During uni, when my friends told me that they were going to the Games Society that Saturday to spend the day playing board games… well, my mind was basically blown. At that point, board games to me meant Cluedo and Monopoly. I couldn’t understand exactly how they were going to spend the better part of 8 hours playing those.
But I went along. I was introduced to Eurogames, to co-op games, to deck-building games, to mystery games.
As I left uni, moved away to a new area, moved in with old friends, moved to Leeds… board games have been a pretty constant feature. I’m not a massive video gamer. I’ve dabbled with roleplay and LARP, and obviously I’m obsessed wtih megagames and escape rooms. But tabletop games (let’s not forget the card games too) have definitely been a key feature of my social life throughout my 20s.
So when giffgaff sent me over some kit to organise a board game night with some friends, I couldn’t say no. The occasion? My 29th birthday! Despite swearing when I was about 21 that I would NEVER choose board games over a night out (oh how young I once was), this is in fact the second year in a row where board games have been a major feature of my birthday celebrations.
Note: this post contains affiliate links to various games. If you like the sound of any of the games, feel free to click the links to find them on Amazon – just be aware I may get a commission (at no extra cost to you).
The best thing about a board game night is that you can do it from the comfort of your home. But depending on the size of your gathering and the number of friends you have (and the size of your flat) you might need to branch out.
I personally love having a good board game night at a local pub. My first choice this day was the Adelphi, where you can reserve an area in their snug where they have great sized tables for games, but you might also want to give Crowd of Favours a look if you’re in Leeds.
Some awesome friends
I love big board games nights, and on my birthday I wanted as many cool people as possible – I invited a bunch of people I know from megagaming, as well as my bestie Keeleigh and Tim’s bestie Leah.
I’m a fan of the big party games that work with a massive group of people – think Mascarade or Codenames – and this was mostly what we played.
On the other end of the scale, I am also partial to a quiet night in board gaming with the fiance, and there are plenty of games out there that work with just a couple of people. Codenames Duet, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Arkham Horror LCG… these are all games that Tim and I whip out when we fancy some one-on-one time over the gaming table.
Food and drink
Keep drinks away from the board games! On Saturday I managed to spill my wine all over the table. Luckily the game materials managed to dodge the wet patch (mostly).
Although giffgaff kindly sent a takeaway voucher, we ended up grabbing a bit of food at the pub. The Adelphi always does super tasty bar snacks, and we split a few between us. (Don’t worry giffgaff, we totally got takeout later in the week!)
Luckily this time we didn’t fall into the endless loop that I usually do at board game nights: when you open a new bottle of wine because you’re still playing the game, then start a new game because you’re still drinking wine. More than once I’ve found myself at 4am without any idea how it happened.
For a casual night, I’d recommend a mix of games you’ve played before and new ones – but that doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy new ones. Ideally your friends will have some games they want to play, so tell everyone to bring some games.
On this day we played a bunch of different games – mostly light party ones, as there were a decent number of us. My highlights include:
You’ve Got Crabs
You’ve Got Crabs* was probably my favourite game of the day. You’re partnered with another player, and you have to swap cards in your hand with cards on the table to get four matching Crab Cards in your hand. When you’ve managed this, your partner must shout “You’ve Got Crabs” to cash them in for points. Here’s the twist – if another player shouts it first they get the points. Cue lots of secret signals, fake-outs and peculiar twitching.
Fake Artist Goes To New York
This game* reminded me a lot of Chameleon (which I would thoroughly recommend), but it’s a lot less structure. One player picks a thing within a category. Everyone hears the category, but one player doesn’t get to know what the specific thing is. Then everyone takes it in turn to add a single line to a drawing. Everyone draws in a different colour, so it’s obvious who added what. After everyone has added two lines to the drawing, players vote on who the Fake Artist is. The Artist has a chance to save themselves by guessing what the finished drawing was of!
Bucket of Doom
I was pleasantly surprised by this spin on Cards Against Humanity (which I’m not a fan of). One player announces a situation that will lead to certain death… but you have a handful of cards that will help you escape! Pick one and craft an escape around that card, using whatever creativity you can summon. Players vote on the best escape plan. My only issue with this game* was that it took a long time to do a round with six players – surprising since it is pitched as working for an unlimited number of players!
We also had a go at a few other games:
- Weird Things Humans Search For
- Secret Hitler
- Snake Oil
Even though giffgaff sent me a trophy, we don’t tend to keep score at gaming nights. I personally prefer quick light games where everyone will win some and lose some, or co-op games where everyone’s a winner (or not).
But natch I kept the trophy now, which obviously means I won, right?
Happy birthday to me!
Thanks to giffgaff for sending over the stuff I needed to celebrate my birthday in a truly geektastic way 😘
I was sent the bundle of giffgaff goodies free of charge, but all opinions of birthdays, board games and bantz are my own. Here’s my full disclaimer.