Tabletop games can make or break a bar. No matter how cheap the PBRs at your regular neighborhood spot are, there’s nothing like some friendly competition among friends to turn a casual bar night (or day) into an unforgettable time.
Not all bar games are created equal, however. Here are the nine best tabletop bar games, ranked.
Drinks can loosen your tongue and make you feel like a wordsmith — and a Scrabble genius. It’s a great game at a quiet bar, but it takes a little too much concentration for loud bars and/or distracting tipsy friends.
Playing Sorry! in a bar can get aggressive, and that’s part of the draw. Let the nostalgia take over, bypass your friends with a sarcastic “sorry!” and take a drink every time your pawn gets bumped or passed.
Jumping people is never as fun as it is in checkers. The simple man’s chess has just enough strategy to keep players engaged, and is familiar and easy enough to play while distracted. Take a drink for every piece you lose and every king your opponent gets.
6. Settlers of Catan
If you don’t already know how to play Catan, then don’t try to learn it at the bar. You’ll likely end up like this guy if you do. But if you do know how to play, getting tipsy while playing Catan is unbeatable. The learning curve and length of play, however, put Catan at No. 6 on this list.
You’ve likely seen a box of dominoes sitting around your neighborhood bar. You’ve also probably lined them up and made them fall like … dominoes. Learn the rules, though, and you’ve got a decent bar game. It’s a little more difficult to incorporate drinking into dominoes, but it’s a fast, entertaining game that four people can play at once. When you want some quick entertainment, dominoes is the way to go.
4. Trivial Pursuit
Throw it back to the days before we could answer all the trivia questions in the world with our phones. Trivial Pursuit tests how much random (sometimes useless) information you know. It’s the perfect group game that doesn’t take much space or equipment, making it ideal for smaller bars. It’s also easy to turn into a drinking game.
Battleship is essentially a game of educated guesses. Each player picks squares on a grid and hopes that the opponent’s piece is on that square. Spice it up with a drinking component, though, and Battleship becomes one of the best two-person games to play at the bar. Try taking a drink every time someone hits your ship. The only thing holding it back from being even higher on the list is the length of game time, making it difficult for groups larger than two.
2. Connect Four
Not all that looks simple is truly simple. The general idea of Connect Four (line up four pieces in a row before your opponent does) is easy. Mastering strategy and maintaining awareness of your opponent is not so easy. The only thing keeping Connect Four from being the top tabletop bar game is that it can only be played by two people at once.
Jenga has all the components of the perfect bar game. There’s strategy, physical skill, suspense, numerous players, and loud noises that indicate the loser. On top of all that, it’s easy to add drinking rules — loser takes a shot, take a sip of beer for every successful block you pull, etc. If you ever find someone who’s never played Jenga before, the rules are incredibly easy. But you’ll probably never find someone who’s never played Jenga before. All things considered, Jenga is the best tabletop bar game out there.