Tall Drink of Nerd: Bonding over the Board

 In *Archives, Amy Robinson

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a blogumn by Amy Robinson

The Holidays are seriously here, seriously.  Thanksgiving is only 10 days away and I can already smell the roasting turkey, hear the happy babble of a house full of relatives and taste the spicy squish of pumpkin pie.  Which reminds me, I should get to the grocery store soon.  After the eating part, my favorite thing about holidays is playing board games.scrabble3

Board games are like a big ole ice pick, cracking past the regular chatter and getting right to the warm and steamy competition that makes friends like family and brings family closer.  That rectangle of colored cardboard brings everybody to the same level.  Before my boyfriend became my husband, Mom suggested we play Monopoly.  He held his own as a clever smart ass with a bad sense of humor.  He fit right in.

On Thanksgiving we’ll drag out Monopoly, Clue or Pass the Pigs and ramp up the smack talk until we have each other chuckling and my Mom giggling herself teary eyed and red faced.

Christmas at my house always meant a new board game from “Santa” for the family.  Not exactly patient kids, we would tear into the plastic shrink-wrap around the box and set up the monies, pieces, etc… while my Dad would insist on reading the entire instructions, out loud.  More often than not, we would start the game before Dad would finish his elocution, anxious to start kicking each other around.  Dad would tell us to hold on and, since we didn’t listen, of course we’d have to refer back to the little rules pamphlet ½ way though the round.

There is something about a board game, or cards if that’s how your crew rolls, that warms up the room.  I prefer holding the little pewter monopoly dog over holding a video game controller.  Now I know that the Wii is happy making, but I enjoy sitting around a crowded table, a glass of 7-Up sweating next to my piles of colorful cash, commanding my niece to pass me another cookie or slice of cold turkey.  Maybe it’s the chance to screw up, count the dice wrong, or pick the wrong trivial answer and then being called out.  It’s making mistakes and finding redemption through the game of Life.

A new game came into our life recently as Seen and I were introduced to The Settlers of Catan by a friend of mine.  I’ll definitely be bringing this home with me for the December holiday. This year we won’t have Dad around to read the instructions, but I don’t think anyone else will pick up that mantle.  I’m just looking forward to sitting around the kitchen table schooling my sibs.  Let the bonding begin.

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Showing 26 comments
  • Jeff Rogers

    Beautiful, and so true. I recommend Apples to Apples if you haven't done it. For a family it's fabulous, because it depends on your knowledge of each other, but it encourages the smack talk and the joking jabs and rewards the bonding.

    The stuff about your dad brought tears to my eyes on your behalf and my own. Enjoy the hell out of your bittersweet gaming this year.

    (And I can speak to the quality of your smack talk and all the rest of it, having teamed with my wife Elise to take on your and your hubby at Scrabble. Let's pick another game and go at it again soon. Maybe this new one of yours if it measures up.)

    • Amyqotwf

      Bring it Rogers!! You guys would totally love this new game. Of course you'll be beaten handily by me, but if you want to try to keep up, we'll set something up soon.

  • Jeff Rogers

    Beautiful, and so true. I recommend Apples to Apples if you haven't done it. For a family it's fabulous, because it depends on your knowledge of each other, but it encourages the smack talk and the joking jabs and rewards the bonding.

    The stuff about your dad brought tears to my eyes on your behalf and my own. Enjoy the hell out of your bittersweet gaming this year.

    (And I can speak to the quality of your smack talk and all the rest of it, having teamed with my wife Elise to take on your and your hubby at Scrabble. Let's pick another game and go at it again soon. Maybe this new one of yours if it measures up.)

    • Amyqotwf

      Bring it Rogers!! You guys would totally love this new game. Of course you'll be beaten handily by me, but if you want to try to keep up, we'll set something up soon.

  • Jeff Rogers

    Beautiful, and so true. I recommend Apples to Apples if you haven't done it. For a family it's fabulous, because it depends on your knowledge of each other, but it encourages the smack talk and the joking jabs and rewards the bonding.

    The stuff about your dad brought tears to my eyes on your behalf and my own. Enjoy the hell out of your bittersweet gaming this year.

    (And I can speak to the quality of your smack talk and all the rest of it, having teamed with my wife Elise to take on your and your hubby at Scrabble. Let's pick another game and go at it again soon. Maybe this new one of yours if it measures up.)

    • Amyqotwf

      Bring it Rogers!! You guys would totally love this new game. Of course you'll be beaten handily by me, but if you want to try to keep up, we'll set something up soon.

