Game Closet

| | Comments (8)

I think that one of the most valuable assets a family committed to less TV and more interaction can have is a good game closet. I have no personal beef with computer/video games, when they are kept in their correct place. I enjoy a few hands (or, to be frank, more than a few hands) of solitaire or Poppit on the computer. But those kind of games rarely encourage face to face play with another human being.

Back in our homeschooling days, there was no television in our house during the week. Mondays through Fridays, no TV. Saturdays and Sundays were free game, but between stuff to do and church to attned, etc, the effects of TV were largely limited. It's a compromise that I recommend to people who are struggling with the "too much television" blues.

That left time in the evenings for something else. And the question then is, for what? We don't live on a farm with its attendant chores, etc. So, what is there to do?

Well, of course there is reading and talking and listening to music. Reading aloud and drawing, painting and coloring. But there is also time for GAMES! We own a lot of games. We play them with groups, we play them as a family, and we are always in search of good two person games.

Someone asked for my recommendations for a game closet. Once you've finished Candyland, Spill the Beans, Cootie (shudder!), and Chutes and Ladders, what do you play? Here's what we have in our closet:

Party (or group) games:

Trivial Pursuit - An oldie but still a goldie. Comes with special editions, but we like the original version best.
Scattergories - Quick! Think of a vegetable that starts with an R!
Taboo - Go ahead. Try and describe dog without saying canine, bark or fleas!
Pictionary - The cause of the most laughs in our family. PapaC and my dad draw the worst pictures for each other, but they are on the same wavelength and get the answers!
Twister - I'm too old for this now, but back in the day.....

Classic board games:

Monopoly - Everyone needs this one.
Life - We still have the set I had as a child. It's funny, because the salaries are so low! It's been updated, but the game play is the same.
Clue - Classic first logic type game. Col. Mustard in the conservatory with the lead pipe!
Sorry/Parcheesi/Trouble/Wahoo - Pick one--they all play reasonably similarly. Race around a track based on dice throws. Trouble is the one to start with. It has the AMAZING POPAMATIC DICE THINGIE, and you don't lose the dice so much. Sorry was the basis for the funniest Carol Burnett skit I ever saw.

Dice Games:

Yahtzee - Or its cousin Triple Yahtzee (which just means you play three games at once).
Can't Stop - Not well known, but it should be. How far will you push your luck?
Cosmic Wimpout - A fun game with five dice. Another test of luck and knowing when to stop.
Stack - You have probably never heard of this game. You should own it. You can get it here. A good game for mixed ages. Not a thinking-type game, but it is fun to play for hours after a nice barbecue with the friends.

Strategy type games:

Battleship - Nearly all kids start here. E-9? Hit!
Stratego - The next step up from Battleship. Move army pieces around, but watch out for the bombs! Not as long-playing as some of the other games.
Risk - Still Zman's favorite. He and a group of friends get together to play this regularly.
Axis and Allies - Recommended by Zman. I don't play it, I don't know.
Othello - Abstract strategy, reminiscent of the classic game Go.

Card games (our favorite category!):

Uno - The easiest game to start with. Match color or number, or use a wild card.
Skipbo - Another easy place to start with cards.
Racko - We played endlessly when Zack was younger. All based on ordering the cards.
Rook - A trick taking game, and a good introduction to that genre. As a side note, the cards may have been developed to appeal to a wide audience - including Mennonites and fundamentalists who couldn't play with standard cards.
Flinch - A stockpile game. You try to get rid of your ten cards first, building up on play stacks in the middle of the table.
Pit - A trading game. Do not play this if you are shy and afraid to yell if necessary. Also do not play if your parents are asleep and want to stay that way. Ask me how I know.
Blink - Discussed in the Camp Southard entry. An absolutely fabulous two person, quick, quick, quick little game.
Milles Bornes - Another stockpile type game, with the extra added attractions of being able to throw a monkey wrench in other peoples' hands.
Sequence - A combo board/card game. Fun and can be played either by two, or by four in teams.

Word games (only two that we really love, which I think is odd since we're wordies!):

Scrabble - The best word game, hands down. You can play for fun or for blood, depending with whom you play.
Boggle - The second best game. Can you see words diagonally or not?

Others that don't fit the categories above:

Rummikub - A fun game with mahjong-like tiles. You use them to make runs and sets. We have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours with this one.
Cribbage - Get a board, learn to play. PapaC taught us all this one - much more common in Yankee territory than here in Texas. Wonderful two player game, can also be played with three and four.
Backgammon - Unlike anything else, in my opinion. We don't wager with it, we just play it straight. According to PapaC, "Anyone can win if they get two sets of double sixes in a row!" (Guess who got them?)
Checkers - A childhood is not complete until you know how to play. I think it's kind of boring, but I know folks who play all the time.
Chinese checkers - I am surprised they haven't had to rename this one. We much prefer this to regular checkers.
Chess - I don't have the patience to get good at this. Zman and PapaC play sometimes.

Then I think every closet needs:

Sets of cards - One set for Gin Rummy (the very best two person card game ever), Spades, Hearts, Nertz, spoons, etc. One multiple deck set (that you never have to sort out) for Canasta and its variations.
Dominoes - To play regular dominoes and then to learn to play 42 (one of the all-time favorites around here). 42 is a good way to learn to bid a hand, etc. If you get a set of double nine dominoes you can play Chicken Foot or with a double twelve set, Mexican Train.

There are hundreds of other games we've played and owned, but these are our favorites. It looks like it would be expensive to have these, but many of them can be had for little money. Especially the card games. Lots of them are < $5 or $10. And keep an eye out at garage sales, etc. Spare pieces can often be ordered for almost nothing, so if the game is complete except for a token or two, it might be worth investing a buck and getting the pieces you need.

What's your favorite? Is there something we should try here at CasaS? Do tell.


Phase 10, or Phase 10 dice, which we prefer. Sort of like Yahtzee with cards, but you have to do the phases in order.

We've played Phase 10 cards, and enjoyed it. We used to have a set, but I can't find them now. Probably disappeared on one of the Zman's Scout camping trips.

I'm going to look for the Phase 10 dice next time I'm at WalMart or Target. Thanks for the suggestion!

Settlers of Catan
Gloom (really cool card game with Gothic Horror theme)

I'm a big fan of Risk, Chess, and Diplomacy, but they don't get played much around here. Same with the old Avalon Hill Civilization -- it's hard to find 8 people with 12 continuous hours to spare. :)

And we're still big fans of Dungeons & Dragons. Looking forward to when the boys are old enough to join in. As it is, our oldest (4) keeps beggin me to teach him "the dice game", as he is fond of calling it.

Just remember, the family that plays together, stays together.

Stitchwitch and I are also fond of reading plays aloud, which is a nice change from the solitary novel reading that tends to dominate most non-TV families' evening time.

Our family favorites:

Settlers of Cataan
Carcassonne: Hunters & Gatherers
Carcassonne: The Castle (two player)
Thurn & Taxis (and we use the expansion set with it)
Bohnanza (a card game--my five year old can play it)
Ticket To Ride

Probe, a guess-the-word card game, was probably the favorite game in my family.

If I had a lifetime to spare, I'd take up Go.

Speaking of rummy, you can actually play on line -


Carcassonne is awesome. I am an expert village maker.

"SOOOOORRRRRYYYYYYY!!!" *rings a little bell*

Yep, best Carol Burnett skit ever!



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on July 30, 2007 8:46 AM.

She's baa-aaa-aaa-ack! was the previous entry in this blog.

Highly recommended is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.