For a lot of games, 3-4 players is about the sweet spot — and also the limit. Last week we talked about the best 2 player board games. But what do you do when you’ve got a bigger group coming over for game night?
With that question in mind, we reviewed sales data, custom reviews, and opinions on forums to determine what the most polar five player board games are today.
Top 5 Board Games for Five Players
|Editor's Choice Summary||Product Name||Rating||Players||Play Time||Game Mechanics|
|Top Pick||Ticket to Ride||4.8||2-5||45-90 Minutes||Hand Management|
|Runner Up||7 Wonders||4.8||2-7||30-45 Minutes||Hand Management|
|Best Party Game||Dixit||4.8||3-6||30-45 Minutes||Simultaneous Play|
|Most Interactive||The Resistance||4.8||5-10||30-45 Minutes||Espionage|
|Quickest Game||Tsuro||4.8||2-8||15-40 Minutes||Hand Management|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and are subject to change
Ticket to Ride offers you a chance to discover America in the early 1900s while attempting to build the longest train route. To build your route, you will need to collect train cards equivalent to the number of spaces joining any two of North America’s iconic cities indicated on the board. You can get extra points if you build a route to a specific location as specified in a Destination Ticket. If you build the longest continuous path, you will earn extra points at the end of the game.
Ticket to Ride is built for two to six players and is an ideal family game, but you can play solo against Alexa if you’re home alone. However, Alexa’s primary role in the game is to guide you through its ins and outs so that you don’t have to spend time poring over the accompanying rulebook if you don’t wish to.
Depending on the number of players, a session of Ticket to Ride can last anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes.
Again, 7 Wonders is something of a personal favorite. It’s a card-passing game for up to 7 players, and each player has to build one of the 7 Wonders of the classical world (hence the name). Finally, A multiplayer board game that won’t take you 4 hours to play!
The gameplay is fast (as long as the players can decide quickly), with each player collecting a certain number of cards in each “age” (round).
Some cards have immediate effects, some are great for late-game strategies. Every card is played immediately after being drafted, so you know which cards your opponents are getting and how he acts on it will affect what you already have. You pass cards left-right-left throughout the game’s three ages, so you have to be on the lookout from both directions!
Like a lot of other Euro-style games, the winner is the one with the most Victory points, amassed by collecting resources, gold, and cards. You’ll find yourself wanting to play again with its distinct game mechanics. The rules are quite easy to learn, which helped make it an instant favorite.
Dixit will turn a mundane family gathering or party into a memorable riot, all in less than half an hour. Each card depicts a unique piece of scenery that must be used to create a fluid and captivating tale. Each player takes a turn playing a card and as each card is played, the story grows. Some cards might add a little bit of humor while others add a dramatic twist.
There is a competitive edge to the game as well. There is a round of secret voting to determine which card best matches the narrator’s tale. The player who wins the vote earns a point. When the deck is exhausted, the points are tallied, and the player with the highest total wins.
Dixit is best played with a group of friends. We recommend playing with at least four, but it’s a great 5 player board game. It’s very easy to play and all you need to do to win is unlock your creative side.
The Resistance is all about bluffing and outwitting your fellow players. It is a great 5 player board game, but it allows up to 10 total. The Resistance requires everyone to work together to take down the Empire. However, Imperial spies have infiltrated the ranks of the resistance, attempting to bring it down from the inside. Players are assigned missions and then collectively vote on whether to carry them out. Then, players secretly decide whether to help the mission succeed, or sabotage it.
In the first round, you and 4 to 9 other players have no idea what is happening apart from the spies. This lack of information compels you to decide carefully about the first few missions almost at random just to get information.
Sooner or later, you or your opponents will accuse each other of being spies from first impressions – being too silent or too loud, giving the stink eye, hesitation to respond, and more. The more information you get, the easier it gets to uncover the spies. However, it’s not done without fault. Allied resistance members may find it hard to trust each other again throughout the game.
For an idea of how the game plays and no shortage of hilarity, check out Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Allison Scagliotti, Ashley Clements, and Amy Okuda play The Resistance on Tabletop:
And don’t forget the variations of The Resistance, either: The Resistance: Avalon (with an Arthurian twist), Coup, Coup: Reformation, and others.
