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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Family Game Night

When you hear the above words, it may send shivers down your spine.  Memories of long nights of Monopoly or even older emotional scars from Chutes and Ladders make you cringe at the thought of sitting around the table to play a game with your family.  It's time to cast your fears aside and give it a shot once again.  Here are some suggestions from Laughing Ogre on what to try:

Apples to Apples -
The self-described "party in a box" more than delivers on its promised level of entertainment.  Apples to Apples offers a hearty amount of laughter to any gathering and is easy to jump into.  This game is ideal for large gatherings and flows well even if the participants are somewhat transient.   Someone new wants to join the game?  No problem!  Give them a seat and deal them in.  The points don't matter and the game never ends until you stop it.  If you try to get in and someone tells you "no," or "after this game," they don't like you.  Find someone else to play Apples to Apples with in a game that embodies "the more, the merrier."
In terms of actual gameplay, this is about as simple as you can get.  Whoever's turn it is draws one card from the green pile.  This is the word the rest of the players must try to match one in their hand with.  Each of those players sets their card (face-down) on your playing surface and when all players are ready, the cards are turned over.  The player who played the green card then selects the winner for that round and the green card is awarded to them.  While winning a card does not actually matter, some say the green cards you acquire describe your personality.  This game can work at early reading levels (with some card editing), but really kicks in when your group is willing to create some awkward (and hilarious) moments.
Pirate Fluxx -
Fluxx is a fun, quick, addictive card game that never plays the same way twice. The rules change as the game progresses, offering uniquely high replay value. Now grab your cutlass, pirates have taken over Fluxx. There'll be times ye must Talk Like a Pirate, and rules about how ye can Plunder from yer mates - even cards that let you play out of turn to take your enemies by Surprise. Playing the Captain's Hat gives ye certain privileges but watch out for Mutiny amongst the crew.

Describing the rules in this game is kind of like trying to tell your friend about a funny movie.  You are going to get some of the flashy stuff, but there will still be plenty of surprises when they see it themselves.  This is one of those "trial by fire" experiences where it's better to just through yourself into it rather than try to figure it out ahead of time.  Just give it a shot.  Trust me, you will get as hooked as we have as Pirate Fluxx offers a unique mix of strategy, laughter, and chaos that is hard to find in any other game. 
Reading is a must! Recommended for ages 8 and older.
Blokus -
Blokus develops logic and spatial perception while kids learn to be tactical. Players take turns placing pieces on their board, each starting from their corner. Each new piece must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but only at the corners. The goal is to get rid of all your pieces. The game ends when all players are blocked from laying down any more of their pieces. Includes one game board with 400 squares, 84 game pieces in four bright translucent colors, and an instruction guide.
If you are a fan of puzzle games like Tetris, Dr. Mario, or any of their derivatives, Blokus is a game you can not afford to ignore. Likewise if you enjoy strategy games such as Othello, Go, Chess, and so on. Blokus combines key elements of puzzle and strategy, blending them in a board game that is sure to stoke the fires of competition with you and your family. Up to four players can play this game at a time, so while this is a little more limited than the aforementioned options, the technical aspects more than make up for this constraint. No reading is necessary and the complexity varies, so this game can be played at any age. 

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