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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

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Games to Give and Get, Holiday 2012 Edition

"... I come to every social engagement armed with board games, to help facilitate that whole human interaction thing that people thought was important before smartphones gave us an excuse to avoid eye contact with others. It’s also why I give games as gifts."
—Over on The Morning News, Matthew "Good Gift Game Guide Guy" Baldwin rounds up his favorite games of the year, board- and non, with brief explanations of how they work, who they're good for, and the time they take to play. There's one that seems to be an Apples to Apples "for horrible people," as well as an oddly Tarot-looking one about mushrooms. Since we're here, shoutout to Yahtzee.



98 Comments / Post A Comment

suiterkin

Playing the Apples to Apples for horrible people (Cards against Humanity) was probably one of the most fun things I've done this year. It's terrible and hilarious.

anachronistique

@suiterkin Seconded. It is the best worst game ever.

RubeksCube

@suiterkin Thirded! (Thirded?) Amazing game.

Mandalas

@suiterkin Fourthed! Apples to Apples just doesn't do it for me anymore. Unfortunately when I tried to buy Cards Against Humanity last fall the store I went to was sold out.

Ophelia

@suiterkin I don't think I have EVER laughed as hard as I did while playing that. We had to print the cards offline and cut all of them out by hand, but it was worth it.

ThatWench

@suiterkin CAH has so thoroughly penetrated my friends' circle that I read this with great surprise that Edith hasn't played it. (Clearly she needs to meet up with us next week for our CAH happy hour.)

@Mandalas - the only in-person board game store worth even speaking of around here has told us that they flat-out won't sell it, for fear some unsuspecting family will wind up playing it with their children. Buy it online! Either direct from their own website or, as I did because my computer filter blocks their own website, Amazon.

SarahP

In the abstract, how do you all feel about taking out certain cards? If you were playing at a friend's and found out a couple of the cards were missing, would you care? (Assuming you'd even notice because there are like a million cards...)

Ophelia

@SarahP I suppose it would depend? If anyone ever got rid of "Oprah crying into a bowl of Salad" I would be pretty heartbroken.

Also, I've found that some of the most innocuous ones are what make the answers truly vile. Like, it wouldn't occur to me to remove "The Make-A-Wish Foundation" but it was part of the most horrible combo I've ever created.

anachronistique

@Ophelia Agreed - taking out really obvious ones that might be specific triggers probably wouldn't alter the game that much, but I would be really sad to see some go.

suiterkin

@Ophelia It's also interesting, in a way, to see what everyone's "bridge too far" is. It's like a personality test in itself. (Mine was "Toni Morrison's vagina." I was, good-naturedly, livid!)

OhMyGoshYouGuys

@suiterkin I just read the description of the Cards Against Humanity game and immediately bought it from Amazon. I have a feeling my friends are going to love me.

meetapossum

@suiterkin There's a holiday expansion out now, too!

highfivesforall

@meetapossum Yes, and it's pay-what-you-want, which is always nice, especially if you never got the chance to pay for the original game (they were unavailable for a while) and had to download and cut them out yourself.

mlle.gateau

@suiterkin I feel like perhaps there should be some sort of pinup specifically for playing Cards Against Humanity. Since we have write-in cards, we could work in some of those inside jokes that stupid woman thought we had so many of.

suiterkin

@mlle.gateau Good call! I'll start: "Juicebox"! "Chris Evans"! "N+1"!

Blushingflwr

@suiterkin Bleachie!

SuperGogo

@mlle.gateau Jizzcliner or GTFO

highfivesforall

@mlle.gateau The _____ was built to last but the _____ was built too small.

EpWs

@highfivesforall Juicebox, Doll-head Wine Glass

SarahP

This is so relevant to my interests!

Related: Any New England 'pinners interest in euro-style games should come check out Templecon, a gaming convention outside Providence where my friends and I run a board gaming room with hundreds of these kinds of games.

fb100003964691892

These all look like great, friendly intros into better, more serious board games. (And by serious I mean "well made by people who give a shit.") Let go of your Monopolies forever! You can, nay, SHOULD do better!

oh! valencia

@Ashley Lange@facebook How about making your own suggestions, then?

oh! valencia

@Ashley Lange@facebook Sorry, my reply sounded kind of snotty and I didn't mean it to. What are the better games to which you refer?

wallsdonotfall

But there's little so heartbreaking as buying just the right game for someone and finding out later that they never, ever play it--especially if they'd like to but never have anyone to play with.

