Thursday, January 31, 2008

Favorite Games--Plus Some Future Favorites

CatchphraseEvery once in a while you need a good game--maybe it's a party where you need some cheap entertainment or maybe it's just a family night where you want something that adults and kids can play--but I love finding a good game, it can provide hours and hours of fun and promote some priceless conversation.

Here's my list of favorite games, some require a purchase others require nothing but a good group of people. It's always nice to get recommendations for these kinds of things before investing twenty or thirty (or more) dollars so if I've missed your favorite please let me know because I'm always in the market.

1. Catchphrase. This one's been out for a while but I always enjoy it. You pass the little round gadget around a circle where players for two teams are seated alternately. The timer ticks as each player tries to get the others on his/her team to guess which word the gadget is flashing. Once the timer runs out the game lets out a beeping sound and whichever team is holding is game is penalized--kind of like hot potato. You can set the game to different categories if you wish but I've found that even the kids can play it, though occasionally they'll have to skip an unfamiliar word. We've played it plenty of times at family parties.

2. Prese prese. This game needs no pieces or products, just a group of people sitting in a circle. One person is designated as the president (or "prese" which is pronounced "PREZ-ay," the words are Spanish and they fit better that way), one as the vice president (or vice, pronounced "VEES-ay"), secretary (secre, pronounced "SEC-ray") and the rest of the players are just numbered one, two, three, etc. The players sit in order of rank around the circle, president to lowest number, and it's like concentration, everyone slaps their hands on their laps twice then snaps their fingers twice--all together in the same rhythm.

The president starts out by saying (in time with the rhythm as everyone slaps their laps) "prese, prese" then pauses for two beats as everyone snaps twice, then when everyone slaps their laps a second time the president calls out someone else's name in time with the rhythm. It could be "vice, vice" or "three, three" or whatever, but whoever it is that he/she calls out picks up the game and is in charge of repeating their own title followed by someone else's title. On and on in time with the rhythm until someone messes up by either missing a beat (even a little bit) or by calling out their own name twice accidentally or any number of other goof-ups. If someone messes up the game stops for a minute as he/she goes to the end of the line (or circle I guess) and the bottom of seniority.

Everyone else moves up a spot and in this way everyone tries to work their way up the chain of command by being on-game. It may sound silly but it really is a fun game, and even the teens I know like it.

3. Pinochle. You may remember me mentioning that I didn't know how to play Pinochle but would like to learn? Well some friends read that post and happened to be in the market for a new set of Pinochle partners so we got an invite to learn how to play. We had a fabulous time and I've liked the game ever since. I need to get them over for another game, my skills are getting rusty. Ha! Like they were ever sharp to begin with!

Scattergories4. Wallyball. If you like racquetball and you like volleyball then wallyball might be the game for you. It's volleyball played in a racquetball court where you can play the ball off of the walls. I did a post about it last winter so for more details I'll direct you there.

5. Scattergories. I love word games and trivia games and particularly like classics like Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary but Scattergories is my favorite, it just never gets old for me.

Stare6. Stare. But this, THIS is a new game for me and I think I might like it just as much as the classics. We played it with friends a month or two ago and had a terrific time. It's pretty simple, you get a card with a picture on it and you're allowed 20 seconds to look at the picture before the other players ask you detailed questions about what you just saw. Strictly a test of memory. Sounds easy, right? Well we got our bottoms whupped and it wasn't pretty but it just goes to show how fun the game is because I still had a good time even though I lost so pitiably. There is a junior edition too.

7. Golf. The card game, not the sport. This is one of our traditional games we play as a family when we're out camping or something like that. It's played with a regular deck of face cards where kings are zero points and aces are one point. All other face cards are 10 points and all cards besides them are their regular point value. The dealer deals out four cards to each player who places them in front of himself either in a line or in a group of four as a rectangle. The player is allowed to look at only two of the cards. ONLY TWO. The player must remember those two cards and the rest of the deck is placed in the middle with the top card turned over as a discard pile.

