Board games or bored games?

MY TAKE by Rose McGlew

   If your house was like ours over the recent school vacation, somebody was sick.
   It wasn’t necessarily the same person the whole break, but there was always a runny nose to wipe or cough to cover. This made going to visit friends and relatives not such a good idea, so we ended up spending a good deal of time shuffling around in our pajamas and slippers, barely bothering to get dressed and then only if there was a reason to leave the house.
   Spending all this time indoors, together, usually would have strained our familial relationships until they were ready to snap, but that didn’t happen this time and I think I’ve figured out why. We are a game-loving family and now that both kids can participate in a good number of games other than just Candy Land, we can do things other than fume at each other.
   The kids received the scaled-down version of one of my favorites, Cranium. Cadoo gets everybody involved on almost every turn so there’s no hard feelings about having to wait around for something to happen. The action is fast, too, but not so quick that someone will get left behind. This game is great for kids who have a hard time just sitting and rolling dice because they actually get to DO stuff. There’s drawing, sculpting, acting and running around the house to be done — all to achieve your five in a row on the Cadoo board before everyone else. We played this for about five hours straight one day and everyone was able to win at least once. We changed the rules on some of the cards to ensure that Mom and Dad had to do a little extra work, but we are looking forward to a few rematches soon.
   Paul received an innocuous box from my aunt and uncle and we thought it would soon be relegated to the back of the game closet. Rest assured that will not be happening to Sequence any time soon. This board/card game is addictive. I’m not kidding. Set aside a couple hours to play this — not because it’s complicated and involved like Risk — but because you’ll keep asking for just one more hand until it’s tomorrow. The rules for this game are deceptively easy and simple and the boys were allowed to play several hands with us. Thankfully, they grew bored and Paul and I were allowed to continue alone. The box recommends the game for ages 7 and older and it’s right. Usually, game makers are off the appropriate ages, but the strategy involved when playing alone or on a team in Sequence requires a little more patience than your typical 6-year-old possesses.
   Paul also received his very own version of Catch Phrase this year. We’ve been playing this game at my brother-in-law’s for years now and we finally have our own edition now. Like Sequence, the rules are very easy. The trick is to make sure you know your team members well enough to give them good clues as to the word you are trying to get them to say. This one is pretty much for the over-10 set and even then the younger pre-teens might not know many of the words. I’d like to see them come out with the junior version of this and include some of today’s more "hip" terms. I’m not going to even pretend that I know what any of those are, but something along the lines of "bling-bling" might be included the in that version.
   Of course, the obligatory games of Life and Monopoly were played and I think it’s a turning point when your younger child eschews the junior version of Monopoly for the buying power of real properties in the regular version. For the record, Paul always wins these type of games, while I excel at Trivial Pursuit and the yelling-out types like Taboo and Outburst, both of which we also played. What does that say about one’s personality?
   We played cards and ping pong, too. There were new computer games to try out and a friend brought over a PlayStation 2 with new games to show the boys, but I always drift back to the board games and I’m not sure why. I think it all goes back to my childhood (doesn’t everything?). I remember having a small walk-in closet full of games when I was little, like under age 10. I had every board game imaginable but my parents very rarely played them with me and when friends came over, they always wanted to play Barbies or school or watch the little show-and-tell filmstrips with the scratchy soundtracks. Somehow, when you’re playing all the players’ positions, the game isn’t quite the same. And I challenge anyone to play a successful solo game of G’Nip G’nop — I don’t think it’s possible. So maybe that’s why I always get that smile on my face when someone says they’re up for a game of Stay Alive — I don’t know for sure if I will be the sole survivor ahead of time! I never thought of myself as a very competitive person, but the next time you’re at our house and you agree to a game of Uno look for that little glint in my eye and watch out.

   Rose McGlew is a resident of Robbinsville. Her column appears weekly in The Messenger-Press.