The 20 Best Games to Play With Your Most Competitive Friends
From word puzzles to online escape rooms, these challenges are perfect for game night.
Casual conversation is fun, but sometimes a little structure can make a friendly get-together even more entertaining. Game nights are becoming increasingly popular, especially now that they can be hosted remotely and attended by pals all over the world. But what games should you have ready to play? With so many options for both in-person and virtual game nights, it can be difficult to narrow down your plan to the games your friends will enjoy the most. To help you along in your search, we've put together a list of the best games to play with friends. Whether you're into word games, board games, or card games, we've got you covered for your next Friday hang!
Word Games to Play With Friends
1. Word Chain
In word chain, whoever goes first must pick a word that falls into a specific category. Whoever goes next must think of a word within the same category, beginning with the last letter of the first word spoken.
So, for instance, if your category is "animals," and the first person says "dog," the second person might say "gorilla" or "goat." This game appeals to all ages, but it can be especially useful to introduce to young kids who are working on word recognition and spelling. See how long the group can last before you start repeating words!
2. Word Search
This classic game is an absolute must for anyone who's really into expanding (and showing off) their vocabulary. The goal is simple: To find all the words hidden within the field. You and a few friends can tag-team the mission with physical copies of word searches (All different levels of difficulty are out there). Or you can play a version with your friends online that ups the stakes by holding you to a time limit!
3. Fortunately, Unfortunately
This simple game doesn't require any materials or even web access, but by the time you're done, your group will have "written" a story. The first person starts with one line. The next person has to add to the plot with a sentence that starts with the word "fortunately" and ends with the word "unfortunately," which kicks off the next person's turn. It's a great choice for friends who like to be creative and a little silly.
Online Games to Play With Friends
4. League of Legends
This team-based game gives players over 140 champions to choose from. The main goal of play is to destroy the other team's Nexus, or base. Each character offers their own unique set of skills to make plays, secure kills, and take the town towers standing between you and victory—so choose wisely.
5. Sky: Children Of Light
This game is for anyone who feels like they need an escape. Sky: Children of Light allows players to explore a beautifully animated, fantastical world. You can hop online with people you know or even link up with strangers to solve mysteries and restore the light.
6. Modern Genius
The virtual escape game invites you to gather your friends to rescue the fictional billionaire Ilan Tusk from his own invention. Alfred, the AI butler, provides clues and access to different rooms around the mansion. Modern Genius is one of the most popular multiplayer party games around and compatible with any video conferencing tool you have. The virtual escape room won't take too much time to complete, either—most teams can wrap things up within 45 to 90 minutes.
Free Games You Can Play at Home
7. Headphone Challenge
Ever heard of Telephone? Well, imagine it with a tech-forward twist. It works basically the same way: One player whispers a phrase to another player, who passes it on to another, and so on. The last person to hear the phrase says it out loud so that the group can determine just how much it's changed throughout the game. The difference? In this version, players must have loud music in their headphones, making it that much harder to decipher the phrase.
8. The Oreo Challenge
Technically, this one isn't totally free—it'll cost you a package of Oreos. But if you're willing to shell out for the expense, you'll get a lot of laughs (and a snack) in return. This hilarious game requires all players to place an Oreo on their forehead. The goal is to eventually get it into your mouth using your facial muscles alone. No hands!
9. 20 Questions
The rules are simple: The group designates one player to be the "answerer," who must think of a person, place, or thing. Once they've settled on what it will be, everyone else takes turns asking them a series of yes or no questions. And it's important to think carefully about what you'll ask—after all, you and the group only have 20 guesses to figure out what they're thinking of!
10. Egg Drop Challenge
We love to play games, but we especially love to play games that involve a little risk. And what, exactly, are we risking here? A gooey, sticky mess—that's what! The egg drop challenge, which you may remember from high school physics, involves using materials from around the house to create a nest soft enough to prevent a dropped egg from cracking. Once everyone is satisfied with their designs, it's time to put them to the test. Whoever's egg survives the fall in tact, wins!
