Even though much of our old lives are back, socializing at work after the pandemic hasn’t been easy. Turns out that making conversation really isn’t like muscle memory. We can forget it and many of us have struggled to build relationships professionally ever since.
Team building is a key concern for organizations all around the world, especially since COVID-19. It’s even more critical for deskless workers that don’t sit in an office together to work. Beyond process standards and checklists to make work easier, it is now important as ever to make work fun!
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But organizations are starting to become creative with team building. They’re now experimenting with team-building board games to build more cohesive teams. After all, work gets tough and we could all use a breather every now and then. And what better way to do it with games that require team coordination and trust-building?
Luckily, board games have come a long way. You’ve now got thousands of options to choose from. But which ones truly help boost collaboration? Let’s have a look at the eight best ones.
1. Reverse Charades
Reverse Charades is a tweaked version of traditional charades. Instead of a single player acting out a cue, they’re supposed to guess as the rest of their team acts out the word. To win, teams need to coordinate and communicate with one another without really saying anything. Now, that takes work.
How does this help? Too many people acting out the same cue or parts of it very quickly cause confusion. In order to be successful at Reverse Charades, teams need to know how to act in tandem. This helps players learn each other’s strengths, weaknesses, and tactics.
🧩 How to play
- You can either get the board game version or create a word bank of your own based on categories of your choice. A few examples are movies, actions, famous characters, and places.
- Divide all the players into two sets of teams.
- Toss a coin to decide who plays first.
- The team going first nominates a person from their team to guess the cue.
- The player has one minute to guess the cue. Start the timer.
- The playing team wins one point if their player guesses correctly. Otherwise, they get zero points.
- Once the play ends, it’s time for the next team to nominate a player and take their turn.
- Alternate for an even number of rounds.
Pictionary is sort of like charades with drawing. Players need to draw their cues on a piece of paper to help their team guess the word. The game is played on a board where all teams start at the finish and progress on the board only when they guess the word first. The first team to reach the finish line wins.
🧩 How to play
- Players can be divided into two, three, or four teams.
- Each team picks out a drawer that will be drawing cues for the rest of the team to guess.
- At the beginning of the play, each team rolls the die. The first team to score a bigger number gets to take the first turn.
- They draw a card from the deck. This will contain five possible cues. They have the select the color that their pawn is on.
- Once the drawer knows the cue, the timer is started. They get one minute to help their team guess the word through their illustration.
- If the team guesses correctly and in time, the player will roll the die and progress on the board. If not, they stay in the same spot.
- The next team takes its turn and repeats the same process. The first team to reach the finish line wins.
Twister is a classic team-building board game and the kind that also makes for a great icebreaker. Players need to work with their team members to make sure they are all landing on the right spots on a colored mat without falling down. Teams that last the longest win.
How does Twister make it to this list of good team-building board games? Twister requires great communication skills and coordination to achieve victory. Each team member also needs to be respectful of members on their team and ensure they are comfortable with their moves while offering everyone enough personal space.
🧩 How to play
- Each game of Twister requires a referee or moderator. They will spin a dial that will indicate which limb needs to be placed on a certain colored dot.
- Players take turns as the referee calls out the body part and the colored dot. Players can choose any vacant dot of the color called out.
- Any player that places their elbow or any other body part in addition to their hands or feet gets eliminated.
- Last man standing wins.
Sequence is a more strategy-based game that requires players to coordinate with their teams and work together to build sequences on the board. They can’t talk to one another or show their cards to each other which means players must carefully assess their partner’s moves to understand what they’re building towards and how.
The purpose of the game is to create a sequence of five tokens on the board. These can be made horizontally or vertically or diagonally.
If you’re playing with two teams, players need to create two sequences to win. If you’re playing with three teams, players need to create one sequence to win. Players must work with their teams to build the sequences and also block sequences that other teams are making to get to the finish line first.
🧩 How to play
- Sequence is played with tokens. Each team is assigned a color at the beginning from red, blue, and green.
- You’ll first have to divide people into two or three teams. For team play, you can play Sequence with four, six, eight, nine, ten, or twelve people.
- If you’ve got four players, divide them into two teams of two.
- If you’ve got six players, you can divide them into two teams of three people or three teams of two people.
- If you’ve got eight players, divide them into two teams of four people or four teams of two people.
- If you’ve got nine players, divide them into three teams of three people.
- If you’ve got ten players, divide them into two teams of five people.
- If you’ve got twelve players, divide them into three teams of four people.
- Players need to sit in a circle and alternate between teams. So, a player from Team Red will have a player from Team Blue sitting next to them, who will have a player from Team Green sitting next to them.
