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Best party board games 2021 - essential crowd-pleasers for friends and family

best party board games
(Image credit: Big Potato Games)
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With coronavirus restrictions easing in many parts of the world, it's time for the best party board games to shine. Want something to delight guests at safe, socially-distanced gatherings? These recommendations are just the ticket.

Ranging from quick trivia battles to good old-fashioned whodunnits, the best party board games are perfect for a gathering of friends or a night in with the family. You'll find plenty of options below to suit any mood or occasion.

To make sure you're getting a good deal, we've also included an offer or two on the best party board games. These discounts are updated regularly by our bargain-hunting software, so you can be guaranteed the lowest available price.

Best party board games

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Blockbuster

(Image credit: Big Potato Games)
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(Image credit: Big Potato Games)
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(Image credit: Big Potato Games)

1. Blockbuster: The Game

The best party board game overall

Players: 4 - 8 | Ages: 14+ | Difficulty: Medium | Setup: 2 mins | Lasts: 20 mins

Fast-paced
Competitive
Awesome theming
Anxiety-inducing

The store may be long gone, but Blockbuster: The Game is still alive and kicking. In fact, it's one of the best party board games we've ever played. Easy to learn but endlessly repeatable, this one (and the new expansion, Blockbuster Returns) is a must-have purchase.

Although it's a quiz game, you don't have to know much about cinema to enjoy yourself with Blockbuster; this isn't about trivia. Instead, all you need to do is think on your feet. 

After dividing into teams, the action begins with a head-to-head round where two players draw a category like 'spy movies'. They'll then take it in turns to yell out an example until someone can't come up with anything else. And that's where the real fun starts.

Whoever won draws six cards, at which point they choose three to act out, quote, or describe. The remaining three are left for the loser of the last round, and they're almost certainly going to be the hardest ones. This allows you to be deliciously evil, and both sides will really get into it as a result. It's a candidate for any best board games list if you ask us. 

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(Image credit: Bezier Games)
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(Image credit: Bezier Games)
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(Image credit: Bezier Games)

2. One Night Ultimate Werewolf

The best quick party board game

Players: 3 - 10 | Ages: 8+ | Difficulty: Medium | Setup: 2 mins | Lasts: 10 mins

Free app for setup
Loads of replayability
Devious
Needs lots of people to excel

You can't beat classics like Mafia, and One Night Ultimate Werewolf shows that there's still plenty of gas left in this particular tank. A social deduction game that's essentially wink murder on a much grander scale, this version deserves a place on everyone's shelf.

Much like other versions of Werewolf, it starts with the group being given secret roles and 'going to sleep'. However, there's a key difference - rather than villagers being picked off one by one over multiple in-game nights, they only have a single round to decide who the monster is. Meanwhile, the werewolf - if there is one, which isn't guaranteed - has to go undetected. Got a good poker face? You'll need it.

New roles have also been added to stir the pot. Besides seers that are able to check one other person's card during the night, you might become a drunk who swaps player role cards at random while they 'sleep'. Then there's the hunter that can take one other player down with them if they're accused of being a werewolf, a tanner that wants to get caught, and more. They make things a whole lot more interesting, particularly if there's a lot of you around the proverbial table.

Better still, you don't need someone overseeing things. Instead, One Night Ultimate Werewolf comes with an app that automates the process. The same is true of spin-offs One Night Ultimate Vampire (where monsters recruit other players) and One Night Ultimate Alien, so you don't need to worry about anyone missing out on the fun. That in itself makes this one of the best party board games. 

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Herd Mentality

(Image credit: Big Potato Games)
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Herd Mentality

(Image credit: Big Potato Games)
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Herd Mentality

(Image credit: Big Potato Games)

3. Herd Mentality

The best party board game for families

Players: 4 - 20 | Ages: 10+ | Difficulty: Easy | Setup: 1 min | Lasts: 30 mins

Everyone can play
Doesn't get outdated
Fun quirks (squishy cow!)
Cards lose appeal if overused

Many of the best party board games ask you to stand out from the crowd, but Herd Mentality isn't one of them. It's all about blending in. Want an icebreaker or a good board game for families? You couldn't ask for a better candidate. Gentle, light-hearted, and unassuming, this is something everyone can get involved in.

It's a straightforward idea that's easy to teach, too. After drawing a card with questions covering everything from the 'best' sauce to the most useful app on your phone, you've got to scribble down what you think most players will say. If you end up in the majority, you earn a cow token. Collect eight in total and you win. As rules go, it's spot on; you can give the elevator pitch and be playing in under a minute. That makes this a winner with folks that don't usually play board games.

