13 Popular Games for Game Night


Game nights are full of fun, laughter, friends, food, and perhaps even some trash talking.  Having the right group of people gathered together in the right mood all play an essential role in this good time.  Having the right game is also important.

Here is a list of popular games for game night

  1. Settlers of Catan (Original, Seafarers, & Cities and Knights)
  2. RISK (Mission & World Domination)
  3. Ticket to Ride 
  4. Sequence
  5. King of Tokyo
  6. Pit
  7. BANG
  8. Rook
  9. Pinochle
  10. Farkle (Regular and High Stakes)
  11. Clue
  12. Monopoly
  13. Life

Board Games

Settlers of Catan

This game became the center piece for Game Night Bros.  One of the things that make this great for game night is that players are not eliminated from the game.  Unlike RISK all players can continue to play even if they only have a remote chance to win.  The Settlers of Catan Expansion Set allows 6 players to play at once.

Another unique feature is the board.  If you purchase one of the original Settlers of Catan games you will notice that the board needs to be constructed with multiple hexagon pieces.  With some creativity, and an Expansion Set, the actual playing board can be uniquely different every time.

One of the joys of game night is winning.  Settlers of Catan offers so many different ways to win.  Players need to use critical thinking and strategic deal making in order to win. 

PRO TIP:  Do not allow trading with an player that is only 2 points away from victory.  This prevents players that cannot win from affecting the eventual outcome of the game and forces the winning players to earn the victory, thus preventing a lot of potential frustration and animosity.

If your game night participants like strategy games then this games for you.

Settlers of Catan also offer multiple versions that differ from the original game.  Seafarers and Cities and Knights are two of these versions.

The Seafarers game introduces boats and the Cities and Knights game offers the players opportunities to gain additional powers.

RISK 

RISK is the perfect game for those interested in having a highly competitive night.  This games

overall goal is World Domination and allows the participants to continually evaluate the board until they are ready to make their move (aka take a RISK).  

These risks start off as attacking an opponent’s big army, then taking over a continent, and eventually going for the win and taking over the world.  If you calculate right – Success!  If not, then you may be weakened enough to be eliminated by another player.

The only downside to Risk is that players get eliminated one at a time and this means that some of your guests may not be playing games during game night.  This is a motivation for those players to learn and improve their strategies for the next time.

One solution to this problem is to have a couple two-player games available to play.  I would recommend Cribbage and Backgammon.

Another solution is to play the Mission RISK option which requires all players to complete 4 different missions in order to claim victory.  This version isn’t as intense as World Domination, but usually players can win without eliminating other opponents.

“THE BOX RULE”

PRO TIP:  The Box rule makes our RISK game night memorable.  Risk’s game board has many loose army pieces, but also involves rolling up to 5 dice at a time. 

The Box Rule states that during attacks both players must throw their dice into the box at the same time, and if accidentally rolled out of the box that dice shall be recognized with a value of 1.

Implementation of The Box Rule maintains the integrity of the playing board and also heightens the excitement during Big Moves because players are forced to face off at the box.  This also encourages other players cheer, heckle, and manage the removal of army pieces from the board.

Ticket To Ride

Forget game night, Ticket to Ride is the game that my family bonds with on Sunday afternoons.  Although the board is static the tickets ensure that every game will be different.

Ticket to Ride does require strategy, observations, and recalculation for the highly competitive gamer; but less competitive and younger players can still manage to participate.  

There are many different variations of Ticket to Ride, so if a different game board is desired I would recommend either Ticket to Ride – Europe or Ticket to Ride: Rails and Sails.

PRO TIP:  Purchase the Expansion Cards Sets to make for a better playing experience.  The expansion cards provide more ticket routes and also come with larger playing cards which are easier to manipulate.

Sequence

Every year on December 31st while waiting for the ball to drop my wife and I spend time with friends.  After some time visiting and eating we play our annual game of Sequence.  

Sequence is a game that requires more observation than strategy.  The teamwork involved in this game is what makes this game so special.  We usually play guys versus girls – and this too leads to some competitive cross-table banter. 

