fellow man. None of this trading for sheep business — just sheer capitalistic expansion.
  3. For groups of six: Bohnanza. We call this the Bean Game, and if I explained it, I promise it won’t sound as much fun as it is. You plant beans, trade beans, and then exchange for coins. See? Sounds totally lame. But I promise it is fantastic and you find yourself yelling things like “I WILL GIVE YOU TWO GREEN BEANS, A STINK BEAN, TWO ROUNDS OF GOODWILL AND DO THE DISHES FOR A WEEK IF YOU WILL JUST GIVE ME THAT GARDEN BEAN!” Don’t you just want to play it now to find out why that sentence makes sense?
  4. For groups of seven: Bang. This is like Mafia, that beloved game youth group retreats everywhere, but with more confusing rules and none of that voting nonsense. (Because who actually listened to people’s defenses anyways? I always voted to kill the person, guilty or not. I just felt that it helped move the game along.) Bang is like spaghetti western meets Mafia meets card game meets TOTAL INSANITY. When James and I went home from our first Bang game night — at which I had won all but one round — he informed me that he had never been more angry at me than during that game. Which I took to meant the game was a success, and it was.
  5. For groups of eight or more: Rollick. In this game, everyone wins, because everyone looks like a total idiot and entertains everyone else. This is reverse charades, where one person guesses and everyone else acts it out — without being able to communicate. Thus, you just jump around like an idiot, amusing everyone and acting very little. We played a modified version at our Christmas Eve party, and I just want you to sit there and imagine a group of people trying to act out “virgin birth.”

Any game night fans out there? What are your favorites? But please don’t say Risk, because even thinking about it makes my feet hurt from the thought of stepping on those pieces in the middle of the night after everyone gets bored and leaves it all over the floor half-way to global domination.

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34 Responses to Game Night.

  1. joelcowen9 says:

    Ticket to Ride is one of the best games ever made.

    • Hannah says:

      Totally. So simple yet so perfect! And the American version is way better than the European one.

      • Johanna says:

        Which maps have you tried? Europe can be confusing with the stations, but after a while I find the US map getting predictable (at least if you keep playing with the same people). Asia is really fun!

  2. Johanna says:

    OH! This is AWESOME! I just love boardgames and our idea of a perfect evening is playing loads of Ticket with our favourite people! Really happy to get some tips, since your love for Ticket and Bohnanza is a vouch for great boardgame taste. We’ll definetly try out Bang some time soon!

    My recommendations are SmallWorld, Carcassonne (it’s a little bit more like Settlers than Ticket, but it’s still not Settlers even if it looks a lot like it…) and if you feel like you just want to die/kill something you should play Wilderness (you start at the bottom and it only gets worse… We modified it with a rule of rebirth so that it’s possible).

  3. danielle says:

    My group of game night friends really loves Farkle–simple dice game where you try to get points and where there always ends up a game where someone gets no points. And my good friend just introduced me to Survive (which I hear just had a rerelease) which looks somewhat like Settlers but is not.

  4. LegoMyMego says:

    I love the game Time’s Up! Great for groups… It’s a combination of catch phrase and charades. You use the same 40 some cards for 4 rounds of the game. The first round is like catch phrase and you try to get people to guess what’s on the card using words. The second round you can use 1 word and motions. The 3rd round is just motions and the 4th is just a pose. Since you use the same cards each round it makes it a little easier when you get to the last round. It’s hilarious and they make one with just titles (books, movies, songs, etc.) and one with everything!

    • Hannah says:

      I love Catch Phrase!!! I know that everyone else got over it after middle school, but I am still all about it. As for the game you are describing, we play something similar but with names.

  5. Jeanne says:

    There is a card game for 3-8 players that sounds a bit like your bean game. It’s called Pit and it’s trading cards face down while trying to get a corner on the market (all of a certain commodity’s cards). And not have the bear when the corner is called. You get to make all sorts of enemies every time you play.

  6. Kylie says:

    Have you ever played Ruckus? That one is really fun. It is fast paced but can work with three or more players. I have a bit more trouble playing it now, with my pregnant belly in the way because you have to reach across the table to steal sets from other players.

