Fun indoor games?
September 4, 2007 4:14 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite indoor games--parlor games, I guess? Like charades, Botticelli, Dictionary, Pictionary. I'm girding for the long nights of winter in NY.
posted by pipti to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (41 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Apples to Apples
posted by CrunchyFrog at 4:19 PM on September 4, 2007

There's a couple of other threads that might help...


...and yes, Apples to Apples, especially if your group likes arguing/debating. Super fun.
posted by nkknkk at 4:23 PM on September 4, 2007


And at the risk of igniting a partisan battle, I'll say Apples to Apples is an absolutely awesome game if played in the 'speed' version (accepting fewer noun cards than there are players), but a dreadfully dreary game in the all-play version. Speed play has more brilliant flashes of insight, more funny accidents, and more variety of answers. All-play is stolid, very conservative, very careful, very blah ... much less fun than just reading the dictionary by yourself.
posted by eritain at 4:26 PM on September 4, 2007

posted by dfan at 4:46 PM on September 4, 2007

posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:46 PM on September 4, 2007

Mafia. Requires 4+ or even 5+ players but does not require a gameboard, dice, or cards and many people are familiar with the game.
posted by superfem at 4:48 PM on September 4, 2007

Mille Bornes
Old but still good.
Try playing Pictionary by making little sculptures with Play Doh instead of drawing with paper and pencil. It's easier than it sounds. Use plastic cutting boards to sculpt on so you don't wreck the table.
posted by BoscosMom at 4:51 PM on September 4, 2007

Many people enjoy Apples to Apples. I do not understand why.

Settlers of Catan is a great game if you've got 3.

The BoardGameGeek or BGG is a veritable Mecca of board game knowledge.
posted by adamwolf at 4:53 PM on September 4, 2007

posted by chunking express at 5:01 PM on September 4, 2007

I can't recall the name of it, but there's a board game that goes something like this:

2 teams (there might have been the possibility for more, I don't remember)

There are cards with various answers on them that you might find in games like charades, pictionary, catchphrase. So things like people, movies, etc. Ranging from pretty easy to insanely hard. Players sit in a circle alternating by team. Play goes around the circle. Each player goes for a minute or so getting their team to guess as many of the cards as they can. There are three rounds. Rounds last until all the cards have been guessed (you put X number of cards in for each player. And to clarify, it's a community pile everyone plays from IIRC).

In round one, it's just like catchphrase. You can give any clues verbally or with gestures as long as you don't use the actual word or words on the card.

In round two, players can use only one word per card, and otherwise must use only gestures. The same pile is used throughout the game, so players might remember and odd clue used in round 1, and so the player giving the clues now could use that odd word as their one word. Or for easier clues, like, say Steven Spielberg, you could just give "Jaws" as a clue, which may suffice.

In round three, only gestures are allowed. So once again, a player might have used some bizarre/funny/otherwise memorable gesture that may or may not actually had anything to do with the card in the previous round, and the player now who ends up with this card could use that gesture hoping players will remember. Or, you know, you might try actually making gestures directly related to the card, depending on how hard the card is.

It is really extremely fun because of the completely random memes created that come to be associated with particular cards. The rules obviously seem a bit complicated at first, but they make sense what you get them. An obvious truism. But, point being, it's not as complicated as it may seem, and it's really really fun.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 5:07 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

There is a game known variously as Cricket Cricket I'm On Fire and EatPoopYouCat and probably a number of other names, which is fun if you can gather a reasonable number of people (5 or more).
posted by hattifattener at 5:10 PM on September 4, 2007

Scrabble is great for up to 4, but Taboo is loads of fun for larger groups, and can be played lounging around on chairs and couches.
posted by The Deej at 5:27 PM on September 4, 2007

eritain, I heartily concur re: the "speed" version of Apples to Apples. It's the only way we play any more.
posted by nkknkk at 5:28 PM on September 4, 2007

I'm a fan of Scrabble - but maybe that's just me.

Gauchodaspampas describes my favourite group game very well (I don't know the name of it either) - but you can have as many teams as you want, and you don't need cards - everyone writes 5/10/15 names (depending on how many people there are and how long you want the game to go on for) on pieces of paper and places them in a bowl. Alcohol helps but is not essential.
posted by finding.perdita at 5:34 PM on September 4, 2007

Our group of friends really likes Catch Phrase
posted by chrisamiller at 5:37 PM on September 4, 2007

Another vote for Taboo. Buckets and buckets of fun.
posted by ms.v. at 5:40 PM on September 4, 2007

If you're a bit creative and you really like open ended nomic-style new games style games, you should think about 1000 Blank White Cards. Some rules. Flickr group. Some good cards.
posted by jessamyn at 5:44 PM on September 4, 2007

gauchodaspampas's game is called Celebrity, and has been released in a board game version called Time's Up. If you want to buy a commercial game, you are looking for the category called "party games". Most of these are like Balderdash, where you can easily make your own version if you have even modest vigor.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:48 PM on September 4, 2007

Seconding Mafia, but 8-15 people is optimum in my view, not just 4 or 5.
posted by roofus at 6:19 PM on September 4, 2007

I lurve dominoes (cuban rules). Imagine yourself outside watching the sun set between palm trees while you sip something that took a lime to make.
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:25 PM on September 4, 2007

I also do not think Apples to Apples is fun (though people I love and respect do).

