As 2020 draws to an end, we are all looking forward to 2021 and a brighter, more hopeful year. Although New Year's Eve will be completely different from years gone by, that doesn't mean you cannot celebrate! Board games are such powerful things that can bring people together, so settle down and find out our recommendations for New Year's Eve!
With New Year's Eve shaping up to be completely different from anything before, I am quickly gathering alternatives to play within my household of 4! For me, Big Potato are my go-to for any party games. From Dan and Phil's Truth Bombs to The Chameleon, they also come through with some incredible games that get everyone involved and howling with laughter (and the occasional argument!)
Colourbrain is a quiz for those who aren't good with quizzes! Everyone gets a handful of colour cards and you have to place the correct cards down for each question card. For example, you might be presented with a card that simply reads 'wine' to which you would put both your red and your white card down. This game quickly leads to laugher and the questioning of each other's knowledge. In the main game, the topics cover a variety of themes and categories. If you fancy something more specific, why not give Disney Colourbrain a try?
Alcohol and New Year’s Eve go together like bread and butter. Very rare is the occasion where you find one without the other. I’d be Pinocchio impersonator if I said I remain tee-total on December 31st! I’m wary when it comes to mixing booze and board games, though…
Some people don’t like listening to rules at the best of times. When beer, wine and spirits take hold, all chaos breaks loose. My plan is to bring along Cockroach Poker. It’s got super-simple rules teach, and it’s the kind of game that actually thrives best after a drink or two (or five). This has nothing in common with Texas Hold’em, played with a regular 52-card deck. It does, however, feature bluffing – and that’s where I know it will shine.
Cockroach Poker is a card game that features an array of vermin – flies, rats, and cockroaches, to name a few. Players get a hand of cards and a start player gives a rival one of their cards, face-down. They'll say to that player, “This is a…”, and say an animal. They can lie or tell the truth! The receiver has a choice. They can call the player out on it, or they can look at the card. If they look, they then have to give that card to a third player. They then say, “This is a…”, and they can then lie or tell the truth.
If the receiver thinks they’re being lied to and are correct, the giver has to keep the card, face-up. If they were incorrect, the receiver has to keep the card face-up. A player will lose if they collect a set of three identical animal cards, or if they run out of cards. It’s a riot!
I’m going to cut straight to my party game of choice, You’ve Got Crabs. Now I don’t say this glibly, I considered Cards Against Humanity, One Night Werewolf, Bang! The Dice Game, and plenty of others. These are all great in their own way. However, I wanted to put the spotlight on a game that generally doesn’t get as much attention.
The theme of You’ve Got Crabs is brilliant and the cards are what you would expect from the creators of Exploding Kittens. Abracrabdabra, Shish Crabbob and Taxi Crab are just some of the cards you can collect four-of-a-kind of. When players have a set, they send subtle (and not so subtle) non-audible clues across to their partner to let them know that they have crabs, hoping that they call them out before another team does. This seems light at first but it does have some hidden depths and more questions than answers: Was that brush of the hair a bluff? Did you count the cards being swapped?
Have you run out of signals too early? Why is my nose suddenly itchy when that is my signal?
It plays up to ten players and everyone is constantly involved. The only drawback is that you need an even number of players. So if you have that single mate coming over you will have to hope they drink too much and fall asleep early! With merry players, this game can be hilarious and happily chaotic. It is also easy enough to teach after a couple of drinks. What’s more, the double entendre of the title is so wrapped up in the theme that it is perfectly suitable to play with older children staying up to see the striking of Big Ben too.
When we’re not travelling, drinking, eating or a combination of the three, there’s always scope for gaming on New Year's Eve. Our choice game for this most holy day is Bucket of Doom by Big Potato Games, a most unholy game. We love social games, and this is a top pick for any creative types with a tale to tell. It’s like Cards Against Humanity, but you need a level of eloquence to win, not just a well-timed card. You get a scenario, an item, and need to explain how you survive. Of course, you know it’s not going to be that simple and the hilarity will ensue!
Between using beach donkeys to escape being burned as a witch and utilising toast with the Virgin Mary’s face on it to escape snakes on a plane, you’ve got to think on your feet and make a narrative. It’s not always quantity, but quality and hitting the right funny bone with your judge, that will result in clear wins. It is well worth saying that this game is not child friendly, and has adult themes which will both disgust your family and enhance your narratives. We highly recommend it, but maybe it’s one for after the kids are sleeping?
So what will I be playing to get away from Jools flaming Holland and his accursed Hootenanny? Traditionally, me and the missus indulge in a game of Scrabble and Ascension: Storm of Souls (the second iteration of the classic deck builder, which featured soul gems and events) – I am usually victorious in the first and she usually owns me in the latter. If we have company? I reckon a bit of Mascarade would go down well.
It’s a game of hidden identities and social deduction and, though I am not the biggest fan of these types of games, it’s mechanics of swap, look or do the action you supposedly have leads to much amusement and confusion. The idea of the game is to get 13 coins by using your character's ability, ranging from getting three coins if you’re the King or nick from the richest of you’re the Bishop.
Only trouble is, you can’t see who you are unless you use your action to look, and people will be swapping cards like this was a 70's car-key party (don’t ask). You can be challenged by whoever thinks they are that character and if they are, they get your action and you lose coins. It can also be played by as few as two and as many as 13; Throw in a bit of the fall-over juice and you’ve got a whole lot of silliness on your hands. Lots of quick, easy and resentment-free fun!
It’s that time of the year when people who often don’t see much of each other throughout the year feel it is important to spend time together for the day. Just because that’s what happens. However, by the time New Year’s Eve has arrived, the turkey has been eaten and one is often indulged in doing what one would actually prefer to be doing. Cracking open the new board games and playing them un-interrupted. Without having to re-explain the rules of Dobble the nth time to an aged relative.
For us, this New Year’s Eve will be a chance to spend the evening with immediate family and enjoy games more suited to six or eight players. Telestrations will definitely make a showing. This is a light-hearted game for up to eight where Pictionary meets Chinese Whispers. Each player is given a card with a list of words. Everyone draws one word from their card and passes their masterpiece to the left. The next player then needs to interpret/ identify what is drawn and write down that word (covering the original picture).
The booklet is then passed to the next player. So the game progresses around the players until all have either drawn of guessed the different words. Telestrations is great fun as what might start off as a simple picture of a beehive will metamorphose to the rubbish lorry, for example. Points are scored depending on whether the word remains “intact” when doing the rounds. Granny’s drawing skills and Grandad’s ability to think laterally are often the weakest links here.
For me these days, I prefer New Year’s Eve to be a quiet affair, as keeping my children up so late can have a big impact on the following days. However, we went to a party at friends’ last time out and they played a recording of last year’s London fireworks at 10 pm. So everyone experienced the feeling of welcoming the new year in. However, we all got to go home and tuck their kids into bed well before the stroke of midnight. When thinking of a game to play on New Year’s Eve, among others, I would always suggest a round or two of Codenames.
The player count doesn’t matter - I think the largest game I’ve played of it was 13 vs 10!! (The teams were unequal because no one else could fit on the bench at the far side of the table!) While there are quiet moments where the Spymasters consider their options, this social game brings people together in a malaise of pontificating, guessing, agonising, sledging (like Aussie cricketers!) and celebrating! A memorable way to bring in the New Year and show your non-gamer friends that there are possibilities other than Charades!