Recommended Party Games

If you’re hanging out with a bunch of friends and want to play fun games with few rules and a lot of social interaction and capable of producing hilarious moments, then you might need a few party games.

Many modern party games are based on parlour games from the Victorian age when the middle class would sit in their parlours and play word, logic, drawing and deception games. In the 20th century these parlour games started to be published and sold in boxed form and this continues today.

Often with party games, the game may indicate that you should keep score or that there is a winner at the end. But take our advice, with party games as long as you’re having fun, the points don’t matter.

So here’s a few party games we love and think you should try out the next time you meet up with friends.

Word Slam

Designed by Inka and Markus Brand . Published by KOSMOS in 2016.

Word Slam is a game where payers are split into two teams and one player on each team is trying to get the others to guess a word by using a limited number of word cards. There’s great interplay between the two teams, and the cards are always obscure enough to keep people guessing. What do you think a “space job” would be? How about a “white black horse”?



Designed by Alexandr Ushan. Published by Hobby World/Cryptozoic Entertainment in 2014.

In Spyfall all players know a location except one player who is the spy. The players ask questions of each other to try and discover who the spy is, while the spy is trying to figure out where they are. The questioning process really brings out the strangest parts of people’s minds! Favourite part of a job in the theatre? – “the gravity of fluids”. Everyone was sure this was an allusion they were missing so the nonsense babble went unchallenged. Slipping a sly location hint past the spy is sweet, and the periodic 5 minutes of panic and confusion when you are in the role of the spy are great fun.


Designed by Vlaada Chvátil. Published by Czech Games Edition in 2015.

In Codenames players are split into two teams and each team has a spymaster who aims to get the other members of their team to guess certain cards that appear on the board, by giving a word and number which correspond to how many cards relate to that word. It takes a minute to teach, but a mind-reading challenge for everyone.

Codenames won the Boardgames Australia Best International Game award in 2016.  There are also Disney and Marvel versions as well as an adult version which features encourages innuendo.


Designed by Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko. Published by Libellud/Asmodee in 2015.

Mysterium is a game where up to 7 players work together to win. One player be a ghost who can only communicate using dream cards and other players play as psychic detectives trying to discover who killed the ghost with what and where. If the detectives can uncover the mystery before the week runs out, everybody wins. Players are working together but the inability of the ghost to communicate easily causes some hilarious moments.

Two Rooms and a Boom

Designed by Alan Gerding and Sean McCoy. Published by Tuesday Knight Games in 2015.

Two Rooms and a Boom is an incredible party game where there are two teams and each player has a role. To win a team needs to get their player with the bomb role to be with the leader of the other team, through bluffing, deduction and strategy. It works extremely well with player counts from 8 to 20 and is infinitely replayability with countless roles and options included so that every game is a unique experience.

Times Up!

Designed by Peter Sarrett, Published by R&R Games in 1999.


Designed by Alex Hague and Justin Vickers. Published by Palm Court in 2015.
Times Up! and Monikers are based on the game Celebrity, which is basically Charades, but you can speak. you form teams of two (or more) and try to get your teammate to guess the name on the cards you have. In the first round you can say as much as you like (except the name on the card), in the second you can only say one word per card and in the final you can’t speak at all. As you play your group will end up creating in-jokes about some of the cards based on players reactions and it’s a great game to bond with new and old friend.

Submissions for Boardgames Australia Awards 2018 now open

Submissions for consideration are now open for the Board Games Australia Awards. Submissions must be made by the designer, artist or publisher of the board game and must be received by mail by 31 May, 2018.

Submission guidelines, judging process and criteria as well as the submission form are included within each award’s submission pack below:

We look forward to receiving your submissions.


2017 Best International Game Winner

The Judging Panel has announced the winner of the 2017 Best International Game Winner


Designed by Antoine Bauza, Artwork by Jérémie Fleury, published by iello

Oceanos was a clear winner this year.  It is a superbly illustrated, engaging family game that puts each player in control of their own unique submarine and underwater tableau.

Using some simple card drafting, you’ll choose whether to upgrade your sub, explore the ocean depths, collect specimens, or hunt for treasure – but keep an eye on your fuel and beware the Kraken!

This impressive game is easy to understand and quick to play, but there are enough subtleties and potential for a strategy to make it loads of fun for a range of ages. Better still, it is reasonably priced. So, it is highly recommended as a gift as well as the perfect addition to any family games shelf.

