It’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced our fair share of boredom this year. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat around wondering what to do with my spare time before I end up wasting it scrolling through my phone. Even as we are slowly transitioning back to semi-normalness, I’m anticipating spending another summer at home with just my inner circle… but this time I’m going to be prepared. My plan? Always have a list of games to play on hand for those inevitable moments of boredom. No more squandering precious time discussing what to do or what to play, no more hopeless brainstorming sessions. Just an effective list of the best games to play when you’re bored. It’s that simple. 

Is it just me, or does anyone else’s inner kid come out in full swing during games? I’m as cool as a cucumber until a Jack hits the pile in Slap Jack—at that point, it’s every man for themselves and I’m the five-year-old rushing to get rid of her cards the fastest. Not only do I get competitive, but I laugh more than I ever do. There’s something about seeing a friend jumping up and down with an iPhone on their forehead trying to guess what they are in Head’s Up that is more entertaining than anything else. A good round of games does more for a gathering than a movie ever could, in my opinion.

So next time you’re bored, instead of opting for social media, movies, or online shopping, suggest a high-quality, competition-inspiring, laughter-inducing game night.

Don’t know what to play? This is the ultimate list of games to play when you’re bored, and I am writing this from experience. 

1. Rummikub 

Rummikub is by far my favorite game of late. I love the combination of critical thinking and strategy that this game requires while being fun and light-hearted at the same time. Even though at first glance it looks like a game for numbers people, I promise that anyone can play. Plus, sometimes the tiles you end up drawing do more for a player than any amount of skill or preparation ever could (which I have to remind myself every time that my boyfriend beats me!). I highly suggest investing in this game, you’ll find yourself gravitating to it every time since every game is different.

2. BS

Ever since watching that iconic scene in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, I have loved playing BS. The idea is that you have to play a certain card each round, whether you have that card or not, and then the rest of the players have to guess if you are lying or not. This is one of those games that will have everyone laughing at each other’s poker faces all night. I for one cannot tell a lie with a straight face and cannot tell the truth without a triumphant smile, so it makes things very confusing. BS is a perfect crowd-pleaser that you can play with just a deck of cards. I’m linking my favorite playing cards from Unfortunate Portrait to add some extra smiles to your card game.

3. Jenga

While a classic game of Jenga is always fun, as I have grown older I’ve found myself wanting something more from the game. As per usual, Pinterest read my mind and showed me customizable Jenga, in which you write a dare, a question, or a prompt on each Jenga block. That way, when a player pulls out a block, he or she then has to do whatever or answer whatever that block says to do or say. I suggest making writing on the blocks a fun game in and of itself and invite your friends over to write on the blocks (with or without telling each other what you are writing) and then play the personalized game. 

4. Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza

If you’ve never heard of this game, you probably think that Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is either a typo or accidental inclusion of a weird grocery list. When my mom came home with this game, my sisters and I looked at her like she was crazy, but when we got to playing it, it immediately became a favorite. Each card has either a taco, cat, goat, cheese, or pizza on it (plus a few specialty cards), and each player goes in a circle putting a card face up in the middle. The tricky part is, you have to say taco, cat, goat, cheese, pizza in that exact order as each card goes down, despite what the card actually says. When the card put down matches the word that you’re saying at that moment, it’s a race to slap the pile. So you’re basically testing your brain to say a series of super random words in order while you’re reading those same super random words in a different order. Sounds lame? I agree, but when you’re playing it with someone like my dad, just watching him scream “goat cheese” when we are on “taco” is funny enough.

5. Fishbowl

Fishbowl is the ultimate party game for when you have zero supplies. Each person in the group simply writes something down on a scrap of paper. It could be a name, a movie, a place, a thing, etc. and the game goes in a series of rounds. For round one, a player picks a scrap of paper out of the bowl and has to describe whatever is on it with words for their team to guess, like Taboo. After guessing all of the words, you put them all back into the bowl and for round two you can only use one word as a hint, like Password. Round three is like charades, and round four is my personal favorite: you can only make sounds to get people to guess the word. The key is to try to remember all of the words in round one to help you guess during the rest of the rounds. Just wait until your best friend is making monkey noises trying to describe “banana” and you’ll know what I mean.

6. Smart Ass

My boyfriend’s family introduced me to this game last summer and I immediately ordered it for my family to have as well. It’s a game of trivia where you’re asked different questions from categories titled “Who am I,” “What am I,” and “Where am I.” If you guess correctly, you get to roll the dice and move forward. If no one guesses correctly, the player reading the card gets to move forward. This game will truly test your knowledge, make you look stupid, and teach you some good trivia facts along the way.

7. The Voting Game

When the power went out at my 21st birthday dinner party, this game plus a ton of candles saved the day. Each player has a number that they set in front of them and cards with everyone else’s number on them. Someone reads a prompt, everyone submits the card with the number corresponding to the person they think it relates to, and the person that gets the most votes wins the round. Sounds simple enough, but the prompts make the game hilarious. For example, two of the rounds I won that night are “who probably still believes in Santa Claus” and “who would get into a fight with an elderly person and lose.” My two claims to fame.

