When was the last time you played a board game? And I’m not talking about the “board games” that you play on TV (Scene It), or virtual board games you can play on iPads. I’m talking about actually sitting around a table with a game in front of you. I’m talking about “roll-the-dice-it’s-your-turn” or “time’s-up-put-your-pencils-down” types of games. Board games, people!
It’s been a while, right? I know it’s been a while for me. Because why drag out a box with a bunch of pieces and sit at a table when I can curl up on the couch and slide my finger across a small screen and watch as tiny birds soar by? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because board games are FUN and they force you to be social (something we all need to work on in this cold, networking age). And most of them (the good ones) don’t have to be charged after a few hours. I mean, you know how long it takes to play Monopoly. One does not simply stop playing Monopoly just to recharge batteries (though one may need to go to bed to recharge their own body’s battery and continue the next day).
Remember the days when board games were pretty much the only kind of games out there? My friends and I would spend countless weekends playing awesome board games like Stratego, Life, Payday, Clue, Yahtzee, and one of my personal faves, The Sweet Valley High Board Game, in which your character had to go shopping and buy all the right items for their chosen date, played in the style of the matching game Memory. Whoever finds their date first, wins! Shallowness at its best.
Another game I love to play, and what I think may be the best board game in the world, is Scattergories. That’s the one where you get a list of 12 categories, like “A Boy’s Name”, “Cartoon Character”, “Appliance Brand Name”, etc, and then you roll the giant die with all the letters of the alphabet (except for Q, X, and Z), and then the answers of the category have to start with whatever letter the die lands on. The fun part is hearing everyone’s answers (the larger the group, the better) and trying to be the only one with a certain answer. Many a laugh is had during the playing of that game.
And of course I can’t talk about board games without mentioning Trivial Pursuit, which is also a favorite of mine. I’m a huge trivia buff (duh), and I love to be challenged by other people who are trivia nerds. Luckily I have a husband with a wealth of pointless knowledge, and together we’ve branched out into other trivia realms like Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit, and The Beatles Trivial Pursuit. Of course it’s more fun to play with other people who know a lot about those movies. We once played LOTR TP with another couple who had only seen the movies once or twice and we annihilated them. The game was over so quickly that it wasn’t even that fun – and I’m sure the other couple was bored out of their minds (and maybe they hated us a little). So if you’re going to play genre-specific trivia games like that, make sure everyone is on the same page.
For a while it seemed that board games were a thing of the past, almost as extinct as the dinosaurs. Stores stopped selling them unless they were some new version of Monopoly, and people resorted to video games and apps. Soon it seemed that the only place you could find board games were at garage sales and thrift stores. But thanks to people like Wil Wheaton, who created his own You Tube show called Table Top, which is simply him and his friends playing a different board game together every week, it seems like board game playing may be on the rise again. You can still find board games at Target and such stores, but at a lot of malls (at least here in Minnesota) still have the stores Games by James, where you can find a lot of games. Barnes and Noble also has an awesome selection of award-winning board games I like to buy as Christmas gifts. There are some really fun games out there that are great for those cold winter nights, or just when you don’t feel like going out and spending money. If you need a starting out point, here’s a present for you:
- Trivial Pursuit (the Genus edition is the original, but there are many different varieties)
- Scattergories (it’s fun to make up your own categories, too)
- Outburst (not sold in stores anymore, but easily found at thrift stores for super cheap)
- Taboo (makes a great party game – it can get loud!)
- Aggravation (it’s all about strategy and pissing off the other guy)
- Monopoly (again, many different editions, but the original is the best)
- Yahtzee (try to get them all in order of how they’re listed on the score sheet)
- Cranium (fun for every type of gamer)
- Mad Gab (makes you hear things differently)
- Apples to Apples (make sure you play with the right people)
I know I’m probably missing a few, and I know there are a lot out there that I haven’t even played, but my goal for 2013 is to get back into the board game groove. The call of Smurfs Village and Angry Birds and Spelltower may be great, but iPads eventually die out. Board games live forever (unless you lose game pieces, of course). But you know what I mean.
Board games in 2013!!! Who’s with me?