Whether you’re a strategy junkie, word game geek, or just love cards, these epic board game night ideas, are perfect for anyone who wants to have hours of fun with their best gamer friends.
From the creating the ultimate board game music playlist, to making recipes from an edible game cookbook, here are some great ways that you might not have known about before to make your next board game night completely epic!
Luckily, we’ve got some ideas that will help you make this party as successful as possible. Enjoy our list broken down into the following activity types:
- Choose a Theme
- Create the Ambiance
- Select the Food
- Intensify the Game Play
- Party Game Suggestion List
How to Choose a Board Game Night Theme?
Creating a truly epic board game night requires cohesive planning and thoughtful preparation. We recommend starting with a theme. This will set an overall tone for the evening and make it easier to plan other epic party aspects. Having a theme isn’t essential, but it does make for a more interactive, cohesive, and spirited board gaming experience!
1. Choose a Theme Related to a Specific Game
- Gather Game Options. Select 1 or more games that have a longer play time (preferably 45 min to 2 hours).
- Make Final Selection. From that list, refine to your final choice by the process of elimination, random selection, or putting the decision to a vote among your guests (we recommend using a survey). If you already have your heart set on one specific game, feel free to skip this step.
- Name the Theme. Using a creative party name will add extra flair to your fun evening. Choose a name from a unique aspect of the game. For example, “Boardwalk or Bust” for Monopoly, “Wheat Built This City” for Settlers of Catan, “Terraforming is a Sprint, not a MARSarthon” for Terraforming Mars, or “You’ve Got to Be Kitten Me!” for Exploding Kittens.
2. Choose Games Related to a Specific Theme
If you prefer to play multiple games of a similar type, choose a theme based on a common component. Consider the following factors:
- Style of Game – Options include deduction, word or letters, wargames, fantasy, Eurogames, negotiation, economic situation games, etc.
- Setting of Game
- Medieval conquest (Settlers of Catan, Risk, Dungeons & Dragons, Avalon)
- Wall Street or finance related (Acquire, Cover Your Assets, Anti-Monopoly, Power Grid, The Landlord’s Game)
- Art & creativity (Bob Ross: Art of Chill Game, Masterpiece, Fresco, Cubist, Modern Art, Final Touch)
- Family or childhood games (Mousetrap, Operation, Life, Twister, Sorry!)
- Western games (Ticket to Ride, Bang!, Great Western Trail, Lewis & Clark, Trekking the National Parks)
- Global games (Azul, 7 Wonders, First Empires, Small World)
- Mechanics of Game
- Card games
- Dice games
- Paper & pencil games
- Turn based
How to Create the Board Game Party Ambiance?
3. Make a Board Game Music Playlist
Music is a great way to dial up the tension or add a calming vibe to your party. You can create your own playlist, use a board game playlist generation website (we recommend Melodies: Music for Board Games), or find a playlist on your favorite music app.
Here are some of our favorites from Spotify:
- The Resistance: Avalon the Board Game Night Soundtrack
- Monopoly and Board Game Tunes
- Uno: The Card Game Playlist
- Mysterium: Board Game Playlist
Here are some of our favorites from YouTube:
- Settlers of Catan Music
- Poker Playlist: Jazz Lounge Background Music
- Ticket to Ride Ambiance Music
- Clue – Scary House Mansion Cover
4. Designate a “Right Hand Man” for New & First Time Players
For more complicated games, new or first time players often need advice or feedback about the rules and strategy. Designate a non-biased, experienced player as the “right hand man” to help those newer players make better decisions and not slow down game play.
5. Have a Costume Contest
Invite your guests to wear a costume that matches a specific character, concept, or item related to your theme. During the evening have guests vote on the best costume and award the winner a fun prize or additional advantage (time/money/turns) during game play.
Example costume ideas:
- Pandemic – have guests wear lab coats and goggles.
- Disney Villainous – have guests come as any preferred Disney character (good or evil).
- Herd Mentality – have guests dress as their favorite barnyard animal or as a farmer.
6. Create the Ultimate Board Game Zone or Visit One
Make your board game space as welcoming and optimized for gaming as possible!
