There’s a lot of Jackbox games out there. In this entry of Roll for Discussion we identify our best and worst games across the series, then pick which packs are most worth your time and which you should avoid.
(note: You Don’t Know Jack itself only appears in a couple Jackbox packs. It’s a classic and we both love it. As a result we’re disqualifying it from the top lists, but not from influencing which packs we recommend.)
Demetri’s top 3:
D: Take everything fun about running fantasy brackets, toss in some “who would win in a fight” arguments, put it in front of a bigass group, and watch the room erupt into chaos as people’s entire ideologies crumble to dust before the collective. Bracketeering is a top tier party game by any metric. –
K: I have trouble pulling people to play this game, but I’ve always enjoyed it when I can play it. Even if only for the moments when the upset happens and everyone questions how the fuck it happened.
D: Or when you get the perfect 50/50 vote and have to do the button mashing tie breaker! So good.
Survive the Internet
D: If we don’t have enough people for Bracketeering, which is not uncommon, this is my go-to. Taking your friends out of context creates some of the biggest laughs Jackbox can.
K: Fuck yeah Survive the Internet. Any game that can make your friends look ridiculous on your accord gets a vote in my book. I really need to get my usual peeps to play this more often.
D: I’ll say that the game does have one weakness – the final picture round doesn’t have a ton of variety – but that’s manageable since there are no “right” answers and the rest of the game is so great that it doesn’t really hurt it at all.
D: Hell yeah Bidiots. My favorite of the many Jackbox drawing games.
K: No shit?
D: No shit! It’s Drawful with more meat on its bones. The bidding wars, the loan sharking, the tension! *chef’s kiss* I get your hesitation though, it’s divisive. Every time it comes up in conversation Cindy gives me a lecture on how it’s actually awful and why she’ll never play it again.
K: I can absolutely see her doing that.
Kyle’s top 3:
K: While it’s simplistic in design, that simplisticity (amongst many fart noises) gets multiple plays and the most laughs out of any game. (Toilet Bowl Fart: Double Pincher)
D: I legit forgot this game existed, then remembered that it was “Apples to Apples: Fart Noise Edition”. Not sure why I haven’t played this more considering.
Split The Room
K: While most games try to be the funniest or dumbest, StR makes players really use their brains to run interesting/specific situations. Plus the Cat host is el numero uno.
D: Prepare yourself for some extraordinary wordplay: I’m split on this one. On one hand this is a good voting game with some really funny prompts. On the other, it almost seems like it’d make for a better icebreaker than a game played with friends? Sometimes dividing a room of folks who already like each other enough to hang out is more work than you’d think.
K: Which is weird because I usually have games of 5 people and it almost always runs a 3/2 split. I agree with you but for a different reason: it’s almost easier to split a room when you know your buddies well enough.
K: Simple, effective, with a ton of replayability. It may not “wow” people or get a lot of laughs, but it’s so well made that it will keep players interested, especially if you hit the percent on the nose.
D: The high moments of this game are so damn high, yeah. This is the kind of trivia game that very few people are going to be able to run away with because it demands such exact answers, but it brings the house down every single time someone nails it.
Demetri’s bottom 3:
D: This is almost a cheat because it barely functions. Moreso than any other Jackbox game the app itself can barely handle it. Your phone will audibly creak as it tries to sync everyone up while they vomit emojis everywhere. Then when the stars align and the game actually lets you play it you realize that it’s not even funny. I’m the board game guy so lemme do you a favor: there’s a game called A Fake Artist Goes to New York that’s a massively better version of what they attempted here. You can buy it at Target. Play that instead.
K: To be completely transparent: I’ve never played this one. It always looked like a Netflix Original that was buried behind…like slightly more mediocre Netflix Originals. Just never bothered.
D: Keep it that way. It is shit from a butt.
D: How did they manage to make a voting game boring? Normally group voting dynamics at least inspire discussion, but this can’t even pull that off. Word Spud is as fun as unseasoned potato salad with extra mayo.
K: 100%, this game is so forgettable.
