Board games and card games are a great way to entertain a small group of friends or family for a couple hours. But, as fun as they can be, it can often be difficult to find a game that will entertain everyone. This problem is particularly compounded when you need a game that will play well for exactly five players. Many card games are designed for four or fewer players and many board games become significantly less enjoyable with more than four players. A few games, though, not only allow five players, but actually play best at that number. The following are the best board and card games for exactly five players.
Three Dragon Ante – This Wizards of the Coast published card game can be played with anywhere from two to six players, but really hits the sweet spot at five players. With this many players, you will shuffle regularly, but not every hand and money moves around between players fluidly enough that the game usually last a little over an hour and stays competitive almost the entire time. If you have a bunch of friends who enjoy poker, but aren’t looking to spend real money or would like something lighter, this is the perfect game for killing a few hours.
The Scepter of Zavandor – This is an auction game that plays up to six players. Due to scaling mechanics and the differences in starting positions, a six player game is actually quite frustrating for at least one of the players. A five player game, on the other hand, is nearly perfect. There are enough separate strategies that each player has a legitimate chance to win the game and only particularly poor play can keep anyone from being competitive. If you have never played before, remove the druid from the starting characters and you should have a fun game that will really test the reward analysis skills of everyone playing.
Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar – This game can only be played with five players if you own the Tribes & Prophecies expansion. But, if you do, five is the way to play. This game benefits from competition because it forces players to expand beyond the basic strategies that are possible with fewer players. The more the cluttered the board, the more competitive the game becomes. Runaway leaders are common with fewer players, but almost impossible in a five player game. If you’ve never heard of this game, all you need to know is that it is a worker placement game with a very unique twist, and the game is worth owning, even if you can’t consistently get five people to play it.
Caverna: The Cave Farmers – Uwe Rosenberg games tend to all have a similar design. You develop a home, village, or monastery with an ever increasing set of resource generators to choose from and ever increasing payments to make to keep yourself competitive in the game. Caverna is pretty much just a re-skin of Agricola, with a lot of the imbalances of the original stripped away. The game can play up to seven, but five is where it shines the best. At this point, the resource generators are strong with breaking the game and the total time to play the game is roughly 4 hours. With fewer players resources are a little too hard to acquire and with more players the game grinds on forever.
Risk 2210 – Traditionally, Risk games tended to eventually succumb to endless battles between massive forces that ran back and forth across the board. This futuristic variant prevents that by limiting the game to exactly five rounds. Additionally, the inclusion of moon and underwater areas to control makes it possible for five players to all play independent, competitive strategies. In fact, a game with fewer than five players easily leaves a little too much opportunity for one player to gain an early lead that can’t be overwhelmed. But with the maximum number of players, the game really feels like everyone can potentially win and that only perfect play will win the game.