Friday Favorites: Board Games

Friday, August 24, 2012

There was a time in my life when I use to tell people I liked things even if I didn't. It was my way of impressing them. Particularly guys. They'd ask, "Oh do you like doing X?" and I'd respond with an enthusiastic "Yeah, you bet I do!" Then, of course, they would invariably ask me to do X and find out I was terribly bad at it (e.g., bowling, billiards, and darts).

In graduate school I started dating a guy who asked me if I liked board games. In my head I was certain he wouldn't like me if I responded "Not really, board games are for old people," so I told a little fib, which seemed convincing enough, and he somehow got the impression that I liked playing board games. His next question, I kid you not, was "Great. Do you want to come play board games with me on Tuesday night? I play at the nursing home in Takoma Park." My mouth dropped but I quickly agreed. So we went and I played. At first I was horrible, confused by colorful pieces and complicated rules. I got distracted easily and just wanted to play the one game I already knew. Eventually though I got better and started to actually enjoy our Tuesday night outings. (In truth, I adore old people. Secretly I am one of them. I even minored in gerontology in college, so I kinda dig hanging out with the gray hairs.) Soon I was adding games to my own personal collection and giving them out as wedding gifts. Booya! Because the thing about games is, you are never too old to play them. Plus it sharpens your problem-solving abilities, fosters social interactions, and empowers you with a victory high. (Jane McGonigal wrote all about this in her smart book, which I also recommend.)

Fast forward a few years and I actually ended up marrying a gamer, which means those mad skills I learned have come in handy. Next time you are wondering what to do with a Sunday night, get a few friends together and break out that dusty board game sitting at the back of your closet.

Some of my favorite games include:

Lost Cities: This is the ultimate two player game for people age 10 and up. I like this game because it involves starting and forming expeditions, which appeals to my adventurous side. The goal of the game is to get the most points before your opponent. An entire game can be played in less than 30 minutes, which makes it a fun best two out of three match.

Sequence: "It's fun. It's challenging. It's exciting. It's Sequence!" With a tagline like that how can you NOT be hooked? This game is ideal for two to three players. (You can play up to six players if you have two on a team.) Chips are placed on face card pictures with the objective being to get two rows of five tiles (a sequence) before your opponent. Easy enough for children 7+, but variable enough for adults. Plus Sequence is a great gift-giving game.

Tsuro: Game of The Path is not only a beautiful board game it's kind of an allegory to life. Stay on the path. Whatever path you choose. This game is for two to eight players and can be played with anyone 8+. It is a quick game and takes very little explanation. Sometimes I like to get all new agey and tell stories about its mystical meaning to the people I'm playing with.They really dig that.

Dominion:  This is probably the most complex game for two to four players, age 13+. The general gist of this game is you are trying to purchase as much land as possible to build up your rockin' kingdom. Nerd alert. A turn consists of playing an action or buying money/new cards. This game moves fairly quickly and changes each time you play it. 

Of course there are a billion other games out there, but this is just a small sampling. Ever in doubt about what game to purchase? I'd encourage a pilgrimage to your local game shop. Game shop owners love to talk strategy and tell you all about their favorite games.


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