Tsuro – The Game of The Path
Tsuro is another fast-playing game for 2-8 players. The premise is pretty simple: Keep your dragon on the board. The tricky part is avoiding other players, because you’re out when your path leads you to the edge of the board or your path intersects with someone else’s.
Apart from its beautifully crafted board and pieces, players are drawn to this game because it’s incredibly easy to learn. It’s also a fantastic game for children. The dragon pieces and clean paths make it possible to be played by younger kids and non-gamers. Although the game is quite simple in nature, it’s a great coffee shop style board game. You can play it anytime, anywhere. It’s light but very enjoyable.
|# of Players: 2-8||Play Time: 15-20 Min||Publisher: Calliope Games|
Other 5 Player Board Games to Consider
Forbidden Desert is a cooperative board game that will challenge your critical thinking skills as you work to escape the sun-scorched desert. The game starts with you marooned on a sandy expanse beneath a boiling sun and battered by recurrent sandstorms. Your only hope of escape is finding a flying machine hidden somewhere in an ancient desert city.
Up to five players can pull their wits together and use the available resources to locate that elusive machine. It is a race against time, blistering heat and relentless sandstorms to find your only means of salvation. Pool your resources and plan your strategy well and you will fly out before disaster strikes. The more the players, the more the possible solutions, but also the higher the chances of being waylaid by setbacks.
Made by renowned collaborative game makers Gamewright, Forbidden Desert is a follow-up to the highly popular Forbidden Island. It presents players with 49 cards and 24 tiles, along with a number of machine parts, to figure their way out of the desert.
The game boasts crisp illustrations on cards that present players with multiple creative scenarios that will keep them engaged for over 45 minutes. You can make it a part of family game nights or adult hangouts as it’s suitable for virtually all ages.
Bang The Card Game
I’ve talked before about how much I love Bang! from daVinci games, and its sibling game, Samurai Sword. Both of these card games are great for 5 players and they allow for up to 7 players, though the Dodge City expansion for the original allows you to expand to 8 players.
The original game is a Spaghetti Western, where players are either the Sheriff, a Deputy, an Outlaw, or the Renegade, and how you win depends on your role. The Outlaws try to kill the Sheriff, Deputies try to keep the Sheriff alive, and the Renegade wants to be the last one standing.
As the name implies, Samurai Sword has a Japanese twist — players are either the Shogun, Samurai sworn to protect the Shogun, Ninjas bent on eliminating the Shogun, or the solitary Ronin. Each player gets to take on a role in the wild west upon receiving a Character card and Role card to determine their special abilities and goal respectively. Four different roles are available but their goal isn’t linear. Is your opponent bluffing or showing the real deal? Your Role is kept secret except for the Sheriff.
Apart from a few gameplay refinements, the most noticeable difference is that Samurai Sword does away with player elimination, which means the games go a bit quicker. Depending on who you play with, this could be a good or bad thing, but you really can’t go wrong with either option here. BANG! has received awards through the years, making it an exemplary first choice for 5 player games.
The year is 2400 and mankind has finally conquered the Red Planet. As part of colonizing Mars, you are tasked with building the infrastructure to make it habitable. There are over 200 potential projects to complete in terraforming Mars.
You can choose to take on the task of terraforming Mars single-handedly or you can get assistance from up to four other players. Terrarforming Mars has a steep learning curve so be prepared to spend some time reading the 15-page manual.
If you’ve played through Terraforming mars several times and you are ready to take it up a notch, there several expansions worth checking out. Some offer new maps as well as new milestones, geopolitical events, cards and new ways to score points.
Mysterium is a spooky board game that is perfect for Halloween-themed get-togethers. A gruesome murder has been committed at the Warwick Manor, and it’s up to you and your fellow sleuths to resolve the crime. One player will take on the role of the ghost of the victim, issuing clues every round to help the psychic investigators get to the bottom of the mystery.
Mysterium is a cooperative board game that will test the players’ ability to work together. If you fail to work together, the devious mastermind will get away with the murder. Though collaboration is the key, each player will have their own case to resolve that will contribute to unlocking the main mystery.
The board game is played with two and seven players, will last 45 minutes; not that anyone will be looking at their watches. It is ideal for thrill seekers who don’t wish to be cracking their brains for hours.
King of Tokyo
King of Tokyo is a cauldron of raw aggression in which you and your fellow players are reincarnated as rampaging monsters trying to knock each other out. This game is quick and easy and about beating your opponents to become the ultimate victor. It can either be your warm-up game as you get your game night going or the game you keep around to get non-gamers on board.
