10 of the Best Card Games for Adults

By Holly Brockwell on at

It's your turn to host games night, and you've already exhausted our entire list of the best party videogames. Time for something a little more analogue, a little more old-school, and in some cases, a lot more obscene.

Like everyone on the planet, you already know about Cards Against Humanity and its ninety bajillion expansion packs, so here are some suggestions that aren't that, but are just as good for a night in with mates.

1. Joking Hazard

If the name 'Cyanide and Happiness' means nothing to you, take a look at the Joking Hazard pack and you'll most likely recognise the figures from one of the internet's most popular cartoons.

This game is a lot like Cards Against Humanity, except you're making a three-panel comic and it's up to participants to play the punchline. The deck decides the first card, the judge chooses the second, and everyone has to pitch in what they think makes the best ending to the (often very NSFW) scene.

The farting poo-fairy card pretty much wins in all scenarios, so if you get that in your hand (not literally, we hope), you're golden. Like Cards Against Humanity, there are lots of expansion packs, including one about weed with the genius name Toking Hazard.

[Buy it here]

2. Exploding Kittens

Described as "a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats," Exploding Kittens is made by another recognisable internet cartooner – The Oatmeal. It was the most-funded Kickstarter game of all time, and thankfully completely lived up to its promise of utterly ridiculous Russian roulette with cats.

Games are fairly short and frenzied, and once you've picked up the rules (not very hard – who doesn't understand "don't explode"?), you tend to end up playing again and again. There are several expansion packs to pick up if you like it, including the inevitable Imploding Kittens, and it's also available in a NSFW version.

[Buy it here]

3. Bucket of Doom

Delivered in a literal plastic bucket, this game is all about creative escape plans. You get given a scenario to escape from and six completely random and useless objects to use, and then it's up to you to cobble something creative together that wins the approval of the other players. The funnier and more ridiculous the better, obviously.

"Ever wondered how you’d escape from a pack of bloodthirsty vegans, with only a pack of crayons, a Kinder Egg and a pair of nipple tassels to help you?" the game asks. Hollywood execs should buy this game for film ideas better than Fifty Shades.

There's also a green 'Toxic Edition' with a weird smelly thing inside but honestly we'd skip that one, it quite literally stinks.

[Buy it here]

4. Codenames

Not nearly as well known as some of the games on this list, but it really should be. The standard version of the game is family-friendly, or you can go for the adult version (or combine them to have more cards).

The premise:

"Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their codenames. The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the table. Their teammates try to guess words of their colour while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin."

But honestly, words can't do it justice – it's another title where as soon as you get it, you'll want to play forever.

You can play with anything from two players up, but it works best at around four – there's a specific two-player version if you often play with just two.

[Buy it here]

5. What Do You Meme?

Thankfully, this game is worth getting that goddamn Justin Bieber song in your head.

If you're an internet type, it should be right up your street, with a deck of classic meme images, a little easel to put them on, and a pile of captions. All you have to do is pick the best caption from your deck for the meme image that's currently on the easel (in other words, pretty much the same mechanism as Cards Against Humanity, just with a picture instead of a sentence. And an easel, for some reason).

It's not one you'll want to play for hours and hours, but it is really funny with the right crowd of social-savvy geeks. Even more so if you ditch the caption cards and write your own.

[Buy it here]

6. Uno

Yes, that Uno. Like Mario Kart 64, this becomes hilarious and amazing when you bring it back with the addition of adult friends and alcohol (if you don't drink, substitute mild sleep deprivation. Two hours without coffee should do it).

You'll remember the rules in minutes, and the mechanism of screwing people over by forcing them to pick up four cards is infinitely funnier with grown-ups who can banter back, rather than small children who may actually cry.

There's also a fancy version if you want to prove how much more pocket money (read: debt) you have now than in primary school.

[Buy it here, but your parents probably still have it in the attic somewhere]

7. Weird Things Humans Search For

If you spend too much time online, this is the game for you. You have to figure out the end of some weird but genuine Google searches from the bowels of the internet.

Like Family Fortunes, you get answers if your autocomplete suggestion is in the top answers on the card, and even more if it's the top answer. Anyone who's read Dataclysm should be amazing at this game.