When it's your turn you can choose to pick a card from the discard pile or from the deck but you must discard one card on every turn. The object is to get as few a points with your four cards as possible--remembering that kings are zero and aces are one--by drawing, swapping cards and discarding to get the fewest points possible. You don't know what two of your cards are so it's always a gamble to replace them with a new card, but when you think you have the fewest points on your turn you "knock" instead of drawing, then everyone else gets one more turn before turning over their cards to see who really did have the fewest points. If you were right and you are the lowest then you don't get any points but if you're wrong and someone beat you then you get triple what's in your hand. Fun fun fun.

Scrabble8. Scrabble. Oh how I love Scrabble. Traditional, challenging, strategic, thought-provoking, and (sadly) played no more around here. This post explains it pretty thoroughly and someday I'm hoping he'll play with me once again. If I let him win.

9. President and Scum. Another terrific card game that I've played for years and never grown tired of. The kids love it now and we'll play for rounds and rounds. Here is a post from last year that has all the wherefores and how-tos.

10. Mafia. Another party game that is always fun--this one takes a group of about twelve or so though it's flexible. Everyone draws a slip of paper, two of which are marked with "cop" and two of which are marked with "mafia." Whoever draws one of these slips keeps it quiet--it's a secret who got which paper. One person has to play the boss/mediator and will not draw but will help everyone else to navigate the game.

The boss tells everyone to close their eyes, then tells the cops to open their eyes--so they can discover each other. The boss then has the cops close their eyes and has the mafia open theirs--once again for recognition--then close them. Then the game begins. The boss once again has the cops open their eyes and signal who they think is mafia then the boss quietly signals back whether they were right or not. He has them close their eyes again then has the mafia open theirs and pick someone that they want to eliminate (or "kill" if you're feeling violent).

Once the mafia have closed their eyes again the boss announces who is dead and whether or not the cops were able to determine who the mafia were (no names though). Then the game opens up to the rest of the players and they're to decide which person they think is mafia--this is usually done by a simple vote mediated by the boss. When all the players have voted for whoever they think is most likely to be mafia that person is then officially out of the game--eliminated. At that point it's fine for them to say what job, if any, they held. That's one complete round. On and on the game goes, round after round, with mafia killing off person after person, trying to kill off the two cops and the cops trying to figure out who is mafia and then convince the rest of the group to vote the mafia out. It's hard for the cops to convince everyone who is mafia without looking suspicious or attracting the attention of the mafia who want to find out who the cops are so they can kill them. Got it? The game ends when either the two mafia or the two cops are killed off. If the mafia are the only ones left then they win and the group loses, if the cops can get the mafia voted out then they and the rest of the group wins. It's a group-against-mafia thing.

Confusing but really fun--a classic family game around here but I have to say I'm the world's worst mediator/boss because I always forget the steps to each round. Once I forgot who the mafia had killed and when everyone opened their eyes I couldn't remember who was then eliminated. D'uh. But give it a try and see if you're better at it than I am.

Settlers of Catan11. Settlers of Catan. A terrific German board game where, in true take-over-the-world fashion, you seek to build up your roads, settlements and cities through collecting resources by a roll of the dice. It's not crazy-hard to learn (we play as a family and the kids don't have any trouble keeping up) but there are a lot of small intricacies and you need to pay attention--it can get rather dicey with competition and the game can switch directions on a single round of play, throwing a new player into the lead.

Don't play it with someone who tends toward aggression--it could get ugly--but it's a five-star game for sure. We've been playing it nonstop since Christmas and need to get the expansion edition because our 4-person game can't accommodate the whole family. Everyone wants to play.

Apples to Apples12. Apples to Apples. Also an amazingly fun and entertaining party game that we've enjoyed a lot of lately. We've even been able to play with the kids and even Lillian can play with a little help. Everyone holds cards that each have one item on them. It could be anything from Elton John to erasers to Elmer's glue. Players rotate the roll of judge who draws a card from a separate deck that has an adjective on it. It could "zany" or "dirty" or whatever and the rest of the group throws in the card from their hand that they think best typifies the adjective played. Then the judge gets the final say on which card fits best and the player who played it gets to keep the adjective card as a trophy. The player who collects five cards first wins. The kids love it, though they also have a junior edition of this game too.

