Board games have been a part of family fun night for generations. Many can recall the healthy competitions shared between siblings or the exuberance of winning for the first time and bragging about it at every game thereafter. Too many board games exist to name them all as each family have their personal favorites. However, there are a few that have become famous with families all over the world.
Born out of the trying times of The Great Depression, Monopoly is still the best selling family board game that has sold in 103 countries and produced in 37 different languages. Since its conception over 250 million games have been sold. The game was invented by Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1934. The famous board game was rejected by Parker Brothers in 1933 with the excuse that it had too many fundamental design flaws. Darrow returned to Parker Brothers in 1935 after producing and selling over 5000 games. Parker Brothers finally bought the copyright from Darrow and the rest is history. Monopoly is best played with a minimum of two players but can have as many as eight participants. The game board consists of 40 spaces: 28 color-coded properties, four railroads, and two utilities. The four corner spaces of the board game are GO, Jail, Free Parking, and Go to Jail. Various sets of rules can be applied but the basic object of the game is to form monopolies with purchased real estate in order to bankrupt other players. Every player chooses one of the well known pewter tokens such the racecar or the top hat to move around the board using the pair of dice All players are given $1500 of paper money to begin the game. Two ways exist to make more money with Monopoly: each property collects “rent” each time it is landed on by a player and every time a player passes the space GO, they collect $200. The amount of rent can be increased by building houses and hotels only when the player owns all of the same colored properties, i.e. a monopoly. Two small decks of cards, Chance and Community Chest, bring an added twist to the board game. The cards are pulled when the space with the corresponding name is landed on and the player must do what is written on the card. For example, a card drawn often is the Go Straight To Jail. No matter where your token is on the board, you must move to the Jail corner space. The game ends when one player has bankrupted the other players. This board game can last for hours, sometimes days as the longest game ever played lasted 70 straight days. Monopoly remains a household favorite because of the amount of skill and chance it takes in order to build your monopolies to prevent declaring bankruptcy. A strategy guide is available at www.monopoly.com for the more serious gamer.
Another popular board game not only creates bonding time for the family, but has also remained famous for parties involving friends as well. Yahtzee is the fun family board game that can be played by up to ten people at a time. Over 40 million copies of the game have been sold worldwide which was originally invented by a wealthy Canadian couple in 1956. The nameless couple, who played on their yacht, sold the rights to Edwin S. Lowe for the production of 1000 copies for their friends who had fallen in love with the dice board game. Lowe had problems marketing the game, partly due to lack of interest and it was hard to describe. Lowe began having Yahtzee parties and by word of mouth the board game has grown to include a yearly championship hosting players from all over the world. Now manufactured by Milton Bradley, the game is categorized as a board game even though it is played without a board. Yahtzee has few components: five dice, a cup for the dice, and a score pad. Players must supply their own pencils. The object of the game is to roll certain combinations of numbers within 13 rounds of game play. With every round, each player can choose to roll once, twice, or three times. After the third roll, the player must enter the score of the resulting combination on their score card. The top half of the score card are the six face values of the dice. The sum of the dice corresponding to the face value on the scorecard is written in the appropriate slot. A total score of 63 or more in the top section of scoreboard results in a bonus of 35 points at the end of the game. The bottom half features spaces similar to the hand in Poker: 3 of a Kind, 4 of a Kind, Small and Large Straight, and Full House. Chance is a total of all five dice, no matter what the face value. Yahtzee is all five dice with the same face value. A box cannot be chosen again once it is marked. After 13 rounds of play, whichever player has the highest score wins the game. Yahtzee will be played for many years to come due to the high level of excitement the right dice combination can cause among the players.