8. Who’s Most Likely To

This game is pretty similar to The Voting Game, but has a twist: the person reading the card is the ultimate judge. When that player reads a card, everyone else points at who they think is “most likely to” do or have done what that card says, but the final decision is up to the reader. The first person to win (or lose, not sure which to use here!) seven cards, loses the game. If you don’t have this game, this is an easy one to make your own. Simply give each player five or so scraps of paper and have everyone anonymously come up with “most likely to…” phrases and play with those!

9. Incohearent

Incohearent is one of the funniest games to exist in my opinion. I am not sure that I have ever laughed so hard in a game, and that’s saying something. The person whose turn it is holds up a card to the rest of the players. The side of the card that the “it” person sees has a word or phrase on it. The side that everyone else sees, however, has nonsensical words/sounds that sound like the actual word and they have to guess what the card actually says. This game is best explained with an example: all you and those around you see is “real agents sip gulls” and you are all shouting out that phrase in different accents trying to figure out what it means and I get to sit back and laugh until you finally figure out that it sounds like “relationship goals.” The three categories of words/phrases are pop culture, party, and kinky, so just be sure to know your audience when you play. 

10. Gin Rummy

Gin is one of those classic card games that can entertain you and a friend for hours—pour yourself a glass of wine and play outside on a pretty day. I grew up watching my parents have intense 1-on-1 Gin matches. I secretly think that they told my sisters and me that we wouldn’t understand the game so we wouldn’t ask them to let us play, considering it is actually so simple and so fun. Each player has a hand of 10 cards and has to race to make sure each card has a place in either a run of the same suit or four of the same number in each suit.  

11. Codenames

Once you get this game going, you aren’t going to want to stop. Essentially, you play this game in pairs or small teams and try to get your partner to guess the “codename” on the table that corresponds to your card. Words don’t do the description justice, but a friend recommended this game and I can’t get enough. I highly recommend this game at couples gatherings—have each couple be a team and see how well you understand each other’s descriptions. 

12. Mexican Train

Mexican train is a great game for groups of all different ages. Everyone in the family, from your nine-year-old niece to your grandfather, can participate, have fun, and have a good shot at winning. The game is played with a classic set of dominos and players essentially use their dominos to build off of a designated center tile. This creates a sort of train that will wind all over the table (or the floor, if you end up needing the space) and leads to a race to place your last tile first. The rules can get a little nit-picky, so be sure to look up the instructions to make sure you understand the game first.  

 

13. Mahjong 

On a rainy beach vacation, my grandmother taught me how to play Mahjong, a traditional Chinese tile game. She plays it every week with a group of friends and I was always curious what the attraction was. If you’re also confused as to why all of your friends are dedicating hours of their week to a game, you clearly haven’t played either. The pride you feel when you get “mahjong” is unbeatable. You play with four people, similar to Rummikub, but with more challenging (in a good way) rules. The game comes with a sort of “menu” that shows possible tile combinations that you can play to win. The goal is to get all 14 of your tiles into four sets and a pair before any other player.  

14. Backgammon

My friends have been on quite the backgammon kick recently. I won’t even attempt to describe how to play Backgammon, because I will most definitely butcher the instructions. The game is a little complicated, but that makes it all the more fun since it is all about strategy. Yes, you can get lucky with what dice you roll, but luck is nothing without a strategy in this game. There is always more to learn each time you play, so if you are bored, this is a perfect game to get into. Plus, it’s fast-moving, competitive, and doesn’t take too long to play. 

15. Puzzles

I know that a puzzle might not technically be a game, but to me, it’s just as fun. There is almost always a puzzle in progress somewhere in my house and it is a great activity to come back and forth to—whenever you can’t fit another piece, walk away and come back with fresh eyes. I love these gorgeous wooden puzzles from Liberty Puzzles (my aunt gifted not to our family) for the unique shapes of the pieces and the art that the finished product creates. Honestly though, interpret “puzzles” however you want. I play Word Cookies on my phone all the time and count that as a puzzle, so to each their own! Find one that is equally fun as it is challenging for maximum enjoyment.  

Alright there you have it: the ultimate 15 games to play when you’re bored. Leave a comment with your favorite game below. 

2 comments
  1. 1
    Lenda Richards | April 24, 2021 at 11:14 am

    I love your suggestions, and I’m laughing already at how fun it could be with a group. I love Mahjong, but it is challenging and not funny. Luck plays a big part, which keeps everyone pretty equal.

    Reply
  2. 2
    jana | April 25, 2021 at 10:53 pm

    Codenames is my jam!!! If you haven’t tried Sequence, it’s also a longtime fave :)))

    Reply
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