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All Work and No Play? - Games for Team Socials!

One of my favourite things about board games is that there is something for literally everyone - from simple, non-committal party games for casual gamers who just want a laugh to easy to pick up family games to play with the the kids to super heavy strategy games for those who want to get really stuck in for a few hours, and everything in between!

It surprises me then, that not more people use board games as a tool for team building and work socials as there are so many games available that really make people come together, communicate, work as a team and get to know each other!

Below are just five of my top picks of games that could be used to get a team closer - all easy to pick up & close to 30 mins playtime.

Codenames Pictures

2-8 players Approx. 30 mins playtime

A word game where it really is all about getting into each others heads!

Two teams play against each other.

In the middle of the table lays a 5x4 grid of strange pictures for everyone to see.

One person from each team will act as Spy Master and sees a separate card with a grid on it depicting where in the 4x5 grid their own Spies are located.

It's red vs blue and one team always has one extra spy to find so that team goes first.

The team's Spy Master must now come up with a single word to link as many of their own spy cards together as possible. The Spy Master also says a number which tells their team how many images on the table they are trying to link with this one word clue.

The team now has time to discuss amongst themselves which image(s) they think might be relevant to this clue. It is very important at this point that the Spy Master not give away any further clues through facial expressions, noises or any other way! Teams should be able to figure out the correct cards through the one word clue alone!

There is no time limit on how long the team can discuss. Guesses must be made one at a time by touching the card they are talking about. If the team is correct the Spy Master reveals this by covering that card with a spy card of their own colour. A team can take as many guesses as the number the Spy Master said +1, so if the Spy Master said "Animals. 3" the team would get 4 guesses for example.

Incorrect guesses can mean one of 3 things:

The team has either picked a neutral card which means it is simply covered by a grey "innocent bystander card" and that team's turn ends immediately.

The team have chosen a card that belongs to the opposing team, in which case the card is covered up with a spy card of the opposing team's colour and the active's team turn ends immediately.

The team have chosen the assassin (of which there is only one) and the game ends immediately, victory goes to the opposing team.

So it's very important that a Spy Master not get too cocky and keep a look out on whether or not their clues could lead their own team to one of the above scenarios!

A team can also decide to stop guessing at any time if they are not sure on what the Spy Master means and doesn't want to risk getting it wrong!

The turns go back and forth until one team finds all of their own spies first!

It's more of an intense word game which encourages communication, discussion & patience!

Rhino Hero

2-5 players Approx. 15 mins playtime

This might seem like an odd choice for those in the know but Rhino Hero is a really fun dexterity game that although meant as a competitive game, does have a feel of a co-op to it as players all will the tower to get as big as possible!

Like an opposite Jenga, every player has 5 cards in their hands and on their turn must play one or more "wall" cards followed by a "roof" card which sits on top (like you would to build a card tower, which is pretty much what you're doing in this game!)

You are trying to be the first player to get rid of all of your cards or alternatively the player who makes the tower collapses loses and the player with the least amount of cards in their hand wins.

Some of the roof cards have special effects like you must place another roof, change the direction of play or move the little Rhino meeple to a specified location on the tower (which is terrifying if you don't have very steady hands!)

I have seen some monsters grow out of this game whilst everyone is just making the tower bigger and bigger and bigger!

It's an odd one as you are definitely willing for the tower to fall over on someone else's turn, whilst at the same time wanting it to get as big as possible.

They've also released an expansion to this - Rhino Hero: Super Battle - which I have not tried myself yet but looks epic! With several different towers all linking together and with more super heroes in the form of other animals involved too!

Just One

3-7 players Approx. 20 mins playtime

Another word game! Yaaay!

This time it's a co-op word game though.

In this game, every player knows the secret word except for one player. Let's call them the Active player.

Each of the other players must now write down a singular word to link to the secret word eg. if the secret word is "Football", you might say Sport, Goalie, Eleven, Stadium etc.

The trick in this game is that the players are not allowed to communicate with each other when they write their words down.

Once everyone has written their words, they show them to each other first before revealing them to the Active player (who should really have their eyes closed at this point).

If any of the words are the same as each other, they cancel each other out and do NOT get shown to the Active Player so you want to be quite careful with the words you choose...maybe don't go for the most obvious choices.

As an example, if there were 4 people writing words and the word was Football and the words written had been: Sport, Goalie, Stadium, Goalie. Goalie would not be shown to the Active player and they would only see: Sport & Stadium which could literally be anything.

The game is played over 13 fairly quick rounds, the aim being to get a score as close to 13 as possible.

This game has also just won Spiel des Jahres 2019 which is a very prestigious award for a board game and that's not something to be sniffed at!

Junk Art

2-6 players Approx. 30 mins playtime

Another lovely dexterity game, who's rules change depending on which city rules you play with!

In this game, you all play as artists using junk to create marvellous sculptures.

Depending on which city you play in, there are different rules which affect things like win conditions, playtime etc.

As an example, if you are playing in New York, you win by having the tallest sculpture (because of the skyscrapers!). The round ends when the cops show up (a la street art).

Indianapolis is a speed round (because of the Indy500!). You each have 10 cards depicting the various shapes and you all reveal the top card of your own pile at the same time before racing to add it to your sculpture. Last person to place is not allowed to place that piece and you move on. Points are rewarded for having the most amount of your pieces on your sculpture by the end of the 10 speed rounds.

The different city rules allow you to have several different games within on game which should always be appreciated!

20 Second Showdown

5-20 players . Approx. 30 mins gameplay

A super-silly-fast-action-task-completing team game.

Two teams go head-to-head completing head to head challenges against a timer in the middle.

It's blue vs yellow as indicated by the "sounds of time" (so called as it makes a lovely sound as the grains run through, super handy in this game as you don't want to be watching the timer!)

The ref will read out a card with the challenge and flip the timer so that the Active team's colour is facing up.

Challenges vary between being physical like "pretend to be a melting snowman" or "find a plant and hug it", to more mental challenges like solving riddles or saying your full name backwards.

As soon as a person on the blue team has done a challenge, the timer gets flipped and a person from the other team must do one.

And so it goes back and forth, the longer it takes you to do your task, the more time you're giving to the other team so you're constantly feeling under pressure and this pressure means people do and say some hilarious things! eg. When asked to name 3 animals that produce milk, my teammate shouted: "Cows, Goats...Pigeons!!"

Now, I have since learned that to be true but she didn't know that at the time and we fell over ourselves laughing.

Highly recommend for any group of people that really wants to get into each others heads & get those competitive juices a-flowin'.

So come on everyone, buy some games for the office or wherever you're working and get your whole team playing! I swear to you, you'll have a good time and who knows you might even start to like each other!

:) Alexxx

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