One of the fun things about our video series Overboard is that it introduces viewers to board and card games that they might not otherwise have heard of. In this new column, we’re rounding up a few more titles that are thematically or mechanically similar to the game we played each month. First up: the “simple but absurd guessing game” Monikers. If you’ve watched the video already, you know that things get very silly, very quickly.
Monikers is basically a cross between catch phrase and charades. You may have already played a home-brewed version of this game known as Salad Bowl or Fishbowl. A handful of names/things/ideas are drawn from a a deck (or written down on a piece of paper if you’re going DIY) and added to a communal pile. Over three rounds, team leaders have to get their team to guess what’s on the card first by describing it, then with only one word, then silently, using only actions.
If you like the teamwork gameplay and escalating silliness of Monikers, these picks offer a similar vibe.
Taboo is very fun if you enjoy watching your friends struggle to describe everyday objects. Like Monikers, you have a deck of cards that players must describe to their friends. In this game, though, there’s a list of words that are taboo, i.e. you can’t use them to describe your card. If you do slip up, the other team gets to press an annoying buzzer. It’s a lot harder than it sounds to describe bacon without using the words “pig” or “breakfast.”
Wits and Wagers
On its surface a trivia game, Wits and Wagers is less about guessing correctly and more about betting on how smart you think your friends are. In Wits and Wagers you write down an answer to a trivia question — always number-based — and then place bets on which answer you think is closest without going over. There’s room for playing the odds but also for sabotaging the odds. Wits and Wagers plays up to 7 people individually but teams are also encouraged.
Spaceteam was originally developed as a mobile game and it was so popular the developer successfully funded a card game version on Kickstarter. Spaceteam is a cooperative game in which players must work together to repair a spaceship. In the mobile game you have instructions for a console that appears on the screen of someone else on your team; the card game includes tools that are spread across your teammates’ hands. There’s a lot of shouting involved and, in the tabletop version, passing cards back and forth as you frantically try to beat the clock.
Buy Spaceteam here: Amazon
The word teamwork is used loosely in Dead Last, as tentative alliances are formed to eliminate other players one by one until only two remain. Players secretly vote on one player to kill each round but if the targeted player smells something fishy they can pull an ambush. It’s essentially the card game version of a Mexican standoff. Be warned: This game can ruin relationships. I’ve never felt so betrayed in my life as when my boyfriend pulled a coup on me in Dead Last and got the entire group to knock me out in the first round.
In Codenames, teams play as enemy spies trying to make contact with their agents before the other team. A bunch of tiles with random words on them are spread out, with an agent or civilian assigned to each codename. Only the spymaster knows which agent is assigned to a specific codename. They must get their team to guess which tiles are theirs using only one word at a time. The strategy is to use a word that corresponds to as many of your tiles as possible, while avoiding the double agent tile which causes your team to lose immediately. Once you get the hang of the base game there are several expansions and variants, including Disney and Marvel editions.
Sometimes called picture telephone, Telestrations is another DIY game that got official packaging. In Telestrations, the first player sketches their best representation of a randomly-chosen word. (If you have Cards Against Humanity lying around, a fun home rule is to draw a CAH card and sketch that.) The next player writes down what they think the drawing was of. The player after that draws what the second player wrote down, and so on until everyone’s had a turn drawing or guessing. What’s great about this game is that it’s fun for people of all artistic talent levels. I have no drawing skills whatsoever and have played with professional artists who were equally matched when it comes to guessing.
One Night Ultimate Werewolf
You may have played Werewolf, the hidden-identity game also known as Mafia, at summer camp or during field trips. An unsuspecting group of villagers is being terrorized by werewolves and must figure out who among them is corrupted. Sussing out who you think is a werewolf is the fun part, with werewolves and their allies bluffing and deflecting. Bézier Games published a version of the game called One Night Ultimate Werewolf which consolidates everything so that the villagers are killed and werewolves found out (or not) over the course of a single night. Bézier has since released several expansions including vampire and alien themes that can be played as stand-alone games or added to the Werewolf deck.