10 Team Building Board Games for Office Game Nights

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November 19, 2020

You found our list of the best team building board games!

Team building board games are board games that focus on improving group dynamics. For example, these games include Reverse Charades, Codenames, and Telestrations. The purpose of these games is to develop teamwork competencies like delegation, interpretation, and compromise.

Team building board games are a type of team building games, obviously 🙂

Specifically, this list includes:

  • board games that help with team building
  • board games for office game nights
  • fun card games to play with coworkers

And more too 🙂

So, check out the list!

List of team building board games

An hours-long game of Monopoly may challenge even the closest of friendships, but the board games on this collection help teams bond through collaborative effort. The team building board games on this list are suitable for large groups and employ teamwork skills such as problem solving and communication.

1. Twister

Twister is a game that challenges participants to position certain body parts on colored dots on a mat. For example, left hand green, right leg red. Anyone who has ever stepped onto the Twister mat knows that players turn into human pretzels fast. The game demands conversation, especially if you want to maintain any semblance of personal space. For example, “maybe if you moved your left leg toward the corner of the mat…” or “excuse me, I am just going to slide my right hand right onto this blue dot near your elbow.”

Twister is the board game version of the human knot. You will need to talk to the other players to avoid collapsing into a tangled pile, and you will get up close and personal. Twister teaches skills like communication and collaboration. The game breaks down barriers quickly; you and your team will bond by bending.

Link: Twister

2. Apples to Apples

Apples to Apples is a great game to play in a big group because the card game accommodates many players. The rules of the game are simple.

How to play:

  1. The turntaker picks a “Green Apple” card from the top of the pile and places it face up in the middle of the circle. The Green Apple card contains an adjective such as sweet, wicked, or trustworthy.
  2. Each player holds a handful of “Red Apple” noun cards like “people with no rhythm,” “misspelled tattoos,” or “funnel cakes.” Every player picks a card that corresponds to the selected Green Apple card and places the red card face down in the circle center.
  3. The turntaker shuffles the red cards before flipping and reading each red card aloud. Once the turntaker reads all red cards, the judge picks the red card that most closely matches the green card.
  4. The player who selected the winning red card gets to keep the green card. The player with the most green cards at the end of the game wins.

This game is one of the most fun card games to play with coworkers. Apples to Apples is a great game for team building because the game challenges players to discern teammates’ thought processes and senses of humor. A skilled player selects a red card not on first instinct, but rather based on what word the judge will most likely pick.

Note: The game Cards Against Humanity operates on the exact same rule structure, but the content of the cards can be NSFW. If all team members are comfortable with Cards Against Humanity’s dark and edgy sense of humor, then you may prefer to play the more adult version of this game. Otherwise, the office-safe option is to stick with Apples to Apples.

Link: Apples to Apples

3. Scattergories

Scattergories is a word-based board game that challenges players to generate answers which all start with a single letter. Players work off lists of categories that include topics like “A girl’s name,” “foreign cities,” and “things found in a park.”

How to play:

  1. All players turn to the same list.
  2. One player rolls a letter die to select an alphabet letter.
  3. A team member starts the three-minute timer.
  4. Players produce as many answers as possible within the allotted time. For instance, if the letter is B, then a girl’s name could be Betty, a foreign city could be Baghdad, and things found in the park could be bicycles.
  5. Once time is up, all players read the answers. Every answer is worth one point, unless it uses alliteration, in which case it is worth two points. Betty Boop, for example, would be a double point answer. If two players write down the same answer, then neither receives a point.
  6. At the end of each round, tally up points. The player with the most points wins.

The more teammates who join a game of Scattergories, the more likely players will duplicate answers. To avoid repeating an answer and losing a point, players will have to predict teammates’ guesses and summon alternate answers. Scattergories teaches teammates to anticipate team members’ responses to prevent double work.

Link: Scattergories

4. Wits & Wagers

Wits & Wagers is half trivia, half gambling. In this game, players answer questions and bet on the most likely response. You can play Wits & Wagers as individuals, or can split the group into small teams.

How to play:

  1. Name one player to be the “Banker,” who keeps score.
  2. Players take turns picking and reading a question off of a question card.
  3. All non-reading players have 30 seconds to write down an answer to the question and place the answer in the center of the circle.
  4. The reader arranges the guesses on the betting mat.
  5. Players have 30 seconds to place a betting chip on the answer which seems most correct. Players may move the chips and change answers anytime within the 30 seconds.
  6. The reader reveals the answer and instructs the Banker to award chips to the team members who guessed the number closest to the answer.
  7. The banker also awards chips to the player who guessed the correct answer.
  8. The player or team with the most point chips at the end of all rounds wins the game.

In the course of collaboration, team members will occasionally need to back up or bet on colleague’s work. Wits & Wagers is an exercise in using logic to decide whether to support or challenge a teammate. The game can also serve as a good litmus test of whether teams rally around a popular answer or an accurate answer.

Link: Wits & Wagers

5. Codenames

Codenames, a guessing game that centers around the acts of giving and following directions, is one of the most clever board games that help with team building.

How to play:

  1. Players split into two teams, named red and blue.
  2. Each team selects one player to serve as spymaster. The remaining players become operatives.
  3. Players lay out 25 cards in a five-by five grid. These cards contain “codenames” of sixteen agents, two double agents, one assassin, and seven innocent bystanders. Spymasters receive a guide to the grid.
  4. Spymasters give operatives a clue containing one word and one number. For instance, if two of the words are “Saturn” and “Alien,” then the spymaster might give the clue, “Space: 2” since both words relate to outer space.
  5. When an operative names the codename, the spymaster covers the card with the appropriate identity card, such as red agent, blue agent, assassin, or bystander.
  6. The first team to identify all the team’s agents wins.