  • ernessa

    I'm telling you right now that your family doesn't trash talk nearly as bad as my family. When we play, we're out for blood. Sadly, my husband doesn't quite fit in w/ the fam in this regard. In fact the other day he was like, "When we play board games at home, you're going to let Betty win, right?" And I was all like scrunched brow asking, "Then what would be the point of playing?"

    Fun & Games are serious, people!

    I think I already suggested Mexican Train dominoes on another blog. And the last time I was home, we played this game where you get all these flashcards with numbers then you have to line them up by discarding and picking up. This is a good game, b/c it's doesn't require a lot of attention span at a party, but I can't remember the name of it. Does anyone else know?

    • Polly

      Ernessa! Don't let her win- teach her to win! When I taught Pablo Sorry I would show him his options and let him decide. "Pablo, do you want to be nice or ruthless?" Sometimes he would choose nice, but more often than not he would smile and say "Ruthless." And he became a board game master.

      A game my family likes to play is speed scrabble. It's less structured, so in my big family, people can more easily come and go, and trade out places. Get as many bags of scrabble tiles as you can, dump them in the middle. Everyone starts with 7. The first person to make a little crossword using all 7 calls "Draw" and everyone draws another. This goes on and on, people wildly rearranging tiles and shouting "Draw!" at Grandma until the first to use up all their tiles with none left in the middle wins. Then we all admire (or mock) each others' words. And then we eat more pie.

      • AmyQOTWF

        Oh man, speed scrabble sounds AWESOME and no extra equipment to purchase, even better! Oh and pie sounds good too.

    • AmyQOTWF

      Get out the board games and teach Betty all of CH's weaknesses and then he won't have to let her win. (of course this might be a few years, post Candyland.)

      I love Mexican Train dominoes! My family plays a card game similar to the one you are talking about with the flash cards, but with real cards and spoons in the middle of the table. You put 4 spoons in the middle if you have 5 people playing, you just keep discarding and passing cards to the person on your left until the first person with 4 of a kind grabs a spoon and then everybody else grabs hell-bent for leather for the remaining spoons. This can get dangerous. Luckily my family doesn't drink.

  • ernessa

    I'm telling you right now that your family doesn't trash talk nearly as bad as my family. When we play, we're out for blood. Sadly, my husband doesn't quite fit in w/ the fam in this regard. In fact the other day he was like, "When we play board games at home, you're going to let Betty win, right?" And I was all like scrunched brow asking, "Then what would be the point of playing?"

    Fun & Games are serious, people!

    I think I already suggested Mexican Train dominoes on another blog. And the last time I was home, we played this game where you get all these flashcards with numbers then you have to line them up by discarding and picking up. This is a good game, b/c it's doesn't require a lot of attention span at a party, but I can't remember the name of it. Does anyone else know?

    • Polly

      Ernessa! Don't let her win- teach her to win! When I taught Pablo Sorry I would show him his options and let him decide. "Pablo, do you want to be nice or ruthless?" Sometimes he would choose nice, but more often than not he would smile and say "Ruthless." And he became a board game master.

      A game my family likes to play is speed scrabble. It's less structured, so in my big family, people can more easily come and go, and trade out places. Get as many bags of scrabble tiles as you can, dump them in the middle. Everyone starts with 7. The first person to make a little crossword using all 7 calls "Draw" and everyone draws another. This goes on and on, people wildly rearranging tiles and shouting "Draw!" at Grandma until the first to use up all their tiles with none left in the middle wins. Then we all admire (or mock) each others' words. And then we eat more pie.

      • AmyQOTWF

        Oh man, speed scrabble sounds AWESOME and no extra equipment to purchase, even better! Oh and pie sounds good too.

    • AmyQOTWF

      Get out the board games and teach Betty all of CH's weaknesses and then he won't have to let her win. (of course this might be a few years, post Candyland.)

      I love Mexican Train dominoes! My family plays a card game similar to the one you are talking about with the flash cards, but with real cards and spoons in the middle of the table. You put 4 spoons in the middle if you have 5 people playing, you just keep discarding and passing cards to the person on your left until the first person with 4 of a kind grabs a spoon and then everybody else grabs hell-bent for leather for the remaining spoons. This can get dangerous. Luckily my family doesn't drink.

