Something I've always encountered from running regular meetup nights (shameless plug here what whaaaaat) is how many times a group of people come in at the same time. Whelp, there go plans to play Treasure Island at five, or Root at six. So what to do in situations like this? Sometimes the best thing is to break up into smaller groups. And sometimes, when you've got a really good group of people going that want to stay together, finding something that can play more people isn't such a bad idea. Here are some games that I love to bring to the table when I'm playing with a larger group! (and don't worry, nothing like 8 player Game of Thrones that will last 8 hours.)
Captain Sonar is basically like Battleship, but expanded into an intense 4v4 game of real-time intensity to find and destroy one another! Playing up to 8 players, you'll be on two separate teams, and each player will take a different, yet crucial role on their respective submarine. To win, triangulate the other team's location, and attack them until their health is down.
Not only is it a great teamwork exercise, but I love it for the fact that it's partially co-operative, and also partially competitive. You have a team that you can rely on and communicate with, and yet you're also in competition with the other team, scratching both itches at once (ahhh). Not only that, but each role plays differently as well, so playing again, being in charge of a different function of your sub is a lot of fun and a great way to find your true calling to be a submarine captain or professional eavesdropper, I mean radio operator.
Some call it Diamant, and some call it Incan Gold (I like Diamant for those pretty little treasure chests). Whatever you call it, we can all probably agree that it's synonymous with fun...and also maybe greed.
Diamant is a push your luck game that can play up to 8 people where you're all explorers delving into a ruin for gems and treasure. And of course, there's traps too. Treasures you find are split among whoever choses to continue exploring the ruin, but if you trigger two of the same trap, you lose all you've collected, so sometimes chickening out early to save your treasures is cowardly yet wise. What I love most about this game is how easy it is to teach. Players basically have two choices: continue or go home. What happens next is up to you and you'll just have to live with those choices (i.e. go big or go home!)
Put 'em up high! Most Wanted is a quick game that surprisingly handles high player counts really well (8, in fact). Be the most notorious cowboy/girl/person in the west by activating locations on the board with the best pokerhand you've got! Only trouble is that, just like in poker, you're free to bluff your hand and only the best (or sometimes, the only one) get to activate a location's ability to either get more cards, get money, or start a duel with another player!
It's simple to play, easy to teach, and the climb to the top feels like a lot of stepping on each other's faces to get that. It's great.
Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space
In space, no one can hear you scream...because Escape is a quiet game. And it's not quiet in a bad way. More like "I'm afraid the aliens will find me, so I have to be quiet" kind of quiet. Up to 8 players are going to be given their own player board with a map on it. And you'll also be given a card that will tell you whether you're human or an alien. With no player pieces to show where anyone is on the board, you're quietly marking and making notes of all the movements of other players with a dry erase marker, either running for an escape pod if you're a human. Or hunting your prey, as the alien.
If there's a "gamer's game" that can play at a higher count of people, this is definitely one of my favourite ones. There's bluffing, lies, deduction, and a ton of tense moments that keep each game fresh and exciting.
So you want a bluffing and social negotiation game? Well, look no further! Goodcritters takes the fan favourite premise of Cash 'n Guns and does away with the foam guns to point at each other. What you're left with is a gamier version of "one for you, two for me" as you take turns playing as a mob boss choosing how to split the loot amongst yourself and your gang. Don't feel like giving anything to that person complaining too loudly? Yeah, you can totally gyp anyone that crosses you. If you cross too many people though...don't be surprised when someone threatens to rob you or vote to no longer keep you as the boss.
Your trust levels in this game will fluctuate like a roller coaster, and it's a great game to take lightly and casually, all the while making a mess of things with your friends.