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Top 10 Games for Family Gatherings

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When you get the whole family together, sometimes it can be difficult to choose a game to play. Sometimes it seems like you have too many people for a game, and sometimes everyone wants to play something different. Fret no more. Here are my picks for the best games to play at family gatherings.

What are your favorite games for family gatherings? Share your thoughts here.

1. Time's Up

Time's Up Box Cover
R&R Games
For 4 to 18 players, ages 12 and up. Designed by Peter Sarrett, published by R&R Games.
Players compete over three rounds of increasing difficulty to identify the same set of celebrities. Each additional round brings a new restriction, and you're almost guaranteed to be on the floor laughing at some point. Time's Up won a Mensa Best Mind Games Award and is also on my list of the best party games.

2. Wits & Wagers

Wits & Wagers
Image courtesy of North Star Games
For 3 to 21 players, ages 10 and up. Designed by Dominic Crapuchettes, Satish Pillalamarri, and Nate Heasley, published by North Star Games.
If you've stopped playing trivia games because there's someone in your group who always wins, consider giving Wits & Wagers a try. Every question can be answered numerically (e.g. "In dollars, how much was each extra paid to run across the beach and scream in the movie Jaws?"), and players all answer secretly. Those answers are then sorted onto the casino-style board, and players bet on which one they think is correct. The winning bets are paid according to the odds, and play continues.

3. Electronic Catchphrase

Electronic Catchphrase
Image courtesy of Hasbro
For 4 to 16 players divided into two teams (best with 6 to 12 players), ages 12 and up. Published by Hasbro.
You need to get your teammates to say a particular word or phrase -- fast. Because if the buzzer goes off while it's your turn, that's not a good thing. Players are divided into two teams, and the total group size can be as big as you want it to be. Be sure to look for the electronic version, which is excellent.

4. Werewolf / Mafia

Ultimate Werewolf
Image courtesy of Bezier Games
For 8 to 24 players, ages 8 and up. Designed by Dimitry Davidoff.
This is a public domain game, great for large groups (in fact 8 players is the minimum), in which two players are the werewolves (or hitmen) and the rest of the players are trying to discover who they are and kill them before it's too late. The fun factor seems to grow for Werewolf the later into the night it gets played. (Editions of Werewolf have been released by several game publishers -- the one pictured here is from Bezier Games. However, you can also download everything you need to play from BoardGameGeek.com in this PDF file.)

5. Boggle

Boggle
Image courtesy of Hasbro
For 2 or more players (the only upper limit is a practical one, space at the table), ages 8 and up. Designed by Alan Turoff and Bill Cooke, published by Parker Brothers / Hasbro.
Players compete to find as many words as possible in a 4x4 grid as a three-minute sand timer works its way down. You score points by finding words that other players don't locate. Boggle is fast-paced and addictive.

6. Barbarossa

Barbarossa
Image courtesy of Mayfair Games
For 3 to 6 players, ages 10 and up. Designed by Klaus Teuber, published by Mayfair Games.
A fiendishly inventive game of clay sculpting, the goal in Barbarossa is to have other players guess what objects you've created -- but not too soon and not too late. Meanwhile, you're trying to guess what other players have created as quickly as possible. Barbarossa is perfect for smaller family get-togethers.

7. Encore

For 4 to 8 players in two teams, ages 8 and up. Designer not credited, published by Endless Games.
Teams compete to sing at least eight words from songs that include certain words in this musical board game. If your team succeeds, your opponents must try to do the same. Some special spaces (e.g. "Team vs. Single Player") add variety. A nice feature is that you don't need to know any particular style of music -- any song is legal.

8. Formula D

Formula D
Image courtesy of Asmodée Editions
For 2 to 10 players (best with 5 to 8 players), ages 8 and up. Designed by Eric Randall and Laurent Lavaur, published by Asmodée Editions.
Perhaps the most popular auto racing game available today, Formula D uses a creative method of gear changing -- what gear you're in determines how big the die you roll is. Navigating turns can be tricky, and you need to watch your tires. With dozens of tracks available, this is a must-have for fans of Formula One racing. Up to 10 players can take part.

9. Password

Million Dollar Password
Image courtesy of Endless Games
For 4 players, ages 10 and up. Published by Endless Games.
Only four players can play at a time (two teams of two), but it's easy to set up a Password tournament so that everyone can be involved. This is easily my favorite game show game, a classic that holds up well. Few partnership games draw more laughs. The latest edition, pictured here, is Million Dollar Password (based on the game show version featuring host Regis Philbin).

10. Clue - The Movie

Clue - The Movie
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Written by Jonathan Lynn and John Landis, directed by Jonathan Lynn.
If game-playing breaks down, pull out a copy of this 1985 comedy and get ready to laugh. Christopher Lloyd stars as Professor Plum, Martin Mull is Colonel Mustard, and Madeline Kahn is Mrs. White. The wordplay is fantastic throughout the movie, and the slapstick comedy offers plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

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