The Benefits of Board Games

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of shopping for family members and friends this December? Tired of the latest electronic gadgets and gizmos?

Over the years, I’ve grown to value experiences more than things. Spending quality time with love ones results in closer relationships. This week’s post celebrates the benefits of board games. But not all board games are fun for everyone. Monopoly and Risk are both elimination games which take too long too play.

My favorite board games:

  • Keep every player hopeful that anyone might win.
  • Involve skill in addition to chance.
  • Are interesting.
  • Promote creativity.

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Many of you are already familiar with my family’s affection for Ticket to Ride. (Days of Wonder) After two years, we still play this game every Sunday afternoon. It’s developed into a habit we can’t seem to break. In this two to five player game each person draws tickets with specified routes. Players receive points for placing their train cars on tracks which connect various U. S. cities. At the end of the game, each player reveals their routes and completed trips. Points are either awarded or deducted based on the number of trips completed. All players remain in the game until the end and the winner is always a surprise.

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The 1910 expansion pack is a good idea for anyone purchasing Ticket to Ride. It contains larger playing cards and additional routes. At the end of the game a player can earn the fifteen point Globetrotter bonus card for the most completed trips.

 

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Our second favorite family board game is Beyond Balderdash.(Parker Brothers) This game has been around for awhile. We like it better than the original Balderdash because it includes a movie category. The object of Beyond Balderdash is to make up written answers which bluff the other players. A dasher reads all the answers submitted and includes the real answer in the mix. Points are awarded for fooling other players, as well as for choosing the real and often unbelievable answer.

My family members enjoy coming up with witty blurbs to describe each movie. The title of one movie was “Madhouse.” My husband, Herb submitted this summary: “An out of control builder takes his anger out on his wife by building her a two-story house without a staircase.” Beyond Balderdash inspires our creativity and can be played by as many as seven players.

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Lost Cities (Kosmos) is a card game for two players. Herb and I love this game because it’s very compact for travel and only takes thirty minutes to play. The object of the game is to form expedition routes and earn discovery points. Players draw cards and organize them in numerical order. At the end of each round, points are awarded for cards played which exceed the cost of each expedition.

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Splendor (Days of Wonder) is an artistic and mathematical game designed for up to four players. Each player takes on the role of a rich merchant during the Renaissance. As a merchant you collect gems and gold tokens that can used to buy development cards. Some development cards carry point values. Each player tries to be the first to reach the sum of fifteen points and win the game.

A good board game never goes out of style and can bring family entertainment for years. Leave a comment and let me know your opinion of any of these games, or offer a suggestion for something we haven’t tried.

 

Trains, Tracks, and True Colors

IMG_6589The Sunday lunch dishes have been cleared away and my family sits in their assigned seats at the dining room table. Once again, Donovan’s soft familiar voice singing,  “Try and Catch the Wind”  floats through the room. The box is opened, the board unfolded, and the dice is rolled to determine who goes first. We are preparing to play Ticket to Ride USA, a board game created by Days of Wonder. My family just can’t seem to get enough of this game. It’s a weekly ritual.

Each player receives a small plastic bag with 45 train cars and five destination tickets. From the five tickets, they decide which three to keep. During their turn players draw two cards which match color coded tracks on the board. Once you collect enough cards to match the track between two cities, you can place your train on those tracks. It usually takes several turns to build the route on each destination ticket, all of which are kept secret from the rest of the players. Challenges arise when destinations  overlap and your train is blocked by another player’s train. That’s when the whining begins!IMG_6607Every Sunday each family member  uses the same color of train cars.  Like I said, this is a weekly ritual! I will refer to each player by color to protect their identity.  As in most families, each player’s  personality influences the way they perform.  Player Blue is the rule stickler, always at the ready to consult the rule book. Player Red complains whenever she is blocked and suggests we need to change the rules.  Player Red also apologizes profusely whenever she blocks anyone, but I wonder if she really means it. Player Yellow usually keeps more destination tickets than she is capable of completing, and loses more often than anyone else. Player Black takes the most risks, and they usually pan out in his favor! His performance amazes everyone because he is always consulting his cell phone and looking as if he’s not engaged in the game.

The game ends when one player’s train stock is reduced to two cars, signaling one final round for all players. Player Blue is kind of sneaky. He can look like he has a lot of train cars left and then place them all at once on a six space track. It’s a virtual train wreck for the other players who might not be expecting the game to end. To no one’s suprise, Player Black  is usually prepared for the finish, and comes out on top, or at least second. Player Red sighs and says, “I love this game, even if I don’t win.” Meanwhile, Player Yellow grumbles and writes down the winner’s score in our Ticket to Ride Hall of Fame notebook.

During the game, points are scored for train cars as they are placed between cities on the board. Additional tickets can be drawn throughout the game. Since we use the 1910 Expansion, we play the mega game. The mega game awards bonus points for the most number of trips (tickets) completed. Player Black holds the family record for completing 16 trips in one game! The average number of trips for the rest of us is 7. The winner is not known until point values of completed trips are revealed at the end of the game. Incomplete trips are subtracted from a player’s final score.

If you play this game, Game Knight can help you improve. Click on Ticket to Ride then go to strategies. Read how you can decide which tickets to keep, when to place your trains, and how to constantly watch what your opponents are doing so you can block them before they block you.

After losing for many weeks in a row, Player Yellow threatened to quit last Sunday. She was so distraught about losing that she didn’t even score her points at the end of the game! What a sore loser! Like I said, personalities are brought to bear with this game. But one thing Yellow knows is that she will never win if she quits. Yellow is always hopeful. Soon a new player will be moving to Orlando. Player Green will really take our game off the rails!