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I am looking for examples of good social games, the kind that can be played at parties where rather than using stuff like dice most of the play is done through social interaction

One example of the sort of thing I mean is "Werewolves" or "Villagers and Werewolves". In that game everyone assumes the roles within a village with some people being the werewolves. There are a number of rounds in which the group try to reason among themselves about who the werewolves are, the interest of course supplied by the fact that the werewolves are present trying to hijack the discussion. The game made excellent by of the nuances introduced by the roles and the restrained cooperative aspects.

Anyone know anything similar or a place where I can find games like this?

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closed as not constructive by Pat Ludwig Jan 8 '12 at 7:18

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7 Answers

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It depends on exactly what type of social interaction you're looking for. There is a very broad category of games known as "party games" which loosely meets your definition. Party games tend to favor social interaction over luck and strategy (in many cases, no equipment at all), tend to require less per-player equipment, and tend to be flexible in the number of players they support. Take a look at the linked Wikipedia article for more information, or you can browse the party games category or subdomain on BoardGameGeek. A somewhat older category, that has considerable overlap with party games, are parlour games, so you can look there too.

Within the broad category of party games, there are a few subcategories. The one you mention, Werewolf (also known as Mafia), is known as an "uninformed majority" game, in which some people have information that the rest of the players are trying to figure out, mostly through social means. There's another thread on games with uninformed majority mechanics, though many of them are more traditional board or card games. Other party games in this category include Are You the Traitor? and the How to Host a Murder series of games.

Other subcategories of party games include word games, creativity games, and icebreakers, with some overlap between them. Word games tend to involve someone having one or more secret words, and giving clues that other people use to guess the word or definition. Creativity games involve being given some sort of creative prompt (a pair of words, a picture, an object), and doing something creative with them, such as telling a story, drawing a picture, inventing a product, or the like. Icebreakers are games in which people reveal facts about themselves, in order to provide a structure to break the ice and allow people to get to know each other better.

In the word games category are games like Contact, in which one player has a word, gives the first letter, and players try and discover the word by giving clues that indicate their guesses, making the player who has the word try to figure out what word they're guessing or give up another letter if they can't. There's also Taboo, in which someone is given a word, and has to get their teammates to guess the word, but has a list of other words that they cannot say while describing it.

As both word games and creativity games, there are games like Balderdash or Fictionary in which you pick an obscure word, one person gets the real definition, and a few people make up definitions. The other players have to then figure out which definition is real. There's Charades and Pictionary, in which you get a word or phrase and must describe that to your teammate, in charades by acting it out, in Pictionary by drawing it. Apples to Apples is a very popular party game, which might be considered a word game, in which someone draws a card with an adjective, and everyone must play nouns that closely match that adjective, at least according to the person who is the current judge; due to the limited selection people have to choose from, you get some very amusing juxtapositions in the process.

Some other creativity games include The Big Idea from Cheapass Games, in which you get pairs of words such as "electric pants" and must describe that as an invention and get people to invest in it, Why Did The Chicken? by Kory Heath in which you must make up jokes, and Nanofictionary by Looney Labs in which you get cards for Characters, Problems, Settings, and Resolutions, and must combine those into the best tiny story.

Then there are the icebreakers. These are games like Two Truths and a Lie, in which each person in turn will tell two truths and one lie, and the other players have to guess which is the truth and which is the lie. There's Never Have I Ever, in which each person says something that they've never done, and everyone who has done it gets a point (or has to drink, as it's commonly played as a drinking game, however it's not necessary to play this way, you can simply keep score instead); if only one person has done the thing in question, they need to tell the story. There are many more such games.

A little further afield than what you're looking for, I think, but still involving more social interaction than traditional game mechanics, are negotiation and alliance type games like Diplomacy. I have a question open now looking for "lighter" versions of it, and there are few games that look promising.

Another somewhat further category of games, that can be more social interaction based, is roleplaying games; some creative one-shot roleplaying games can have a lot of the same elements of games like Werewolf, with intrigue, cooperation, and backstabbing. I recall one that a friend ran in which all but one of the players were minions of the dark trying to take over the world, but there were two dark lords, a Satanic type and a Cthulhoid monster, competing with each other, plus all of the minions were competing to be favored by their lord. So everyone had three sets of enemies; the Good, the other Evil team, and the other minions on their own Evil team. It was quite the treacherous game, involving lots of intrigue and social interaction; it turned out that Evil had too much infighting, and Good won. There's an entire other StackExchange for roleplaying games, so check in there if you want to learn more about them.

So yes, there are a lot of games that have more social interacting and less traditional board, card, and dice mechanics. I hope I've given a good overview; feel free to ask about a more specific category or game if you want more information.

