Weekend-Long Games?
May 14, 2009 5:23 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite long-form parlor games? Something that lasts hours or days (that would be appropriate for a weekend at a beach house, like I'm doing on Mem Day weekend). We don't want to buy anything, like the murder-mystery games packets you can buy online.

We also will have limited access to Internet and phones (bad reception for cells, and Internet is limited to the supermarket's Wifi on the highway). Anyone got any ideas? Ideally, it would be a game that could be played in and around other normal weekend activities--cooking, sailing, whatever. Any thoughts?

"Wink Murder" is the only thing I can think of.
posted by Ollie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (26 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
I have enjoyed Minister's Cat many times. It depends on how nerdy your crowd is, though.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:29 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: orrnyereg: Thanks for this--I also love Minister's Cat! But I mean games that could take hours or days to get through. I think of Minister's Cat as a fairly brief game.
posted by Ollie at 5:34 AM on May 14, 2009

Well, there's the classic Diplomacy, but you might end up hating the people you play with.
posted by Durin's Bane at 5:50 AM on May 14, 2009

You might be calling it "Wink Murder" as it has a million names, but I think Mafia is really fun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_(party_game)

Beachhouse weekend is a perfect time to play this in and around other activities.
posted by RajahKing at 6:00 AM on May 14, 2009

I recall spending hours at a high school student government retreat doing lateral thinking puzzles in a big group. (In fact, the albatross soup one listed in the page I linked to kept us going for a long time)
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:12 AM on May 14, 2009

The Game.
posted by spamguy at 6:20 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Durin's Bane: Is there a way to play this without having to buy it? I'm very keen on NOT spending money these days. For all the others, thanks! Keep 'em coming.
posted by Ollie at 6:48 AM on May 14, 2009

Choose a list of banned words, some very common, some rarer, say:

Probably not more than 10-12 of them.

Over the weekend, nobody is allowed to use these words. If you use any of them, the person you're talking to gets a point, and you lose a point. (This has to be zero-sum, ie you lose as many points as other people gain; otherwise it opens it up for "I'll say grapefruit if you say peculiar" deals.)

The trouble with - and the beauty of - this game is that you potentially spend the entire time paranoid, not quite sure whether to trust that anyone means what they're saying, suspicious that they're just trying to lead you towards an answer using one of the banned words.

Keep track of who's said what; at the end of the weekend the person with the most points wins.

PRO TIP: A rousing chorus of "It's Raining Men" will often trick people into an accidental "Hallelujah".

OPTIONAL BUT GREAT RULE: If there's a word that nobody's said at all over the weekend, that word remains in play indefinitely. You are no longer allowed to say it while you're with any of the friends who were on the trip; if you do, you lose, and you have to write to everyone who was there and inform them of this. That word then leaves play.

It took me two and a half years to get someone to say "hopscotch", once.
posted by severalbees at 6:51 AM on May 14, 2009 [42 favorites]

The game Psychiatrist can potentially last forever, and it's pretty fun. One person is chosen as the psychiatrist and they go for a walk while you explain the game to everyone else - they all have the same specific mental problem, and it's the psychiatrist's job to figure out what it is. The problem is that they all think they're actually the person to the left of themselves, whoever that might be. So over the course of the game, as the psychiatrist asks questions to figure out the problem, the players answer as they think that person would. if you don't know the answer, make it up. If the answer you make up is wrong (for example, the psychiatrist asks you how many siblings you have, and you say three, but the person to your left is actually an only child), the person to your left then shouts PSYCHIATRIST and everyone scrambles around and changes seats. Everyone now answers as the new person to your left. Also, if the answer to the question would obviously give the game away, for example if the psychiatrist asks you what your name is, you yell psychiatrist and everyone switches places, same as for a wrong answer.

