It was 1990-something and I (Apprentice Dan) was still a fledgling gamer who loved playing games with the family even more than my Pirate Legos and watching Star Wars. Holidays meant family gatherings which meant time for games! With that in mind, I wanted to jump back and look at my top 5 childhood-games-that-are-still-super-awesome-but-that-I-never-play-anymore list. Have you played any of these games?! Do you have others that you think back and say, “Man, that was actually pretty fun”? Let us know over in Discord and let’s have some holiday reminiscing!
#5. Spoons -- Who doesn’t love frenetically passing cards around looking for 4 of a kind while also watching the silverware on the table to see when someone grabs it. The uninitiated player is usually so excited by 4 matching cards that they scream and grab at least one spoon as they send the others clattering about the table starting a chain reaction of grabbing and screaming akin to jumping on a trampoline filled with 1000 mousetraps (Check it out! https://youtu.be/ewGAmiLuYCw). For the grizzled vet, you feel a bit like Snake sneaking in on a covert mission of spoon grabbing hoping not to set off any alarms. You probably also had the same conversation about playing with steak knives next time.
#4. Ma — This is the card game that many people only played once, but I LOVED. Here’s how this goes down. “Okay everyone, this is Ma. It’s played kinda like Uno, except you can’t talk unless you say ‘Pause.’ First player to run out of cards wins. Okay, go!” Inevitably, someone talks to ask a question and you hand them a penalty card for talking. If they’re really bright, they’ll talk and protest the penalty and gain another penalty. Then they see you’re serious and say “PAUSE!” The real fun is when someone wins! They secretly get to create a rule to add to the game based on cards being played. For example, whenever odds are played, skip one person. Or whenever red royalty is played, say “Dan is super awesome!” Now the rule maker is watching for someone to break the rule who then has to draw a penalty card. As you play, you start piecing together who played what card and what caused a penalty. Then you get to start snickering quietly at others who can’t seem to figure it out. By round 5, you’ve added in a handful of extra rules and only the sharpest will avoid spiraling into playing card pandemonium. My brother made a rule that whenever a prime number was played, you skipped a player. I didn’t know what prime numbers were yet . . .
#3. Careers — Parker Bros made this as recently as 2003, but I have (to this day) the 1965 version. Even now, I still enjoy pulling this out with the wife and kids amidst the swirling sea of board gaming opportunities. It’s a typical roll and move game of its day but with a secret objective component. You’re going around a board, trying to make money, gain fame, and happiness. That might mean trying to climb a mountain and breaking your leg, or going to the moon and having the shuttle explode, but those are just minor setbacks to your career aspirations. You can draw Opportunity cards that would allow you to move straight to different careers rather than relying JUST on the roll. You also got to set your goals for how much money, happiness, and fame you were going to collect during the game. We would all probably have different goals and would try to pursue those goals during the game so you never really knew who was about to win. CV kinda sorta hits the spot, at least on theme, but the whole roll and move idea is just SO last century in the Pre-Catan era so I doubt there are any true modernizations.
#2. Demon — Depending on your circles, you probably knew this game as Two-way Solitaire, Angel, Nertz, or you just played Dutch Blitz. It’s a speed card game with solitaire type rules but you’re all playing on community stacks in the middle. Playing with my sisters-in-law was super fun, but I also hated it because they had nails and that made for some bloody knuckles as you both sent phalanges flying toward a single pile . . . and they were faster than me so I lost AND had bloody fingers. If you REALLY don’t know what it is, check out Dutch Blitz. Taco Fight is a fairly recent Kickstarter that has a similar vibe and is a lot of fun too!
#1. Spit — I’m sure this goes by many names, but it’s a simple trick taking card game with trump and bidding and all that good stuff. In round one, you had one card. Round two, two cards, and so on all the way up to 10 before coming back down. Each round you’d see trump and decide how many tricks to bid. If you were the last player that round, your bid simply couldn’t cause the total number of bids to equal the number of tricks. Someone always has to be wrong! If we went around the table and everyone else said zero on that first round, you COULD NOT say one as that would equal the one trick. You play your card in turn order and the winner takes the trick and correct bids score. The final round was a single card but you could only look at your opponent’s cards. I loved this game, in part because my brothers had the nerve to think their wives/fiancées needed to play so I was an odd man out for Hearts and Spades. Spit is essentially Rage, but way better because Spit doesn’t make you smash tree branches against tree trunks because of the crazy extra cards they added in. It’s really a good life motto. “Don’t rage, spit!”
Whether you’re breaking out the hottest games of the year, or pulling out some old favorites, we at Tantrum House hope you have a wonderful time connecting with those you love this holiday season!
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