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+1 This is awesome! Google couldn't give me an answer as comprehensive as this. –  Jonn Oct 25 '10 at 7:37
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La Resistance! This is a great Werewolf/Mafia game that runs without a moderator, and even works for 5 players! It's tense, tactical, emotionally draining, and best of all, everyone plays right up until the end of the game, no-one gets eliminated during play.

The one drawback is that is becomes a little luck-based as the number of players reaches 8 and beyond, so at that point, we tend to switch back to Werewolf.

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I'd recommend adding this to the 'Games with features like Battlestar Galactica's “Traitor” Mechanic?' thread as well: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/92/… –  Brian Campbell Oct 26 '10 at 16:46
+1 Just the sort of thing I meant –  Willbill Oct 28 '10 at 8:51
+1 for a game where players are all in it to the end (i.e. with no early eliminations) –  Johno Jun 14 '12 at 12:38
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It sounds like you may be interested in Pervasive games. If so the best place I know of is the Ludocity wiki page:


Some of these are street games, but many can be played in a single room with a relatively low number of players. As well as rules and printable resources, many of the games feature detailed game session reports giving advise on how to get the most out of each game.

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Wow. This is indeed a great collection of games. –  Jonn Oct 23 '10 at 23:32
See also my related Pervasive Games Area 51 proposal: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/15091/pervasive-games –  Jon Hadley Oct 29 '10 at 21:51
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Apples to Apples is a great party game, and able to handle large crowds. When I play with my friends, they're very vocal and do a lot of lobbying for the cards as they come up. We also get some really good laughs out of the game.


The fun in Apples to Apples is in the totally random cards people play. This is a game that encourages people to talk and socialize as a group. Each round a new player is the judge, and the judge chooses a green card at random. Let's say "Disturbing" is the green card for this example. Then all the other players will submit one red card to see which is the most disturbing card. Some of the cards are going to be a close match, and others won't be. From a set or cards like "Whoopi Goldberg", "Chain Saws", and "The Midwest", one card has to be chosen as the winner. It is this random, bizarre combination of cards that provides the laughs and enjoyment of playing apples to apples.

There are no right or wrong answers in Apples to Apples. When I play with my friends, we usually comment and lobby for cards as they're read out loud. The judge for a round is always the final arbiter though.

Disclaimer: I by no means consider Whoopi Goldberg to be disturbing. Although I did once win a game of Apples to Apples because she was Fuzzier then all the other cards submitted.

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A friend bought it. She couldn't convince us that it was fun. I still don't understand why people play that. Maybe we played it wrong or weren't in the mood? Care to elaborate why to play that? –  eipipuz Oct 25 '10 at 0:43
@eipipuz I've expanded my answer per your request. –  ICodeForCoffee Oct 25 '10 at 1:32
Thanks. Maybe we had bad luck with the cards or poor imagination, but your example shows what our gameplay lacked, "drive to socialize" –  eipipuz Oct 25 '10 at 5:52
Apples to Apples is my absolute first choice for a game to bring to parties. It works incredibly well with every group I've brought it to, frequently including many people who don't play board or card games normally. My classic illustrative example from real play is "Decide which is most Cuddly out of Whipped Cream, Spam, or The School Bus". It works with people of ages perhaps 16 up to easily 50 or 60. The person explaining the rules has to play up the fun bit - talking through the arguments for the different options - but as long as you do that it's the best party game I know. –  AlexC Oct 28 '10 at 10:42
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There's a great book called Super Party Games that describes a bunch of games that can be played by groups of 10 or more. I generated a set of puzzles for one of the games described in the book. Each player is given a sheet of paper that they tie to their forehead where they can't see it. On each sheet of paper are three letters, and you have to arrange yourselves to spell out a secret quote without telling anybody what letters are on their heads. You can download the puzzles and print out one of the puzzles for your group size. There are currently puzzles from 4 to 95 people, although I've never tried it with a group larger than 13.

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I'll recommend Say What!?!, which is designed to be played in any social situation involving a lot of personal interaction and conversation. I like playing it during a game of Werewolf, or during various interrogate-your-neighbors mystery games, or even just at a house party where no other games are taking place.

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In the vein of Apples To Apples, I strongly endorse Time's Up!. Why? Because Time's Up! does a great job of binding old friends and new acquaintances together in the rapid creation of group-specific ideocultural language and in-jokes.

Being less esoteric: It's a great team game with no down-time for any player on any team. This it true because you need to pay careful attention to what the other teams are doing on their turns because every team uses the same stack of cards as clue cards – the clues that one team uses on a card that they don't guess correctly may be just the clue you need to successfully recognize the same card later on in the game.

Note: Time's Up! has a heavy charades component to it, so if your group doesn't like charades, stay away from it.

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