Sitting down to play some board games has always been one of my favourite parts of any big family gathering – it’s one of the few times you can really get to see your family members properly as they open up and get engrossed in the flow of the game. To be fair, that does sometimes mean that you realise that beneath that sweet exterior, your great aunt is actually a burning ball of rage set to a hair trigger, but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make in order to see the quieter family members really get involved.
So, in that spirit of familial love I’ve put together a little list of some of my favourite board games to play with my family. I’m sure you’ll be personally familiar with most of these, but they are classics for a reason.
The source of many a falling out, one family game of Monopoly hadn’t even been set up properly before three of the players had stormed out the room in a rage of mutual disgust, but despite the lows, Monopoly is often worth it for the highs. Monopoly offers those who fall lower in the family hierarchy that rare opportunity to lord it over the rest of us and exact petty revenge in the form of building hotels all over the board.
Who knew that driving each member of your family into bankruptcy could be so much fun?
The basic goal of Ludo might be to simply get all four of your pieces safely around the board and into home without being eliminated, but nowhere else have I experienced the sheer venom and betrayal that has been on show during a game of Ludo. Choosing whether to move a piece or eliminate another player always ends up playing heavily into family politics, and despite what you might say, those brutal eliminations are never forgotten or forgiven.
My family plays with an additional rule that allows for the construction of “barriers” when more than one of a player’s pieces land on the same square of the board. Other players aren’t allowed to move past these barriers, so they inevitably collapse into a scene of slaughter as pieces are trapped between the barrier and rival players.
Fun for the whole family!
As a game that leans so heavily on effective communication, there is no doubt that Pictionary was perfectly tailored to become one of the most contentious family board games. Relationships are made or broken on the ability to effectively communicate what is on your card, and I’ve seen many a budding romance cut short by the newcomer’s inability to effectively explain to my aunt through the art of doodling just exactly what a vegetarian is supposed to look like.
For a game that is ostensibly supposed to be about having a laugh and learning to communicate more effectively, when my family plays Pictionary it more closely resembles a blood sport.