Almost all the best titles have a player cap at four or five. This means that when you have a slightly larger group over for game night, pickings can be slim unless you want to split into two groups. And for some, that idea is contrary to the purpose; after all, you’re all here to game together with friends.
But the world of large-group gaming is not an entirely desolate wasteland. In fact, there are several fantastic titles that totally work, and even excel, with large groups.
In Dungeon Fighter, up-to-six of you have been tossed into a dungeon where you must move from room to room gathering treasure and defeating monsters. And, while dice are involved, you don’t simply roll them and count up symbols to see who wins. No, you’ll have to develop fine precision to succeed here.
In the center of the table you place a target board and just toss the die onto it. The closer you get to the center, the more damage you’ll do to the monster. Easy, right? Well, the die has to bounce at least once on the table off the board. If it goes straight to the target it counts as a miss. And there are a couple of holes in the target that also cause a miss. And, as the game continues, you can’t just throw it normally. Monsters might require that you throw with an off hand, with your eyes closed, or even in mid air as you jump.
The result is an absolute blast. It’s a dexterity game that uses a skill you just don’t otherwise develop, making everyone a novice. And the different ways of throwing dice really keep you from developing any kind of practiced ability. Plus, the game is just a riot. The cards are funny, and the throws funnier. If things go just right, you’ll celebrate all the harder when you defeat the monster.
Bunny Bunny Moose Moose
Speaking of humorous games, you cannot overlook this title. The up-to-six-player Bunny Bunny Moose Moose masterfully blends silly with strategy. Players alternate being the card flipper, who turns over six piles of cards. Each one shows a moose or a bunny. Bunnies can have straight or floppy ears, either on the side of their head or the top. Moose can have open antlers or closed, and pointed up or down.
Each card is worth positive or negative points and, as they are revealed, the players have to figure out what kind of bunny or moose they want to be. And they demonstrate that decision by holding their hands to the sides of their heads to mimic the cards. Other cards might give points for sticking out a tongue or even reverse all the points.
The result is that the players look ridiculous and can hardly contain their laughter. But it’s not just about being goofy. There’s a real-time strategy element as you have to constantly reassess the best hand positions. As the six piles fill up, the reader might start again, covering previously exposed cards. Suddenly, those floppy ears are no longer worth points and may even be negative. Adapting in real time is definitely more trickier than it looks.
More than six? Well, Spyfall is a great title that accommodates up to eight. All of the players are in the same location: a carnival, a corporate party, a university, etc. All except one. Cards are passed out showing where you are, but one player gets the Spy card. The Spy has no idea where everyone is.
From there, players ask each other questions. The non-spies can win if they identify the spy before time runs out. Meanwhile, the spy can win if they either escapes notice or if they figures out where the players are. As players ask questions, they have to ask things in a way that communicates that they know where they are, that allows the responder to indicate that they also know where they are, and that simultaneously prevents that knowledge from letting the spy know where they are.
The game is fun through and through. Players have to be vague to avoid tipping off the spy, but specific enough that they still let everyone else know that they aren’t the spy. It really stretches your ability to think on your feet and to question creatively. Individual games only last for six to eight minutes so it is an easy title to repeat several times in one night.
The Dixit base game only goes to six, but with expansions, it can accommodate up to 12. It’s just a deck of cards and a scoring track. And those cards are nothing but unique artwork. No stats. No text. No bonuses. Just unique and interesting pictures on each card.
One player says a word or phrase that he thinks describes his card, then puts it out face down. Each other player also picks a card that might be described that way, and puts it face down. They are all shuffled and then revealed. Then each player picks the one they think is the original player’s card. The trick is, if everyone gets it right, they all get points and the original player gets nothing. If no one gets it right, same thing. Only if some players get it right and some don’t does the original player get points.
The result is one of the most interesting games on the market and one that stretches players’ creativity. When you give a clue, you have to give one that is general enough that it will be confusing to the players, but specific enough that at least a few of them will get it. Finding that balance is difficult and requires players to expand their gaming skills into allegory, poetry, and other literary techniques.
One Night Werewolf and/or Vampire
One Night Werewolf can accommodate ten. And even more when you throw in Vampire or the other standalone expansion, Daybreak. In One Night, special roles are selected and then passed out to the players. Three of them remain in the center unclaimed, so you never know what might truly be in the game.
From there, a “night” phase occurs where each role can engage in special powers. Werewolves will see each other, a Seer can look at cards, and a Troublemaker can swap cards of other players. All of this conducted without a moderator. Then, everyone wakes up, discusses what happens, and finally tries to kill someone. All players point and the most voted player dies. If that player was a wolf, the villager team wins. If not, the werewolf team wins.
This game is fantastic social deduction. Unlike regular Werewolf, where it can make sense to lay seeds and play the long game, One Night just doesn’t have the time. And because some of the roles can switch around at night, there are two layers of deduction. You have to first figure out which team you think you may be on. And only then try to figure out who you think you should kill. After all, just because you went to sleep on the village team, doesn’t mean you wake up that way. If you got swapped, you might be a wolf now! Which means you often have incentive to lie–even if you’re on the village team. The short nature of the game as well as the frantic pace keep it always invigorating and fun, while still allowing for larger player counts.
You’ve got six at game night. What do you play?
Image credits: IELLO Games, Czech Games, Cryptozoic, Libellud, GeekInsight