Acquire13. Acquire. Just what it says, the player who collects the most wins--it's the American system at its best! It's kind of like Monopoly, but without the dice and the element of chance. It's kind of like Risk because you're trying to take over the financial world but without the army guys. It's been around since the 1960s but it's a family favorite that my sister and her husband introduced us to years ago. The only problem here is that the original game has been "out of print" for some time and now is only available used through sites like ebay. You'll see other versions of the game, even some with similar covers, but beware because unless you've paid over $100 for your version or inherited it, it's probably not the real thing.

That's 13 and I'll stop there but here are five more games that have come highly recommended that are sitting, waiting for me in my Amazon shopping cart for our next game purchase:

Munchkin--A card game that's a spoof on Dungeons and Dragons where you battle such enemies as the Potted Plant, the Drooling Slime, the Plutonium Dragon, the stoned Ogre, Don the Horny Helmet and Boots of Butt-Kicking. Very popular with the teens.

Ticket to Ride--A board game representing a coast-to-coast railway journey where you compete to complete your track. There are various versions of the game that set it in different locales but you get the idea. I've heard it's also fun.

Aggravation--This is one I loved as a kid that kind of reminds me of Chinese Checkers. Very fun and easy for young children. I'll probably put it on Santa's list for the coming year.

Puerto Rico--Another German strategy game (what is it with those Germans??) where players play different roles (plantation owner, builder, trader, etc.) in colonial Puerto Rico. It has the advantage of a historical twist but it's supposedly great fun to play.

Tikal--This game got such amazing reviews that it immediately piqued my interest. I don't know much more than what it describes on the product page but I've decided it will be our next game purchase.

***

If you're up for a double dose Scribbit, I'm posting this week over at Design Mom--see you there!


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50 comments:

luvmy4sons said...

Great ideas. Thanks for this post!

Sandy Carlson said...

These are fun the Presse game sounds like a good one whenever there's a bunch of kids around.

You taught me quite a lot today. Thanks.

Deanna Dahlsad said...

I love board games so I guess the reason why so many of them were new to me means I spend more time in thrift shoppes than at real stores, huh? Well, I feel an Amazon wish list comin' on now!

Happy TT!

Linds said...

Ticket to Ride and Puerto Rico are both great games! We played them in NZ last year and loved them. PR is definitely not for younger children... it took me forever to understand, but it is great when you do!
I agree...Scattergories is superb and we never get tired of it. Scrabble too. I will NEVER allow Risk in my house again though. It triggers something close to WW3!

Edi said...

I had never read your Scrabble post before - so I enjoyed reading it when you linked to it.

I am an avid Scrabbler (if that's a word??) with no one to Scrabble with :( My old competitor (mom) is 1000 miles away...my friend another Scrabbler moved away years ago and my dh refuses to play it with me...he played once on a blizzardy weekend about 10 yrs ago and he won - so he went out victorious. It is not his game at all.

My dd is 8 - not much of a challenge there...but maybe in a few years I'll have a player.

I do not like playing for "fun" or letting someone win (except a child)...I once played with some older ladies that wanted to use a dictionary for their turn - shudder.

Joanna said...

We play lots and lots of board games, in lieu of watching TV. We're fans of Settlers, Puerto Rico, Ticket to Ride, Catchphrase, & Apples to Apples. Another fun game that's a bit more portable than most you might want to check out is Fluxx. We play it all the time, too.

And, I'm a Scrabbler, but after losing too many games, my husband won't play with me anymore, so it's gotten shelved at our house too.

Mrs. W said...

If you like Settlers of Catan, try Carcassone. We love it.

Amber M. said...

At my in-laws one year, we had to have a family council after a game of Risk. We tend towards aggression:-)

I have fond memories of playing Presidents and Scum at your house on Christmas Eve. So fun.

Darla said...

I was wondering about Settlers of Catan--now that you've seconded all the recommendations on Amazon, I think maybe I'll get it for this summmer vacation.

Laura said...

LOVE, LOVE Pinochle! Hubby and I search high and low for people to play with every time we move! And Wallyball sound like a ton of fun! Happy T-13!

Babystepper said...

Man, and my next couple TTs were going to be about board games. You stole my thunder.

Oh well. Thanks for the great ideas! I love mafia as well.

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

These look fun! Thanks for the recommendations.

Maddy said...

I'm always amazed at the choice these days, and that's just in Target.