I like scrabble, mancala and balderdash.
posted by B-squared at 6:29 PM on September 4, 2007

Ticket to Ride
Settlers of Catan
Scotland Yard
posted by edgeways at 6:30 PM on September 4, 2007

Not a board game, but still, a personal favorite: Bop-It

i don't think they really carry them in stores any longer, but ebay is a good source. In general, thrift stores are GREAT for board games -- they might be missing a piece or two, but usually this is only fatal to jigsaw puzzles.
posted by fishfucker at 6:39 PM on September 4, 2007

VCR Clue, from the 1980's is really fun. The movie that comes with it (that you watch to play the game) is very, very stupid, but in an enjoyable way. And it's more an adult's game than regular Clue-- you need to use your memory and logic. Good times.

Other than that, in my mind nothing beats good ol' Trivial Pursuit.
posted by sneakin at 6:47 PM on September 4, 2007

I think Apples to Apples is meh as well. But like others have said, there are those that love it.

One of the games I've recently been turned onto that I love, love, love is called Blokus. It's best for two or four people. You have a bunch of Tetris-like pieces that you try to fit onto a board while preventing your opponent from finding room for their pieces. It's more about spatial reasoning and strategy than trivia or guessing.
posted by awegz at 6:48 PM on September 4, 2007

My favorite game of all time (at least at the moment) is known to me as Pictionary Down the Lane.* Imagine combining the concept-warping capability of Whisper Down the Lane/Telephone with the graphic shenanigans of Pictionary (wonky geography, deformed animals) and you will have a vague idea of the comedic potential. Very vague. You won't know for real until you play.

Instructions on the web vary from my experience, so here is how I play it:


- at least 5 people**
- a fair amount of scrap paper (about the standard Pictionary or postcard size is good)
- pens to go around
- an appreciation for absurdity


1) Divvy up scrap paper into piles for each player. The number of sheets should be equal to the number of players.

2) Sit in a roughly circular arrangement.

3) Each player begins by writing an aphorism, idiom, or well-known phrase on the first sheet of his pile of scrap paper. Ex: "man in the moon," "two shakes of a lamb's tail," "twelve angry men," "don't shit where you eat."

4) Players each pass their pile to the person sitting to their right. (Or left; just pick one and stick to it.) Players read the phrase written on the sheet, move the top sheet to the bottom of the pile, and attempt to draw a representation of the phrase.
[In the case of "don't shit where you eat," my friend Patrick interpreted this graphically as a man vertically suspended in toilet-sitting position, shitting directly onto a Thanksgiving turkey... all crossed out with the big NO SMOKING "x."]

5) Players pass again to the person on their right. Now each player has a picture, probably crudely drawn, possibly indecipherable. Each player must do his or her best to interpret the drawing as an idiom, quote, or what-have-you, once again moving the top sheet to the back before writing. The rules on this can vary; I prefer to play loose and not require, at all, that the writing part of PDtL necessarily have any relationship whatsoever to a known idiom.

6) Play continues, each player moving the top sheet to the bottom of the pile before writing or drawing their interpretation: saying -- picture -- saying -- picture. Eventually, the piles come back to the original owner, and then it is Story Time -- everyone's favorite part -- where each player recounts the various steps that mutated "don't get your panties in a twist!" into "don't put your crotch near an elephant's asshole!" etc.

I wish I had pictures uploaded to illuminate this tutorial. I'll work on that.

* I grew up in Southeastern PA, where Whisper Down the Lane is what we call Telephone [which is what Wikipedia calls Chinese Whispers]. Apparently no one else calls it that, but I think PDtL is more entertaining to say; plus it has a sweet-ass acronym.

Apparently this game is also known as Eat Poop You Cat.

Thanks, Wikipedia.

** If you have an odd number, the original pile-owner will end up with a saying. If you have an even number, you'll end up with a drawing. Personally I like drawings to cap off my round of PDtL, but it's all in personal choice.
posted by dorothy humbird at 7:26 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

hattifattener totally got there before me, but in my defense I had no idea that Cricket Cricket I'm On Fire and Eat Poop You Cat had anything to do with Pictionary Down the Lane until I started writing my post.

