Beyond The Board
I am an unabashed board game fan. I love playin’ em, I love givin’ em as gifts. Of course, not everyone on the planet shares this sentiment – for some, board games channel family time or hipsters playing Twister and thinking they’re being uber po-mo. I’m not denying I have similar associations, but I am going to encourage you to take a look at all of the options beyond the classic ‘board’ game. Here are my top 6 picks for new ways to liven up game night. Bop It XT – $26.99 (available in English & French)
My Bop It is currently in my kitchen. And I have to say, if there is a more addictive, maddening game than Bop It, colour me surprised. When I’m waiting for my bread to toast or my water to boil, I’ll lackadaisically pick up my Bop It and try and master it (something my boyfriend and I are constantly competing with one another to do) for the millionth time. If you’re not familiar, the game basically challenges you to move the various pieces that are called out at random over a timed beat. If you’re not fast enough, or if you ‘Spin It’ when you’re supposed to ‘Twist It’, you lose. The XT version has six different pieces to keep track of, four different levels with increasingly varied commands, and multiple modes that let you fly solo, go head-to-head with a group of people, or goof off with ‘party mode’ where you have to hit the ‘Bop It’ button with a various body part. It’s SUCH a simple concept altogether, but extremely addictive for all ages – a game for the mind as much as the body.
Monopoly Streets – $29.99 (for PS3, XBox 360 & Nintendo Wii)
A lot of people mentioned Monopoly as one of their favourite classic toys in the my Lite Brite post, and while there are literally hundreds of incarnations of the game these days, my pick for the best way to hook your kids on this family classic is the adorably animated Monopoly Streets video game, which is available on all 3 major gaming platforms. Whether you want to play on a classic virtual board (pictured top right) or immerse yourself in the 3D world of Monopoly Streets, kids (and parents!) will be instantly hooked with this re-imagining of buying land, building hotels, and attempting to bankrupt your fellow players. And if you get tired of the basic versions of the two variations of the game, you can grab extra boards with themes like ‘jungle’ to shake things up.
Hasbro Card Games – $6.99
And my pick for the best board game alternative that can fit in a stocking? These awesome reimaginings of your favourite games in pocket-sized card versions. Instead of dedicating hours, these games – from Life and Monopoly to Clue and Trivial Pursuit – can actually be played in minutes, just about everywhere. Pack them in your purse to distract kids when you’re waiting to catch a plane or sidelined from whatever daily adventures you’ve got going on. All of the games can be played with 2 or more players, giving you fast on-the-go fun for everyone. My personal pick? The Clue set, which much like the beloved game, has you guessing whether it was Colonel Mustard, in the Conservatory, with the Candlestick after all – through sheer process of elimination, and expert detective skills. Check your fave mass retailer – like Superstore, Wal-Mart, or Zellers – for a pack to stuff some stockings this holiday season!
Cranium Brain Breaks – $11.17
If you haven’t played Cranium – the activity-based board game that tests your trivia, linguistics, creativity, and acting skills – then you are sincerely deprived. And if you have and you’re looking for a new Cranium experience to dive into, may I recommend the family-oriented Cranium Brain Breaks. Packaged in a translucent purple ‘brain’, the set has everything you need for instant, quick-paced activities that can be done pretty much everywhere in under a minute. There’s no scorekeeping, no winner – just everyone working together to try and solve each of the 200 activities. Try doing one after dinner every night for some post-nosh togetherness, or bring it along to a family dinner and let the kids go wild on their own. what I particularly like about this one? The price. If you’re buying a gift for a family – like your kid’s best friend – consider this is a way to hit multiple birds with one very fun stone.
Family Game Night 4: The Game Show – $39.99
Transform your living room into a gameshow soundstage with this fast-paced free-for-all collection. Mr. Potato Head is your gentile host as he walks you through five reimaginings of your favourite classic family games – all of which are compatible with motion-capture systems like the Playstation Move, Xbox Kinect, or Nintendo Wii. Strike down Yahtzee dice with a bowling ball, play basketball on a virtual Connect 4 screen, test your reflexes with Bop It, channel your inner senior with Sorry! shuffleboard, and unscramble word combinations with Scrabble Flash. The best part is, even if you don’t win every game, you still have a shot at winning. The game is similar to the board game, Life, in that you simply collect ‘Monopoly Cash Cards’ which have unspecified values until they’re rung in at the end of the game. So even if you only win 2 of the 3 games, you might have the cash card with a mountain of money. Fun way to get kids off the couch and ultra competitive!
Scrabble Alphabet Scoop – $25
Playing this Scrabble-inspired word game is sort of like playing an insane Survivor challenge: incredibly frenzied, last-minute twists that constantly level the playing field, and a concept that makes it easy for pretty much any age to take part and enjoy. The concept is pretty straightforward. You get a card, and pick a word to ‘spell’ off the card – with easier words for newbie spellers and longer words for adults. You then take your scoop and grab spoonfuls of letter tiles, in an attempt to be the first one to spell your word, order the tiles correctly, and slam the lid on the ‘soup pot’ while yelling ‘YUMMY!’ It is of course, deceptively simple – there are certain tiles that cause you to lose *all* of your hard-earned progress, and it’s a serious free-for-all to dig in the pot and get as many tiles as possible. This is a great game for the whole family to play and put their competitive hats on in a condensed timeframe – your average game will only take about twenty minutes.
If you’re not already inspired for your next game night with family or friends, hopefully this’ll get you there: I’ve got one Clue: Suspects card game to give away to one lucky reader. All you gotta do to enter is:
1) Leave a comment below by December 23rd and tell me which of these not-so-board games you’d most like to break out on your next game night. Be sure to use a valid email address so I can contact you if you win!
2) Entries are limited to one per person per email address (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around December 23rd to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible to participate in this promotion.
4) Bonus Entry Time: Tell me which category of posts you’d be most interested to read more of – based on the list on the left side of the home page.
Want to go dizzy reading full rules & regs? You can email me for em. Best of luck kids!