Trivia Murder Party
D: There’s a game design rule I like to keep in mind – the game shouldn’t punish you for doing the fun thing. Trivia Murder Party doesn’t commit this sin but it does the next worst thing: winning at it is boring. If you’re good at the trivia you never get to touch the horror-themed minigames, which are far and away the best bits, and the race at the end is way more exciting for the losing players than the leader(s). It’s more frustrating than anything else. TMP is so damn close to a good game but its priorities are everywhere except where they need to be.
K: While I hate you for putting this on here, I kind of get it. If you’re gonna play a YDKJ clone just fucking play YDKJ. But I do really enjoy the different Killing Floor levels (because I dumptruck people on Math), and playing behind is actually fun since TMP doesn’t really allow you to break away from the pack. Being a ghost and shitting on someone at the end is hilarious, but fucking blows as the last man alive.
Kyle’s bottom 3:
K: You paid money to play Word Association with voting mechanics. Instantly passable.
D: I want to put this game in a microwave and forget about it.
K: Baked Word Spud.
K: This pains me because I love Dad Jokes and shitty joke maker games. But Joke Boat crawls. Even if the jokes are good, which is always entirely on your crowd, the repeated uses of the randomized tagline and the spattering of applause fits the game’s motif uncomfortably well: it always feels one round too long, a couple jokes too much, and the last moments just stagnate. Gave it a few runs, and it’s been on shelf ever since.
D: Wait, this game has good joke prompts? Were those DLC?
K: Yeeeeeeeah, if I have to hear someone awkwardly read a Jackbox Games approved tagline after a joke I’ll just alt+F4.
Push The Button
K: This game is broken. I’ve never, not once, not even in YouTube videos, seen the Humans win a game. Hacks are said to have a finite amount, but I’ve never seem to have hit the limit, or depleted them, which make the Aliens almost impossible to find given the amount of fuckery you can accomplish with just a few hacks. For a Sci-Fi-esque version of Werewolf and Mafia, you’d figure this would do so much better. Just play Town of Salem if you really need an online whodunit.
D: I’ve played PtB exactly once, but it definitely felt like the win condition for the humans basically translated to “never make a mistake”. In a social deduction game that’s borderline impossible. Thanks for putting in the research so I didn’t have to.
Demetri’s purchase recommendations:
Best purchase: Pack 2
D: This one’s an embarrassment of riches. When the worst game of the bunch is the best version of Quiplash the bar starts real high. Bomb Corp doesn’t have a ton of replayability but it’s great while it lasts, and the rest are some of the most solid games Jackbox has to offer. Nothing but bangers here.
Worst purchase: Pack 6
D: I was going to take this opportunity to dunk on Pack 3 for being mediocre, but it has Guesspionage and that’s my honorable mention 4th place. Pack 6 marked a massive drop in quality and has me legitimately worried that they’ve finally spent all their good ideas. Not only are none of the games here better than meh, we’ve already seen them succeed at all of the ideas they failed at here with other games in different packs. Better trivia, better mad-libs, better social deduction, better everything somewhere else. I hope they get it together for Pack 7 because hoo boy this was a dud.
Kyle’s purchase recommendations:
Best purchase: Pack 5
K: Given that any Pack with a YDKJ is like the middle of a bingo board: this pack is super sound. While Zeeple Dome is an interesting swing (and a miss, more like a foul tip), the other three games do more than enough to pack the replays. Mad Verse City is a miles better version of Joke Boat, Patently Stupid is a more engaged and thought-out combo of the Drawful series, and Split The Room is one of the more original games to come out of the Jackbox lineup. A 4.5 out of 5 great games is a hard bunch to beat.
Worst purchase: Pack 6
K: What the Hell happened here? Knowing how broken Push The Button is and how sludge Joke Boat can be, Dictionarium feels like the lone winner here with its authentic setup, pleasant aesthetic, and a quick run time. Trivia Murder Party 2 is solidly rated with some nice Quality of Life improvements, but is ultimately more of the same (plus YDKJ is just better). Role Models is…an interesting concept, but there’s a distinct lack of competition, yet there’s points to be won. Any time this game gets played, there’s technically a winner, but no one ever knows where they place until the results. It’s just weird. This whole pack needs another run through the bug squasher and plenty more coats of polish, because getting one to two good games is not worth your money.