We have a lot of game nights around here. James likes to pretend that he hates games, and perhaps at one point he really did, but his objection has been ignored so many times that we have all forgotten about it. Maybe it is marriage or maybe it is just that I have always been lame, but I love that our parties with friends involve comfy clothes and games instead of fancy clothes and dignified pursuits more often than not these days. Some of our best friends live just a couple of blocks away and we just keep a running tally of who has won the most games, adding to it every weekend. We have other friends who live out in Fairfax and throw epic game nights every so often, the kind where there is a lot of yelling, calling foul, and [good natured?] bickering. Here are some of our favorites to have on hand for game nights. (Obviously, you can fudge the numbers a little, as we usually have a group of four that plays all but Rollick. For that one numbers are essential.)
- For groups of four: Monopoly Deal Millionaire. What is the worst part of actual monopoly? The part where it NEVER ENDS and you are just stuck there limping around the board, praying for some community chest love that will never come. Here is the card game version. All the fun, none of the tedium.
- For groups of five: Ticket to Ride. Do not even try telling me this game is like Settlers of Catan or we might have to stop being friends. There are several irrationally strong dislikes that bond James and I together including Tapas restaurants and Settlers of Catan. Instead, Ticket to Ride just lets you build massive rail empires and viciously block your fellow man. None of this trading for sheep business — just sheer capitalistic expansion.
- For groups of six: Bohnanza. We call this the Bean Game, and if I explained it, I promise it won’t sound as much fun as it is. You plant beans, trade beans, and then exchange for coins. See? Sounds totally lame. But I promise it is fantastic and you find yourself yelling things like “I WILL GIVE YOU TWO GREEN BEANS, A STINK BEAN, TWO ROUNDS OF GOODWILL AND DO THE DISHES FOR A WEEK IF YOU WILL JUST GIVE ME THAT GARDEN BEAN!” Don’t you just want to play it now to find out why that sentence makes sense?
- For groups of seven: Bang. This is like Mafia, that beloved game youth group retreats everywhere, but with more confusing rules and none of that voting nonsense. (Because who actually listened to people’s defenses anyways? I always voted to kill the person, guilty or not. I just felt that it helped move the game along.) Bang is like spaghetti western meets Mafia meets card game meets TOTAL INSANITY. When James and I went home from our first Bang game night — at which I had won all but one round — he informed me that he had never been more angry at me than during that game. Which I took to meant the game was a success, and it was.
- For groups of eight or more: Rollick. In this game, everyone wins, because everyone looks like a total idiot and entertains everyone else. This is reverse charades, where one person guesses and everyone else acts it out — without being able to communicate. Thus, you just jump around like an idiot, amusing everyone and acting very little. We played a modified version at our Christmas Eve party, and I just want you to sit there and imagine a group of people trying to act out “virgin birth.”
Any game night fans out there? What are your favorites? But please don’t say Risk, because even thinking about it makes my feet hurt from the thought of stepping on those pieces in the middle of the night after everyone gets bored and leaves it all over the floor half-way to global domination.