Often a learning experience as well as a celebrated board game, Scrabble® sanctions over 180 tournaments and has more than 200 clubs in the United States and Canada hosted by the National Scrabble Association. In 1931, Alfred Mosher Butts invented the family game to be “half luck and half skill” combining letters of the alphabet with a point system. Originally named LEXIKO, the game wasn’t played with a board until 1938 and given the name Scrabble in 1948. Now manufactured by Hasbro, Scrabble consists of a game board, four tile racks, a bag for tiles, and exactly 100 tiles: 98 with letters and two blanks. The board is a square grid, 15×15, with cells that can double or triple the point value of a tile. A star is directly in the middle of the board where the first word will be played. Depending on the rarity of the letter, each tile has a different point value between one and ten. For example, an E or a L is worth one point while a J is worth eight points. At the beginning of the game, each player pulls a tile out of the bag. The letter closest to the beginning of the alphabet goes first. The players then pull seven tiles a piece to create words. The first player places their word on the star in the middle of the board. Other players then attempt to build more words onto that word. With each turn of play, a player can choose three actions: place a word, exchange tiles, or pass. A player can exchange one or all of their tiles in search of more words. A 50 point bonus is awarded if all seven tiles are used on one turn. The game is over when the bag of tiles are empty and one player has used all of their tiles. Players who still have tiles left total the amount of points and subtract that number from their total point score. Only words in s standard English dictionary are used but many enthusiasts of this family board game use the official Merriam-Webster Scrabble dictionary. Some tactics can be used to build up a healthy score. For example, become familiar with the many two lettered words in existence. Additional tips can be found at www.scrabblepages.com Scrabble® continues to be a family favorite not only for thrill of competition but for the educational purposes as well.
For many adults, Checkers may have been the first board game you ever learned how to play. A game for two players, Checkers is also known as Draughts in Great Britain and other parts of the world. The game board is 8×8 with alternately black and red squares, resembling a checkerboard. Game pieces are usually black and red or white and each player starts with 12 pieces placed on the first three rows on their side of the board. The row closest to you is called home row. The player with the black game pieces must place pieces on red squared of game board and red pieces on black. The object of the game is to either capture all of your opponent’s pieces or leave them without any legal moves. There are two ways to move across the board: by sliding your game piece to an empty square on the board and jumping over an opponent’s piece. A game piece can only move forward. Players can continue to jump as many pieces as there are spaces to do so. If an opponent’s game piece reaches home row, that game piece is “crowned” or becomes a king. At that point, the King can
move backwards and forwards around the game board. The first player to capture all their opponent’s pieces is the winner. Many don’t realize how important strategy is until they have actually played the game. For more information about Checkers strategy, visit www.checkers-strategy.com. Ideal for speedy play, Checkers is a board game that allows challenges among the whole family.
Othello hasn’t been around a long as the other family board games but it is quickly gaining distinction among families worldwide. Othello was first invented at the end of the 19th century with the name Reversi by two Englishmen: Lewis Waterman and John W. Mullet. In 1971, Goro Hasegawa reintroduced that game to the world – under the new name of Othello. Played by two players, it is a quick and simple board game that can be unpredictable. The board has 64 squares that the game pieces will cover. The 64 game pieces are white on one side and black on the other. The basic goal of this board game is to encircle your opponent’s game pieces with your color. Game play begins with four pieces in the middle – two black and two white with the colors forming a X. The player with the white pieces goes first for a chance to flip one of the black pieces. If a player is white and a white game piece is at the end of a line of black pieces, the player can then place a white piece at the end of that line. The player can then flip all the black pieces to white. Every move must cause a flip and if a player cannot move, your opponent gets another move. The game ends when the board is full or both players have run out of move. Whichever player has the most of their pieces turned over wins the game. Like Checkers, this quick board game is perfect for competition game between families. Once a player has been a beaten, other members of the family can challenge the winner until someone else wins.
Monopoly®, The History of Monopoly®, www.monopoly.com
Monopoly®, Strategy Guide, www.monopoly.com
Yahtzee®, The History of Yahtzee®, www.ideafinder.com
Yahtzee®, Rules of the Game, www.yahtzeeonline.org
National Scrabble Association, The History of Scrabble®, www.scrabble-assoc.com
Scrabble®, Rules of the Game, www.scrabblepages.com
Scrabble®, Scrabble® Tactics, www.scrabblepages.com
Checkers, Checkers Strategy, www.checker-strategy.com
Othello, The History of Othello, www.beppi.it