Game nights with friends and family are a great thing. Whether you have them once a week, once a month, or just once in a while, a well-stocked game cabinet will serve you well. The trick can be figuring out what to play. Not everyone is into big, crunchy board games that take forever to learn and even longer to play.
Or maybe you and your fellow gamers have finished your adventure and aren’t ready to call it a night yet. This is where card games shine. Break out any of these easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master card games, and you can be sure people will be coming back for more.
Updated October 25, 2022: We’ve updated this article to include Amazon links to each product, so you can find out further information on each one.
Steve Jackson’s Munchkin is an absolute riot that might test some relationships. Kill the monsters, steal the treasure, stab your buddy. Best described as a roleplaying game with all the roleplaying tossed out of the dungeon window. The goal is simple, be the first to get from level one to level ten.
Doing that, however, is anything but simple. Monsters, curses, and fellow munchkins stand in your way to gold and glory. With simple combat and devious gameplay, Munchkin will definitely be a game night favorite.
8/9 Danger Noodle
Danger Noodle is a draw-as-you-dare game that is a riot for the whole family. Draw cards from the stack to get exactly 30 points. The cards come in two different types. The green cards add points to your total, and the yellow cards subtract points from your total and end your turn.
The points cards have hilariously named animals, like a Formal Chicken or a Murder Log. There are also a few ability cards tossed into the deck, along with the dreaded Danger Noodle, which ends your turn and wipes out any points you have collected so far.
7/9 SideShow Swap
SideShow Swap shares a goal with another title on this list; to hold the highest value card by the round’s end. The catch, however, is that you must either swap your performer card with another from the center area or play a ticket each turn.
The tickets cost money to play, so you might find yourself in a pickle if you hold a high-value card. You will find yourself trying to keep track of cards that change hands several times between turns, hoping to get another shot at it.
The card game Saboteur is a game to break out for big game nights. Up to ten people can play the base game – up to 12 with the expansion. You and your friends are dwarven miners, and there’s gold in this mine. It’s up to you to find it.
Watch out, though! Not everyone in the mine is a team player. There are saboteurs hidden amongst you who will break tools and redirect tunnels, trying to keep you from the gold. So gas up your lanterns and polish your pickaxes because it’s time to get digging.
Codenames is a party game with no upper limit on how many people can play. This simple game has two teams, each led by a spymaster, attempting to contact each of their spies in the field. A team’s spymaster can only say one word and number each turn.
The word given will have something to do with one or more cards on the 5×5 grid in front of everyone. The number will tell how many cards apply to the clue. A correct answer gets another guess, up to the number given by the spymaster. A wrong answer can end the turn or even lose the game.
The card game Citadels makes you a master builder tasked with building a city for your king. At the start of every round, you recruit a helper to aid you in building your city before the other players do. Each character you recruit has a fun ability that can range from collecting extra gold based on how many buildings of a specific type you have to straight up killing them.
The characters available for recruitment can change each round, so eventually, you will get to take revenge on any fellow builders who have wronged you. There is never a dull moment with this fantastic game.
3/9 The Resistance
The Resistance is a card game that lets you and your friends lead a revolution to bring down an oppressive empire. There is a problem, though. Spies have infiltrated the organization, working to bring it down from the inside. Each round starts with a discussion about who should go on a mission to thwart the empire. Or if the assignment should even happen.
Once selected, the players chosen will decide if it is a success or failure. If everyone on the team is a faithful member of the Resistance, the mission will likely succeed, but if there is a spy, the empire could sabotage the whole thing.
2/9 Uno/Skip-Bo/Phase 10
Uno is the granddaddy of family game night. This classic game has been raising people’s blood pressure for decades, and no list would be complete without at least mentioning it. Uno is unique in that every family has its own rules.
More often than not, the official book has been lost or thrown out in favor of some homebrew rules. Which likely deals with whether or not draw cards can stack. Honorable mentions for Phase 10 and Skip-bo, which, while also classics, must bow to King Uno.
Get Uno on Amazon here!Get Skip-bo on Amazon here!Get Phase 10 on Amazon here!
1/9 Love Letter
Don’t let the name of this game fool you. Love Letter is a solid game that will be an instant hit on game night. Narrative-wise, the players are trying to seek the hand of the princess and compete to have the most influential court member deliver a letter to her. A love letter.
The gameplay is straightforward. You draw a card and then play a card. The goal of this game is simple: you want to have the best card possible in your hand by the end of the round or to be the last one standing. It is a fast and brutal game that can sometimes dominate an entire night and is well worth checking out.
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