Thanks to some downright weird questions, it kickstarts fun conversations as well. Would you rather have toes for fingers or fingers for toes, for instance? This helps the group bond, bringing down walls and giving everyone a laugh. 

Most importantly, each group's answer will be different. Herd Mentality has longevity on its side, in other words; it's very replayable.

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(Image credit: Big Potato Games)
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4. Scrawl

The best party board game for adults

Players: 4 - 8 | Ages: 17+ | Difficulty: Easy | Setup: 2 mins | Lasts: 30 mins

Legitimately funny
The perfect ice-breaker
Card prompts have lots of potential
Could do with a timer

Want the best party board game for adults? Scrawl fits the bill - and then some. A dirty-minded road trip through the weirder parts of your brain, it's delightfully odd. Creating in-jokes is its specialty.

An NSFW blend of the playground Telephone game and Pictionary, Scrawl kicks off with a ridiculous prompt card that tells each player what to draw. Perhaps that's "photocopying your balls." Maybe it's "putting makeup on an owl." Either way, your doodle is passed along to the next player... but without context. They've then got to write down what they think is happening, at which point their neighbour has to draw what they've written, and so on. 

As you can probably tell, things descend into pandemonium very quickly. The original idea becomes unrecognisable after a couple of rounds, and that usually results in something hilarious.

Although the funniest drawing or answer wins, Scrawl isn't a game about point-scoring. Not really. Instead, it thrives on exercising your funny bone and having a laugh.

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Pinch 'n' Pass

(Image credit: Ginger Fox)
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Pinch 'n' Pass

(Image credit: Ginger Fox)
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Pinch 'n' Pass

(Image credit: Ginger Fox)

5. Pinch 'n' Pass

The best head-to-head party board game

Players: 3 - 6 | Ages: 12+ | Difficulty: Medium | Setup: 1 min | Lasts: 30 mins

Fast and frantic
Good range of questions
Everyone can get involved
Run-time can vary

Pinch 'n' Pass may sound simple, but that’s no bad thing. In fact, it’s perfect for kicking off games night. Want to break the ice and give everyone something to focus on? This is it, chief. 

It's also great for people who don't really like party board games. There aren't any complicated rules to get your head around, it's easy to understand, and there's no waiting for your go. That's because Pinch 'n' Pass is about quick wits and even quicker responses; it's a naming game where anyone is able to join in. The fastest answer wins. 

The rules are equally simple. If you select a Pinch card, you’ll be given a category like 'Tom Cruise movies'. Players then call out something that fits the bill (e.g. Mission Impossible) and take the card for themselves. Don't get comfortable yet, though. Anyone who yells another suggestion from that category is able to steal it. Whoever's left holding the card when the timer runs out moves forward one space. Meanwhile, Pass cards have the opposite effect - it’s about getting rid of the card instead. End the round with one and you'll be forced back a space on the board. Brutal.

Oh, and let's not forget the final twist. The Pinch 'n' Pass timer is randomised, so you can't tell how long you have left on the clock. This results in a fast and furious game that can last anywhere between 10 and 40 minutes.

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ESPN Trivia Night

(Image credit: Funko Games)
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ESPN Trivia Night

(Image credit: Funko Games)
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ESPN Trivia Night

(Image credit: Funko Games)

6. ESPN Trivia Night

The best party board game for sports fans

Players: 2 - 10 | Ages: 10+ | Difficulty: Medium | Setup: 5 mins | Lasts: 50 mins

Great mix of questions
Dexterity challenges
Very replayable
Confusing at first

If you love all things sport, ESPN Trivia Night should be in your collection yesterday. Besides testing your team knowledge, you'll be showing off your dexterity skills as well. Unlike so many of the best party board games, this one is keen to get your body moving as much as your brain. That helps even the playing field for those of us who aren't walking encyclopaedias when it comes to the NBA, NFL, and beyond. 

Even though you'll be answering questions on sporting trivia, getting one wrong allows you to tackle a mini-challenge that could still earn you a point nonetheless. The task is simple: flick a ball or puck into a themed scoring area. This means even non-ESPN buffs can have a good time. 

Plus, it encourages a bit of healthy chaos - always a good thing at parties. With teammates screaming answers and arguing over whether someone's flick earned a point or not, it'll give you memories to spare and plenty to laugh about.

A wide variety of cards means that you won't find yourself repeating questions all that often, either. That gives ESPN Trivia Night longevity. It isn't just for the next season; this one's for keeps.

More board game recommendations

Benjamin Abbott

As one of the site's Hardware Editors, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to Lego buying guides. I've been writing about games in one form or another for almost a decade (with bylines ranging from Metro.co.uk and PC Gamer to TechRadar), and have worked at GamesRadar+ since 2018. I can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.