SparkNotes Blog

Boardless Games for New Year’s Eve With FREYENDS

New Year’s Eve celebrations last a long time. For me, this is cause for panic, or at least confusion over why I have to stop playing Dragon Age when other people show up to party. The point is, should you find yourself wondering how to fill those long hours before or even after the ball drops, we have just the thing for you and your friends.

Let’s play some games.

SLASH
Fan girls and guys unite. Slash is the game you’ve been waiting for. In this game of ships, you can mix and match characters from every conceivable fandom, show, and film to your heart’s content. Oh, and if you can’t find the game at your local super-secret specialty board game shop in time for New Year’s Eve, don’t worry—you can print out the entire game and rules in .PDF form right from the Slash website here.

Need some prompts to get you started on Slash’s “Hardcore” mode? Try these:
What’s their ship name?
Sum up their relationship with one movie quote (from any movie).
What did each player’s card get the matchmaker’s card for their one-year anniversary?
Where did each player’s card take the matchmaker’s card on their first date?
What would you call the fanfiction epic about their love?
What song will they dance to at their wedding?
When the movie of their love story is released on Blu-ray, what will be the included collector’s item?

FISHBOWL
This ridiculous party game is perfect for four or more people. All you need is a big bowl, paper scraps, pencils, and the will to win.

The complete directions are here, but Fishbowl is essentially a combination of taboo, buzzword, and charades, with prompts that you make up yourselves. You and your buddies will quickly be reduced to giggles when you have to guess at (and act out) the absurd things you write on sheets of paper and toss into a bowl.

You can repeat the game ad infinitum with as many insane nouns (or entire phrases, if you’re really daring) as possible. Some classics from my own experience: the Ship of Theseus. Einstein’s theory of relativity. Colossal butts. Those eyeballs on the cover of The Great Gatsby. Hiding your self-insert fanfiction. Evan’s hair.

SYMBOLS
This is a game of sneakiness and stealth. Secrecy and spinning. All you need is four or more players willing to lay their friendships on the line in pursuit of amusement.

Here’s how it works: you and your friends have one invisible ball. You sit in a circle, and pass it back and forth between each other at random. Problem is, there’s somebody standing in the middle of the circle who could notice you passing this ball back and forth—and you don’t want that.

How do you pass an invisible ball? You use hand signals, or symbols. At the beginning of the game, each person claims their own hand signal—perhaps a thumbs-up. Or a use-the-force sweep. A finger waggle. An A-OK sign. Review everyone’s signals a few times so you know who has what.

When you have the ball and want to pass it to another person, you stealthily flash their hand signal at them. They accept the ball by flashing their own hand signal back at you as a confirmation that they received it. Then they’ll “pass” the ball using someone else’s hand signal, all (hopefully) without the person in the middle noticing. Always be on the lookout for people trying to get your attention with your own hand signal!

To start, choose someone to stand in the middle, then have them close their eyes and count to ten. While they count, keep passing the ball until the middle person’s eyes open—then keep passing when their back is turned! If the middle person notices the invisible ball and correctly calls out who has it, those two trade places and the game begins again.

To keep it fair, put some music on so that the sounds of hand signals aren’t super obvious. And be nice—it’s totally cheating to immediately name everyone in the circle.

SPACETEAM APP
In this fast-paced and yelp-tastic app game, you and four friends are on a team—in space! Download the free Spaceteam app and follow the instructions to sync up your phones or tablets. When you’re all ready to start, your spaceship will take off, and hoo boy, that ship is full of problems. The game is almost like super-complicated bingo; one problem with the ship will appear on one person’s screen, and another person’s screen will contain the solution. This means tons of yelling absolutely ludicrous instructions back and forth at each other. For example: Soak the ferrous holospectrum! Set Newtonian photomist to maximum! Asteroids—everybody shake! How will your friends fare when the beveled nanobuzzers go haywire?

Do you and your buds play games during your New Year’s get-togethers?