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What's a good game for six players? Many games can be played by 6 players, but suffer from a loss of pace, and long waits between turns. What games have parallel planning phases, or lots of interaction during turns?

Only one game per answer please (from now on) for voting purposes.

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+1 Good question –  Jon Hadley Oct 20 '10 at 9:55
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+1 Agreed, good question. Would have been even better if you'd included the advice to "please suggest one game per answer"; that makes the voting mechanism work better (if I like one game in an answer, but not another one, do I upvote or not?) –  Erik P. Oct 20 '10 at 17:13
    
Good point, edited. –  Michiel de Mare Oct 20 '10 at 18:37
    
You're exclusively interested in board games, not card games? –  Don Kirkby Oct 20 '10 at 18:57
    
Flagged for wiki conversion. See: meta.boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/66/… –  Jon Hadley Oct 21 '10 at 11:35
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closed as not constructive by Pat Ludwig Jan 8 '12 at 6:36

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23 Answers

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Catan has an Expansion that allows for two more players to join in on the fun. The rules have been adapted for intermediate building phases in between player turns, which helps prevent long downtimes.

Twilight Imperium (Although a pretty hardcore game) allows for 6 players out of the box (I believe). It also has a pretty cool action sequence system in play that makes all players make small moves one at a time, instead of one long turn. Downtime between turns is also minimal.

For the more lighthearted games : Koehandel (Don't know the english name), The big Dalmuti, Set and Jungle Speed are all 6+player games, which are also quick and fun!

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From what I remember, Twilight Imperium was designed with 6 players in mind, and only adapted to smaller teams. –  liori Nov 26 '10 at 19:29
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Catan does work pretty well for 6 players but be sure to budget some extra time. The additional players can sometimes extend the play time depending on how the board is laid out. On the plus side, the rules are amended a bit to keep people involved when they aren't the active player. –  Al Crowley Nov 30 '10 at 17:11
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Battlestar Galactica The board game is fantastic.

Plays 6. Massive tension. Co-op game with hidden cylons. Find the Cylons before they wreck your day.

Downtime is not bad since each player only does 1 move + 1 action + 1 bad thing (flip over the crisis card) during his turn. I find games move fast once people know the rules. Interaction is key. "You're the cylon!!!!"

There are expansions out for it too.

It's a lot like Shadows over Camelot in some regards.

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Junta. Better with 7 but still a lot of fun with 6. Games last 3 - 4 hours and like Diplomacy it's a lot of talking and then the turn occurs.

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I recommend Diplomacy (normally a seven player game). Make Italy a "neutral," and place single armies (that can be supported by other countries) to defend her cities. This corresponds with historical reality (Italy was a neutral country for a year in World War I.)

Italy is the country people enjoy playing LEAST. In this regard, you don't lose anything by eliminating it. And it actually speeds up the game by having one less player.

Diplomacy also has "parallel phases and lots of interaction between turns."

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7 Wonders: Easy to teach. Plays in 30 to 40 minutes. Has a fun civ-building theme. Simultaneous play. Some interaction with the players to your left and right. Completely fits the bill for what you're looking for.

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I haven't had a chance to play with six players yet. It works really well with 5 players though! –  Mark Withers Sep 12 '11 at 9:52
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Dutch Blitz, also known as "Ligretto" and a bunch of other names.

It plays 2-12 players very fast, since all play is simultaneous. I've heard it called "speed solitaire", and that's a pretty apt description.

All the player are trying to clear away their piles into a common area, so you have a lot of high-speed interaction, but of very brief length. Mostly in the nature of "hey, I was gonna do that!".

Rounds take between 2-10 minutes, and there's a downtime of about 1-2 minutes while the scores are tallied. Apart from that, all the players are playing all of the time.

The downside to the game is its speed. There's a lot to keep track of, and many beginners will get confused. It the job of the experienced player to get them to stay calm and focus on the basics, until they get familiar enough to "see everything". That only takes 1-2 rounds.

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We've played Tales Of The Arabian Nights quite successfully with a six player group; because you have lots of things to be looking up at any given time, the two books are passed around the table, with player 1 having their turn while player 3 reads the scenario and player 5 looks up the numbers. Because you're continually switching roles, you don't have to wait longer than a single player's turn with nothing to do.

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An interesting game that I'm pretty sure no one else will mention is a 1998 German game called Die Seidenstrasse. This is a sort of economic race game in which the players are merchants travelling along the Silk Road.

What makes it work so well with six players: On your turn, you can do one of two things: you play a card from your hand to the table in front of you, and apply its effect to you, or you play a card on the table on front of you, and apply its effect on another player. You can't play a card from your hand if you already have three cards on the table, so after the game gets under way, half the time you're compelled to move someone else on your turn. Also, you can't just move anyone; you have to move one of the two players who least recently moved.