Create a designated snack & supplies area with easy access to both. Stock the area with yummy treats and all necessary gaming supplies (pens, pencils, paper, extra dice, dry erase boards & pens, etc.).
If possible, set up an area with comfortable gaming chairs and tables. Sofas, inflatable furniture, bean bags, or really any extra comfy seat is perfect.
Alternatively, many cities have dedicated Board Game shops and playing spaces that are perfectly set up for a quality gaming evening. If you’re going for a “low effort” board game night, consider having your party at one of these spots instead of at your home.
What Food Should be Served?
7. Match the Menu to the Theme
It may take some research to create the perfect menu, but serving themed party food is a super fun way to bring your board game to life!
Here are a few examples of game specific foods you can serve:
- Samplers of Catan -> Settlers of Catan
- Carcassarole -> Carcassonne
- Sushi -> Sushi Go!
- Pass the Pigs in a Blanket -> Pass the Pigs
- The Lord of the Onion Rings: Journeys to Griddle Earth -> Lord of the Rinds: Journeys to Middle Earth
- Twinkie Imperium -> Twilight Imperium
Do you like to play with your food? The Edible Games Cookbook offers a dozen sweet & savory tasty edible games. Although all of the games have different rules, the one thing they have in common is the fact that all game pieces are edible.
Here are a few examples of the games you’ll get:
- Patisserie Code – An escape room style secret code baked into fluffy cream puffs.
- Flavor Roulette – Everything on the plate looks the same, but one item tastes significantly less delicious. Keep a straight face to win the game!
- Roll for Flavor – Compete for ingredients while baking a unique batch of cupcakes from scratch. Your creativity and fate will decide the overall delectability of your final creation.
- Master Taster – Do you have the taste buds to become the best food taster in the land? This challenge is one part memory, one part tastebud strength, and one part food smarts.
9. Easy Snacking
If you’re trying to keep the game night simple, just buy some pre-made party snacks. If you’re looking to make something yourself check out our post 11 Cheap Easy Inexpensive Party Snack Ideas for Adults.
How to Intensify Game Play?
10. Have a Game Marathon
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good competitive board game, but what if you played it 24 hours straight? Imagine the laughs, the joy—and the soreness.
Seriously though, you can have different experiences and better develop your skills by having your own board game marathon. There are a few ways to play games for an extended period of time:
- Play one game multiple times in a row. The idea here is that you play the same game or type of game multiple times in a row for a specific length of time. If a player wants out early, they must forfeit all their money/property/cards/whatever else is being used as currency in that particular game. The person with the most points or, if everyone quits, the last person standing is the winner!
- Play multiple games at once. This one can get a little crazy! Choose 2-3 games to play for a certain period of time. Start with one game, set up as normal, choose a mechanism to trigger switching to the next game (set length of time, rolling a certain number on the dice, or landing on a certain location), and start play as normal. Once the switch game mechanism is triggered, stop play of the first game and start play of the second game. Using this method stretches your mind in different ways and keeps you on your toes!. It also helps prevent burnout among players who might otherwise get bored after spending too much time focusing on only one kind of gameplay experience; this way everyone gets equal opportunities throughout your marathon gaming session(s).
11. Keep One or Two Non-Board Games on Hand
Non-board games are a great way to get people involved in a game night for shorter periods of time or without them having to commit to a longer game. They are perfect for guests who aren’t interested in the current game of choice or are just “stopping in for a little while”.
Here are some non-board games that can be picked up quickly, and still be tons of fun:
- Connect Four (or any other sliding block tower game)
- Yahtzee (if you know an easy way for your family members or friends to play at once)
- Catch Phrase
12. Have “Rules” for Competitive Play
If you’re playing a fast-paced game with multiple rounds, its fun to add a large public tournament style bracket and an overall player scoreboard. As the game progresses update the bracket and scoreboard to heighten the competitive tension.
Grab a prize for the winner, think of a penalty for the loser, and you’re good to go!