King of Tokyo typically takes no longer than 30 minutes, but it can take as little as 10, depending on the number of players. I personally think it’s a great five player board game, but even two players can have a go at each other.
The newest edition of King of Tokyo comes with improved artwork, including new graphics for the monsters, and easier-to-follow guidelines. New card abilities have also been introduced to spice up gameplay.
Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter is an action-packed collaborative game that is ideal for up to five players. Survival of a small colony in a desolate world filled with flesh-eating monsters is the objective of all players. You and your mates must therefore figure out how best to use your food, fuel, weapons and other resources to ward off danger and stay alive.
As you strive to keep the colony alive as a team, each player must also work to achieve their own secret objective. Indeed, the colony can survive, but you still lose because you didn’t meet your personal goal. You must also be on guard as you can be betrayed by one of your collaborators. Dead of Winter is highly immersive and demands your full concentration and a fairly good amount of deep thought. An hour or two can easily slip by unnoticed as you fight for your lives.
Munchkin is something of a gateway game, and with good reason. It’s great for 3-8 players, there are frankly an astounding number of variations and expansions, and you can mix and match decks to your heart’s content (especially if you have the Munchkin Blender pack. It’s easy to pick up, too.
The expansions you have determine how long you play. The base game alone takes 1 to 2 hours. A game with 5 players and several expansions may take a lot longer than that. But if you or one of your friends gets really, really luck, it can be over real quick, but that’s highly unlikely.
Munchkins has strange game mechanics but the strangest one has to be needing help from other players. You’ll need the assistance of fellow players to defeat monsters early in the game. But as the game progresses, you’ll be doing the exact opposite! It will be an ongoing debate within to try to get help but at the same time, you don’t want to give more than you intend. Indeed an exciting 5 player board game that will win your heart.
In a lot of ways, Munchkin is like a card-based version of Dungeons and Dragons: you’re raiding a dungeon, looting rooms, and leveling up, all while facing down monsters with your friends and then stabbing them in the back.
Cash n Guns
Cash n Guns is the opposite of a collaborative game in which players have a common objective. You and your fellow players have just committed a successful heist, but none of you has the intention of splitting the loot evenly. Using your foam pistol and card bullets, you can intimidate your fellow robbers to give up their share of the spoils. But even after you grab all the loot, you have to keep yourself alive long enough to spend it.
There are eight sturdy foam guns, which means you can have up to eight players but Cash n Guns is ideal for five players. With five players, you can keep the game short and reduce waiting. In half an hour or less you should be done with a round and be ready for another. It is an all-action game that doesn’t require you a ton of thinking to establish a winning strategy. Even kids as young as five can play if well directed. Avid gamers who prefer games with more moving parts will still appreciate the temporary distraction of a Cash n Guns session.
As you might guess from the name, Citadels is a card game all about building your own city. The first player to 8 buildings ends the game, but the player with the most points wins. In the meantime, you’ll have to outmaneuver your opponents and scheme to eliminate other players for the round to keep your edge.
Don’t let the game’s simplicity fool you. You’d be surprised to know that it offers a colossal amount of cognitive gameplay and strategy. There’s good balance, bluffing, replayability, and randomness. Even though there is randomness in it, the game has a good handle over it.
The game changes based on how many players there are. For instance, at a 4-player game, 2 extra characters are out each round, in contrast to a 6-player game. Plus, 9 extra cards are included, letting each game be unique as the powers available are in constant flux. Lastly, the dynamics of the game are easily changed by adding in new characters.
Having said that, it’s still a game that remains light enough to be enjoyed by several players. On its own, the base game supports up to 7 players, but with the Dark City expansion, you can play 8 people.
Caverna: The Cave Farmers
If you’re all about strategic work-placement games, this farming game is perfect for you. Caverna: The Cave Farmers is a game similar to its sibling Agricola, good for up to 7 players. You start the game as head of a dwarf family living in a small cave in the woods, along with a spouse.
It’s a complete redesign of Agricola letting you buy weapons and deploy your farmers to go on quests. Most players say it’s an “easier” version of Agricola. Still, you have to make vital decisions on building out your caves and farmland, breeding animals, or growing food. What makes it great is the diverse developmental paths.