All the 'psychologist' is told at the beginning of the game is that all the other players have the SAME problem, and that he can ask whatever questions he wants to try to figure it out. Obviously the psychiatrist should be chosen for their good sense of humour and enjoyment of puzzles, because it can be pretty frustrating for them. But it's really fun (and sometimes quite illuminating) to hear how people answer questions for each other.
posted by Wroksie at 7:05 AM on May 14, 2009 [7 favorites]

Charades (or pictionary) based on words you pull out of weird books and magazines laying around said beach house.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:07 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've seen games of 1KBWC go on for at least three days running. Basically no cost, since you can make the cards yourself out of scrap paper, and lots of fun (provided that you're playing with fun people).
posted by ourobouros at 7:19 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I love the photo and caption on that Wikipedia entry for The Game.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:24 AM on May 14, 2009

I also love Minister's Cat! But I mean games that could take hours or days to get through. I think of Minister's Cat as a fairly brief game.

Couldn't it go on indefinitely? Once you get to Z, start over at A.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:25 AM on May 14, 2009

My friends and I play a game called encore. You divide into teams and choose a topic that comes up often in the sort of songs you listen to. Then, take turns singing songs that make reference to that topic. The last team to run out of songs wins. Assuming you can remember which songs have been sung you can start and stop playing whenever you have down time all weekend. It will work even better for you since no one can cheat and look songs up on the internet.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 7:37 AM on May 14, 2009

Charades (or pictionary) based on words you pull out of weird books and magazines laying around said beach house.

I find charades is best when the other team makes up what you have to act out for your own team. Of course some people might get mad when they have to do "Human Molecular Genetics: Advanced Analysis 3rd Edition" for a book, but the fun is in the challenge.

Also thanks to this question it's going to be a fun May 2-4.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 7:37 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Vocab-building game: Get a list of good, useful vocabulary words. (I use my wordie.org list.) Start with the first word in the list. First person to use that word in a sentence (any form -- plural, different tenses, etc.) gets a point. When you get to the end of the list, add up the points to see who wins.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:38 AM on May 14, 2009

For Diplomacy, you just need to print out a map and use some scraps of paper for units. This website has maps and the rules.
posted by Durin's Bane at 7:46 AM on May 14, 2009

Can't believe sno one said Mafia!

I can't remember the name of this team guessing game, but it's a good one. It goes in three stages. You need paper and pencil. Everyone has a short time to secretly write the name of a famous person on each of three scraps of paper. Put all the scraps in a bowl. Then split into teams; any number of teams - at least 2 people to a team, but you can just make 2 teams and have 4 people on the teams, if you want - it doesn't matter.

Decide which team goes first. One member of the team draws a paper from the bowl, reads the name of the famous person, then has 60 seconds to get their team to guess the person's name based on clues (for instance, if it's Harry Houdini, that person might say "this is a magician and escape artist who could get out of locked safes underwater"). The teammates of this person guess until they find the answer. The person giving the clues can't say any part of the person's name or give any letters of the name, but those are the only limits. A timekeeper from the other team should watch the seconds and call time when 60 seconds is up.

If the group guesses right within the time period, the leader grabs another scrap and repeats the process. Whenever the team guesse right, those scraps go in a pile that stays with the group - not back in the bowl. If the leader pulls a name s/he doesn't recognize or is too hard to give clues for, s/he can put that name back and draw again. The goal is to get through as many as possible in one minute. When time is up, the team passes the bowl of unguessed names (including the one in the leader's hand when time was called, if that one wasn't guessed ) to the other team and they take one minute to guess. Eventually, all the names will be guessed, the bowl will be empty, and each team will have a pile of scraps.

In stage 2, each team plays using its pile of scraps. They have one minute to get their teams to guess as many names as possible. The difference is that the challenge is made harder for round 2: the leader can only give one single one-word clue. For instance, for Houdini: "escape." It's up to the leader to determine how long to wait for the group to figure it out before putting the scrap back in the pile and going to the next one. Time is ticking away. When the first team runs out of time, the second team goes, and you alternate until someone's done. The winner of this round is the first group to get through its whole pile.