13. Take Trivia Breaks
Some board games can last many hours with few opportunities to take a break. Space things out a bit by setting an alarm to pause the game for guests to go to the bathroom, grab a drink, or eat a snack (every 30 – 45 minutes). During the break, keep the theme of the party going by finding some trivia questions about the night’s focus game, overall game theme, or board games in general.
14. Play Games in Teams or Pairs Rather than Individually
Teamwork makes the dream work! A fun way to meld minds and increase competitiveness is to convert a solo game position to a team position. Have two or more people play the position and work together to make moves and decisions. You can help each other out and celebrate each other’s successes.
15. Add a Timer or Hourglass
If someone takes too long to make their move, start timing them (we recommend 3 minutes). Once the timer is out the move is over regardless.
16. Winner’s Reward
The winner gets to flip the board and the loser has to clean it up.
17. Add Some Extra Rules
Back in 2021 a reddit reader posed a simple question to the greater reddit community. After thousands of comments and tens of thousands of upvotes the community generated some really good responses to his original question, “What is an extra rule your family added to a popular board or card game?“
- Start With the Longest – The person who can make the longest word goes first, highest points breaks a tie. This makes the game easier to start by ensuring there are lots of spots to place letters.
- Real Words – Any word is valid if you can find it in any book in the library within three minutes.
- Add a ‘Mugging’ Rule – This allows a player to mug another player when they land on a space the first player is currently occupying. Both players roll the dice and if the mugger rolls higher the first player pays $100 if the first player rolls higher the mugger goes to jail.
- Change the Dice – Replace the default 6 sided dice with a 20 sided dice.
- No Yelling – If you yell at all you give half of your money to the bank as a “Yelling Tax”.
- No Apologies – If you say the word “sorry” while playing you pick up 2 extra cards.
- Stacking +4’s – Should be totally valid, Hasbro’s rule against it is lame.
- Red Means Mute – If the color red is being played you have to pick up one card for every word you say.
- Cards Against Humanity
- Storytelling Version – Pick up one card at a time and start a story. Each player draws a new card and builds onto the story. Be prepared for some pretty crazy stories!
- Betting – Players can bet one of more of their black cards to play another white card.
- Knight Move Bonus – When you roll a seven or play a knight, you have to move the robber, but you can move it back to the desert and claim any resource you want from the ‘bank.’
Not Sure What to Play With a Group of Your Friends?
Here are some awesome games you should try:
- Secret Hitler (5-10 players)– This social deduction game recreates the historical outcome of World War 2. Players take on a role (liberal politicians or fascists) and try to win by furthering their team’s agenda. The fascists want to assassinate Hitler and the the liberals want to keep Hitler alive as the supreme leader. Each team carefully balances playing their role while not blowing their cover trying not to blow their cover in front of the other players!
- Codenames (2-8+ players) – Players are divided into two teams with rival spymasters who know the hidden identities of 25 secret agents. The objective of the game is for each team to identify all hidden identities without uncovering the hidden identities for the opposing team. This is done by having the spymasters give clues to their team mates and giving them the chance to interpret each clue.
- The Metagame (2-50 players) – The card game with six unique card games to facilitate conversation & opinions about culture. There’s not just one way to play – this game is the ultimate cure for awkward silences. It sparks conversation about everything from high art to trashy entertainment and everything in between.
- What Do You Meme? (3-20 players) – Compete against your friends to create the funniest meme caption! Game cards have clever and interesting pictures that will spark your creativity and humor.
- One Night Ultimate Werewolf (3-10 players) – The game of mafia with a fun fantasy twist! Each player is assigned a secret role with a specific task. During a game round, called a “night phase”, a player is killed and the rest of the group must figure out who did it.
- Cards Against Humanity (4+ players) – Considered the “Adult” version of Apples to Apples. Players each have a hand of descriptive cards, which they use to fill in blanks or answer questions posed by the theme card. The funniest answer will win the round!
- The Hot Seat (4-10 players) – Each round one player has to answer a question about themselves and the other players have to answer the question as if they are the person who is answering. What will the person in the Hot Seat say? Who will have the best answer?
Playing games is a great way to bond and become closer with friends and family. We hope these party tips have given you some new ideas on how to make your next board game night as epic as possible!