7 Fun Alternatives Games to Charades and Heads Up!

Family and friends playing charades and heads up
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I am a huge fan of Charades and Heads Up!. At every social event or family gathering, I am the first person to strongly recommend any of these two games. I find that these games break the ice, bring everyone down to a relaxed and happy level, and create the type of atmosphere that is primed for fun, laughter, and bonding. What more could you want from a gathering of your favorite people, right?

Of course, not everyone likes Charades or Heads Up! (or they are simply intimidated by the idea of acting out in front of a crowd), so I thought I would look into a few alternatives to these games that are actually quite similar. Here’s what I found…

Alternative Games to Charades and Heads Up!:

  1. Guesstures
  2. Cranium
  3. Catch Phrase
  4. Pictionary
  5. Articulate!
  6. Who Am I?
  7. Concept

What makes these games so similar to Charades and Heads Up is that there is guesswork involved. I have personally played each and every one of these games and find them all just as fun as Charades or Heads Up!. Some require just as much focused attention on one player, and others involve more group work, which takes the spotlight off people who are shy or anxious in the limelight. If you are looking for Charades (or Heads Up!)-like games to add to your games night, family gathering, social event, party, or rainy day in – these are the best options; in my opinion, of course. 

If you want to learn a bit more about each of these games, read on. Below I provide a bit more information on each game, so that you can see the similarities to Charades and Heads Up! and so that you can decide if it is the type of game you would enjoy or not.

7 Board Games or Party Games That Are Similar to Charades and Heads Up!

If you are ready to get your game on, consider this board games and party games.

1. Guesstures

Guesstures board game
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Guesstures is so similar to Charades and Heads Up! that many people think that it is the board game version of them. 

The game box includes playing cards, a timer, and even a trophy for the winner. Players insert 4 cards into the timer, set the timer, and then start acting out the words/phrases on the card as quickly as possible before the timer stops. Players only get a few seconds to act out the game before it is “munched” by the timer. If the group guesses the word correctly, the player yanks the card out of the timer, and it is considered a point.

2. Cranium

Cranium is an extremely popular game that was released in 1998 by Richard Tait and Whit Alexander. Both Richard and Whit worked at Microsoft before leaving their jobs to work on creating a board game that focuses on a variety of skills. Thus, Cranium was born. Now, Cranium is produced by Hasbro. 

At least 4 players are needed for Cranium as it is a team game. The game is started on Planet Cranium on the board (purple brain) and each team picks a category. Category selection happens 4 times per game. Cards are drawn from the following categories: Creative Cat, Word Worm, Data Head, and Star Performer. The team members also need to complete an activity before being able to complete their turn. Every time the team guesses the correct answer, they roll a 10-sided dice and progress ahead on the board. 

3. Catch Phrase

Catch Phrase is a game created by Steve Radosh. The game was turned into an American television series and is the same series that the British television program is based on. What is the game about, other than a game show on television? Catch Phrase is a word guessing game. The main objective is to help your team guess the phrase displayed on your playing card. 

The game is played in two teams and the first team to reach 7 points wins. Both verbal clues and physical gestures can be used to act out the catch phrase. There are 11 categories for teams to choose from, which make up a total of 10,000 words. These categories are as follows: Everything, Tech & Inventions, History Buff, Entertainment, Sports & Games, Geography, Transportation, Around the House, Food & Drink, Plants & Animals, and Family.

4. Pictionary

Pictionary game display for sale at Toys R Us in store shelf
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Pictionary is a game that was inspired by Charades. It was created by Robert Angel in 1985. It is a fun game that can be played with 3 or more people. Inside the game box, you will find a game board, 4 playing discs/tokens, playing cards, a sand timer, and dice. The older versions of the game included mini whiteboards and pens, but most new sets require individuals to provide their own drawing paper and pencils. 

To play Pictionary, players are divided into 2 teams, and each team is provided with a category card, which includes the following categories: Person/place/animal, Object, Action, Difficult, and All Play. You will notice that the playing board spaces are all labeled P, O, A, D, AP – which means that when a player/team lands on that space, they must choose the category that corresponds with it. Each player takes a turn being the “picturist”. 

To start the game, each team rolls the dice – the higher number starts the game. Each team draws a card, and only the picturists look at the card (and each other’s cards). They are given 5 seconds to think about it and then drawing must begin. Both team’s picturists must draw at the same time. When someone in the team guesses correctly, in the allotted time, they get to roll the dice and play again. If they do not get the right answer, the die is passed onto the opposing team to play. 

5. Articulate!

Articulate! is a board game that is ideal for 4 to 20, or more players. It is suited to players who are 12 years old and up. 

In the game, players are faced with 6 categories that they have to describe words from. The categories are: Object, Random, Nature, Person, Action, and World. These words must be described as quickly as possible to the team, for teammates to guess. The describer is then able to move his/her game token forward as many spaces as words were correctly guessed. When landing on an orange or red space, players must take a chance by spinning the spinner and following the instructions. 

First teams or players to the end of the game board wins.

6. Who Am I?

Friends having fun playing Who I am game at home party
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Who Am I? is a fun game to play at a party, event, or social gathering. It is best played with 8 to 10 people, but more (or less) can be involved. 

First, write the names of well-known people (both alive or not) on pieces of paper, which will be pinned to the backs of each guest as they arrive. Guests are not aware of what name is written on the piece of paper. Players may not ask other people “Who am I?” or “What is my name?”, but must spend the evening asking other guests questions that might lead to the discovery of who they are. 

When a guest thinks that he/she knows what his/her name is, they report to the party organizer to check if they are right or wrong. If wrong, the guest goes back to socializing and asking questions. If the player guesses correctly, they rejoin the party but merely to socialize and answer other player’s questions. 

This is a great social game and is the cause of much noise and hilarity. If you want to deter players from cheating, try to cover the mirrors and reflective surfaces in the venue.

7. Concept

The Concept board game was published by Repos Production, but was created by Alain Rivollet and Gaёtan Beaujannot. It is a game that has received numerous nominations and awards. In fact, in 2014, it received the Jeu de l’Année prize in Cannes, which is a “French games award of the year”.  

Concept is similar to Charades or Heads Up! in that players have to guess words. The words are guessed through the association of icons. A team chooses a word or phrase that the other team has to guess. They work together to put pieces on the available icons on the playing board. 2 victory points are awarded to the player who guesses the word or phrase in question. The player who has the most points wins the game.

Get Ready to Play

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While Charades and Heads Up! will always be firm favorite word guessing games, they will never be the only ones at your disposal. If you are looking for alternative games that are still similar to these two games or share elements of these games, then the above 7 options are fine choices. Get ready to play! And of course, good luck!