Mine are becoming fiendish about Blokus, so that might have to be my next investment.
Cheers

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Oh, my husband and I just adore Scrabble. We hadn't played it in years and just bought the deluxe edition the other day. It's a dangerous game for us (well, all games are dangerous for us) because we are so brutally competitive...hopefully our nightly games won't end in divorce :)

fullbodytransplant said...

Apples is really great. Awesome reviews, thanks.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Love "Mafia." I don't know many other people who've played the game, so extra points for you today.

How about Nertz? Have you played that?

Teachin' this mommy new tricks! said...

Ha ha! Catan has taken over your life too! Glad to have introduced it to you guys! We have the expantion and the expantion part called "cities and knights" you will like it!

There is also a game called Banaza which is another favorate of ours! We will need to play it when we get up there!

The Secret Life of Kat said...

I love Settlers of Catan - although we have to play without the Robber - he causes too much angst in our family...

Mercy's Maid said...

Good games! Have you ever played Nertz (or Dutch Blitz)? It's one of my favorites. Very fast paced and fun with a lot of people.

BTW, I joined Etsy and added you as a favorite.

Amy said...

I love these games that you have listed and it helps me when I am doing our thrift shopping too. The Apples to Apples game is such a blast. We play that a lot in my mom's group- it is just great fun!

I am going to have to check out some of these and add them to our Christmas wish list. Thank you!

poppy fields said...

I love good old Scrabble.

Fresh Girl said...

Wow, you introduced me to a bunch of games I'd never heard of before! Scrabble's my all-time favorite though! :)

My TT is up, too.

mumple said...

Taboo is fun too, especially if you and your partner in the game think alike--you can kick butt!

Scrabble is an old standby in our family. It's also a great & fun way to get your learning-to-read child to manipulate letters and words. (We use it weekly, either Scrabble or it's Jr version)

Jenna said...

Great list! I love many of these games too. We have an entire walk-in closet full of games and puzzles, and we have so many people in our family that we never have to invite anyone over to play! I especially love Settlers. Very good action.

Geekwif said...

We are completely addicted to Settlers of Catan. The expansion pack helps a lot. Even at 4 people the board can get pretty crowded. The expansion gives you a bit more space and with it more opportunity to compete for the longest road.

The game expansions are a lot of fun, but the Cities and Knights expansion is VERY complicated - maybe too complicated for younger children.

Anonymous said...

My friend Kristi sent me to your site, because she knows how I love board games. Thanks for all the info. We own a lot of the ones you do!

We got Settlers for Christmas and liked it SOOOOOOOOOO much that my son asked for Citys and Knights, and Seafarers (which you add on to Settlers) for his birthday. He will open those this weekend, so I am anxious to see what we think!

pussreboots said...

They sound like fun. Happy TT.

Nicholas said...

I enjoy Scrabble and Scattergories, but I don't know many people who like to indulge, so opportunities to play are infrequent.

Katherine said...

We love board games too. My BIL gets the kids new games every year - this year was Settlers. We've also enjoyed Ticket to Ride, San Juan, St. Petersburg, Bohnanza (almost all German games, I think).

My 9yo just got Blokus for his birthday and we're really enjoying it.

Makita said...

We love games! We have an annual gaming weekend with friends ('08 will be the 5th year) every Labor Day weekend (Thr-Sun - non-stop gaming).
Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride & Munchkin are amongst our favorites!
We also enjoy Carcassonne (we actually have ALL the expansion sets) and The Great Dalmuti.

Inkling said...

We are addicted to Settlers over here. We've added the expansions of Seafarers and Cities and Knights to shake things up a bit. There is so much variety in it - way, way better than the Monopoly I used to love as a kid. There are so many scenarios that you would be hard pressed to run out of strategies and ways to set up the board. And if you like Settlers, you will definitely like Puerto Rico. It is very fun, though it is most fun with more than 4 people. In keeping with the German game makers, we also like Carcassone. I'd recommend getting the "big box" edition with all the expansions, because you'll end up wanting them.

What is amazing about this is that I haven't been a game person since about the age of 12. I always avoided it....that is, until I found out about Settlers.

Micki said...