[Buy it here]

8. Game of Phones

Unlike most card games, being on your phone is actually encouraged in this one, but you'll need to be prepared to reveal a few skeletons in your camera reel.

Everyone unlocks their phones, then you turn over a card and fulfil the challenge within 60 seconds. They're things like 'Find the weirdest real news story from today,' 'Find an ugly baby,' and 'Find a photo of yourself from at least 10 years ago'. Some rely on your Google-fu, others on your willingness to embarrass yourself for points.

How fun this is depends entirely on who you play it with, and like Cards Against Humanity, it's all down to how funny the person judging finds your submission – so play to entertain whoever's in the hot seat. Or the iRon Throne, if you like.

[Buy it here]

9. F**k. The Game.

That's them censoring the title, not us – we're quite happy to say 'fuck' here on Giz UK. Thankfully, the game is far more sweary once you get inside: presumably they just had to make sure it could still be sold in shops without pearl-clutching parents complaining.

If you're good at tongue-twisters and logic puzzles, you'll probably ace this. It involves turning over a card and saying what's on it, but with some cards you have to say the word, some the background colour, some the colour of the text and so on. For instance, you might get a yellow card with the word 'RED' written in blue, and have to say 'blue' despite 'RED' staring you in the face.

Oh, and you have to do it all REALLY REALLY FAST and under pressure.

It's a mindfuck, basically. And possibly the least academic-sounding brain trainer out there.

[Buy it here]

10. You've Got Crabs

Half the joy of this game comes from pointing at your mates and yelling YOU'VE GOT CRABS until the neighbours call the police. The other half comes from wearing the giant crab claws in the expansion pack, which we highly, HIGHLY recommend getting if you buy this game.

It's from the same people as Exploding Kittens, so it's the same kind of ridiculous cartoon humour with just a touch of childishness. OK, more than a touch. CRAAAABS!

To play, you and a partner decide a secret signal, as do the other team. Then, you draw cards until you've got four of a kind (they're all crab-related, so you might have four Crabrador Retrievers, for instance), then make the secret signal to your partner. If they see it, they yell YOU'VE GOT CRABS and you two get a point, but if the other team clock your signal first, they get to tell you you've got crabs and they get a point.

The expansion pack includes one card that confers a massive advantage, but you have to wear the big stupid crab claws to use it. Which is amazing.

[Buy it here]

The bonus section

  • Apples to Apples: basically the SFW, family-friendly version of Cards Against Humanity, this can be just as fun when you're with the in-laws or really don't feel like another session of who-can-be-the-grossest. [Buy it here]
  • Top Trumps: obvious suggestion is obvious, but there are so many versions of this now that you're pretty much guaranteed to find one that fits your friend group's specific niche: the Marvel Universe, dinosaurs, chemistry – the only thing we couldn't find was one about Trump himself. Maybe he sued.
  • A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King: one for you GoT fans – or, really, ISOIAF fans (that's the books, TV people...), because the characters are truer to the prose than the shows. This one's all about scheming your way to the top with the help of the inimitable Varys, Master of Whispers. [Buy it here]
  • Rick & Morty Total Rickall: we couldn't put this one in the main list because not only does it require knowledge of a specific TV show, it requires knowledge of a specific episode. Which is niche enough to be catnip to us Rick & Morty fans, officially the smuggest gits in the multiverse. [Buy it here]
  • Throw Throw Burrito: it's not technically out yet, so if you missed the Kickstarter, you'll need to join the mailing list to find out when you can get it. From the people behind The Oatmeal, Exploding Kittens and You've Got Crabs comes a game that involves playing civilly with cards until someone plays the burrito card, at which point you throw squishy burritos at each other. A surprisingly cute way to get rid of all your pent-up aggression. [Get it here when it's out]
  • Blockbuster, the Board Game: this one's not out yet either (sorry), but it's amazing and well worth waiting for. Arriving in a VHS case with a Blockbuster rental shop's carpark as the game board, it involves re-enacting scenes from films, competing in quick-fire buzzer rounds and reciting movie quotes like the giant nerd you are. It'll be at ASOS and Firebox for £20 from June, but in the meantime here's a video.

Have we missed any stonkers? Let us know in the comments. We know you will.

This article was originally published in May 2019.