Board game’s resurgence

When I was a kid, I loved to play Snakes & Ladders with my mum and dad. I might have been 4 years old and absolutely loved it, especially when you got that crazy long ladder that elevated you up half the grid. The snakes caused great bouts of pouting and consternation.

When I turned 6, I was introduced to Monopoly, which I thought was absolutely amazing. In my younger years, I always went for the Race Car, which was the best. As I got older, I exercised a bit of eccentricity and started to prefer the tophat instead. These days, I reckon the old boot is cool.

In Grade 4, when I was about 10, Trivial Pursuit Junior and Scotland Yard were the go to games of the day, which released my OCD gaming nerd from within. These games, simply put, rocked. I’d head over to my friends house every weekend where we would have a super Monopoly/Scotland Yard/Trivial Pursuit play off until 2 or 3 am in the morning. Every weekend. For years.

We used to combine 2 Monopoly sets and play “Super Monopoly” allowing the purchase of more houses & hotels on any given property. It was spectacular owning Mayfair or Park Lane and presiding over the rent that would come in with 6 Hotels stacked up on each property. The only rules were that the buildings HAD to stay within the boundaries of the property. If they fell out, it was a natural disaster and you lost that property, as in you waived your ownership of the property and it went back into the pool of properties available for purchase. An insurance claim would also result where you had to pay back the dues paid out from a rental perspective to the previous person who had landed on there paying rent. There were some other obscure rules we created around this, which involved lots of pieces of paper with scribbled notes and adjudication sessions involving lengthy and protracted negotiations. It was a lot of fun. I’m still in touch with these childhood friends, 30+ years on.

When I met my future wife back in 2004, she had some friends who played a game called Puerto Rico, which I had a go at. It appealed greatly to my sense of strategy and my wife and I got to know each other over Scrabble, Boggle and a deck of cards.

Now with 2 children of our own, Mr 4 and Ms, “get out of my way, you’re slowing me down” 2, I ventured into a toy shop – Mind Games – to have a look at what games were available. I was super impressed with the range of games that were on offer. I had heard of Catan – and the various offshoots – like Settlers of Catan. But this requires 3 players.

But what I was even more impressed with, was the good “old fashioned” customer service. The guys in Mind Games on Swanston Street, Melbourne were really fantastic. Upon seeking their advice I bought Carcassonne and Kids of Catan. I’ve played a few rounds with Noah and he LOVES it. Carcasonne is a bit more involved, but Noah & I adjusted the rules and he loves this even more. I’m loving the time I get to play board games with him, just like when I was a kid. I was recounting this to one of my friends who I catch the train with and he mentioned that he and his partner like to play Scrabble, but hadn’t had the time in recent years with looking after a child of a similar age to Noah and house renovating. I can see a Scrabble tournament being held at our house shortly.

Can’t wait until summer, where we’ll play out on the grass in the sunshine.

Editor’s Note: I was searching around online looking for some images of Carcossonne, when I came across this blog post discussing the ‘parity’ problem of arranging the tiles into an entirely self contained grid, with cities, roads and end points all staying within the map and being logically laid out. If you like math, read this post: http://norvig.com/carcassonne.html

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