If any operative picks the assassin’s codename at any point, then the game immediately ends and the identifying team loses.

Codenames requires critical thinking and careful listening, which are great benefits of team building games. Spymasters must communicate minimally and meaningfully with teammates to guide the team without alerting opponents. Operatives must decode messages and infer the spymaster’s intent. Codenames teaches teams a lesson in instruction and interpretation.

Link: Codenames

6. Reverse Charades

Reverse Charades is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of one player acting out a word for a team, a team acts out a word for one player. Conveying a quiet message as a group requires skilled communication. In order for the player to guess a word correctly, a team needs to act in unison. While single mimes can switch moves in response to audience confusion, group pantomimes require more coordination to change tactics. Group members will learn to examine each other’s body language, pick up on cues, and adapt quickly.

One of the benefits of Reverse Charades is that you can easily play even if you do not possess the board game. All you really need for this exercise is a few teams and a list of phrases.

Link: Reverse Charades

7. Telestrations

Telestrations is a mix between Pictionary and the telephone game. In this game, players take turns drawing and interpreting pictures to convey messages between teammates.

How to play:

  1. Every player receives a notebook, a marker, and a card.
  2. Roll the die to determine a number.
  3. In the first page of the sketchbook, each player writes down the word on the card that corresponds to the number on the dice.
  4. If there are an even number of players, then the starting teammate will sketch the secret word on the following page. If there are an odd number of players, then the teammate will pass the sketchbook to the right and the player on the write will sketch the word.
  5. Start the timer and pass the book.
  6. Each teammate will alternate either sketching a word or guessing the word based on the sketch.
  7. Continue passing the book until the sketchbook reaches its owner.
  8. Each teammate reveals the progression of the words and pictures within the sketchbook to the rest of the group.

The game manual assigns points to correct guesses. You can either keep score and award the teammate or team with the most points at the end of the game, or you can forgo points and enjoy the game. If you have a very large group, then you can divide employees into smaller teams to allow many folks to play simultaneously.

Telestrations calls on analytical and creative skills and teaches the need for clarity when expressing ideas. Not to mention, teams will have a blast drawing, deciphering, and displaying the hilarious results.

Link: Telestrations

8. Pandemic

Long before the word pandemic exploded across the news, the game Pandemic appeared on team building activity lists. Pandemic is one of the best team building board games because the rules require each player to assume a distinct role and responsibilities. Each turn, teammates will select an action card and perform an action to contain infections and research remedies. Players need to think and react to outbreaks and other events that occur over the course of the game. Teams can coordinate efforts to reach the desired final result. Pandemic ends when players discover cures for all the game’s diseases.

Pandemic teaches delegation and strategy among teams. This game requires teammates to work cooperatively within designated roles to advance towards group goals.

Note: Given the plausibility of the games’ events, some teammates may be understandably sensitive about Pandemic’s scenario. Games like Horrified and Forbidden Island operate on similar structures but present less realistic situations like defeating movie monsters or escaping a sinking island. If you think the premise of Pandemic may upset your employees, then consider playing one of these alternatives instead.

Link: Pandemic

9. Cranium

Cranium is one of the board games for office game nights. The purpose of the game Cranium is for players to move around the board and perform challenges in one of four areas: Creative Cat, Data Head, Star Performer, and Word Worm.

Cranium is an excellent activity for teams because the game demonstrates that teams need players with different skills to achieve goals. Winning teams are combinations of analysts, artists, performers, and describer. Savvy players will identify each team member’s strengths and weaknesses and divide tasks strategically. Every teammate will have a role to play in the group’s success.

Cranium adapts easily for large groups. Playing Cranium teaches employees to assemble optimal teams and offers practice in how to compensate when groups lack necessary experts.

Plus, with challenges like “make this out of clay,” “choose a teammate who can correctly spell this word,” and “act this out,” Cranium is an ideal icebreaker activity.

Link: Cranium

10. Jenga

You can play Jenga solo or with a team. To set up Jenga, you build a tower of wooden blocks by arranging three blocks in each row, with the rows alternating direction. The object of this game is to remove blocks from the lower levels of the tower and to use those blocks to form new rows on the top. Players aim to successfully extract and stack the blocks without knocking over the rest of the tower. The team that causes the tower to topple loses.

While the original version of Jenga fits on tabletop, you can also buy giant free-standing versions of Jenga which are ideal for larger groups.

Jenga serves as a solemn reminder that the miscalculation of a single team member can bring down the work of an entire team. Team members can guide teammates towards the optimal blocks to unwedge and decide next moves as a team. However, sometimes even the most wobbly tower holds and the stable tower suddenly tumbles, which teaches teams to manage expectations and prepare for unanticipated failures.

Link: Jenga

Closing thoughts on team building board games

While other team building games and activities may feel unnatural to employees, board games are a common pastime. Chances are, your teammates play or have played these games in the past, and will feel comfortable embracing the game’s objectives.

When you break out a board game, your team will not ask, “Why are we doing this?” because the answer is obviously to win.

Next, check out our list of team building brain teasers and this one with team building puzzles.

FAQ: Team Building Board Games

The following are common questions and answers about team building board games.

What are team building board games?

Team building board games are games that emphasize core teamwork attributes such as clear direction, mutual accountability, and emotional intelligence.

What are some good team building board games?

Effective games accommodate large parties and necessitate teamwork to fulfill the game’s objectives. Some good team building board games are Cranium, Pandemic, and Apples to Apples.

Why should you play board games at work?

Board games improve cognitive processes like memory and critical thinking, and sharpen teamwork skills such as decision making and communication. Additionally, board games encourage team bonding in a fun and relaxed environment.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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