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A Gamer's Guide to Giving Gifts: Party Games

Updated: Sep 17, 2019

And so Mike B and I continue our Christmassy Themed jaunt through a list of our favourite games as we plunge into A Gamer's Guide to Giving Gifts - Party Games.

Chris’ Picks

As I'm now in my thirties my parties are no longer the fifty-person-frat-house-kegers they once were so my choices here are games I've found work with six to ten good friends and a nice glass of wine.

Codenames - CGE


Jumping on the rather overloaded band wagon here but I’ve had a great deal of success with Codenames. It’s a simple premise, there are two teams, each composed of a Spymaster and a group of spies. The Spymaster knows the location of his own agents and the enemy agents as well as the dangerous assassin. By giving single word clues to his spies the Spymaster must get his spies to reveal all the agents of their colour before the opposing team without uncovering the assassin.

The game can be a little bit thinky but it’s a good laugh, offers a nice mix of strategy and fun and a, sometimes disturbing, insight into the way your friends brains make word associations. Codenames was named Game of the Year for very good reasons so make sure to check it out.

Mike Says - Codenames or Vlaada Chvatils pension fund, whatever your thoughts it can’t be denied this thing is a juggernaught. Aside from this being on every list I held off on this one purely as it can sometimes be a bit of a quiet thinky affair. There’s also the fact that I want to appear hip and trendy so I’m going to diss it because that obviously makes me sooo cool. It also now comes with pictures or if you can find it rude words.

Absolute Balderdash - Drumond Park

Absolute Balderdash

If there is one party game I can’t stand it’s Cards Against Humanity! Now, if you have a friend who cannot resist subjecting you to this “activity” (It’s not a game, it’s like a colouring sheet for a racist toddler) then perhaps you might want to suggest a fun alternative. Balderdash has been around for decades, starting out as a Call My Bluff style game where the players wrote false definitions for obscure words hoping the other players would guess their definition not the real one.

Now Balderdash features a variety of categories including acronyms, dates and movie titles. Each round is full of laughter and creativity and sometimes the unbelievable answer is just so bizarre that it could actually be true. The best part of Balderdash though is that you can pick it up in almost any charity shop for next to nothing. Go buy it now, you won’t regret it!

Mike Says - This game should really be called Bullshit! Or maybe Bullshit champion. Gather your friends around and find out who's the most competent purveyor of bovine excrement, lots of fun although it can go on a bit it does have plenty of options for belly laughs and gasp out loud moments. I once convinced my sister in law that a word was used to measure the distance travelled by mice in laboratory mazes. Never play this with Politicians or Tabloid Journalists obviously.

The Resistance - Indie Boards & Cards

The Resistance

If you want a little more game to your party games then the Resistance is a great choice. The players form two teams, the Resistance or the Corporation. The Corporate Spies have infiltrated the Resistance and they know each other, but the Resistance players aren’t sure who to trust.

Each round a player becomes the team leader and must pick a certain number of players to send on a mission. If the mission succeeds, then YAY, however if it fails then someone on the team must be a Corporate Spy. Routing out the spies is the meat of this game, it’s tense social deduction with a healthy dose of deception and backstabbing. Each play takes less than half an hour and the rules are incredibly simple. It plays up to ten and really is a lot of tense and exciting fun.

Mike Says - If you have enough people and in this case the more the merrier then the resistance is a hoot, although it's not so much fun as it is screaming match of finger pointing inevitable betrayals and loathing. So this year skip the Eastenders Christmas special and just live it around your dining table. I’d also add Secret Hitler to the mix if you fancy a bit more Nazi after the Christmas showing of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Mike’s Picks

Party games this is such a tricky prospect, for me they should be light on rules and do the job of getting everyone laughing and mucking about. If you can throw in a cool wow factor of a shiny toy or some other knick nack all the better and I’d be lying if Cash and Guns wasn't on this list for a long time. I went for some stuff that's probably not on most Party lists this year just to spread the love around abit. Obviously Chris couldn't control himself and went with bloody codenames.



Just the absolute perfect party game. Its chinese whispers with wipe clean books, everyone starts with a word does a drawing of it and passes the book to the player to your right. They look at your picture write what they think it is and passes the book on and so it goes. Having no artistic ability actually improves this game it's a guaranteed hilarious hit in whatever group you play. Bloody love this one.

Chris Says - Drawing games can be a mixed bag at a party but as Telestrations practically encourages you to draw badly I can see this one doing well.

Rhino Hero - Haba

Rhino Hero

This one nearly hit my stocking fillers list but as that’s stuffed full it’s going here. Part dexterity and push your luck players build a card tower that has to support the little wooden Rhino Hero Meeple. It's a Haba game so has great components any age can enjoy and it does what I want my party games to do have everyone cracking up and jeering at each other.

Chris Says - There are many dexterity games that can take pride of place at your parties this Christmas but there's only one that features a brightly coloured Rhino dressed as a superhero and as this game comes in under £10 it's really a steal.

Cockroach Poker - Drei Magier Spiele

Cockroach Poker

Nothing really to do with Poker at all, it's all about bluffing everyone else and making them collect Stink Bugs, Toads and other assorted critters. It's stupid, fast and again just silly silly fun. We have found the game is massively enhanced by the use of terrible Mexican accents (no I don't remember where this originated but just the joy of declaring cockaroach in a bad accent doubles the fun).

Chris Says - erm… Okay Mike. Sounds like Mr Barnes enjoys a drink or two at his parties. Can't say that this is one that I've crossed paths with so you'll just have to trust to Mike's… erm… good judgement!

Next time on A Gamer's Guide to Giving Gifts

Family Games

About the Authors

Chris Bowler
Mike Barnes

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