Sunday, January 29, 2012
Born to Play
Wow, is this a topic for me! I come from a long line of card players and my family are wildly enthusiastic board gamers. Christmas means at least one new game and pulling out the old beloved ones.
I fondly remember long games of Canasta at my great-aunt Maude’s house. I don’t even remember how to play Canasta anymore. But I do remember great-aunt Maude and those games. We never played cards on Sunday though – that was her rule.
If I was to pick my all-time favourite, it would have to be RISK. Who hasn’t played RISK? RISK means childhood – gathering around the board in some teenage friend’s basement (yes, we were nerds), and it means summer get-togethers – gathering around the board at the long table at my friend’s cottage on Lake Muskoka with beer and wine and big bags of chips close at hand.
World Domination. What’s not to love?
About five years ago one of my number-one board-game enthusiast friends introduced us to an online version of RISK called Warfish. I’ve been playing ever since, at the height I had about twenty games going, but sadly Warfish seems to be coming to an end. It’s totally browser-based and the web site is down more often than not and players are dropping out. After the last round I’m in, that’s the end of an era for me.
In the physical world I haven’t played RISK for years. Maybe too many other games became popular.
Our current family and friend favourite is Settlers of Catan. Build a civilization, what’s not to love!
The advantage of a lot of new games, such as Settlers, is that players don’t drop out the way they did in games such as RISK and many others. In RISK and Monopoly and the like, you can be out of the game in a half-an-hour while the others play on until the wee hours. Not much fun at all for the earlier losers. But with newer games such as Settlers, no one gets kicked out, the game ends when one person gets ten points.
What else do I like? I have Lord of the Rings Stratego which is a game for only two people. Nice for when I have just one visitor looking for a game. For three players we often play three-handed Euchre.
When it comes to card games, the old favourites are the best. Hearts. Euchre. Up-and-down-the-river, which is also called Oh Heck! The nice thing about cards is that the games evolve within groups and families. You might think you know the same game as your friends but as play continues new rules start to pop up.
I’ve never been a bridge player though, although I took lessons at the library last year.
I remember playing Spoons with my cousins when they were visiting for my father’s funeral. My brother and one of my cousins crashing across the coffee table straight toward a startled daughter. We were gathered for a highly sad event, but a simple game of cards had us all laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
And that’s the pleasure of games.
And, dare I say, what’s being lost when everyone gathers around their own personal computing device and plays against people they don’t even know.