Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My life in board games...

When I was younger, my family used to play a lot of board games. Sure, it must have started out with things like Candyland and Snakes and Ladders, but pretty quickly we progressed to some serious board game playing. That's not to say that we didn't also play The Game of Life or Clue or Yahtzee sometimes too. We just weren't as serious about it.

And if you didn't know beforehand, know this about my family: we play to win. Only I didn't know that until recently. I would have never considered myself a competitive person, but I think growing up with a father and brother who were ruthless and determined to win every single time has rubbed off on me a little bit.

The game we probably played most often? Scattergories. Now Scattergories is my kind of game. I love word games. Scrabble, Boggle. But I think Scattergories is my favourite. It brings back memories of my dad and David and I sitting around the dining table squabbling over our answers. With that awful buzzer that scares the crap out of me still. So, so many fond memories of playing this game growing up. N and I play this now with our group of friends and I have a reputation now of taking the game 'too seriously' whatever that means!

The other thing, we used to do a lot, is play dominoes. I know it isn't technically a board game, but it is so definitive of my childhood that I had to include it. There was something a bit ritual about playing dominoes in our house. It would always happen in a certain way. I was always sitting opposite my dad, David was always sitting to the right of us. The dominoes would all be on the table, facing downward and my dad would shuffle the dominoes in these great big arm sweeps. I could close my eyes now and see the entire thing in my head for always.

As we were playing, my dad would offer advice and suggestions and when I was little and didn't know which domino to put down, he'd help me. We'd flip over my dominoes and he'd explain which one he thought I should put down and why the others wouldn't be suitable. I love playing dominoes.

We were never much for Chess or Checkers or even Risk like some other people I knew. But we were pretty big on our Monopoly. Like any family, we'd play by our own rules. Games would go on forever and it'd be these epic evenings of laughing and arguing and the constant repetition of going around and around the blasted board until finally, inevitably, I lost or gave up. I was definitely a spoilt brat and this would always be the board game where I'd get frustrated and might tip over the board because I'd landed on David's hotelled piece of property when I just needed to get past two more squares and be safe. Nobody wanted to play Monopoly with me after awhile!

Strangely, as I grew older, I came to collect different Monopoly boards. I have Monopoly boards from different places I've been (Seattle, LA, one University of Oregon board), I have a special edition Sydney Olympics board but my prized possession amongst this collection is my absolutely beautiful Wizard of Oz Monopoly board with the most gorgeous little pieces. N and I don't often (ever) play Monopoly, so I have no idea what I'm doing with this weird collection, but there you have it.

No, with N it's always been a different set of board games. I remember on one of our first dates, you might call them, we played a game of Scrabble in the cafe connected to Borders. It went on a little long, and N eventually started moving the pieces around (the cheat!) and I'd end up saying things like 'wow, that's a really great word!' all impressed when in fact, he was a big cheater! :) Still, I love to play Scrabble with him. We've bought ourselves a really fancy Scrabble board that I keep under my bedside table just in case either of us really feels like a late night game. Aren't we so rock-and-roll, eh?

And if I'm not mistaken, his family grew up playing Trivial Pursuit. I don't think I remember ever really playing it before I moved to England. We've got his old board, bought in the early 80s and it looks it. The questions are hilariously dated and obviously aimed at a British audience, so I lose quite often playing this game. We've since bought ourselves a Disney Trivial Pursuit (which I kick-ass at) as well as a more up-to-date version, though I don't remember us ever playing. I insist on placing the wedges into the little circle-thing in the same order that the colours are around on the board. Doesn't everyone?

I think the best part about how we play board games now is that we'll get a group together and play. It's quite fun, when a few friends come around and we stay up incredibly late playing board games. So we really try to choose games like Cranium that need more players. I remember once, the hilarity that ensued after someone chose to act out the 'International Sheepdog Trials' and leaped around the living room. Yes, I'm still laughing.

There are others. We have board games just about everywhere. The boys have their Hungry Hippos and children's board games. We keep some board games in the garage for easy access when our friends come around. There's another set of board games upstairs (Friends Scene-It springs to mind!) and I really treasure my memories of family-board-games and want to share that with my boys growing up. It's a thought that makes me happy.

Here are my favourite board games, what are yours?


  1. Taboo & Pictionary are 2 of the long-running favorites in my family. There's a card game called Set that I like. Mensa gave it an award back in the day, so I like to think playing it makes me smarter.

  2. I absolutely love Scattegories! I always used to play it with my aunt. :D I haven't played it for a while now though, maybe I should! :L Thanks for the reminder :D

  3. I've never played Scattegories or Cranium! With my family, it's all about Monopoly. You wouldn't believe how competitive it gets. Be a loser at Monopoly and you're mocked for life :P. I like Scrabble too though (but only when I win - which isn't too often!).

