You need two things to make a party swing in 2019 : copious alcohol and brilliant party games. We can help with the second one, with our roundup of the best party games on the market right now

1. Codenames

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Split your group into two teams, red and blue, then nominate one player from each to be the spymaster.

You then lay 25 cards in a grid on the table, each of them labelled with a single word. The two spymasters sit on one side and get access to a secret map, which indicates which of the 25 cards are red spies and which are blue. No one else can see this.

The spymasters then take it in turns to give a one-word clue and the number of cards this applies to – so if they wanted you to pick “devil” and “alert” they could say “red, 2″… although it’s very rarely that easy. The team that gets all their spies first wins, but they must also avoid enemy spies, innocent bystanders and the assassin, who instantly loses you the game if picked.

It’s a lovely, simple concept that stretches the brain and ties into shared references, encouraging lots of silly chatter and amusing spousal arguments about “how could you not see that I meant…” A fun and surprisingly competitive game.

2. Scrawl

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Scrawl combines elements of Pictionary and Chinese Whispers to create a hilarious party game for up to eight players. Each player is armed with a scenario card, a dry wipe pen and a mini whiteboard, and is initially tasked with doodling their scenario as clearly as possible. Then, everyone passes their whiteboards to the next player, who’ll need to write down what they think you’ve drawn. This is then passed on to the next player who draws what was written and so on until you get your card back.

It all sounds rather simple, but when the scenarios include “drowning in someone’s eyes” and “a man hiding in a pram”, the results can be side-splittingly funny. Every player will see the journey their doodle took at the end of each round, and points are awarded to the funniest card in each story.

Keep in mind that many of the scenarios are not suitable for kids.

3. Articulate

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Man, we love Articulate. We wish we were playing right now, and that we didn’t play it so much back in the day that we’ve memorised all the answers.

It’s one of those games that’s all about talking fast: you get a bunch of cards with names of things on them – people, objects, places in the world or whichever other category you landed on, Trivial Pursuit-style – and have to convey these things to your partner through lateral description and not under any circumstances saying the name of the thing. (Rhymes and ‘sounds like’ are also forbidden.)

It’s silly, it’s oddly tense, and it’s ridiculously competitive – so beware of playing with people who love to win at all costs, or of enforcing the rules too strictly. A cracking game nonetheless.

4. Linkee

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At first blush, Linkee looks like just another family trivia game: there are cards boasting trivia questions, and whoever knows the most obscure 80s soap characters or African capital cities will probably end up winning.

Not so fast, though, as Linkee comes with one major difference: you’re not actually meant to shout out the answers. Each card includes four general knowledge questions, but the aim isn’t merely to answer them: you need to figure out the hidden link between the four disparate answers.

For example, for a card that gives you Snoopy, Jay, M&Ms and 50 cents as the four answers the link between them all is that they’re all (sort of) the names of rappers. The first person to realise that – whether or not it takes them all four questions to figure it out – wins the card.

The winner of the game is decided H.O.R.S.E.-style – each card has a letter on the back, and the first person to get the right cards to spell out ‘Linkee’ is the winner.

Linkee is a great spin on the tried and tested trivia format that leaves players trying to keep track of the possible answers to four different, unrelated questions, while simultaneously drawing a link between them all that might range from the blindingly obvious to the bafflingly obscure.

5. Pass The Bomb

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In one of the cleverest and most entertainingly literal ways of increasing tension, this game has you hold a fizzing clockwork bomb while trying to think of a word that contains the letters on a card: once you do so you can pass the bomb (which continues to fizz) and answering duties to the next person. Whoever’s holding the bomb when it goes off is in trouble.

It is amazing how effectively this simple prop turns normally rationally people into frazzled, silly wrecks, and this is a neat leveller for groups with clever clogs who normally get everything right. As is the random timing element: quick answering improves your odds but there will always be a big chunk of luck.

Author Since: Feb 27, 2019