11. Capture the Flag
Just as the name suggests, the goal of this game is to capture the other team's flag—but it's not as easy as it sounds. To even get close, you'll have to enter the other team's territory. If you get "tagged" by a member of the opposing team, you'll be thrown in their designated jail. You can mark this zone by a fire hydrant or tree, which is actually one of the many reasons why it is probably easiest to play outdoors. If you're in jail, one of your teammates must tag you out to set you free. Capture the flag involves a lot of teamwork and running around, but it's worth the effort.
Board Games to Play With Friends
This classic drawing and guessing game is an absolute blast to play with friends. To begin, split the group up into two teams. One player from each team picks a card and looks at the word matching the color of the board their pawn is currently on. They'll have one minute to sketch the word without using any letters or symbols. And once your team guessing the item, the next person can roll the dice. The goal is to use your artistic skills to beat the other team to the finish line.
13. Trivial Pursuit
If you're the team to beat on trivia night, you'll want to have a version of this (and there are many!) on deck. You'll need a set to play in person but you can also hop online and play through platforms like Board Game Arena. The game kicks off with all players in the center of the board. When it's your turn, you'll roll the dice and move that many spaces in any direction. From there, you can pick a card and answer the trivia question that corresponds to whichever category you've landed on. To win, you must make it back to the center and answer a question correctly from each category on the board.
While this game has recently moved online, the classic version is also still available. To play codenames, players divide up into two teams, which are led by their respective "spymasters." These individuals will offer up a series of one-word clues to help the group identify all "secret agents" on the board. These agents can go by any one of 25 possible codenames, so it's most helpful to deliver clues that will help the group piece together multiple words.
Best Games for Large Groups
15. Two Truths and a Lie
This popular and social game is fun, easy, and completely free to play. When it's your turn, you'll give three statements about yourself: two truths and one lie. The rest of the group must work together to figure out which statement is false. To prolong the game, stay away from obvious truths and ridiculous lies. You don't want your opponents to figure you out too soon!
This is the perfect game to play with a big group. The more people involved, the wilder it gets. Remember: Energy and excitement are contagious.
Before you begin, divide the group into two teams. Then, ask everyone to write down a phrase or title on a small piece of paper. Fold them up and place them all in a large bowl.
When it's your turn, grab a slip out of the bowl and act out the phrase using hand signals and body movements—but absolutely no words. The first team to figure it out gets a point. Whichever team collects the most points, wins!
Heads Up! proved to be one of the most popular mobile games of its time, with over 70 million downloads since its initial release. Psych! is the second mobile game from Ellen Digital Ventures (developed in partnership with Gasket Games). Here, players must volunteer fake answers to real trivia questions. But there is one real answer floating around. Points are awarded to whoever can identify it!
Card Games to Play with Friends
This classic card game is fun to play and even easier to learn. Start out by shuffling the cards and dividing the deck among the players. If there are two players, each should get 26 cards. If there are three players, each should get 17 cards. For four players, each should have 13 cards. Then, place your cards facedown on the table.
At the count of three, everyone flips the card at the top of their stack. Whoever has the higher card wins the round and collects both cards. If two players flip the same card, they go to "war" by placing three more cards on the table and flipping over a fourth card. Whoever has the higher play collects all 10 cards from the round.
In Uno, the goal is actually to get rid of all your entire hand. Each player is dealt seven cards. The rest of the deck is placed facedown on the table. The game begins when the person to the left of the dealer draws the first card from the draw pile. You can discard a card from your hand if it contains a matching color, number, or symbol.
If that's not an option, you'll need to pick up a card from the draw pile and skip your next turn. Look out for special cards along the way—they can either put you ahead or further behind in the game. Oh, and don't forget to call out "Uno!" when you get down to your second to last card. This lets the rest of the players know that you're close to winning the round.
20. Gin Rummy
With this game, you're challenged to make sets and sequences of cards. If there are two players, then each will receive 10 cards. When three to four people play, each receives seven cards. And when you've got five or six players, each will receive six cards.
The rest of the cards are placed facedown on the table, forming the stock. The top card is turned face up and placed to the side. This is how you start your discard pile.
Throughout the game, players take turns drawing the top card from either stack. Once they put together a matched set, they can lay it down on the table, face up. The first person to get rid of all their cards wins the game.
That's it for our list of the most fun games to play with friends. Be sure to check back with us soon for more game night ideas. You can also sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss out on what's coming next!