Also, as we/I play it, PDtL differs in that you have individual booklets at the end for each player. Which I think is rad.
posted by dorothy humbird at 7:29 PM on September 4, 2007

Sorry for the triple post, but it just occurred to me that another game I really love playing is Fuck/Marry/Kill , which requires nothing but a twisted, theoretical pair of minds. I think it's more interesting when you require the Fuck relationship to be only sex, and the Marry relationship to be purely platonic; this often makes the decision process more difficult.
posted by dorothy humbird at 7:43 PM on September 4, 2007

In addition to taboo, mafia and apples to apples, I'm always partial to "Psychiatrist":
  1. One person (the psychiatrist) leaves the room
  2. Everybody else agrees on a pattern with which they will answer questions (Answer must start with the same letter as your first name, or you must alternate telling the truth and lying, or something)
  3. Psychiatrist re-enters the room and starts asking questions. The psychiatrist's goal is to "diagnose" the pattern shared by the people in the room
Depending on how esoteric the players are willing to be with their patterns, this can be anywhere between very easy and impossible.
posted by goingonit at 8:12 PM on September 4, 2007

Did anyone say Greedy Pig / Farkel / 10,000 yet?

Hey! Here's a previous AskMe about it.

It's a simple game, but there is something about it that encourages tons of laughs, adrenalin, and hours of fun. Plus, you can play with lots of people at once. And all you need is a handful of dice and a scorepad. A pen helps. :)
posted by The Deej at 8:24 PM on September 4, 2007

Kill Doctor Lucky. It's Cluedo in reverse - you get to stalk and kill the occupant of the stately mansion. 3 or more people, and it's a superb game.
posted by tim_in_oz at 9:26 PM on September 4, 2007

Wow! Thanks everyone!
posted by pipti at 9:31 PM on September 4, 2007

There are some great party game links in this MeFi post (Ink and Paper: Instant Party).
posted by zoel at 2:08 AM on September 5, 2007

posted by zackola at 6:09 AM on September 5, 2007

If you like movies, I will pimp for my own party game: Cineplexity.

You've gotten a lot of good suggestions here, pipti. I'm not sure what else to add, except to ask (a) what different ranges of players you expect and (b) if you enjoy strategy games as well as party games.

The best mix of strategy and party games are push-your-luck games. Someone already mentioned Farkle; I would throw in Diamant/Incan Gold and/or Cloud 9. Mefite defectiveyeti just wrote about push-your-luck games on his blog.

Wits & Wagers is a unique take on trivia games, and a pretty good time.
posted by blueshammer at 6:45 AM on September 5, 2007

Seconding Carcassonne and its many expansions.
posted by o0dano0o at 9:03 AM on September 5, 2007

Oh, and people of a certain temperament love Ca$h 'n Gun$.
posted by blueshammer at 9:04 AM on September 5, 2007

blueshammer: my pals are all twenties/thirties types (no kids) who like strategy games as well as party games--the best games, of course, lead to unexpected hilarity...

thanks everyone for your suggestions!
posted by Ollie at 9:38 AM on September 5, 2007

I'll throw in my favorites; Cranium, Balderdash, Split Second. With a lot of people (i.e. >10), some games become bedlam (but in a good, funny way); Taboo, Scattegories.

Not quite a "strategy" game, but one of my favorites that I don't get to play anymore is Diplomacy.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:49 AM on September 5, 2007

You can play Just A Minute (speak for one minute on a given subject without repetition, hesitation, or deviation) with 4-6 people, assigning a new chairperson/adjudicator for each round. Much more difficult than it sounds, and, as on the radio, it tends to devolve into arguments about whether one of the rules has been broken or not.
posted by jack_mo at 4:01 PM on September 5, 2007

Living Room Variety Theater: you alone (with video camera) or with friends (1 - ?) prepare, rehearse, and put on a weekly show for yourselves. Decide when and where the performance will be (every Sunday evening at 7:00?), then work backwards to schedule how you'll work up your acts. The first few times, maybe no one will rehearse, but if you keep doing it every week, people will be ready for it.

This can be very elaborate or very basic: you, with almost no extra practice, entertain a few friends for an evening with your guitar or whatever instrument you play. Or you and all of your friends can write, rehearse, and enact a complete musical about the downfall of a senator in a bathroom sex scandal. It could be a concert or one-man show or musical ("All singing! All dancing!") or scenes from Shakespeare or poetry recital (yours or others') or comedy act or strip show. Shows can play once or run for several weeks, depending on how much you and the audience are into it. If you invite friends, make sure they know early enough to work up an act or join your own rehearsals during the preceding week. Get kids involved so reticent adults will have an excuse to participate (supposedly for the sake of the kids). You could try for old-style Music Hall presentation or pretend it's a 1960s summer replacement TV show (and give yourselves just a half hour, including fake commercials, to do the whole show) or use any other framing device that helps people focus.

And upload your stuff to youtube.
posted by pracowity at 2:46 AM on September 6, 2007

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