This makes for a game that seems very chaotic, unless people have played it before and know the cards, in which case there's a surprising amount of strategy for a game where all you do on your turn is play a card.

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You didn't specify if you want complex or light games.
If light games are okay, I'd recommend Ave Caesar.

It's a light chariot-racing game. There's nearly no downtime (every player has three movement cards with values between 1 and 6 in his hand and must choose one, move his pawn and that's it), and there's interaction because the race track has narrow places where you can block your opponents.

It's really light, but with 6 players, it's fun (the box says 3 to 6 players, but IMO it's not that good with less players)

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I'm the Boss is another Sid Sackson classic that plays best with 6. Every turn is about getting enough players together to make a deal. Everybody can participate or at least advise on every deal. When the "I'm the Boss" cards start flying it can get pretty hectic.

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Sleuth

A classic deduction game that will play up to seven players.

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Shadows over Camelot is one of my favourite 6 player games. Downtime between turns is minimised, because, as a co-operative game, you can always advise the active player, or plan for your next turn.

If you are a traitor, you can spend other people's turns giving subtly bad advice, too :)

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On a similar theme, if you can get 2 more friends around to play, you can open up another great traitor game, Werefolf (or Mafia) –  Mark Withers Oct 20 '10 at 14:57
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Age of Renaissance and Advanced Civilization are two oldies but goodies that play great with 6 players.

They take some time to finish, but it is worth it.

Age of Renaissance is about trading empires in the Mediterranean during the middle ages.

Advanced Civilization is about world building in the Mediterranean from the dawn of time up until the Roman republic.

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If someone's concern about six-player games is a loss of pace and long waits between turns, it's very unlikely that a game with a 6-12 hour playing time in which it's not uncommon for 2-3 players to spend 20 minutes optimizing their trades every turn is going to fill the bill. –  Robert Rossney Oct 26 '10 at 19:48
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@Robert, I personally don't find either of those games to have a lot of downtime. I could well be biased, they are among my favorite games of all time. Feel free to vote this down if you don't agree. My groups typically have set a time limit on the trade rounds in Civilization to keep a couple folks from unintentionally blocking progress. However, I did feel that the trading would be a good thing to the OP, as it should involve all players interacting every round. –  Pat Ludwig Oct 26 '10 at 20:00
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@Robert: actually Civilization takes a lot of time mostly because of the trading phase, which involves all players at once –  Lohoris Nov 26 '10 at 13:41
    
Well, in theory it involves all players at once. In practice it's not at all uncommon for a player to get to the point where he's got no more profitable trades to make 10 minutes before all the other players have. –  Robert Rossney Nov 27 '10 at 7:40
    
@Robert: that's true, but the same could likely be said about any game that allows all players playing at once: you have finished moving and you have to wait for the others to finish too. –  Lohoris Nov 29 '10 at 10:50
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While it's more of a card game Citadels offers strong player interaction. Each round, players do a character draft to determine who they'll be in the next round as they try and build up their city. The game actually plays better with more people, and can seat up to 8 people.

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I couldn't disagree more. Citadels is a brilliant game, and it's definitely best with 4-5, preferably 5. 6 gets convoluted, by the time you get to 8 most of the interesting the strategy is gone. –  Joren Oct 26 '10 at 20:55
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Bohnanza

Players play bean farmers and try to harvest crops to collect coins. This scales up to 7 players and there is a lot of interplayer action on every turn. There is lots of trading between players and the game rewards those who pay attention even when it's not their turn.

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I love bohnanza because your turn never really ends. I prefer to play the game with everyone's hands face-up as it makes it easy to learn and adds even more strategy. The negotiations never stop, so the gap between turns is almost non-existant. –  Gordon Gustafson Dec 27 '10 at 15:14
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Dominion and its expansions are fantastic with 6 players, although to support 6 you must own both Dominion and Dominion: Intrigue. Once all players have some experience wait times are very short, and with 6 players the competition for the best Kingdom cards is furious.

