Building a Team with Board Games

When you think of team building you will probably think of going out to some location or and excursion where you do some tasks as a team. However, during my time at a previous project I found that there was something more effective and a lot cheaper, board games.

Not Your Grandfathers Board Games

When you hear the words 'board games', your first thoughts may be something along the lines of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit or Cluedo, but those are your classical and old school games. Today's games are much more diverse and will have you building railway roads across Europe, or rescuing people from a burning people or having a good 'ol Mafia standoff. No matter what your taste, there is sure to be something for you with dozens of categories ranging from card games, to dice game to role-playing games. Out of all of this, there is one category that I have found to work the best with 'non-gamers', namely party games.

Let The Party Begin

Party games are usually relatively quick to play, simple to understand and involve a lot of fun and laughter. From my personal experience, these games are the best to bring your group of co-workers together, mainly because in the projects I have been on typically had people whom never played board games. You may find that your team is different and they actually think party games are mundane and boring. Every team is different, so the important part is to find what works for you and your team. If you are interested in giving party games a try, then the following game are some that I have tried and found to work the best:

  • Codenames
    A game where you have two spy masters trying to help their team identify their agents in the field, only by their codenames.
    This game is a ton of fun and has always been a hit no matter where I take it
  • One Night Ultimate Werewolf/Daybreak
    A fast game where everyone gets a hidden role with special abilities and over the course of a single 'night' you have to single out the werewolves from the villagers.
    Again this game, and its expansion, is a ton of fun and because it so quick you can really get a lot of games in.
  • Spyfall
    A game where one person is a spy and needs to identify the location of the other players, while the other players are trying to determine who the spy is.
    A really easy game to teach that is a lot of fun. I would recommend you get the location cards and print them out for each player
  • Ca$h 'n Guns (2nd Edition)
    You are a group of gangsters in an abandoned warehouse where you are are trying to split out the loot from your latest heist amongst yourselves, which never goes well.
    A really fun & different game with some really cool props. Also, who doesn't wanna be a gangster ;)
  • Sushi Go: Party
    A quick card game, where you are grabbing sushi to try get the best combinations to score the highest points.
    It may not sound like much, but don't be deceived by this

These are just a few of the games that I have found to work the best. I would recommend you browse around Boardgamegeek and look at some games and try figure out what your team would like

My Findings So Far...

The way I like to work this is that at the end of our development sprint (Every 2 weeks), I like to have a little games session whereby everyone goes to one of the boardrooms and we play a game. We try and rotate the games and anyone is allowed to bring whatever they like to try out.

My findings so far are that these game sessions are a great success. They help break down 'work barriers' and allows everyone to become friends in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. It is a time where us as a team can celebrate our achievements over the past two weeks. It really does bring people together and really helps put that initial spark in becoming a true team.

For me, there is also something special about the social interaction that board games bring out, especially in the IT industry being predominately cool blues

One thing that I would like to try out is to get a set of board/card games that are relatively quick to play and keep them permanently at the office to play. Then, whenever someone feels like taking a break, to clear their mind from work, or to just have a bit of fun, they can just take a game and ask some of their co-workers to join them in a quick game.

That's it from my side. I would really love to hear your thoughts on this topic, or some other things that you have found to bring your team closer.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa