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Ideas for grown-up party games

Big-kid alternatives to pin the tail on the donkey

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They can be cards, trivia or role-play, but games that are fast-paced and easy to learn make for crowd-pleasers. When planning your next party, try offering a few different options for guests to play.

 "When playing with a group of more than four, customers typically prefer shorter games (less than an hour) and games where you don't have to wait very long for players to take turns," says Candice Huber, owner of Tubby and Coo's Mid-City Book Shop. "Because they're shorter games, your friends who come a tad late ... won't have to wait long before being able to play."

 Scott Solo and his business partner opened The Rook Cafe on Freret Street to foster a community of people who like role-playing and table games. He and Huber explain a few trending party games for big kids.

The role-playing card game Werewolf lets players pretend to be medieval villagers for a day.
  • The role-playing card game Werewolf lets players pretend to be medieval villagers for a day.

On a role

 "There are so many new games coming out each year, and so many to choose from [that] it is really hard to keep up," Solo says. "Games such as Werewolf are great for large groups. Everyone pretends to be from a medieval village that is plagued by werewolves."

Werewolf is designed for mischievous banter. It is best with an odd number of people — at least seven. Each player pulls an identity card that assigns a personality, such as the "Villager & Witch," whose role is to heal one villager and poison another during a round.

 "Each round simulates one day and one night sequence. Each day the villagers — including the secret werewolves — vote to 'hang' someone," Solo explains. That person loses and must reveal his or her identity card. "Hopefully the villagers choose wisely and hang a werewolf, because at night, the villagers close their eyes and the werewolves choose someone to eat."

 Players can get creative with their assigned personalities and interact with each other in character, from addressing each other by made-up names to creating back stories of relationships between the characters, with hopes of discovering who the werewolf is before "nightfall." A day sequence among "villagers" might sound like this:

 "Well, when I left Mary Jo's house after tea on Thursday, I was covered in animal hair," whispers Millicent, who then prattles on about the likelihood of werewolves shedding.

 "Oh that's nonsense and you know it!" shouts Thom the Baker.

 "Doubtless this blasphemy comes because I declined your sewing party invitation the other day!" Mary Jo yells.

 At this, Tybolt, husband of Millicent and town drunk, sloshes his beer. (He can't speak, as per the "Villager & Drunk" identity card.)

Will Mary Jo get lynched? Is she, in fact, a werewolf?


What a card

Not into role-play? How about cards — Cards Against Humanity, that is. Question: "MTV's new reality show features eight washed-up celebrities living with [fill in the blank]."

 Answer options: "Not believing in giraffes," "halitosis" or "extremely tight pants."

 Did you pick the third one? Me too.

Cards Against Humanity (or Apples to Apples if your group prefers a less edgy version) can be played until someone wins or people get bored. It's great for a party because there's no player limit.

 Old favorites like Trivial Pursuit, Who Am I? and Settlers of Catan still are widely available. Since Tubby and Coo's is both nerdy and progressive, patrons can find group games like these classics, and some newer games.

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Codenames

In this spy game, two teams compete to see who can contact all their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess the right words while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin.

Mysterium

Using cards printed with animated pictures of murder weapons, crime scenes and sketchy-looking characters, players must solve a murder mystery. The game is set up like a seance, with one player as the deceased, a silent ghost, and everyone else is a medium. The ghost hands cards with clues to the mediums, and they try to guess how the ghost was murdered. To win, the mediums must work together to find the culprit, the location and the weapon. "Think Clue meets Dixit," Huber says.

Coup

You are the head of a family in an Italian city-state who needs to manipulate, bluff and bribe your way to power. Your object is to destroy the influence of all the other families, forcing them into exile. Roles are assigned by character cards — the Duke, the Ambassador or the Contessa, for example — and to win, you must be the last player with influence in the game by collecting the character cards of all the other players.

Captain Sonar

Players divide into teams and then into three types of crewmen in this team-oriented Battleship spinoff. One player is the captain, and is responsible for leading the chief mates, the engineers and the radio operators safely through enemy waters. Each team tries to sink the other's submarine without being detected or destroyed.


Massey’s Outfitters’ pool pong float provides outdoor fun for the beer-drinking crowd.
  • Massey’s Outfitters’ pool pong float provides outdoor fun for the beer-drinking crowd.

Take it Outside

If the great indoors isn't the scene of your next soiree, Massey's Outfitters sells a party pong pool float that has more than 5 feet of playing space. The float doesn't come with cups or balls (or beer), but it's a cool, in-pool twist on beer pong. A few other large scale games perfect for outdoor get-togethers:

> Kubb is a hybrid game that has elements of bowling and horseshoes — players try to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden batons across a rectangular playing field called a pitch, like in soccer or Quidditch (hello, Harry Potter fans).

> Giant Jenga is great for backyard fun. Although it may require the DIY spirit and a lot of wood planks, it makes a much more satisfying noise when these blocks hit the ground.

> KanJam — a cross between flying discs and air hockey — involves two large cans set on opposite ends of the game space, each with a slit in the front, and a flying disc that teams try to land in the opposition's can.

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