    Another one I liked that reminds me of your comments on Rollick is Quelf. You can have fewer players, but it is an entertaining game all the same. Watching my dad do slow motion chariots of fire around the room while humming the song (when he has no musical ear!) is hilarious.

    And, as an English teacher my all time hands down favorite game is Funglish. You have a hundred some tiles with descriptive words on then, and a main play board that has the categories “definitely” “kinda” and “not”. Without speaking, you have to use just the tiles to get everyone else to guess what words are on your card. It’s super fun!!

  7. sharon says:

    Second the Ticket to Ride endorsement! And I’m going to have to find Bang as I LOVE Mafia. Check out Phase 10 Twist if you like new versions of oldies. Last Word if you like word games and I am also a big fan of yelling/laughing classics like Taboo, Catchphrase, and Apples to Apples (and the scandalous and offensive version of AtoA, Cards Against Humanity!).

  8. Ruth Wester says:

    Love this post, looking at the board games sitting in our bookcase and thinking of many great nights with friends. I recommend Pandemic for 4 people; it’s great because you’re playing together, rather than against each other. PowerGrid is another great game for 2-5 people, it’s a bit more complex but worth playing a few times to get the hang of it. And if you really want to see if James has become a game-lover rather than hater, try either Lost Cities or Kahuna, both games for only 2 players!

  9. Stephanie B. says:

    Ooh, I’m excited to check out some new games. My friends and I LOVE having game nights (we started having them during law school and I was so excited to find some fellow game-lovers). We like to play Cranium and Cards Against Humanity (as someone previously commented, the scandalous and offensive version of Apples to Apples). I think the game Trailer Park Wars is really fun and hilarious. We also play a game called Facts in Five (similar to Scattergories) which I think you might really like. It’s divisive among our group because some people excel at it much more than others, but it can be pretty fun and definitely sparks some major competition (in an intellectual/ nerdy way, haha). We also like to play Headbanz. I want to check out Bang and Rollick now – thanks for the suggestions!

  10. Angela says:

    I tend to be a lurker on this blog but had to comment on this one….I love board games and have quite the collection! (Check out sometime.) Beans (what we call it) and Bang! are great ones. I also like Carcassonne, Torres, Blokus, Tikal, Citadels, and Clans. There are so many good ones out there! Lost Cities and Zertz are great 2-player games, also.

    • Hannah says:

      Yay for lurkers coming out (a phrase I never thought I’d type) ! Don’t worry, we call it Beans too — I just used the real name on here so people could find it. : )

  11. alexi says:

    We love board game nights. We like to play Settlers (with all of the expansions), Ticket to Ride, and Power Grid.

  12. aashworth68 says:

    I love board games! I have different favorites depending on the type of people we play with. If you like to yell at each other, it has to be Pit. It is based on the stock market. I know that sounds lame but it is AMAZING! For catching up with old friends, I choose Imaginif. It puts the players into the game and you can vote on “If such and such were a color, which would she be?” Or “If such and such was a sports fan, which kind would she be?” You vote and majority wins! For crude humor, it’s Cards Against Humanity. It is just wrong. You feel bad the whole time for how awful it is but it’s so funny! And if you like Cranium, then check out Quelf. It is insanity. It makes you do things like go to the bathroom and don’t come back until someone checks on you or wear a helmet and don’t use words with the letter t in them.

  13. Rosalind says:

    Your choices in board games are one of the things that keep me reading. Also, your blog keeps me reading.

  14. That is actually an excellent description of Bohnanza…(:

  15. Haylie says:

    The first time I visited my husband’s family while we were dating, it was over New Year’s and he brought Bang to teach to everyone. It was HILARIOUS. His parents, older brother, sister-in-law, and I not-so-patiently listened and attempted to play the game, which I think was actually fun. However, the fact that his older brother (who, as older brothers do, knows how to push his buttons) not only acted like it was super complicated (which drove my husband crazy), but also was the last one still in the game with him, made for the moment of- possibly- the most irritation and anger I’ve ever seen in my husband! Lol! So, when you said that about your husband being angry at you during Bang, I can totally understand! It did enable my sister-in-law and I to bond however, as we both attempted to smother our uncontrollable laughing behind books… 🙂

  16. Pingback: What gets me through. | The Art in Life

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