Tips For Adulthood: Five Board Games (Still) Worth Playing

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

This year, for reasons that elude me – nostalgia for my own childhood? getting fed up with video games? – I decided to give my kids a bunch of board games for Hanukkah. And, as the story goes, I’m enjoying them more than they are.

If you’re in the same boat – or have simply forgotten how much fun board games can be – here are five that are worth your while:

1. Monopoly – Yes, it’s nothing more than unadulterated, crass capitalism. And why – in this day and age – would we want to teach our children that? But it’s loads of fun. And particularly for a child who has outgrown Chutes/Snakes and Ladders but isn’t quite ready for the strategy entailed in something like Risk, it’s a great introduction to what a real board game is, replete as it is with choices, consequences and a fun, colorful board. Best of all: kids love it and will happily play for hours.

2. Scrabble – OK, this is another old chestnut. But once your kids have a decent-sized vocabulary, it gets no better than this. I hadn’t played Scrabble in years, but when some friends showed up this summer, we played in teams (with our kids) and stayed up half the night. Plus, a great excuse to use the word poi. (I know I’m always looking for one.)

3. Scrambled States of America – On to the more obscure. Someone gave my son this game as a birthday present a few years back and I filed it under “random.” But then we opened the box and we’ve been playing ever since. It’s basically a really fun way to learn both the geography of the American states, as well as their capitols and nicknames. (Quick Test: What’s the nickname for Nebraska? Answer: The Cornhusker State. See! Aren’t you glad I reminded you?) Perfect for the 7-9 crowd.

4. Once Upon A Time – My mother gave us this one, so I knew it would be a gem. If you have a child who likes telling stories, this is a must. You hand each player 10 cards and they have to come up with a story that links the different people, places and events on their cards. But the other players can interrupt the story – based on their own cards – and take it in an entirely new direction, which you then riff off of when you interrupt them. Together, you jointly make your way to an ending. It’s loads of good, old-fashioned fun. (Remember that?)

5. Settlers of Catan – I can’t say much about this game yet – which we just bought for my about-to-be 9 year old son – other than to note that one of my husband’s colleagues said it was – and I quote – the best game “ever.” Based on this write up in Wired Magazine, I think I’d have to agree. The story behind the game’s invention (as told in Wired) was enough to make me buy it on the spot. Plus, it’s German. So it has to be good, right?

Happy Holidays!

Image: Come quando fiore piove by Auro via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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16 Responses to Tips For Adulthood: Five Board Games (Still) Worth Playing

  1. Dianaj says:

    I’m not much of a gameplayer, but the game of choice in our family recently has been Cranium. It’s a great game for people with different competencies and skill levels. My adult children love it!

  2. Sally says:

    Just the word Monopoly makes me want hide !
    I’ve reached the conclusion that you don’t really know your friends ( or yourself !) until you’ve played it – I’m a capitalist wimp when it comes to that board…. and yet I have some friends who whilst eschewing all such values in real life – become demons when given a silver icon and a few plastic houses !

    I prefer Articulate…. !

  3. Daphne says:

    Great list! I completely agree that Settlers of Catan is the best game “ever”. I have been surprised how much fun it is. We’re giving it to my brother for Christmas this year. Enjoy it!

  4. Madeleine says:

    I just bought the Settlers of Catan for my soon to be 10 year old! I had never heard of it before, but I think he’ll love it.

  5. delialloyd says:

    I think so too. Be sure you sit down w/him the first time you play, though. It’s very complicated to set up!

  6. daryl boylan says:

    Can’t wait to try S of C — tho’ complicated set-ups are frightfully challenging for the less abled of us. Others– yes yes!

  7. Kristen says:

    Settlers of Catan is wonderful! It is indeed the best game ever. My extended family took it along with us on a vacation to Alaska – with the unfortunate consequence of its distracting us from breeching whales outside our window.

  8. delialloyd says:

    I’m so glad to hear that Kristen, as we are about to take it with us to Vienna in a few days time. I’m pleased to report that b/c of this post, three people have already purchased Settlers-oh the power of the internet to make friends and influence people!! Have a great holiday!

  9. […] playing all those board games that I bought for Hanukkah (BTW: Settlers of Catan? Totally worth […]

  10. […] it gibes so well with leisure- (read happiness) oriented purchases like barbeques and movies and board games that enhance the value of experience over mere acquisition. Particularly over at The Huffington Post […]

  11. […] d. You like playing strategy games. This may have actually been one of the questions on the BBC quiz; I can no longer remember. But since taking that quiz, my son and I happened to open up Othello, a game that one of his friends gave him for his birthday last year. It’s one of those deceptively simple games that actually requires an enormous amount of strategy on the part of the players. If you’re like me, you take the easy route on this game, maximize your winnings as you go, and ultimately lose. If you’re like my son or my husband, you look like you’re losing all the way along but at the very last minute you win because you’ve been thinking like 6 moves ahead the whole time. (Ditto Settlers of Catan, the greatest game of all time.) […]

  12. […] Play Board Games. I’m a huge fan of board games. And, once again this year, I have used Hanukkah as an excuse to replenish our supply. (This […]

  13. […] Play Board Games. I’m a huge fan of board games. And, once again this year, I have used Hanukkah as an excuse to replenish our supply. (This […]

  14. Not that this qualifies as a “board game” but my favorite is Lie Detector, circa 1960. My sibs and I found this game in a cubby beneath the attic stairs at our grandmother’s house many years ago. We just love that darn thing. I managed to swipe it before grandma threw out all the games. We still break it out on occasion for some silly fun. -Jen

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