In stage 3, you do the same thing, only with mime this time. We usually did not play this way as we thought mime was dorky. However it might be fun, we were probably unnecessarily uptight about mime.

Variations: you can make the game more challenging by switching scrap piles between rounds, so you're actually guessing the other team's names. Also, you can play a Round 4 which uses only mental telepathy. This round tends to go loooong.
posted by Miko at 7:53 AM on May 14, 2009

Also this previous thread has a lot of good suggestions.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 7:56 AM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Eat Poop You Cat!
Players sit in a circle, and each person has a pad of paper with their name written on the back, and a pen/pencil. The game starts with everyone writing a sentence--any random sentence--at the top of the page, then everyone passes their pad to the right. Each person draws a picture of the sentence, then folds the paper over to cover the sentence, then passes to the right, so that the next person only sees the drawing. They then write a sentence describing the drawing, fold it over to cover the drawing, and pass again. Play continues until you get your own pad of paper back, or you could go for another round. When everyone has their own paper back, each person unfolds all the pages and reads/displays their story for the group. Depending on how many people are playing, and how long they spend on each drawing, this can take quite a while. Also, depending on the mentality of the people playing, it can become quite filthy.
posted by Dilemma at 9:39 AM on May 14, 2009

Mafia has already been mentioned a few times before, but I want to strenuously suggest you check it out if you have more than, oh, seven people at your getaway. The wikipedia article is terrible--it's seriously a great example of why letting everyone edit an encyclopedia is a pretty bad idea--but this page has a very well-written and concise explanation of the game.

That page lists a few variations, but if you get bored over the weekend with the standard game (not likely), you can also add different roles to the game. BoardGame Geek has a ton of them.
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:33 PM on May 14, 2009

I like the word game where each person gets a card with someone else's name and a word he needs to get that person to say. If the person says the word, the one who made him say it gets his card and takes on his "mission." Eventually, the game will get down to two people who must engage in a hilarious conversation, being very careful with what they say.

You need a host who will assign the words (and pick GOOD words) and make the cards.

This game once lasted four days.
posted by thewestinggame at 2:16 PM on May 14, 2009 [7 favorites]

Seconding "Eat Poop You Cat" (although we call it "Paper Telephone," which I think makes it easier to explain to people).

laughing till tears come streaming down your face, just about every time.
posted by mabelstreet at 4:31 PM on May 14, 2009

My friends and I like "Who Where What." It's a board game you can buy, but we just make up the cards ourselves.

You need three categories of cards--"Who" cards list people (Martha Stewart, dentists, Scooby Doo, etc.), "Where" cards list places (Florida, the person on your right's bedroom, Hell, etc.), and "What" cards list actions (cooking, tap dancing, etc.).

Each players starts with a drawing pad, a pencil, and a scoresheet. Each player picks a "Who", a "What" and a "Where" card. Players then get 10 minutes to draw a scenario based on their cards. For example, I once drew Martha Stewart changing a tire in a bathroom.

After the 10 minutes are up, players pass around pictures. Each player must now guess the "Who Where What" of their opponent's pictures. Drawers and guessers get points for correct guesses.

This game is fantastic, even if you're not particularly artistic (actually, especially if you're not). The pictures and the guesses are hilarious. Plus, if you make the cards themselves, you can use more personal examples.

Also, I agree with the Encore suggestion. My friends and I used to play that game for hours.
posted by Tall Telephone Pea at 8:05 PM on May 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: thewestinggame: The "target" person doesn't know what word he's supposed to be avoiding, right? So you might be trying to get someone to say "ampersand" but he doesn't know he's not supposed to say "ampersand"?
posted by Ollie at 8:49 AM on May 15, 2009

I defy you to be able to finish a game of Axis & Allies in less than 6 hours. I've heard of it being finished in 2 hours but that has to be a rarity, surely. Over the years my group and I have played it, it's usually lasted all fucking day. And I think it definitely has the potential to be an all-weekend game, if you take some breaks. Which, trust me, you will want to.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:21 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

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