King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo is a great for a family game night.  This game is a fast moving game which means it

can be played multiple times during the evening.  Playing a game multiple times in a row also allows newer players an opportunity to learn rules and strategy.

PRO TIP:  King of Tokyo can be a centerpiece game for game night, but it would work best as a supplemental game.  After playing your primary game of choice two or three times break out King of Tokyo to end the night.  It works great to change the pace and if a couple of other players can’t stay up as late this game can be played with fewer players.

Card Games

Pit

Are you looking for a rowdy game night?  If so, then Pit is the game for you. 

Pit is a great game for the young and the young at heart.  It is ideal for youth groups, teenagers, and young adults.  Because this game requires a lot of face paced trading the game is primarily played standing up, but it can be played while sitting.

The game also involves yelling, or at least loud conversing.  I suppose it can be played more quietly, but that has never been my experience.  This is not a suitable game for young parents who want to have a game night while their little ones are sleeping.

BANG

A more cerebral card game, and no where near as rowdy as Pit, is BANG.

BANG is an interactive “Western” card game that gives all players an identity through random draw.  Each identity also comes with a special power.  These players receive a title, also by random draw.  The title determines the game play that they must accomplish in order to win.

One draw back to BANG is that players do systematically get eliminated, like RISK, but the eliminated players can become active observers as the game continues to materialize.  

PRO TIP:  BANG is a game that gets better as players become more experienced, so it is recommended to play at least 3-4 times in a row to allow all players to get comfortable with the different roles, powers, and other playable cards.

Rook

A more traditional card playing game is Rook. 

Rook involves bidding for control, trump cards, card playing etiquette, and some team play.  Before the card play starts the player with the winning bid will announce what card his partner has, so the partnership is initially a blind partnership.

The partners will change from round to round so eventually no two players will end with the same score.  At the end of the day winning Rook is an individual endeavor.

 

Pinochle

If you like Rook, and are looking for a game that is a little more challenging then I would recommend Pinochle. 

Pinochle also requires players to bid for control, name trump, and card playing etiquette.  In addition to this players also get points through meld which are required to be displayed prior to taking hands.  Unlike Rook – Pinochle is a partner game that is great for couple game nights of 4-6 players.

 

Dice Games

Farkle

Who knew 6 dice could be so much fun!  Well it is.

Farkle is a dice game that scores similarly to poker, but also requires the players to determine when is the best time to hold their score or press their luck.

Not only is Farkle great for game night, but it is also a great travel game because it can be transported in your pocket and played anywhere.

Farkle can be played with an unlimited number of players and the rules are easy to learn.  

High Stakes Farkle adds another element to the game.  This version allows the next player to assume the current score and dice of the previous player if they choose to.  This feature allows a following player the opportunity to get a very high score if they are willing to risk a roll with less dice.  The previous player not only has to consider their score but also the number of dice they are passing on.

Classic Games

Clue

Mystery, suspense, and fun for the whole family.

Clue is a great entry level family that allows younger players to develop their critical thinking skills without disengaging more experienced game players.

Play this game a couple of times and all the games start to merge together.  To make it even more challenging make an agreement that the final game of the night will be played without note pads.

This little twist on a classic game can extend the final game and will most likely result in a couple of errand guesses.

Monopoly

Of course Monopoly has to make the list of most popular games for game night.

Monopoly’s reputation is the long all-night game that sometimes needs to be extended to the next day.  However, there are some options to make the game move along a little quicker.

PRO TIP:  In order to make the game proceed quick provide extra money to each player at the beginning of the game and auction of some of or all of the properties. 

You could also set the game up with some equivalent property ownership that players will choose from.  For example Boardwalk and Park Place may be equal to Baltic and Mediterranean with hotels on each.

Life

Life is another classic game that is great for a family game night.  

The game does have some strategy, but is also dependent upon roll of the dice and the randomness of the cards.  Nonetheless, this game does make the list because it is great for younger family members introduction to game night.

 

 

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