Saturday, March 14, 2009

Family Games Night: Mille Bornes, Waterworks, Spoons, and Spit

Without getting too preachy about it, I want to say that I strongly believe in family games night. It was important back when I was a kid, but nowadays, when a lot of kids immediately retreat after dinner (assuming the family eats together) to their bedroom for the iPod, computer, or television, it's really important. Also, I don't have kids so I'm hardly an expert, but I have to imagine that it's easier to start this kind of tradition when the kids are younger, before it's not "cool" anymore.

Obviously, most games won't fit inside a Christmas stocking, but I fondly remember two games from my childhood that are still available and that might fit in a stocking. The first is Mille Bornes, which according to the Babelfish translation website is French for "Thousand Terminals". It's a game in which each player is taking an imaginary road trip with the goal of traveling 1,000 miles. But your opponents try to sidetrack you by sending stoplights, flat tires, and accidents your way. Amazon lists it as for ages 8 to 12, but I've enjoyed it many times as an adult. The box is 1.5 x 5 x 6 inches, so it would take a wide-mouthed stocking to hold it, but it might work.... As of today's writing, it's available on Amazon for only $10.79.

The other game was originally from the same company, although I think the manufacturers of both games have since changed. This one is called Waterworks, and it's similar in that you lay down cards and your opponents put other cards on top of them. This time, you're putting down pipes that turn, branch off, or go straight, and the other players try to stop your water flow by putting down leaky pipes on top of your good ones. The bad news is, Amazon is listing this game at $63.99 from a Marketplace seller, which is ridiculous, of course. The good news is, it turns out you can get a Card Game Classics Tin for $25.99 (also from a Marketplace seller) that contains cards and rules for Waterworks, Mille Bornes, Pit, and Canasta, all in one place. (Canasta... that's another one we used to play.) This one is too large for a stocking, unfortunately, but it's still a nice gift idea. And it's possible the price for Waterworks will come down, or that it will be reissued again.

However, you don't have to go even this "fancy" to incorporate games night into your family's stockings. You can always put a generic pack of playing cards in a stocking. But don't just leave it at that -- print out and put in the rules for Spoons, or the rules for Spit and put them in the stocking too. These are two card games that are simple enough for kids too young for canasta, but quick-moving and fun for adults. Spit is also an excellent sitting-on-the-floor at the airport kind of game. If you're traveling for the holidays with kids, you just might need something like that!

1 comment:

Liz said...

Our family loves Mille Bornes. My 4 year-old plays along with the 30 year-olds.