PatatasBravas

Apples to Apples already brings out the horribleness of some people, so...

leonstj

Is there anyone else who's just....not into games? My whole life, it has been a problem. I was a little dorky kid, so my parents put me into chess club (I may have the causality backwards there, it's so long ago, how can one remember?).

But I just...I love the "idea" of chess, of mastering openings - I'm a fan of encyclopedic knowledge of arcane topics. But in practice, what the other kids were doing, why we weren't listening to music, talking to the other people there was too interesting to me to spend any of my faculties actually paying attention to chess itself, and there was no way I was going to go so 'inside my own mind' to "think several moves ahead". I was just not interested, and could not be bothered to pay attention.

It's continued all through life. I suck at competitive sports because I just don't care enough. I am competitive at work, at joking & arguing (not in a dickish way, but ya know. Sometimes in a dickish way). But I just...I can't get into games?

My favorite thing to do is just...bullshit? Like, the other night a friend came over, and we put on Pandora, and just talked about life and made fun of shitty 90s rap album covers. For like, 4 hours.

(edit: I do enjoy playing threes at a bar late at night, but that's dice-gambling and not really a 'game'.)

PatatasBravas

@leon s I'm with you on competitive sports! Board games I can get into if I'm in the right mood, but nothing about moving various orbs around to other people on my team or past other people into nets can hold my attention.

Ophelia

@leon s I'm picky about games. I don't like Monopoly or Chess - there just isn't enough action. I like games that have a tinge of the ridiculous, or are played very fast.

I also don't mind some more traditional games if you let them play out over a long time if you're doing other things in between. Like, we'll leave a Scrabble board out, and play a game over weeks, not necessarily sit down and dedicate ourselves to Scrabble for an hour.

suiterkin

@leon s I feel this way about cards. I just can't play cards. I used to try, over and over, but I can never remember the rules; I have to re-learn every time. And I hate every minute of it! The last straw came when a good friend decided to teach me bridge. Never again. No cards for me.

Ophelia

@suiterkin Ugh. Cards. If ONE MORE PERSON asks me if I want to play poker, I will spit in their eye. My idea of hell is a never-ending poker game.

SuperGogo

@Ophelia I have a similar game-playing ethos. I like it if it's relaxed enough to leave space for non-game-related interaction. I grew up in Michigan which means that I learned to play euchre right around the time I was weaned. An evening of playing euchre is aces, because the game is so automatic to me and my fellow Midwesterners that it becomes a almost a secondary activity. It's more or less something to do with our hands while we talk (with the occasional exception of a violent outburst if someone trumps an early hand).

leonstj

@SuperGogo - You beat me to it! I was just coming back to mention that I actually do like one card game - euchre. Although I'm not a midwesterner, I picked it up from two brothers I knew who were army brats. It really is a great game to play sitting around drinking beers if you don't like games. Perhaps this is also why I like tripps - I'm good at odds, so there's no real thought involved.

pinniped

@leon s Me! When people suggest playing board games at get-togethers, I'm instinctively horrified and don't know.why. I love chatting, movies, card games and bar games, though!

Tammy Pajamas

@SuperGogo It was so hard learning to play euchre in college because I was drunk all the time, but then it became the best game to play while drunk all the time. You can totally zone out, and then when it's your turn, a simple, "What's trump? Who played that jack?" is all it takes!

nowwhat

@Ophelia Ugh, poker! A game that is as annoying to listen to people talk about as it is to play.

(I may or may not have a hairtrigger about this due to a poker-evangelizing ex.)

frigwiggin

@nowwhat I can't remember the rules to any card game other than Cribbage, and that one's still chancy because of the counting-up part. I find most modern board games are too damn complicated (what? there are three decks that you draw from at different times? and also these little chits that you place on the board? and also a little guy you move? and you strategize and lie the whole time?) and I get confused and lose, but at the same time, over Thanksgiving I had a pretty good time playing Pandemic with my friends, because it's a cooperative game where it's everybody vs. the game itself, and it's very very hard to win. I prefer team efforts and camaraderie to pitting myself against everybody else.

MilesofMountains

@leon s I'm with you on card games and competitive sports and games like chess. I'm also not a fan of overly goofy games like charades but I still like some board games. I just have to be picky about them.

