Social board games are a great way to get a group of teens to interact with each other and provides some light competition. While other board games are often more strategic, competitive, and knowledge based, these games often promote group tactics, debating skills, political intrigue, and creative thinking. Of course, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with other board games – in fact, I recommend checking out a previous article I wrote about board games in the library here. However, if you’d like to get the Teen Advisory Board more close knit, have a fun game as an icebreaker, or run some group games for International Game Day, social board games are one of the best ways to go.
Listed below are three social board games that I’ve played with friends and with teens that are a HUGE hit – Ultimate Werewolf, Monikers, and Superfight!
Games like Werewolf have been around for some time (Mafia, for instance, in grade school for me), but Ultimate Werewolf takes the hidden spy game idea to a new level with a huge amount of special roles.
In Werewolf, the entire group lives in a village made up of villagers, perhaps some special villagers with secret powers, and werewolves. Depending on the size of the village, there may be more or less special villagers or werewolves. The narrator (usually us librarians) will hand out player cards to each player that will list their role and their special power, if there is one. On the first night, a narrator wakes people up in turn to find out who’s who, marks it down to remember, and tells them to do their special power if they have one and/or are allowed to on the first night. Werewolves (usually) do not get to kill someone on the first night. Then, the day begins – and the villagers are alerted to werewolves in their midst!
People have to talk with each other to try and get information about who the werewolves might be, and, by the end of the day, vote to kill one of the village members suspected of being a werewolf. If that player was a werewolf, great news for the villager team! However, if they weren’t, the village has just killed off one of their own – and now the werewolves get a chance to strike on the second night! This continues on until either the werewolves have been eliminated or the werewolves have successfully killed off the villagers.
This game is extremely popular – I played it at Origins 2016, a game convention, with a group of 16 other players, and there were about 120 other players split up into groups in the same room playing Werewolf at the same time. This game can be great with people you’ve just met or those you’ve known forever, which is part of why it’s so popular. Also, this version of Werewolf supports up to 75 players at the same time! Obviously that size of a group is a bit insane, at least to me, but it does mean you could run two separate games with the same box simultaneously. There’s a ton of special roles, like a Seer, a Werewolf Sorceress, the Tanner (who, if he dies, he wins, and every other player loses), the Hunter, and way, way more.
Alright, one warning off the bat – go through the cards and remove the inappropriate ones. Again – REMOVE THE INAPPROPRIATE ONES. I just wanted to get that out of the way off the bat, and there’s really not many inappropriate cards. However, there are a few – “Tubgirl”, “fluffer”, and likely others I don’t remember. You’ll be the best judge for your teen group regarding the cards.
Okay, now that the warning is out of the way, let’s talk about how much crazy fun this game is. Monikers is the game that will make you and your teens laugh so hard you might wet yourself. There may be hyperventilation and wheezing. Seriously – it’s that much fun.
Here’s how the game works. The group is divided into two teams, and you deal 8 cards to each person. Everyone picks 5 cards (secretly) out of those to keep, and put the rest back in the box. Shuffle all of the cards that everyone kept into one deck, and that deck will be the only cards both teams use the rest of the game. The game recommends using 40-50 cards in the deck, so for a big group you’d deal less cards or toss more away, and the opposite is true for a smaller group.
After that, one person from the starting team has 60 seconds to get their team to guess names from the cards as fast as possible by giving clues about the card’s identity. Teams keep the cards that they guessed right for points, and any skipped cards get shuffled back into the deck. The other team then does this process as well, and this continues back and forth until all cards have been guessed correctly. Once you calculate the points, you shuffle all of the cards back into a deck for round 2.
In round 2, you do this exact same thing – but you’re only allowed to say one word! No sounds, no gestures – just repeating the word on loop. This is why it gets so funny. Okay, so, wait – why’s this funny, you might ask? It’s because jokes can develop really, really quickly. If one person is trying REALLY hard to get their team to guess a name in the first round, they may say funny words or specific words might clue you in to the identity of the card quickly. These instances help memory for round 2, and laughter abounds when the one word used in round 2 is something that was funny from round 1. After the teams get through the deck in round 2, it’s time for – you guessed it – round 3.
In round 3, it’s the same thing again – but just charades. No words, and only minor sound effects. Again, pretty dang funny.
Now, my friends and I extended the game out further. There’s all kinds of variations you can do – act the identity of the card out with just your hands, just your face, only making one sound, etc. It’s best to add these extra rounds after round 3, though, so that you have plenty of connotations made with each card since the same deck is used every round.
Really, try it out. But, again – pull out the inappropriate cards.
This is a great Cards Against Humanity styled game (that isn’t Apples to Apples) that’s appropriate for teenagers at the library. The entire group sits at a table, and two players face off against each other. Each of these players draws three white cards and three black cards, and then chooses one white card and one black card to create a fighter. The other cards are discarded. Both players then turn over their cards to reveal their fighters, and also draws a random black card from the deck to add to their fighter as a surprise power.
After the fighters are created, the fun begins. Both players get to argue with each other about why their fighter would win the superfight. When the players are done arguing, the rest of the table gets to vote on which fighter wins. The winner gets to keep their fighter and then argue against the next player in line who sets up their fighter the same way the others did.
This continues on as long as you like – you can modify point values and victory conditions as you see fit. I personally ran this in a game program as a debate-styled fight. The first player got 30 seconds to argue their case, then the second player got their 30 seconds. The first player got a 15 second rebuttal, followed by the second player getting the same. Then, the table would vote. This kept people from just shouting and talking over each other, but also gave teens a chance to practice debate skills, think creatively, and have a ridiculous amount of fun explaining why 100 soccer moms that can use the force would defeat a 100 story tall rabid dolphin.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the Social Board Games series – there’s a lot of them out there!