  • (Thought) Chuck

    My brother turned me on to "Settlers of Catan" and that's a really fun one – too bad it's only good for 4 players (6 with the expansion set.) Another one we played this weekend which we enjoyed a lot was "Bang" – it's a spaghetti western card game where outlaws and renegades try to shoot the sherrif and vice versa. We played with about 10 people and it was hysterical. We also played a farming strategy game called "Agricola" which was cute. Another fun one that is similar is "Guillotine" – a card game where you collect nobles from a line of people on their way to be executed. You can play cards that screw other players over, re-order the line, etc. And for all you theatre geeks out there there is "Shakespeare," where you go around collecting props, actors, etc. to produce a play by the Bard – the game itself is kinda standard, but the trivia questions are really fun (easy, medium and hard.)

    • AmyQOTWF

      Oh, my family is totally into the cowboy stuff! Thanks for the heads-up on Bang!

  • (Thought) Chuck

    My brother turned me on to "Settlers of Catan" and that's a really fun one – too bad it's only good for 4 players (6 with the expansion set.) Another one we played this weekend which we enjoyed a lot was "Bang" – it's a spaghetti western card game where outlaws and renegades try to shoot the sherrif and vice versa. We played with about 10 people and it was hysterical. We also played a farming strategy game called "Agricola" which was cute. Another fun one that is similar is "Guillotine" – a card game where you collect nobles from a line of people on their way to be executed. You can play cards that screw other players over, re-order the line, etc. And for all you theatre geeks out there there is "Shakespeare," where you go around collecting props, actors, etc. to produce a play by the Bard – the game itself is kinda standard, but the trivia questions are really fun (easy, medium and hard.)

    • AmyQOTWF

      Oh, my family is totally into the cowboy stuff! Thanks for the heads-up on Bang!

  • (Thought) Chuck

    My brother turned me on to "Settlers of Catan" and that's a really fun one – too bad it's only good for 4 players (6 with the expansion set.) Another one we played this weekend which we enjoyed a lot was "Bang" – it's a spaghetti western card game where outlaws and renegades try to shoot the sherrif and vice versa. We played with about 10 people and it was hysterical. We also played a farming strategy game called "Agricola" which was cute. Another fun one that is similar is "Guillotine" – a card game where you collect nobles from a line of people on their way to be executed. You can play cards that screw other players over, re-order the line, etc. And for all you theatre geeks out there there is "Shakespeare," where you go around collecting props, actors, etc. to produce a play by the Bard – the game itself is kinda standard, but the trivia questions are really fun (easy, medium and hard.)

  • Nicole B

    We just bought Electronic Monoply to take w/us to my folks' for Thanksgiving 🙂 Monopoly is our old stand-by so we just wanted to try something new.

    If you like Settlers of Catan then I HIGHLY suggest the game Puerto Rico. It's also only for 4 players however we usually team up if there are more than 4 people that want to play. It does involve a bit of strategy so it's not great for little ones (i.e. it's not as universal as Monopoly): http://www.amazon.com/Rio-Grande-Games-4098399-Pu

    And I second not letting Betty win…well, maybe you let her win a couple but not all. I was reading somewhere that if kids are never allowed to lose, they get really pissed when they lose with their peers (obviously I'm paraphrasing) 🙂

  • Nicole B

    We just bought Electronic Monoply to take w/us to my folks' for Thanksgiving 🙂 Monopoly is our old stand-by so we just wanted to try something new.

    If you like Settlers of Catan then I HIGHLY suggest the game Puerto Rico. It's also only for 4 players however we usually team up if there are more than 4 people that want to play. It does involve a bit of strategy so it's not great for little ones (i.e. it's not as universal as Monopoly): http://www.amazon.com/Rio-Grande-Games-4098399-Pu

    And I second not letting Betty win…well, maybe you let her win a couple but not all. I was reading somewhere that if kids are never allowed to lose, they get really pissed when they lose with their peers (obviously I'm paraphrasing) 🙂

  • Nicole B

    We just bought Electronic Monoply to take w/us to my folks' for Thanksgiving 🙂 Monopoly is our old stand-by so we just wanted to try something new.

    If you like Settlers of Catan then I HIGHLY suggest the game Puerto Rico. It's also only for 4 players however we usually team up if there are more than 4 people that want to play. It does involve a bit of strategy so it's not great for little ones (i.e. it's not as universal as Monopoly): http://www.amazon.com/Rio-Grande-Games-4098399-Pu

    And I second not letting Betty win…well, maybe you let her win a couple but not all. I was reading somewhere that if kids are never allowed to lose, they get really pissed when they lose with their peers (obviously I'm paraphrasing) 🙂

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