Ophelia

Has anyone ever played Jungle Speed? It's like a cross between Uno and Spoons, with a little bit of violence when things get heated. It also can range anywhere from easy to really, really difficult depending on how fast you play. (Also, 2 players is a lie; you need at least 4 for it to be fun). Highly recommended:

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/8098/jungle-speed

SuperGogo

@Ophelia Yes, so fun! I'm a champion totum-grabbing-faker.

Ophelia

@SuperGogo It's also an excellent drunk game, I've found ;-)

mustelid

This post is relevant to my interests! That mushroom game looks like it could be good. And I've been so curious about that game mentioned at the bottom, Friday. I kind of want to get it (I love Dominion and don't play nearly as often as I'd like). But I don't know if I want to admit to anyone that I am playing a 1-player board game...

Also, this is probably the appropriate place to make a post about how OH MY GOD I host this monthly board game happy hour here in Baltimore, and it's really blown up in the past few months and it is so exciting! The guy who originally started it handed it over to me in September and it's been really fun so far. When I first started going about a year ago, it was usually 6-10 people. Now we usually have 30-40 or so and are actually starting to run out of room! At the last one, the owner of the bar where I host it asked if I'd be interested in expanding to a second night per month. AND, a local game store owner asked if I'd be interested in having sponsorship (i.e. giving me free copies of demo games that he is not allowed to sell, so I can give better prizes). So basically eeeeeeeeeeeee yaaaaay I LOVE GAMES

lexmarie

@mustelid If I still lived in Baltimore I would be ALL OVER THAT. Maybe if I move back someday...

oh! valencia

@mustelid that sounds amazing!

lexmarie

I JUST bought Morels for my husband for Christmas. Can't wait to play it!

aproprose

All this talk of board games and happy hours and meet ups makes me wonder if there's something similar in Chicago. I'm sure my Chicago pinners are familiar with Guthrie's in Lakeview... But where can I get my indie/Euro board game fix?

SuperGogo

@aproprose Are you suggesting a Chicago pin-up at Guthrie's? Cuz if you're not, I am!

aproprose

@SuperGogo I'm on board!

misskaz

@aproprose Follow Uncharted Books (the bookstore) on Twitter - they do frequent game nights, which are often attended by Max Temkin, creator of the above-mentioned Cards Against Humanity. (Who is a friend, and is awesome and one of the NICEST people you'll ever meet despite how wonderfully horrible his game is.)

aproprose

@misskaz WHAT WHAT WHAT he's from Chicago? thanks for the Protip! That's amazing!

wallsdonotfall

@aproprose There's also a new game shop on Western Ave in Lincoln Square that was full of women when I stopped in and I think is (partly) woman-owned. They have game nights on Tuesdays and Saturdays, if I remember correctly.

aproprose

@wallsdonotfall yessss THANK YOU this is why I love the Hairpin.

fondue with cheddar

Board and card games! I love them. I've been toying with the idea of having a regular game night (sometimes I did weekly when I was still married) but I've lost a lot of my friends due to the divorce and other Friend Group Drama, and pretty much everybody has kids now so nobody hangs out anymore. I'm afraid nobody would show up most of the time and it would make me sad. Because gaaaames!

Also, thank you, Edith, for reminding me that I wanted to put Zombies!!! on my Christmas list because it's been far too long since I've played it.

terrific

Am I an idiot if I can't figure out how to buy most of these games? Links just lead me in circles!

leonstj

@terrific - Nope, that's just another game.

SuperGogo

Aww, how is it that, right until this moment, I forgot that I used to be a devoted follower of defective yeti? <3 u, Matthew Baldwin!

meetapossum

I would like to recommend Last Night on Earth for an awesome zombie board game. I'm also a big fan of the Battlestar Galactica game, and I haven't even watched the show.

Has anyone played the Game of Thrones board game? I hear it takes forever and is really intense, but it's supposed to be amazing.

RubeksCube

@meetapossum It does indeed take forever, and there are quite a few rules to follow. If you can, think of it as a GoT version of Risk. Sort of. But yes, it is wonderfully fun, especially if you have devious friends who like making alliances.

meetapossum

@RubeksCube My friends are super devious, which is why I think it's the perfect game for us. The learning curve is a little intimidating, but man, I want to be a Greyjoy so badly.