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6 player Dominion is horrible. I love the game, and am a collector of Dominion expansions, but just no :) –  Mark Withers Oct 20 '10 at 14:52
    
Huh. What issues do you see with it? I've had nothing but fun. We play 3 or 4 times a week, usually with 5 or 6 players. –  lilserf Oct 20 '10 at 14:53
    
Long game times are frustrating in a game that normally takes about 20 minutes per play. Low availability of cards can result in games being more luck based, as people might just fail to get enough gold to buy scarce cards early on. Longer games + more randomness = disappointed players. I'd always split into two groups of three. –  Mark Withers Oct 20 '10 at 15:00
    
This is probably one of those things that depends on your group, then. We can play a 6-player game in 30 minutes (depending on set, obviously something attack-filled will drag on) but we've been playing 3 times a week for months and know all the cards, so our average turn length is very short. –  lilserf Oct 20 '10 at 15:02
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Whether it's good or bad, playing Dominion with 2, 3-4 or 5-6 players are all very different experiences. Cards that are very powerful in one scenario fall flat in others, and some cards are downright overpowered with 2 (Possession) or 5-6 (Pirate Ship) players. –  Andrew Vandever Nov 27 '10 at 6:58
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Hands down, Power Grid is fantastic. Whenever our gaming group has a game night, Power Grid gets played at some point. The nice thing is it comes with two different boards, and if you get tired of those, there are expansions for around $10-$15 that come with two new maps and rules. Once you get the rules down, even with six players, we've found it plays incredibly fast.

If you get the Inns & Cathedrals expansion for Carcassonne, you can play with six players, and Carcassonne is another personal favorite of mine. It's fun to watch people figure out how to sneak their meeples into a city or farmland for the first time.

If you want something lighthearted, sets from the Munckhin series such as The Good, the Bad and the Munchkin are fun for playing, and have plenty of interaction between players.

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I'm a big Powergrid fan, forgot that it's up to 6 players. –  Michiel de Mare Oct 20 '10 at 15:23
    
The word on the street is that Power Grid isn't really at its best when played with 6 players, but I've certainly enjoyed the 6-player games of it I've been in! –  thesunneversets Nov 19 '10 at 23:01
    
+1 for Munchkin. –  Margaret Nov 26 '10 at 20:46
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Bang

Description from BGG:

Four different Roles are available, each with a unique victory condition:

  • Sheriff - Kill all Outlaws and the Renegade
  • Deputy - Protect the Sheriff and kill any Outlaws
  • Outlaw Kill the Sheriff
  • Renegade - Be the last person standing

A player's Role is kept secret, except for the Sheriff. Character cards are placed face-up on table, and also track strength (hand limit) in addition to special ability.

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This is a good game! Buy it! –  Powertieke Oct 20 '10 at 11:23
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Bang! can be fun, but one drawback is that players eliminated early are kind of screwed. A coincidence of aggression or certain cards can even take out a player on the first turn, leaving him to sit around bored for the rest of the game. –  lilserf Oct 20 '10 at 14:03
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I agree with the comment above. If I play a 6 player game I prefer something where everyone gets to play for the entire game. –  Mark Withers Oct 20 '10 at 14:48
    
@lilserf Yes, it is one from cos of this game. –  Pawka Oct 21 '10 at 7:28
    
It's also possible for someone to win on the first or second turn of the game. Certainly not likely, but I've seen it happen. –  Robert Rossney Oct 26 '10 at 19:45
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Pictionary is always good for a laugh. Or you could also try Balderdash (or Absolute Balderdash).

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My old favourite, Diplomacy, isn't particularly fast paced (although the 'Gunboat' variant speeds things up considerably), but both the diplomacy and move planning phases take place in parallel. Only the actual moving of pieces is done one after the other.

The diplomacy stage, when you face any or all of your opponents face to face, in secret, or in the open, is of course as interactive as it can get!

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Betrayal at the House on the Hill is rather light and is fast-paced even at 6 players. You plays as a character exploring a haunted house, and your available option before the scenario is revealed is to move, turn up a new tile and draw a card. When a scenario starts, and the traitor is revealed, the turn could stretch longer because of combat, but it is still quite fluid.

A Song of Ice and Fire features simultaneous hidden orders. Aside from the analysis paralyze typical of the game and resolution, the hidden order feature makes the game faster than other war-games.

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Some bigger wargames can be played in teams as three-v-three games. World in Flames and A World at War come immediately to mind as monsters that play better with teams than one-on-one.

For a more competitive, individualistic game, I adore Republic of Rome.

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I think Arkham Horror is the great game for that purpose, especially if you add some expansions to it to make it a bit more harder (core set will be quite easy for so big group of Investigators). You don't wait too long between turns because players take actions in phases and these are resolved pretty quick. And the game is also tons of tun.

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I have such a love/hate relationship with Arkham Horror. I really want to like the game, but there are parts about it I find incredibly clunky, and we've found it plays very slow, especially if someone doesn't know what they're doing. –  LittleBobbyTables Oct 20 '10 at 11:35
    
First couple of plays is usually slower with any game until player are familiar with the rules. But I've been playing AH with even 8-people teams and once everyone knows the game the phases really end quickly. –  RaYell Oct 20 '10 at 14:33
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