Kirill Yurovskiy: The Best Party Board Games for Adults

Board Games

Tired of the same old Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity rotating at every get-together? Well, put down those worn-out decks and step away from the monotonous trivia rounds, because the board game renaissance is here and it’s fun for all ages—yes, even you adults.

The current golden age of tabletop games offers plenty of options infinitely more fun and mentally engaging than yet another round of Pictionary. Even if you haven’t touched a board game since your parents forced you to pack up that dog-eared copy of The Game of Life after high school, it’s time to give the hobby another go. These strategic, clever and just plain silly party board games will bring out your competitive side while keeping you and your guests laughing long into the night.

Whether you’re hosting a sophisticated soiree, a rambunctious shindig or an adults-only affair, these board games promise hours of entertainment while strengthening relationships though laughter, conversation and friendly competition. Check out LIFE Magazine’s picks for the top party board games that are fun for grownups. Find out more at the link


This team-based word association game took the board game world by storm when it debuted in 2015, winning the prestigious Spiel des Jahres award. Its simple premise hides devious complexity. Players split into two teams, with spymasters giving one-word clues to guide their field operatives to guess secret agents’ codenames among random words on the table. A single confusing clue can foil even the best-laid plans. Constant communication between teammates is key, making Codenames ideal for bringing groups together while keeping the competition friendly.

The cheeky adult version, Codenames: After Dark, replaces the original words with hilarious and risqué options, letting players’ imaginations run wild. This game doesn’t require obscure trivia knowledge, just creativity and intuition for piecing together clues, so everyone can contribute.


Is “sweet” closer to “salty” or “spicy”? Do “dogs” align more with “cats” or “fish”? Discovering how your friends’ and families’ minds work has never been such bizarre fun. In each round of Wavelength, a mysterious dial anchors two opposing concepts, like “tacky” and “classy.” One player sets the dial’s indicator while everyone else guesses where it landed. You’ll gain fascinating insight into how differently people think while debating concepts like intimacy, legality and even condiments.

The revealing discussions sparked by comparing seemingly dissimilar things creates moments of gut-busting realization about your loved ones. Wavelength’s collaborative gameplay for up to 12 people helps conversation flow smoothly at your next gathering. The game’s beautiful mid-century design overflows with personality, sure to be a conversation piece on its own.

Cockroach Poker

This raucous bluffing game adds pizzazz for four to six gamers at adults-only soirees. On each turn, players pass cards face-down, ultimately giving one to an opponent. Receivers secretly check if they got the harmless cockroach or stink bug cards—or an unwanted scorpion or spider. Players utilize poker faces galore attempting to dump gross cards on anyone but themselves in this laugh-a-minute mix of risk and deception.

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Cockroach Poker’s smaller player count fuels lively interaction and emphasis on reading body language. The bridge-sized set easily tucks into a purse or pocket alongside drinking game favorites, breaking the ice with newcomers in mere minutes as guests let loose their best acting chops—and most embarrassing reactions.


CandyLand and Old Maid, move aside—elegantly spooky Skull bests those childhood classics at capturing kiddish excitement while still engaging adult minds. Players start each round with three roses and one Skull card, passing them around one at time face-down in a bid to collect full sets, until someone eventually dares a blind trade. Reveal a harmless rose and you keep it; turn up a skull and you lose a rose. Hold onto all your roses to win.

Skull’s tiny deck makes it perfect for killing a few minutes while waiting for your guests to finish pregaming. But don’t let its diminutive size fool you. Finding the perfect moment to push your luck with nerve-wracking gambles creates silly and suspenseful fun every single round, with games usually lasting under 30 minutes. Bring Skull anywhere without sacrificing the big thrills found in this bite-sized package.


Escalating silliness makes this fresher “telephone game” infinitely replayable, even with the same group. Everyone starts by simultaneously sketching a secret prompt, then passes pages to translate the last person’s drawing into their best guess, with sketches and written guesses spiraling into hilarious nonsense by the closing pages. Did “rollercoaster” really turn into “windsurfing watermelon farmer” in just eight rounds? You’ll be shocked how far original concepts drift once they run through the mental ringer of a dozen people.

Telestrations shows how clinging to assumptions limits understanding others, helping your party guests bond by breaking down barriers through laughter. Letting mistakes slide in good fun makes for far less stress than strict drawing games like Pictionary. Telestrations entertains groups of four to eight, playing even better after a few stiff drinks so participants feel less self-conscious about displaying crude doodling skills.

Exploding Kittens

Don’t let the adorable artwork and quirky name fool you—wildly popular Exploding Kittens made history as one of Kickstarter’s all-time most backed projects for good reason. Creator Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal infused this highly strategic card game with his signature twisted, surreal humor. Players take turns drawing cards until someone loses by picking the doomed Exploding Kitten. Various action cards help you avoid or pass the ticking fuzzy time bomb or sabotage opponents with attacks like cat-themed diarrhea. Yup, it goes there.