- Players are handed a few of their color at the beginning of the game.
- Each player is also handed out five cards. They will use these to use their tokens. To place a token on the board, you have to have the matching card in your hands.
- The game board has card slots on it.
- There are two types of wild cards in the game. One-eyed Jack lets you remove any token from a card slot. Two-eyed Jack lets you place your token on any empty card slot. Use these wisely!
- The corners on the board are also wild. These can act as any token color you’d like. When building a sequence with the corner card slot, you only need four tokens to complete a sequence.
- Players keep taking turns till a sequence (or two if you’re playing in two teams) is made on the board!
Pandemic, the board game not life, was first published in 2008, over a decade before the world saw it happen in the true sense. This is a cooperative game that requires players to work together (as opposed to against one another) to stop a pandemic from spreading. The goal is to get rid of all the diseases before they spread too far and wipe out humanity.
Pandemic is complex and intense but also not competitive. For this reason, it makes for a good board game for team building and bringing people together. To succeed, team members need to strategize, assume responsibilities, and work together to find cures before it’s too late. This helps uncover leaders in the pack and also helps identify the strengths of each player.
You can play Pandemic with two to four players.
🧩 How to play
- Shuffle the role cards and share one with each player. Each player gets assigned a role this way from a medic, scientist, dispatcher or operations expert.
- Each player also selects a pawn. All pawns are placed in Atlanta at the start of the play.
- Place a research station in Atlanta. This is where all the important work gets done.
- Next, deal the cards. How many cards you need to deal varies on the number of players that are part of the game:
- 2 cards each for a 4-player game
- 3 cards each for a 3-player game
- 4 cards each for a 2-player game
- Shuffle the Epidemic cards and distribute in the same way to the players.
- Place the infection cards in a separate deck on the board. One by one, each player will draw two cards from this deck and place disease cubes on the cities that show up on the cards.
- Every player will also select an action card in each turn and decide what they want to do to help the team’s cause.
- The game ends when players have found the cure to all the diseases.
Jenga is another fun game that requires focus and strong decision making. It can be played solo or with teams. Each player needs to remove a wooden block from the lower levels of the Jenga tower and place it on the top. The player or team that causes the tower to collapse loses.
Watching a huge Jenga tower crumble to the floor is always fun. It gets people both nervous and excited as no one wants to be the person that causes the fall. Teams are able to give directions and advice to their players as they
🧩 How to play
- Build the Jenga tower by creating levels of three wooden blocks and stacking them on to one another. The direction of the blocks alternates at each level so if the first level has blocks placed horizontally, the second level will have them placed vertically and so on.
- Each player takes out one wooden block from any level except the top three fully constructed ones.
- They then place it on to the very top of the tower.
- The next player repeats the same, making sure that there are at least three wooden blocks in a new level before another one is constructed upon it.
- All players must ensure that they use only one hand to take out a wooden block and then place it above.
Similar to Pandemic, Clue is another complex game that revolves around a story. A murder has taken place. But no one who’s done it. Players need to solve the murder mystery by finding out who the culprit is, which murder weapon was used, and where did the murder take place.
Each player picks out a character from the pack and takes their pawn. They will then move around the board to explore different rooms and make their predictions about them. They’ll eliminate all the wrong guesses to find the answer and the first person to crack the code wins the game.
🧩 How to play
- At the start of the game, a character card, a weapon card, and a room card are randomly chosen and placed in an envelope. This is placed in the swimming pool on the board. This is the answer to the mystery. No one should know the contents of this envelope.
- Each player has a designated starting point on the board. Place all the pawns on their right spots.
- Miss Scarlet always takes the first turn. Roll the die and walk towards a room.
- If a player enters a room, they need to make a guess. They will reveal a character who they think is the murderer along with a guess for the murder weapon. The place can only be the room they are currently in.
- If the person next to them has a card that’s part of the guess, they’ll reveal it to the player and no one else. The player will then cross this card off their sheet.
- If the person next to them doesn’t have a card that’s part of the guess, the next person will have to reveal a card.
- Players move across rooms and keep making their guesses until they narrow down on the three right answers.
- Once a player is sure they’ve cracked the code, they will make their way to the swimming pool where they can announce their guess and open the envelope.
Team-building board games do more than just bringing people together. They offer a much-needed break from work and help people recharge. Offering employees these opportunities shows great care and empathy. These actions have a trickle-down effect, leading to more cohesive teams and also greater employee retention.
Feel free to experiment with these team-building board games and find the ones that your employees enjoy the most. Happy game day to you!