Family time enriched by card and board games

By Caryl Clem:

High spirits evident by laughter and smiles occur the moment you know you have won a game!  Lady Luck was an honored guest by my side anytime I challenged any family member to Gin Rummy, Monopoly, Scrabble, Chess, or Cribbage.  The thrill of risks combined with skill made long winter days fly by as we played taking chances, placing bets, enthusiastically shouting out our feelings. Family gatherings today have many choices blending old game allure with new approaches and situations.

Fascination with trains is evident by train themed exposition shows during the winter. Honoring this American preference is the Days of Wonder brand, Ticket to Ride.  Planning and building a railroad across America from the first showing in 2004, its’ popularity has remained constant. Expanding on the original version, A Ticket to Ride, Europe covers major cities in Europe.  In 2018, A Ticket to Ride, New York City premiered. The rules fold out like a travel brochure, and taxis replace trains as transportation.

For fans of mystery and suspense, Castle Panic challenges the players to defeat the monsters surrounding the castle.  For former lovers of Clue, an updated  card game has come out Codenames (2015) publisher Vlaada Chvatil involving secret agents. Deciphering clues is based on word association experience, young teens on up will enjoy this game.

Several popular strategy games are available for young adults. Highly recommended with millions sold is The Settlers of Catan Mayfair Games (1996) designed by a German Klaus Teuber where players compete to form a successful colony.  A Worldwide Tournament is held every two years for serious game players.  Pandemic (2008) by Matt Leacock involves a theme of survival as players strive to keep cities safe from spreading diseases and epidemics.  A tabletop gaming series about survival by the same creator includes Forbidden Island (2010) Forbidden Desert (2013) Forbidden Sky (2018). Lovers of Star Trek can enjoy the recent release of New Frontiers by Rio Grande Games engaging players building their own space empire. Scythe (2016) entertains the question, How to conquer Europe without warfare?

As the game horizon has expanded, a new dimension has emerged, teamwork.  Terraforming  Mars (2016) by Jacob Fryxelius  presents the dilemma of trying to survive on the red planet that cannot support life. Players on Mars must change it into a green planet. Strategy requires working together to find a solution, collaboration.  Check newer versions of games for collaboration.

No matter what the weather, playing games will add rays of sunshine from smiles shared while relishing the festivity.  A painless way to build learning skills and practice social interaction, bring on the game afternoon or night!

What was your favorite game?

Unlike today’s’ children and young adults whose family room entertainment consists of computers, DVDS, androids, Nintendo Wii, and 900 cable TV channels, Baby Boomers and their parents spent childhood hours indoors with less sophistication and a lot more imagination.

As rain diminished hopes of playing outside, you called your neighborhood friends to come over using the single household phone; some families had two. If the line was busy, you could be delayed for awhile since call waiting and voicemail were not a luxury. You had to wait or walk. If your telephone line was a party line, you could amuse yourself by listening to total stranger conversations but watch out if your Mom or Dad caught you.

Once the troops gathered and if you had a basement, you could play Blind Mans Bluff where you turned down the lights, blindfolded the selected member and the one who was it, chased everyone around the room. But this game was more fun with a lot of people.

If a girls’ home had a blackboard, playing teacher was always a choice. Younger girls played in their cardboard or metal kitchens making plastic food entrees while ironing with their fake iron and ironing board; we wanted to be just like Mom.

If you were older and competitive, you could play your pinball machine or ping pong if you were lucky to own these. If you didn’t have a basement but a garage, it was a great time to be creative and pull all the garbage left over from Dad’s workshop. Build the neighborhood scooter that was shared by all or the clubhouse you always wanted.

If space was an issue, then it was time to pull out the board game collection which could take an hour of argument to decide which one you wanted to play.

Monopoly and Life could be the most time-consuming while Yahtzee, Clue and Sorry was less complicated and available today for the computer generation. Of course, let’s not forget Probe and Scrabble if you wanted to really show off your intelligence and Operation if you were planning on being a doctor, had a steady hand or just liked to watch the patient’s nose light up while buzzing. Booby Trap was another game for strategic moves. I loved Mouse Trap but always had a problem setting it up correctly.

Some of my all time favorites were Mystery Date, Miss Popularity, Concentration, Lie Detector and Password the later a TV game show with Betty White and husband Allan Luden.

As a younger child, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders , Go to the Head of the Class made a stormy Saturday more appealing; we all wanted to fantasize about hillsides filled with chocolate and being rewarded for our good deeds.

If you were a young card shark, then it was Old Maid or Go Fish. Returning champions played Poker, Canasta, Gin Rummy and Pinochle.  

Picture courtesy of Time Warp Toys