Ages 8+. 2-5 players. Approx 40 mins play time.

Also read about the judging criteria and the 2017 Best International Game Shortlist.

2017 Best Children’s Game Winner

The Judging Panel has announced the winner of the 2017 Best Children’s Game Winner

Box Art from the publisher, Days of Wonder

Ticket To Ride: First Journey

Designed by Alan R. Moon, Artwork by Cyrille Daujean and Jean-Baptiste Reynaud, published by Days of Wonder

Ticket To Ride: First Journey takes the classic game of Ticket to Ride and makes it playable for young children and their parents.

Players will receive two tickets, each showing two cities which they need to connect by train tracks. To lay a track, they’ll need to pay cards showing the track colour. When they complete a ticket, they grab a new ticket to complete. The first player to complete 6 tickets wins.

The judging panel found the game to be fun for the whole family. Ticket To Ride: First Journey finds the balance between simplicity (no reading required to play) and strategy, it’s simple enough for the youngest children to be able to enjoy, but enough strategy to entertain parents.

Also read about the judging criteria and the 2017 Best Children’s Game Shortlist.

2017 Best Australian Game Winner

The Judging Panel has announced the winner of the 2017 Best Australian Game Winner

Imhotep: Builder of Egypt

Designed by Phil Walker-Harding, Artwork by Miguel Coimbra and Michaela Kienle,  published by Kosmos

Imhotep box cover, from publisher Kosmos.

This game combines simplicity, an intriguing theme, beautiful components, with just a smidgin of nastiness to make a package of great gaming fun.

You are a master builder working for Imhotep. You have a number of things to manage: cutting stone at the quarry, getting it loaded onto barges for delivery down the Nile, and then determining which monuments to deliver the stone blocks to. You should also keep an eye on the market to see whether any useful tools become available.

This sounds complicated, but is easily managed in each case by moving one or more of your large blocks: from the quarry to your sled, from your sled to a barge, or by moving a barge to a monument and then unloading the blocks.

The challenge is choosing when to do each of these things: getting your block onto a barge early lets you determine whether it will be unloaded first or last, but wait too long and another player may choose to dock the barge at a different monument from the one you were planning on and so mess up your plans!

The monuments: pyramid, obelisks, temple and burial chamber are all constructed from many blocks. As the game goes on, they grow bigger and bigger and become more impressive. The way you earn points is completely different at each monument site: each player builds their own obelisk with the tallest reaping the greatest reward; the temple is built in layers, and only the stones visible from above score points, and so on.

Read more

A Quick Quiz

A Quick Quiz

A Quick Quiz.

a) What are the last three board games or card games that you played?
b) Was everyone playing over the age of 16?

If you’re like most Australians your answers might be:

a) Monopoly, 500, and some game the kids had that you can’t remember. Or maybe Chess, Scrabble and Cluedo.

b) No – aren’t there better things for a group of adults to do?


Now the two questions are not as disconnected as they might seem…. all of the games ‘you’ answered in (a) are more than 50 years old! In fact the youngest of the five is Cluedo from 1949.

Like everything else in life, board games have developed a lot over the last fifty years.Although some of us may be familiar with music and films made before 1950, for most of us the vast majority of our viewing and listening time is spent with more recent material. For various reasons this has not held true for board games, where many of us are caught in a time warp.


Two more questions:

c) Did you know that the “Hollywood” for modern board games is Germany, where family gaming is very popular and there are “Oscars” of boardgaming are awarded with big fanfare and called the Spiel des Jahres?

d) Have you heard of two or more of these blockbuster games: Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Alhambra, Dixit, Bohnanza, Pandemic, Zooloretto or Dominion?


If you answered “yes”, you can pat yourself on the back, but you’re probably already feeling good because you’ve enjoyed many wonderful hours with family and friends playing some of these games.

If you answered “no”, don’t feel bad, you are certainly in the unlucky majority. Unlucky!? What does that mean? Well what these modern games share in common is that they:

  • are easy to learn and play,
  • generally last less than an hour,
  • almost never reduce anyone to tears or provoke a family fight!
  • generally favour strategy over chance,
  • encourage social interaction with friends and family,
  • give everyone the chance to work towards a positive goal rather than just aiming to wipe out the opposition,
  • offer a lot of variety each time you replay them.

Where these games differ is in nearly everything else! Some are based on team-work like Pandemic, some on trading like Bohnanza, some on puzzle-like tile laying like Carcassonne. Some are about buildings zoos (Zooloretto) or railroads (Ticket to Ride) or developing an Island (Settlers of Catan). Although many of the games are designed in Europe, they are all available in English.