Newbie here - I love this list!! My DH and I made a New Year's Resolution to play more games together. I'm a big Scrabble fan, but I really love the variant of Speed Scrabble. It's more fun with at least three players. Sadly, my hubby doesn't like word games, so I wait until family gatherings. But it's worth the wait!

imadramamama said...

I used to lvoe CatchPhrase! But now I have noone to play it with!

KJ said...

We love Settlers of Catan and Scattergories, too. Another favorite of ours is called Zobmondo (or Would you Rather). There is a "lite" version that is more family-friendly topic-wise than the original. It can get awfully dang hysterical when your auntie is required to enthusiastically sniff the armpit of the person to her left...It's a great game for those willing to let their guard down a bit...

Lara said...

Most of these are on my favorites list, too. I haven't heard of acquire, and it's been lots of years since I played Prese.

We got a new kind of Catchphrase for Christmas...music edition. SO much fun.

Islandsparrow said...

We are big Settlers of Catan here at our house. We have Cities and Knights too - even more fun!!

We like Presidents and Scum too.

Have you ever played Dutch Blitz? A great card game developed by either the Mennonites or the Amish - which is surprising since it's so competitive!

Also Spoons - a game played with a regular deck of cards and spoons. Check out the rules here - http://www.pagat.com/eights/spoons.html

Leslie said...

Oh, what a great list. We're game-lovers in our family. Mostly trivia. And 80s trivia has become an epic battle.

MommyTime said...

We love Taboo in our house -- a great game for a group of people, where you work in teams to guess the word that's on the card. The person giving clues has a short list of words he/she can't say, and someone with a buzzer pays attention to violations. It's really fun.

I've never heard of this Settlers of Catan game, but apparently I must check it out! Thanks for such a fun list.

Sea Star said...

I have played most of those and will look into the others that you have listed. MY kids are finally getting old enough to play a few board games with.

Journeywoman said...

Great games.

I love the idea of Mafia.

Though does no one play Encore?

Loralee Choate said...

There are several games on that list I LOVE.

I'm also a fan of Clue, Boggle, and other classics.

I'm also a freak of trivia nature, so I love all of those types of games.

My kids are fans of "Are you smarter than a Fifth Grader"

Elizabeth...mommy...etc said...

we love SETTLERS at our house. :-) *elizabeth

Anonymous said...

If you love Settlers, check out Elfenland or Carcassone. Both wonderful games, well made, and able to be played with nearly all family members from 5 on up. These games only get better each time you play them as players' understanding of of the strategy increases. Look on www.funagaingames.com. They have reviews of each game and more.

Also, Blokus is fun and beatifully made. Easy to understand, hard to master.

Amy said...

Can all of you come over and play games with me? I have such a hard time finding people to play with!

I second Taboo and Dutch Blitz/Nertz recommendations.

rivster said...

Great suggestions! I've been wanting my husband to branch out (his idea of game night is poker with his buddies!!) and this will give him so viable choices!

Anonymous said...

I just purchased a new game that the whole family can play. We have lots of fun with it. It is called Blokco. 4 players can play. Each player is a different color and has an assortment of shapes to place on the board. After a while you have to try to fit your remaining pieces in. One one with the least amount of pieces wins. My 5 year old twins play with no problem. It's great to have a game in which the little ones and the bigger kids can play together - no reading involved.

Alli said...

I found your blog from the designmom blog! I love pretty much all of the games you have listed on here, the others I have either not heard of or haven't played, haha.
I just thought I'd add another game to your list, Parcheesi!! It has been a favorite of my family's for I have no idea how long. It's basically the original type of Sorry game if you haven't played it before, but it can get pretty cut-throat and that's why my family has dubbed it "The Meanie Game"
Scattergories was also a family favorite when I was little, but I haven't played it in years! This makes me want to go out and by my own set of it!

Pieces said...

Oh, I love Acquire. I wish you were here to play it with me--I have a hard time getting my family to. I have heard that some people print the pieces and instructions off the internet and build their own game but I don't know where they found it. I agree that you would probably like Carcasonne too.

ames said...

Settlers is such a great game, but very true about the aggression!

We added a rule to Apples to Apples that you can argue your case for the card you play, man did that make it an entirely different game! It's pretty crazy when Sharks win for the sexy card.

allie said...

Ticket to ride is the funnest game I have ever played! Get that one next!