I come from a long line of game and card players. My grandparents had many an evening tournament with their friends playing Uno or Tile Rummy eating Grandma's famous "Uno" cake with butterscotch icing.
As a child my parents encouraged us to play games - Snakes & Ladders, Don't Break the Ice, Skip-Bo and Go Fish.
I've had super cheating matches of Uno with my cousins where half the deck ended up under the table somehow and frantic, gotta stand up to play, games of Dutch Blitz as a teenager. I think someone even took a rather hard, albeit accidental, Dutch Blitz elbow to the eye one time!
I've even tried out our local Board Game Cafe where you can play just about any game you can think of and some you've never heard of while snacking on candy and fresh milkshakes. It's good to be an adult!
Sadly, I was never the best at losing. Many times, as a child, my mom or sister had to coax me back to the room after I'd gotten upset over losing or almost losing. ("Come back, Kirsten. We'll let you win.") Life is tough when you're the youngest and everyone else has a few years of knowledge and skill on you.
I've learned from my past and I am always trying to be a better sport, even though I like winning, I mean, come on, who doesn't? I hope I can mostly hold my taunting tongue and play for fun rather than just for the sweet, sweet thrill of the victorious win.
So, in honour of the cooler months coming soon, where we can plan more indoor activities and fun game nights, I've decided to compile a list of some of my all-time favourite games for you to peruse. Who knows, maybe you'll find a new favourite from my list and start your own game night tradition with family or friends.
In no particular order...
All-Time Childhood Favourites (that still stand up and are fun to play)
Dutch Blitz - A super fast-paced, pile 'em up card game where the action never stops till someone calls "Blitz!" Not for the faint of heart, this game will get the blood pumping and the elbows flying. Oh, and the best deck is the yellow "pee" bucket, for real! I especially like the game's instructions, read them aloud for a few honest to goodness belly laughs!
Uno - One of the first card games I learned to play where saving your +4 cards is the best form of vengeance most children are capable of. Some people play with "slips" and sallow the +8 rule! Ask before you play or you might end up with a two-hander batch of cards to get rid of. Oh and remember to say "Uno" when you play that second-to-last card or all your hard work will have come to naught!
Racko - Another awesome childhood game that helps kids learn number order and how to choose wisely. I still love this game! Always start working from low to high, you don't want to have 8 out of 10 cards all sorted in a row and leave that 59 in slot 2!
Phase 10 - A family and friend favourite in my world! It's the game of choice played on trips or winter evenings because it's not fast and everyone is in charge of their own destiny. Well, sort of, until your sister or best friend keeps going "out" on the first or second draw every hand and you're score is already 300+! And no, you don't want a high score. Oh, and watch out for people who play the Skips vindictively...not fun! And those darn 2 sets of 4 catch me every single time.
Scattergories - Name 12 random things that start with the letter G! The room is silent, but for the loud click-click-clicking of the timer clock counting down while you frantically try to thing of 'Something on a beach" that starts with a Y. And here it comes, the dreaded last few seconds when the timer always gives me a slight heart-attack. Then the fun of reading and comparing everyone's answers. The trick is, go unique, always write down your first instinct, then go back and scratch it out for something different that won't be the norm. It's a shame to not get a point because everyone chose Jennifer for a girl's name starting with J! Maybe pick Jenaya or Juniper.
Tile Rummy/Rummykub - This game is a little slower paced and can either be played by the impulsive or the complicated mind. Grouping your number tiles into colour-coordinated runs and sets is easy, but when Grandma tries to re-arrange the entire playing field just to get rid of one little blue 2...arg! She's done it again and won the whole evening. Way to go Grandma! (It's better the make sure she wins.) My family has a strong history with this game and it makes me a little teary to remember all the amazing quality evening spent with my grandparents and relatives.
Grown-Up and Newer Favourites
Speed Scrabble - I'm not sure who first introduced me to this keep-up game of individual Scrabble, but it's been a staple favourite at my house. No need for the board, make your own by constantly rearranging your tiles to use them all then pick another tile and everyone else has to pick up, too! The best is risking it all to scrap your whole crossword-like mess to try and fit all the extras in and maybe getting caught with loads left when someone else picks up the last tile.
Wits & Wagers (Family Edition) - I picked up this game at Costco a while ago for a cheap price and it's been a source of fun when you're not sure what you want to play. Wager and guess the answer, without going over, one many random factoids and questions from: How many windows are in the White House? to What is the weight of the world's largest dog? Are you a good guesser? Then this game might be for you. A great pre-game on Game Night, play a few rounds before you get into the big-name games.
Mille Bornes - This little treasure is my newest obsession! I learned it from an actual French friend years ago and just last week broke open my brand new box of cards that has been sitting on my game shelves for a couple of years. It's a partner game and a race to see who can be the first team to travel 1000 miles amidst car accidents, flat tires, speed traps and more. And don't forget to yell "Coup fourré!" if you've got the right safety or remedy card when the other team sideswipes you. The rounds are semi-fast and even if you don't keep score of all the bonus points, you can keep track of who got to 1000 first!
Anomia - Another of my recent favourites! Quick, name a scientist, then a type of jazz instrument, then a brand of shampoo and don't forget about the rock operas!! This is war with words and categories. You are constantly on the lookout for another card that matches your card's symbol then beat that player at naming something from their card's category. Sounds insane! It can be! Especially when one person wins, the top card is awarded and there is another card to be played right away underneath! Bam, bam, BAM! You'll be surprised at what your brain thinks of in a panicky pinch...or can't think of. Politicians, airlines, mystery authors, anyone?
Ticket to Ride (European Edition) - Oh yes, a large old timey map, colourful routes with train cars and outdated city names no one can pronounce! This is my kind of game! Pick your route cards and stealthily try to get to all your cities by train before someone blocks your path. Watch out, that one friend is going for the huge multi-pointer route in the Netherlands again! Travel from Milan to Paris to Moscova all in one round. The other editions are all fun, as well. Especially when played late at night on your phone or iPad! You can even play the online editions with a friend, it just tends to take a long time to finish.
Monopoly Deal - My last favourite for now. This card version of the classic monopoly real estate game is a faster, more lively round game where no one too likely to scatter the board in frustration and storm off. Mostly because there is no board, there still may be harsh words muttered now and then. It isn't fun to always be shelling out cash for someone's birthday or payday or rent owed, but when you're the one collecting...payback's...awesome!
I hope you enjoyed the short tour of my game shelves.
Yes, I have several shelves packed full with all sorts of other games, too.
So pull out those old cards or board games sometime soon and get the family or kids or your friends around to play a few hands or conquer the world or just laugh a lot and spend some quality time together.