Boardgames Australia is a group of people who all stumbled onto this treasure-trove of fun, and want more Australians to be able to pass the quiz on this page! Each year we shortlist and award the best games from the world and from Australia – with an eye for the sort of game that an average Aussie family (who may not have done too well in our quiz) can enjoy after dinner, or at the holiday house, or whenever a group of friends gets together.

A Perspective on Game Awards

A Perspective on Game Awards

A Perspective of Game Awards.

While we would like to think that the Boardgames Australia awards are the greatest thing since someone decided to take a slicer to a loaf of bread, we of course acknowledge the many other game awards out there, all catering for different needs and different target markets. The Spiel des Jahres award from Germany was announced recently, and the winner Keltis should make for a great family game when the English-language version reaches Australia. The Spiel des Jahres (the German Game of the Year award) is an award that specifically picks games best suited to German families, and the games selected are widely regarded as of the highest quality in the light/middle-weight Designer style of game (also known in the hobby as German or Euro games).


Some of you reading this may be asking what is meant by the term ‘light/middle-weight’, let alone by ‘Designer game’? The ‘Designer’ label is easy to answer: you can see the name of the game’s author on the box! This tells you it is a genuine new idea and not just a re-packaging of some older game with a new look. The game’s ‘weight’ has the same connotation as a light or heavy book – one suited for the airport or contemplative reading. For games, the idea of weight relates to the complexity of the rules, duration of play, and the level of thought and planning involved in the game. A Light game is one that is usually short (less than 60 minutes), doesn’t need a degree in rocket science, and has short, simple rules (less than 2 pages). Examples of mainstream games that are fairly light would include Uno and Life. Middle-weight games have rules that are longer and more detailed (up to 8 pages), the strategy is deeper and needs more thought, and the games usually take longer to play (up to 90 minutes). These categories are not very precise – what about long but fairly simple games like Monopoly? The games that won the 2007 Boardgames Australia Awards fit somewhere between the Light and Middle-weight categories. There are of course Heavy games which have detailed rules (often more than 8 pages), take a longer time to play (usually more than 90 minutes) and ask you to think deeply by rewarding good decisions and punishing poor choices. Heavier games are also often referred to as ‘Gamers games’, while Lighter games are often referred to as ‘Family games’.


Different awards cater for different markets: while the Spiel des Jahres rewards Light to Medium games and targets the family market, the International Gamers’ Awards reward Heavier games. TheInternational Gamers’ Award group announced their short-lists recently, and you can see these at their website. Heavy games are popular in the board games community because they combine many of the excellent aspects of lighter games (such as fun social interaction and tension) with elements many board gamers seem to enjoy – including thinking deeply and hatching elaborate plots. The games short-listed for the International Gamers’ Award are an excellent selection for any Heavy game lover. Other well-regarded heavy games include Tigris and Euphrates, Powergrid, Age of Steam, and Agricola.


Some awards try to cover all bases by offering awards in various categories: for example, the BoardGameGeek community awards (affectionately called the Geekies) reward games across a diverse range of categories, including Gamer Game and Family Game. Of course the users at BoardGameGeek who nominate and vote on the awards, are by their own admission ‘Game Geeks’ and so the winning games tend to be slightly heavier than games typical for the category they win. Another set of awards that does a similar thing is the Dice Tower awards: nominated and voted on by a group of people who podcast about the gaming hobby (including one of our Committe, Giles Pritchard). The awards target different areas of the market by having a range of categories including Game of the Year (for a heavier game), through to Family and Children’s Game (lighter games). There are also specific awards to try to recognise new game companies and new game designers.


So where does this leave our own Boardgames Australia awards? The award guidelines on our website provide a detailed picture of our motivation and what we are looking to reward, but the core idea is to provide families in Australia with a credible and reliable award, so that if they bought the games we awarded they could be assured they would be buying a good quality and intelligently-designed game the family could enjoy for many years. The other key reason we set up the awards was to promote the board gaming hobby in Australia, which is why we have an award category that specifically deals with Australian-designed games. We are passionate about our hobby, and all of us on the Committee and Judging Panels love good games. Of course we all have a slightly different ideas on what makes a good game, and we plan to list our personal favourites over the next few months, but we hope that if you play the games that we have awarded that you will agree with us – they are worthy winners and excellent games.