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The HFoG Buyer's Guide

Party Games

Having a large group of friends or family over for the evening? Looking for a way to entertain them all? Then what you're looking for is a party game!

Party games are made to work well with large groups of players (six or more) and they tend to be very simple to play. They have to be because if you've got that many people together in one place, odds are that many of them don't play games very often and they aren't going to sit still while someone explains the game.

Here are my favorite party games.

Wits & Wagers (North Star Games - 2005)

Perhaps the best party game around these days, Wits & Wagers is the trivia game for people who don't really know trivia. It's a delightfully simple game that works with teams as well as it works with individuals. Players are given a series of questions that can be answered with a number. Each player writes their answer on a card, intending to get closest to the answer without going over (Price is Right style). The cards are then arranged sequentially and all players get to bet on which answer they think is most likely to be correct (even if it isn't their own answer). It's simple, and loads of fun.

Apples to Apples (Out of the Box - 1999)

Apples to Apples is a very simple game played with two large decks of cards. Each card in one deck bears a proper noun (usually a public figure). Each card in the other deck bears an adjective. Players are dealt a hand from one deck (usually the proper nouns). Then whoever is "it" chooses a card from the other deck and reads it out loud. Players then choose the card from their hand that they think best matches the card read and put it face down in the center of the play area. Whoever is "it" then mixes the cards, reads them all aloud and chooses the one he thinks best fits. Whoever played that card gets a point and becomes "it" for the next round. The fun comes from the crazy match-ups that players are forced to make for want of a better card.

Apples to Apples works well with as many as a dozen players and it plays for as long as you want the party to last.

Ricochet Robots (Rio Grande Games - 1999)

Ricochet Robots isn't technically a party game. And in fact, I wouldn't recommend it for most casual parties with your average non-gamer friends. But it does work well with large groups of people and if you have the right people (engineers, computer geeks, logic puzzle fans and gamers really seem to like it) then this is a fantastic little game. The game board depicts a tiled warehouse floor. Scattered about the floor are four or five colored robots. One player turns over a chip with a symbol on it and then, following a simple set of rules, players try to find a way to get the proper robot to the tile with the matching symbol. When someone finds a solution they announce how many moves it takes and turn over a sand timer. Now players have until the sand timer runs out to find a shorter solution. Whoever finds the shortest solution to the puzzle wins the chip, turns over a new chip and the whole thing starts over again.

This is an extremely clever game that works very well with any number of players. It can be played for virtually any length of time and due to the nature of the game, players can join and leave the game at any time and still enjoy themselves. However, it does tend to be a quiet game as most of the time the people playing it tend to be absorbed in thought while they attempt to solve the puzzle.

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