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Exciting updates hitting store shelves soon add even more ludicrous cards to the mayhem, like rainbow puking and lurking tacocats dying to steal cheesy victory. Exploding Kittens requires constant attentiveness and scheming, making it more stimulating than holding the same stale conversations at a typical cocktail hour. The gory goofs will have you and your guests letting loose inner juveniles you haven’t glimpsed since middle school sleep away camp. You’ll never view felines the same after this raunchy game claws its way into your next shindig. 

Secret Hitler

In stark contrast, Secret Hitler deals with covert fascism threatening 1930s Germany. How could such politically incorrect source material translate into fun party game? Smart balance between tense hidden identity deduction and laugh-out-loud accusations aimed at friends suspected of enacting dastardly policies. The secret fascists slyly undermine the liberal team’s legislative progress while everyone argues over shifting alliances, unless Hitler is stopped first.

Wrapped in provocative themes belying nuanced strategy, Secret Hitler freshens worn social deduction formulas popularized by Mafia and Werewolf. Up to ten can dive into this psychological thriller challenging preconceptions about politics and ethics. Just maybe hide it when conservative family members visit—or perhaps it will spark profound perspective shifts via raucous fun. Secret Hitler urges us not to ignore harsh realities haunting history but to face fear and prejudice preventing fuller understanding of others unlike ourselves.


For more family-friendly fare embracing imagination, award winner Dixit enchants groups through gorgeous abstract artwork open to endless interpretation. On each round, the active player picks one evocative illustration from their hand and gives a verbal clue about it to everyone else. Remaining players choose cards from their own hands that might match the active player’s secret pick based on that inspired clue. After revealing the original card, players score points if some (but not all) other players guessed their card.

With rules simple enough for many ages yet enough creativity to engage adults, Dixit reveals how differently every unique mind works. Discussing various card possibilities compared to the often vague or unexpected clues tests how well you really know your nearest and dearest outside predictable patterns. Luscious cards overflowing with dreamlike imagery you could lose yourself in for hours beckon embracing more magic and mindfulness in everyday life.

Ticket to Ride

Sometimes you feel too exhausted after a grueling work week to conjure the mental strength for lengthy game rules. Easy to learn yet infinitely replayable, gorgeous train travel map game Ticket to Ride makes the perfect introductory gateway game back into modern hobby board gaming. Connect routes across a map board to achieve destination Ticket goals before opponents block your needed paths. Ticket’s straightforward premise teaches essential foundations like set collection, route building and some mild take-that confrontation.

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Stress instantly fades away while immersing into this tranquil world tour filled with destinations you’ve always dreamed about visiting. Learning different tactics each new region like Europe or Asia you traverse keeps Ticket continuously fresh and fun. You’ll find playing this 2002 classic far smoother sailing than navigating complicated video game controls and content. So grab your ticket and let positive memories from simpler childhood toys roll back while you forge new game night traditions Ticket’s stunningly straightforwardsatisfaction.


Does your idea of a great Friday night mean saving the world from terrifying disaster through strategic collaboration? Prove you’ve got the brains and leadership skills to tackle an epidemic threatening the globe in Pandemic, one of the greatest cooperative board games ever designed. Work together as specialists like scientists and medics traveling the sprawling map to discover cures before outbreaks consume the planet city by city. Can you beat the game itself to save humankind?

Far more emotionally affecting storytelling than most Hollywood blockbusters, Pandemic builds bonds strengthening relationships each time your team triumphantly averts fictional catastrophe. New expansions add variety by transforming mechanics into fresh settings and disasters like a Roman Empire plagued by calamities or a haunted old house. Simple enough for beginners yet endless challenge to satisfy experts, Pandemic defines modern tabletop classics by compelling groups to communicate calmly and coordinate effectively even as stress peaks when the world nears imminent destruction. Your game night will never feel the same again after encountering this immersive triumph.

The Voting Game

As this fateful election year continues stoking arguments across America, lighthearted party game The Voting Game proves you don’t need another angry conflict about politics to indulge election fever obsessions. Answer amusing debate questions by casting plastic red and blue nominee tokens toward “YES” or “NO” to tally majority rule. Laugh along uncovering how many guests still use landline phones or illegally download films as you gain insight into your circle’s quirks and surprising opinions on hundreds of pop culture controversies or light ethical dilemmas.

The Voting Game allows good-natured ribs about various results without taking outcomes personally since tallies remain private. Letting majorities rule avoids touchier direct debate sparking heated emotions yet still reveal preferences, inviting thoughtful reflection on mass consensus driving American discourse. While avoiding partisan policies, discussing trivia and cultural views circulates an uplifted mood comradery to remind that shared humanity outweighs differences. Don’t worry about violence erupting or drinks smashing—The Voting Game delivers all the election excitement you crave minus the divisive rancor spoiling holidays. Spend an hour laughing together about common curiosities and you’ll see your get togethers going smoother.

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