Caverna has a playing time of at least 30 minutes per player. There are 48 furnishing tiles you have to familiarize yourself with, and you control how much ore you want to mine. Throughout the game, you develop your home board by choosing to mine the mountain for ore and rubies, plant more trees or fence in pastures, or expanding your little family. It provides heavy strategy and tactics gameplay for a couple of hours.
R&D Games Keyflower Board Game, Multi-Colored
If you’re looking for a highly interactive, super-competitive board game to take your game nights to new heights, Keyflower is a good choice. It will take five minutes or less to set up, but once you get the hang of it, you could play for hours without realizing it. You and your fellow gamers will be presented with a screen in the shape of a building and a home tile to begin with. Hexagonal tiles, along with a number of colored pieces that represent different resources (gold, silver, etc.), will be acquired and placed behind the screens.
The Keyflower itself is a ship, and every round, workers will arrive from it and its sister vessels. The rounds represent the seasons of summer, fall and spring. These workers are grouped by colors according to the skills they have in working on different resources. You will need these workers to transport resources, acquire skills and bid on village tiles. This is done by placing the worker pieces on the tiles.
In winter, an auction is held in which the workers bid for village tiles. Victory points are awarded to the player who best uses their workers to gain the right combination of resources, skills and workers.
Keyflower is by no means a collaborative game; you and your fellow players will be looking to sabotage each other at the earliest opportunity in the quest for victory points.
Power Grid Recharged
In Power Grid, you and your fellow players compete to build and power the biggest electric grid in the United States. There are many ways for you to generate energy: coal, oil, biofuels, nuclear reactors, harnessing the power of the sun, and even wind. But you will be facing competition from your fellow players who will also have plans of lighting up the country.
You will need to beat them to the best power plants and carefully manage your limited resources to succeed in your electric quest. Whoever can build the most expansive power grid and use it to provide electricity is the winner.
While it is possible for two gamers to play Power Grid, this game is best enjoyed if you have five or more players.
Z-Man Games El Grande Big Box
Are you ready for an epic adventure in medieval Spain? In El Grande, you morph into one of the country’s ancient noblemen, or a Grande. Your one goal as a Grande is to expand the territory you command, at the expense of other Grandes. To do this you will need to send out your caballeros to other regions. But you can’t be hasty about it; you will need to time your onslaughts well to avoid clashing with the King.
Depending on the cards you have, you can acquire more pieces to effectively pillage a province. You can also use special cards to remove your opponents from a coveted province or to render their hard-fought victories worthless by reducing the value of the victory points.
Sheriff of Nottingham 2nd Edition
The aim of Sheriff of Nottingham is to make as much money as you can as a trader. But you must do this while escaping the attention of the sheriff, a role assigned to one of the players on each round.
Each player will pay a visit to the market to sell their goods and to collect other goods for sale. The goods can be anything from food to weapons. After purchase, you will load your goods into a merchant bag, which the sheriff will want to inspect to ascertain that you’re not carrying any contraband.
If the sheriff catches you with anything illegal, you will be fined. You can avoid getting fined by attempting to bribe the sheriff, which will deplete your resources available for trade. But if the sheriff finds you were telling the truth about what’s in your bag, he will be the one to pay up.
Sheriff of Nottingham is great for large groups; four merchants are sure to distract the sheriff enough to get away with contraband. But even a group of three can have a memorable night in medieval Nottingham.
True to its name, Small World is a strategy game in which a maximum of five players scrap and fight to control a board that’s too small for them. Each of you is the leader of a race in the Small World, and you have to use your troops to try and expand your territory. There are a total of 14 races—dwarves, elves, orcs, halflings, etc.— and each has its own special powers. At the beginning of the game, you will have a number of tokens of your chosen civilization.
You will use these tokens to best rival groups and to take over their regions with the aim of expanding your territory as much as you can. The end game is to earn the most victory points and to be declared the winner. Conquering a new region requires at least two tokens, and if you find another token there, you will need to sacrifice another token. Conquering wantonly may not be a good idea as you will soon run out of tokens. If you overextend your troops, then you can go into decline and pick a new race and ability.
The number of tokens you have in each region as well as the power of your race will determine the number of victory points you end up with at the end of the game.
And of course, we can’t overlook Settlers of Catan (with the expansions it can play up to 6 people). What are your favorite 5 player board games? Have you hacked any games to allow more players, and how?