  4. I love Scattergories, Settlers of Catan, Lost Cities, and Killer Bunnies.

  5. As a kid I really enjoyed Risk, and have since graduated to other strategy games. Settlers of Catan is a staple, but I've played it so much I have to admit that I'm a bit worn out with it (and it makes me homesick for Oregon). I really enjoy Nexus Ops, a little Sci-Fi wargame, and cooperative horror games like Arkham Horror.

    Great idea for a post!

  6. Scattergories is my all-time favorite game! Your post makes me want to host a game night soon with my friends. We always have so much fun.

  7. I love pictionary and my friend has a version where you have to make models out of playdough instead of drawing it. I can't for the life of me remember it's name but it's hilarious.

    I've always loved yatzee too. I have to confess I'm rubbish at scrabble but I love rummikub which is probably my favorite game :o)

  8. Trivial Pursuit is popular with our family, as well as Monopoly. We've got London and the Isle of Wight - last Christmas I think most regions of the UK had their own version released. I'm terrible at Monopoly, and always lose, but I enjoy it. (I do, however, kick butt at Disney Trivial Pursuit! :D)

  9. I really, really love Cluedo but never play it because I get so horribly competitive and probably take it all slightly too seriously...

  10. I, 'N' would like to take the opportunity to elaborate.

    1) Either single player, as part of a duo, old style or new style I am undefeated at Trivial Pursuits, :)

    2) In scattegories M's competitiveness is unbelievable. Apparently 'Kevin' cannot be cold because 'no, just no' which I take to mean, he's not a thing. Funny though when M puts lifeguard for 'things found at the beach', a person then IS a thing. How odd... :p

  11. I love board games. As a child me and my brother played loads, Hungry Hippos, Guess Who?, and Mouse Trap were favourites.

    One of the nice parts of being in halls of residence this year is that my flatmates like board games too, in the first semester we played lots of games of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuits and Blockbusters (I'm the only one old enough to remember the game show).

    I played Cranium for the first time on New Year's Eve, I was very impressed by it and will definitely add it to my own collection.

    I love that you included dominoes, as a family we've always played dominoes and cards (I always have a pack of cards nearby). I remember learning dominoes in exactly the same way you did, though sometimes it would be my grandad teaching rather than my dad.

  12. Fabulous post! I *love* board games, though people rarely want to play them with me for some reason. (Okay, it's because I'm super competitive). My mum refuses point blank to play me at Scrabble because she says that it's about making the best word you can, and that I'm too strategic with the bonus word score squares etc. But no! *Winning* is the point of the game, surely?!

    I've never played Scattergories, but it does sound like I'm missing out. It sounds pretty similar to Balderdash, which is awesome. And I love the idea of having different Monopoly sets. Fun!

  13. I absolultely adore board games of any kind. Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble would certainly count amongst my favourites but I do love so many others like Cluedo, Pictionary and even other silly games like Bingo. I've yet to play Cranium, but that's next on my list of board games to conquer.

  14. Charley - Taboo and Pictionary, there are some wonderful games! Sounds like lots of fun is to be had :)

    Bella - Yes, Scattergories is definitely my favourite. Happy to remind you of such a great game!

    Liz - You should definitely look out for Scattergories and Cranium, there are such fun! (Way more than boring Monopoly!)

    LinWash - Wow, I've not heard of any of those but Scattergories!

    Kenny - ..Again, I've not heard of any of those but Risk. Homesick for Oregon doesn't make it sound more appealing either, I'm already dealing with that!

    Avid Reader - Yes! Game night! :)

    Sarah - Rapidough? There's a bit in Cranium where you use playdoh for that reason too. It's fun.

    Katie Edwards - Disney Trivial Pursuit is where it's at, in my opinion! :)

    Sya - Cluedo! There's a great game :) We used to play that as a family as well, but I didn't include it because I never won, and that makes a difference!

    N - PAH! You don't win at Trivial Pursuit .. do you? I'm totally right in saying that 'Kevin' doesn't count for cold. I DIDN'T GET A POINT FOR LIFEGUARD BECAUSE YOU SAID PEOPLE ARE NOT THINGS. I don't think Kevin works because Kevins aren't always cold. There could be a Kevin roasting in tropical weather somewhere. He's not always cold, poor Kevin.

    Jenni - I don't remember ever having Hungry Hippos. The boys have it now though, so it's OK. Playing games with a dorm full of people sounds wonderful! We have to wait until friends from London drive down to see us!

    Dominoes was huge in our house, as were card games. I figured I'd write a separate post about them!

    Lauren - Winning is indeed the point of the game, I'm with you there! You should totally check out Scattergories. It is sort of similar to Balderdash (which I also love) but funner. I think anyway.

    Tammy - Bingo! I'm also a fan of bingo, even though there isn't a lot to it..

  15. Hi! I love Spontuneous. It's a family board game that is based on that tendency we all have to blurt out a song when we hear a certain phrase. it's really fun; you can find out what music the kids like and share your own, and it always leads to discussions.


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