RubeksCube

@meetapossum Oh I understand!!! If you can be a Greyjoy and *win*, you are a far better player than I. Regardless, it's so fun!

SarahP

@meetapossum BSG game drinking game: Everytime you're the one who has to "decide" on a crisis card, drink. Make sure your admiral has a high tolerance, though, or he'll waste all the nukes.

misskaz

I brought Cards Against Humanity to Thanksgiving this year. Always fun to hear your mom ask what "bukkake" is. I've played it often enough that I get a little bored of it after a few rounds, but the rest of my family played for HOURS. It was hilarious and a little uncomfortable but that's what the holidays are for, right? (P.S. If you want CAH, buy it now - it usually sells out for months at a time but it's on Amazon now. Get the expansion packs. Get the holiday expansion pack. Do it.)

My favorite games are the simple ones; I hate super involved strategy games that so many of my friends seem to like. My favorite party games are CAH, Left Center Right, Pass the Pig, and "mexican train" or "chicken foot" versions of dominoes.

hulia

@misskaz Pass the pig!! Love that game.

I bought Cards Against Humanity for my brother for xmas, but have never played it, so am kind of stressed about how it will be received. Fingers crossed!

Oh, squiggles

Cards Against Humanity, yessssss. My favorite card reads "Bees?"

Also, Pandemic- a cooperative board game where the whole group is a bunch of people working for the CDC trying to cure multiple diseases before they destroy the world. Difficulty can be changed, but everyone loses or wins together, so it can be more fun than purposely trying to destroy your friends, which can be conflicting for those who are competitive but also really like their friends.

meetapossum

@Absurd Bird "Bees?" is the new "Helen Keller."

"Spontaneous human combustion" is the automatic winner when I'm choosing, though.

Oh, squiggles

@meetapossum I just love the simplicity of "bees?", but the question mark at the end is what really kills it for me.

lavender gooms

@Absurd Bird Beads?!

lexmarie

@meetapossum "My vagina" is always the automatic winner in my games.

SarahP

@Absurd Bird There's one about explosive poops that sends me into a fit of giggles every time someone even mentions the card.

Ophelia

@SarahP There's one that says something like "Mohammed, blessed be his name" that makes me crack up every time, because no matter WHAT it goes with, it is SO inappropriate.

MilesofMountains

@Absurd Bird I love Pandemic! My brother got it for me in the middle of the swine flu scare. Thanks, bro?

polka dots vs stripes

Most of the board game websites are blocked by my work butttt I think I need to become a board game person.

Kivrin

Oh God, I hate games—board and card. My husband's family wants me to play euchre, my husband and most of our friends love board games, and I just hate it. I can handle Scrabble and Bananagrams, but I'd still rather be doing a crossword puzzle on paper than playing with a group. For some reason multiplayer games feel like mini-fights...I dislike the inherent conflict of trying to win.

SarahP

@Kivrin Yesss I am not a competitive person, and I hate it when games get heated and/or when you're supposed to do something mean to another player. But there are a lot of board and card games out there that are either cooperative OR like playing solitaire with a group of people around--those are my favorites.

MilesofMountains

@Kivrin Pandemic is an awesome cooperative game, if it's just the conflict aspect. I still lose all the time, just not to other people.

Kivrin

@MilesofMountains Yeah, it's not *just* the conflict aspect; mostly I'd just rather be doing something else. My husband and his friend play Pandemic, and I am just not interested. I'd rather be reading a book or watching a movie or crocheting...

bedeah

Yahtzee 4eva! I am currently faux-feuding with a friend who keeps telling me I'm 'decent' at Yahtzee...as a native Michigander who comes from two generations of extremely competitive Yahtzee players, I argue that I am, at least, "awesome." Also, a friend from Idaho and I play speed Yahtzee, and we're convinced that there are just some states (see: the Midwest and Idaho, the Midwest of the West) where Yahtzee is not just a game, but a way of life.

meetapossum

I'll just say it: I don't understand any of you who say you don't like games. Does not compute.

sophia_h

I think every friend circle that regularly plays Cards Against Humanity has one legendary, hall of fame submission. Ours came from a first-timer -- "Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's ____", which he answered with "anal beads". Try singing it aloud.

EpWs

Buying my dad our family's first new board game in YEARS--Settlers of Catan, sight-unseen (unplayed?). Have heard enough good stuff that I'm giving it a shot. Thoughts??

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