Conversation games

Looking for ideas for conversation games, that is, games played just by talking. Twenty Questions is a classic example. Another classic is A To Z: Someone comes up with a category, then each person gives an item in that category that starts with A, then B, etc.

I’ve done a web search, which comes up mostly with the above and a small number of other standards. There’s also some good idea in the Thread Games thread. Here I’m casting out for other ideas.

Please note I’m not at all interested in get to know you type games like Truth Or Dare or Would You Rather (which also come up a lot in web searches).

What I’m really looking for are nonthreatening games that can be played among people with a wide range of interests, backgrounds and ages.

Ooh, i dont know it’s name. But there’s a game with post-it notes on your forehead. Someone comes up with a word pastes it on the persons head, that person asks questions til they guess it.

Any particular number of players? Chess is sometimes played in this way.

Similar to 20 questions, there are also riddle games, but those usually require a bit more cleverness to come up with good riddles (or have a stock of them you already know that the other players don’t).

And then there are games where you’re trying to figure out some sort of gimmick, like “Sally likes hurricanes but not tornadoes. She likes boots but not shoes. She likes doors but not windows”, and so on, where a few players know what the gimmick is, and the rest are trying to figure it out.

Munchausen. You can buy a rulebook on Amazon, but the basic idea is simple. The first player says something like, Bob, we’ve got some time, so why don’t you tell that amusing story about how you almost became King of Belgium? After he finishes, the storyteller suggests an equally outrageous story for the next player, and so on.

We’re going on a picnic, or camping, make it what you like. I’ll start, “We’re going on a picnic and Im bringing apple pie. The next person repeats me and adds a B word, you continue through the alphabet with a new item added each time.

Botticelli is a good one among people with roughly equally good general knowledge. The version we play on this board is a bit stricter with its rules, I think the best way to play it face to face with people who are averagely knowledgable is this. Someone chooses a well-known person or animal (past or present, living or dead, fictional or not), the principle being they are supposed to be ‘at least as well-known as Botticelli’ (YMMV on what that actually means). They reveal the initial letter of their name (up to you if you want to make this last name, first name, or could be either - the latter is best IMO as it gives the widest scope). Then everyone else interrogates them, but unlike in 20 questions, direct questions are not allowed to begin with. Instead, players may ask indirect questions such as “Are you a pop singer?” or “Are you a current NFL quarterback?” (it’s up to the group how specific, or otherwise, the questions should be). The questionee has to reply with a valid answer matching their chosen letter, for example if the letter was “B” they could respond “No, I am not Beyonce” and “No, I am not Tom Brady” respectively. If their chosen person is in fact in the category asked about (e.g. the person to be guessed is William Shakespeare and someone asks “Are you a dead playwright?”), they can reply such as “Yes, but I am not George Bernard Shaw”. If they are unable to name a person with the correct initial in reply to the question, and the questioner can do so, the questioner is then entitled to ask a direct question such as “are you alive?” or “are you male?”. In this way, eventually the right person will be guessed. So a nice variant on 20 questions.

One I have never played but seems like fun is known as Kolodny’s Game. Similar to one of the previous suggestions, the target players makes up a ‘rule’ like ‘Answer “yes” to any questions containing the word “you”, otherwise answer “no”’. Everyone else then asks questions to try and work out what the secret rule is. This can have amusing consequences, for example: “Have you ever been unfaithful to your wife?” “Yes”.

Similar to the alphabet games already mentioned, but with a bit more tactical interaction: pick a category (e.g. “animals”, “countries”). First player names something in the category, second player has to name something else in the category that begins with the last letter of the previous answer. With countries it is easy to get into long loops of A…A countries (being careful to avoid continents). For animals, an answer of “wolf” is likely to be met with “fox”, giving the next player a problem.

Finally I’ll offer a simple word game (probably best with 2 players but can be any number): first player names a letter, second names another letter, and so on. The object of the game is to not complete a valid English word. But, a valid word has to still be possible from the letters already played. Example game:

Player 1 “G”
Player 2 “H”
Player 1 “O”
Player 2 “S”
Player 1 “T”

And player 1 loses for spelling “ghost”. Alternatively, if Player 1 had said (for example) “W” on their final turn, Player 2 wins unless Player 1 can name a valid English word beginning “ghosw”.

Credit for all the above goes to a book of mine called “Word Games” by Peter Newby.

Zoom, Schwartz, and Figliano

First player starts by looking at another player and saying “Zoom”.

A player who is Zoomed can either Zoom someone else or Schwartz back the player who Zoomed him (by simply looking at him and saying “Schwartz”).

A player who is Schwartzed can either Schwartz someone else or Figliano the person who Schwartzed him; he must look at somebody else while saying Figliano, not at the person who Schwartzed him.

A player who is Figlianoed can either Figliano back (but must look at somebody else) or Zoom somebody else.

Verbose: The first person starts with saying the first word in a sentence, the next says that word and adds a word to the sentence, the next says the first two words and adds a third…until someone either screws up repeating all the words in the sentence in the right order exactly before adding their own word, or until the next person cannot think of a word to add. One person(The Secretary) is assigned to write down the words as they are said to keep track, and only that person can see the list.

Can get hilarious when played as a drinking game.