Board games are inherently social experiences, so they have the potential to be the perfect icebreakers at corporate social events. However, some board games can ruin relationships rather than improve them, so you need to be careful which ones you break out for team-building exercises.
As we mentioned in a previous post about our 3D wooden puzzles, Huddle identified the four skills that most team-building activities encourage and rely on: communication, solving problems and making decisions, adaptability and planning, and building trust. The five board games below—ordered by BoardGameGeek rank—exemplify these criteria and would fit in seamlessly at any team-building event or conference!
1. Codenames – Czech Games Edition
Codenames fits all four of Huddle’s team-building criteria: two opposing teams compete, but within the teams there must be trust, communication, forward-thinking, and decision-making. One player from each team is the “spymaster” who gives one-word clues to the rest of their team to try to get them to guess the related words (or spy code names) spread out on the table. It’s a word association game for two to eight players that inspires communication between the guessers and can help guide coworkers to be on the same wavelength.
2. Pandemic – Z-Man Games
The theme of Pandemic, while fully fleshed out and immersive, does not alienate anyone who might not be an avid board gamer. Diseases are spreading across the world, and the players must work together to cure, and possibly eradicate, them—this premise is easily understandable to the general public. Two to four players are given important roles to play (scientist, medic, etc.), which mirror the roles that the employees have in real life in their jobs. Pandemic also fulfills Huddle’s team-building criteria while being one of the best cooperative games out there. Similar board games that also rely on roles for cooperative play could work as team-building activities, as well, depending on the level of interest expressed by your team.
3. Captain Sonar – Matagot/Asmodee
Like Codenames, Captain Sonar splits players up into two teams, but gameplay is a bit more confrontational. Two to eight players form the two battling crews in an underwater submarine battle, with both teams trying to find and destroy the opposing submarine. To promote communication and teamwork across department lines, the two teams could be made up of employees of different seniority levels or from different teams within the company. Each team has four roles (the Captain, the Chief Mate, the Radio Operator, and the Engineer), and each of these roles has specific jobs and actions that only they can perform, so the Captain is nothing without the rest of his crew, which is the perfect sentiment to communicate to one’s employees. Captain Sonar can be played in real time, with everything happening at once, or turn-based, with teams taking turns one at a time—the latter playstyle is probably simpler for beginners and might work better in a professional team-building environment.
4. Hanabi – R&R Games
In Hanabi, two to five players must work together to create beautiful fireworks by placing cards in the correct order from their hands. Each card has a number (one through five) and a color (also out of five): matching colors must be placed together, and numbers should ascend from one to five. Your cards are only visible to other players (you have no idea which colors and which numbers you have in your hand), so the other players must give you hints to tell you which card to play on your turn. Hanabi employs all the skills identified by Huddle for team-building activities, as you must trust in your coworkers’ abilities to communicate the correct decisions and actions to you.
5. Concept – Repos Production/Asmodee
While all of the games on this list can accommodate a fair amount of players, Concept can be played with four to twelve, so a large group of coworkers or even an entire department could play at one time. Concept is a word association game in which two players try to get the rest of the table to guess a word or phrase without speaking, as in Charades. The clue-givers place pieces on icons on the game board to illustrate the main concept (an overall subject for the word) and sub-concepts (which help the guessers narrow down their options). Players gain points for correctly guessing words, and every time an answer is correct, the clue-giving team receives points, as well. A benefit of Concept is that participants in the team-building activity will likely already be familiar with Charades, so the rules and general concept will be easy to grasp.
Can you think of any other board games that would work well as professional team-building activities? Let us know in the comments!