9 Friendsgiving Games That Are Way More Fun Than Football
Tuning in to watch the Lions take on the Cowboys after you've eaten yourself into a food coma may be a hallowed Thanksgiving tradition, but Friendsgiving is about bringing people together—now, after a year of social distancing, more than ever. So it pays to choose your party entertainment wisely.
Whether you need an ice breaker during apps and pre-dinner drinks, or a way to take everyone's mind off how full they are after dessert has been served, "Games do a good job of creating those shared moments with friends," says Matt Hendricks, owner of Thirsty Dice, a board game cafe in Philadelphia with more than 800 different selections to play and around 150 for sale.
While that may be news for those of us who grew up fighting over the rent on Park Place, today the trend is toward cooperative games that unify the people playing them, says Hendricks. And there's really a game for every age, number of players, and taste, whether your guests prefer nerdy word games or something that tests their hand-eye coordination. Here, Hendricks shares a few of his favorites. Hosts, take note.
9 Best Friendsgiving Games to Play
Best for large groups, math whizzes:
Super Mega Lucky Box may sound like a wacky game show, but it's really glorified bingo for Gen Xers, who will appreciate the Schoolhouse Rock!-style design. There are no teams; everyone gets a board and a dry-erase marker to check off numbers and try to make three in a row and win bonuses. The game accommodates six players but scales easily for up to 12.
Best for small groups, design geeks:
Like a three-dimensional version of match-three smartphone games (think: Candy Crush), the beautifully crafted Azul challenges players to decorate the palace of a Portuguese king with ceramic tile pieces.
Best for mid-sized groups, wordsmiths:
The guessing game Just One accommodates up to seven players but everyone is on the same team. The object is to guess the mystery word by giving a single clue, but you have to be as creative as possible because any duplicate clues get tossed out.
Best for kids, or anyone with a short attention span:
Fans of paper football will like Ice Cool, a game that requires the same flicking motion to maneuver penguin game pieces around a high school game board and pick up fish. The entire game lasts 10 minutes, and the combination of hand-eye coordination required "really levels the playing field for kids and adults," Hendricks says.
Best for fans of foosball, Scandinavian design:
The Danish game Klask (which translates to Smack) was created to reproduce the fast pace and excitement of hockey in a tabletop game. Job well done. Magnetic pieces move on a wooden board to score goals and avoid obstacles, and there's even a four-player version if you want to play doubles.
Best card game:
Werewolf is "the Godfather of social deduction games," says Hendricks. You deal the cards, then ask questions to try to determine who among you are werewolves, which can lead to some fun and funny interactions. If you don't want to invest in anything new, you can also play using a standard deck of cards.
Best legacy game:
The rattle of dice in the cup, the breath-holding anticipation of seeing what you rolled, and the thrill of it being Yahtzee hasn't faded in the 65 years this game has been in existence. The game, a mishmash of poker and craps, never fails to bring the excitement of a casino to your living room. "There's just something so fun and approachable and timeless about it," says Hendricks.
Best new game:
Hendricks is really into the space-themed German card game The Crew, which debuted in 2020 and already won an American Tabletop Award. He describes it in the vein of pinochle or spades, only you're all on the same team. The 50 missions get progressively harder as you play, keeping you on your toes.
Best game for people who are social distancing:
There's a whole world of free online games at Board Game Arena where even far-apart guests can feel like part of the celebration. Because what's distance among friends?