photo by Millette Espiritu
Call me the ungeek, but I never learned how to play chess. I can tell a king from a queen, and a rook from a knight, and that's about it. My curiosity about the game was piqued late last year when I finished reading Katherine Neville's The Eight, that pre-Dan Brown novel about religious and political intrigues across Western civilization history centered on the game of chess, so I fiddled with a lame computer chess version. Again, that's about it.
Even without chess, my shady 70's-80's childhood was replete with all kinds of board games. Almost every Christmas or my birthday, without fail, I would receive a board game as a gift, or inherit a second-hand set from my older cousins. Snakes and Ladders, Backgammon, Monopoly.Pictionary. Mastermind. I've had sets that came and went. Because I was never a solitary child, I lived to play these games with family and friends. It's four players, or nothing! Here are some of the board games that have molded me into what I am now: bored of games (Get it? Get it?):
(Prof. Plum, a murder suspect in the game Cluedo; photo from www.cluedofan.com)
I totally channeled Nancy Drew with Cluedo. I even followed a British TV series on cable with totally different characters, but with essentially the same premise: find the killer, the weapon and the crime scene, you win. Anyone who's played it must agree with me: the game was so cool because of the "suspects"-Professor Plum, Mr. Green, Miss Scarlett, Mrs. Peacock, Mrs. White, and Colonel Mustard; the "weapons"-candlestick, lead pipe, knife, revolver, rope; and the "crime scene"-conservatory, kitchen, lounge, hall, etc. The objective is to be the first to make an accusation involving the three elements listed above, and for that accusation to be correct, as proven by the three cards inserted into a "confidential envelope" before the game starts. Before a player can make a logical accusation, though, he must first express "suspicion" using this linguistic pattern: "I suspect that (suspect's name, e.g. Col. Mustard) killed (the victim--it's always the same victim) in the (crime scene, e.g. conservatory), with a (weapon, e.g. knife). The other players will hint at whether that player is right or not, based on the cards they hold in their cards (e.g. another player must say "No" if he is holding one, two or all the cards mentioned by the player expressing suspicion). So basically, the game is all about deduction, process of elimination, and intelligent guessing. And now that I am writing about this, I'm itching to do some sleuthing in the house, for my precious Cluedo has been missing since I finished college...
I need not describe how this ultimate word game is played. A bonafide worldwide sensation then and now, complete with a multilingual website and downloadable PC game version, this is the board game that slays all board games. I've had about four sets in my lifetime, from the bulky wooden set to the travel version, and all of them have helped while away those lazy afternoons. The most exciting part of the game for me is angling for the triple word block, and nearly wringing the neck of my opponent when he beats me to the coveted spot.
There's a Scrabble-like game called Upwords, which should be more challenging because you can stack up the tiles to form new words. My only problem with it is the monotonous color of the plastic board, so unlike the patterned colors of the Scrabble board. The scoring system is also quite ho-hum, with only one point given per letter per tile (except the "Q" which automatically comes with a "u"). The tiles are also difficult to grasp for some reason. If the manufacturer could only get these imperfections out of the way, it'll be the last word in board games.
3. Trivial Pursuit
My friend Rahnee brought this to one of our college sleepovers, and I swear we didn't sleep. As the name of the game implies, it's all about knowing popular culture-Western pop culture, that is. It means that you have to be familiar with Beatles songs, with 80's cop shows, with literary figures, world geography, and stuff you'll never learn in school, kinda like the opposite of "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader".
First you have to pray that you get a teammate who can draw decent stick figures. The rest is great fun which includes laying the blame on the designated artist even if he's already done a Picasso. The objective is for your team to get to the finish line by correctly guessing a teammates drawing based on the color-coded topics printed on the card. For the category "All Play", even the opposing team can guess what's being drawn, and mayhem ensues when everyone starts screaming their answers.
5. Twilight The Game
I just acquired this one from Jeje, a fellow Twilighter. I haven't even unsealed the box! But looking at the directions on the back of the box, I'd say it's a straightforward race to the finish, with the player knowing more about Twilight having the edge. One day soon I'll unseal the box and force someone to play with me; then I have something more helpful to say about it.
After all, the game might suck, but who cares? IT'S TWILIGHT!!!
|photo by Millette Espiritu|
So I couldn't wait. I opened the game box and spent an hour-and-a-half learning the rules, which to my dismay was a thousand times more complex than Scrabble. The race to the finish is actually the race to collect 8 scene cards before anyone else. To do that, you roll the dice, move your Cullen gamepiece around the board, land on a square and do what it says, which is mostly "pick one card." That's where the fun starts. So far I know that challenge cards have red and white daggers, one of which will ask the player questions about the movie (that threw me coz I prefer the questions to be about the book. Oh well.). If the player gives the correct answer, he has a chance to collect a scene card (He needs 8), but he is forced to discard one that he already has. To get to scene 7 and 8 (the prom scene no less), the player needs to get all 6 scene cards first.
I have a few complaints with the material used for the game pieces. Cardboard Cullens (all gamepieces are Cullen crests) aren't going to live an immortal life. The text on the cards are also too small for astigmatics like me, though Alice Cullen wouldn't have a problem with that. The box itself is made of soft cardboard--not immortal either. It looks like a trial version, actually, as though Cardinal, the manufacturer, was still testing the product. I suggest that they make the box sturdier and the gamepieces more durable, since Twilight fans tend to be rabid ( I almost freaked out when I saw the James cards!).
Have I used board games in class? You betcha. I conceptualized two that I'm quite proud of. The first was actually a simple back-forward-type featuring ALL the students in my advisory section. I made up wacky stuff about them, put their caricatures in boxes, and photocopied them so everyone has copies. I believe it was my schoolyear-end gift to the junior class of 1997.
The other was a quest-type of game for my Oddyssey class. I printed clues on clue cards which led to questions on question cards that teams need to answer correctly to earn points. The Q-cards were hidden in strategic places around campus, or with school personnel who asked for passwords before teams can receive their cards. I started doing this back in 1997, and every few years I'd muster the strength (coz it ain't no joke creating the game!) to conduct what I call The Quest. I am darn sure that I was years ahead of Amazing Race!