Thursday, June 6, 2013

Great board games

I am insanely competitive.  Unfortunately I am also extremely unathletic and uncoordinated which means I get very few opportunities to unleash my competitiveness.  For some reason there are not a lot of competitive book reading events, at least not for adults.  I did win the summer book reading contest at Mississauga Valley Library when I was a kid which was pretty much the crowning achievement of my bookish childhood.  Sadly, I was denied a repeat victory when some ne'er do well 10 year old cheated (CHEATED I tell you!) and read nothing but Dick and Jane style books to up her book count.  But, I mean, it was almost 30 years ago so I am totally over it, I mean, it would be pretty weird for me to still be obsessing over it, right?

Dick and Jane
I, for one, don't find it all that funny.
Still, would it kill them to put an asterisk next to her name on the (probably non existent) commemorative plaque hanging somewhere deep in the library?

Anyhoo, moving on to topics that don't make me sound like a crazy person, I am a wee bit competitive and need some healthy avenues to express this side of my personality so I am a big fan of board and card games.  I am not a big fan of video games, not out of any deeply held philosophical position on them but because I am no good at them.  I like games that I have a shot at winning!

Old School Frogger
The only video game I was ever any good at.  
Here are some really good games that you can play with your family.  The names of the games link to places where you can buy the games.

Settlers of Catan
1.  Settlers of Catan  The recommended age for this game is 10 and up and that is a good guideline but I have played it with 8 year olds and they have been fine.   The great thing about this game is it is different every time you play it because you reconfigure the board each time.  The more people playing, the longer it takes but it doesn't take more than an hour even with four new people playing it.  You can buy expansion packs if you have more than 4 people playing.  The object of the game is to get 10 points which you get by building settlements and roads and things like that.  It is like a cross between Risk and Monopoly.  There is also a junior version, called Kids of Catan for kids starting at about age 4.

Mastermind game2.  Mastermind.  A great two player game.  The recommended age is 8 and up for this one.  Littler kids
will have a hard time picking the right pegs to tell you if you have guessed correctly or not which makes the game sort of unplayable.  If you get two kids over 8 though they can and will play for hours if they are anything like me and my kids.

Forbidden Island
3.  Forbidden Island.  This game is targeted at kids 10 and up but it is a co-operative game so younger kids can play too with a little help from an older player.  Players work together to collect some treasures and get off an island before it sinks.  Now, co-operative games go against my very nature but once in a while I can be coerced into playing nice with others.  It takes about 30 minutes to play and combines luck and strategy along with teamwork.  It is pretty much the same idea as Pandemic, in fact the only thing keeping the makers of Forbidden Island from getting sued by the makers of Pandemic is the fact that they are one and the same.  Forbidden Island is just a simpler version of Pandemic set on an island.

Set card game4.  Set.  This card game is great because adults don't particularly have any advantage over kids.  Cards are laid out and the first person to spot a set yells set and claims the cards.  This continues until all the sets are found.  The hard part is sets can be made up of any number of characteristics, there are shapes, colours, number and consistency.  All or none of those things have to be in common to make a set.  Sound confusing?  It is, a little, to be honest, in the beginning. Once you get the hang of it though, it is a lot of fun.  This one is good for 8 and up.
Who Knows Whose Nose?
5.  Who Knows Whose Nose? This game is for very little kids.  The sole point of the game is to teach kids how to take turns but it is more fun than most games that do this.  Kids take turns picking a nose out of the bag and if they have the animal card that matches the nose, they get to keep it.  Just saying to your kid "go on honey, it is your turn to pick your nose" is good for a laugh.  At least from me.  Hey, I never said I was sophisticated.

Pokemon card game
6.  Pokemon.  Pokemon is not just an annoying little yellow blob who says "Pikachu!" over and over again. It is actually a card game that pits two players against each other.  A game takes about 20 minutes to play and anyone over the age of about 6 can get the hang of it.  It is pretty fun and most kids are thrilled to learn what the cards and characters actually do.  If you buy a deck of cards it comes with everything you need to play the game which is 60 cards with the right distribution of energy, trainers and pokemon and the mat to play the game on.  A big part of the appeal of Pokemon though is in building your own deck which you can do through trading and winning cards from other players.  A standard deck is a good place to start though.  You can buy Pokemon cards just about anywhere.

What are some of your favourite games to play?  Post them in the comments and I will check them out and post a review!

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