Something Completely Different: A Party Game that Feels Like a Party

A friend of my wife’s loves throwing parties–the bigger the better. Since these events frequently involve a mix of people who don’t have much in common beyond knowing the hostess, she uses a game as an icebreaker. Frequently that means Werewolf.

I understand why she chooses Werewolf. It’s capable of accommodating a large number of people, and it’s quick to learn. Furthermore, it creates a focus, something that everyone can get involved in and then talk about later.

However, while Werewolf is often characterized as a party game I think it has some issues when played at an actual party. Put simply, Werewolf stops the party. First everyone has to sit down and be quiet. Then people get to talk, but primarily to accuse each other of things. Finally somebody gets removed from the game, and they have to sit separately and hope the next person to be removed is interesting to talk to.

A better party game, I submit, keeps the party going. It has Werewolf’s positives–easy to learn, fun to chat about–but allows the event to continue around it.

Here’s a first swing at the concept:

Setup:

  1. Get lots of blocks. These can be anything that players can build with–wood blocks, Legos, folded-up 3×5 cards, etc.
  2. Write some goals for what the players should build on 3×5 cards. Feel free to make the goals wacky, but they should relate to the final structure the players build. “There are no rectangular pieces touching the table,” “there are three arches,” and “the structure is at least three feet high” are all good goals.
  3. Put the goals and the blocks on a table near the door. Make sure there’s enough room on the table for the players to build the structure–two or three feet square is plenty.

Play:

  1. Give each attendee one goal card when they arrive. This should be random, but feel free to keep some goals aside for specific guests (e.g., very easy goals for small children).
  2. Tell players this: “You can add one block at a time, or take away one block. You can do this as often as you want, but you can’t go twice in a row–someone else has to take a turn before you go again. If the structure meets your goal at the end of the party, you win!”
  3. Let people play as much or as little as they like! Take a photo when everyone’s left, and put it up on Facebook or email it around so that those who left early can see if they won.

I’m pretty sure that, with the right goals, this accomplishes what Werewolf does without requiring people to decide between following the rules and preventing their toddlers from overturning the dip bowl. If you get a chance to try it, let me know!

2 thoughts on “Something Completely Different: A Party Game that Feels Like a Party

  1. I love the design goal of “design a party game that adds to a muggle party rather than distracts from it.”

    I’m not convinced that the blocks game achieves any of the icebreaker effect that your hostess was looking for. It shouldn’t hurt any party (being entirely opt-in) and will add to it for those interested, but I expect there are possibilities that will better serve a party.

    Games can help you learn other player’s names like Say What Again & Doug Doug Goose Caboose. Games can help loosen players up to be social like Contact & many improv games. Games can encourage players to learn about each other like Would You Rather & “find three people who’ve been abroad. Where have they been?” Games can be played on top of the normal conversation like Faking It.

    I’d look to these games and some hybrid of them for the ultimate muggle party game.

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