the secret lives of prothros.

February 9, 2010

Game Closets

Filed under: Uncategorized — prothro @ 5:26 pm

Every house should have a game closet and those closets should be fed and filled with a healthy variety of games. There needs to be a good mix of:

  • Two player and group games.
  • Long games and short games.
  • Classics and new classics.
  • German games and games made by other countries. (Germans are to board games what Canadians are to maple syrup.)

This is a great time to buy board games. With the economy being what it is, people are going out less and finding simple ways to enjoy a night at home more and I think games are the answer. So much so that I made this ridiculously long list of games for you.

So without further adieu here is a list of games you should probably get in your closets along with links to buy them on amazon. This couldn’t get much easier. Of course, if you happen to be in Austin you should head over to Great Hall Games-a true game store-and buy your games there, because that store is a gem!

Two Player Games

ScrabbleIt’s been popular for over 50 years and there is a reason. This simple little game combines lots of skill and a bit of luck with lots of intense word disputes. I actually feel smarter after a game of scrabble. It’s a game that lets you exercise your brain. If you want to switch the game up a bit you can also play Speed Scrabble which a fun variation of the game that doesn’t use the board.

BackgammonThis is another classic. Apparently, it’s been around for centuries. This one is less skill and more luck and there is something very sophisticated about it. Maybe it’s the felt lined briefcase, but this is second to chess in my list of “mature” games. It’s also great because there are lots of great comebacks in this game and you get to raise the stakes throughout the game.

ChessNot to get all Bobby Fischer on you, but chess is just about the best game of all time. I mean the fact that people can still beat computers as chess just shows how much strategy is really involved in chess. It’s intimidating really. Although I think every house should have a chess set, I’ll admit that I’m too scared to play my own husband. Just don’t tell him that.

Power GridThis one is pretty new for me but I really like it. It’s actually good for 2 or more players but I’ve only played it with two so I’ll put it here. Basically, you’re an energy provider who has to find the most efficient way to power the maximum amount of houses and make the most profit. There is a good amount that changes from game to game so it doesn’t get dull. I’ve never won and I still like it so really that’s all the praise it should need.

Cards and DiceThis is a severe must. For our wedding, we got a box with ten decks of cards, tons of dice, rules to different card/dice games pads of paper and pens and it has been one of the best gifts. So versatile! You can play Gin Rummy, Poker, Canasta, Spades, Blackjack, Hearts, Farkle, Yahtzee and so many others. By the way, you can find Yahtzee score cards here if you run out.

Group Games

The Settlers of CatanIf you get one group game this year, it should be this one.It has won so many different Game of the Year awards and was the bestselling game of 2009. It’s German, figures! It requires at least 3 players for a game and take over an hour to play but it is addictive. The board is different every time you play so strategy constantly changes with it. I love this game because advanced players don’t have a clear advantage over new players since each game is so different, yet it takes so much strategery. Yes, I said strategery. This game really is awesome and if you’re planning on playing with more than four players make sure to get the expansion pack.

Puerto RicoNow, I’m sure a lot of people already own Settlers, considering it was the best-selling game last year so for those of you looking for another great Settlers type game, there is Puerto Rico. In this game, you’re settling the colony of Puerto Rico and each turn you choose your role (prospector, captain, mayor, trader, settler, craftsman, or builder). It is similar to Catan in that it is German and awesome but it plays a bit quicker and due to the play structure everyone is constantly playing. Another sure winner.

PitThis is a commodity trading game where you get to yell and scream. And that is always fun. you basically trade cards back and forth with other players until you get a monopoly on one of the commodities. Then, it’s points to you! This is a great ice breaker game because by the end of it everyone is standing up and screaming. And screaming breaks ice. Fact.

Wits and WagersThis is a random trivia game but the great part about it is that you’re rewarded for just knowing who in the group would possess such trivial knowledge. Lots of betting, lots of very random questions. Also, don’t play this with Brad Wilcox because he possesses every trivial piece of knowledge known to man, which makes it pretty unwinnable.

MonopolyThis one is a must. At some point in your life, due to insomnia or sheer lunacy, you will want to stay up all night eating popcorn and playing games. That is why Monopoly was made and why you should own it. It’s one of those games that you feel incredible achievement is simply finishing.

HotelsOkay, this probably shouldn’t be on the list because it was discontinued years ago but I grew up playing it at a friend’s house and just fell in love with it. It’s similar to Monopoly but doesn’t take nine hours to play. Plus, you get to but up actual hotels. I just like it. So much in fact that I got it for Christmas off of Ebay from my mom for Christmas one year. It cost her about $60 and now it’s selling for about $175. Good investment but really, just a good game.

Apples to ApplesNot going to lie. This one isn’t on my list of favorites but it is a great group game. Basically, you make comparisons and each turn there is one player who chooses the one he likes the most. It’s a good, quickc lighthearted game.

CatchphraseThis one is a favorite. It’s fun just about every time I’ve ever played it. It’s very quick and very simple basically, you try to get your team to guess the phrase you’re looking at by describing it. It doesn’t make sense that it would be so fun but it is always a blast. Many fun memories with this game. The person talking usually says some pretty ridiculous things and usually those things are screamed “MEAT CIRCLES!!!” -pepperoni. The electronic version is definitely worth it because you don’t have to mess with a timer or change out the phrase cards. This is the most often played group game I own.

CraniumThis is a great group game because you end up out of your comfort zone often. It has elements of charades, trivia, pictionary, and art class all mushed together. It usually ends up lasting about an hour though there are variations to make the game shorter.

DominoesI saved the best for last because dominoes not only let you play Mexican Train and Chickenfoot, they also allow you to play 42 which is the best game of all time. There is no game I could play longer or more often. If you don’t know how to play, my heart is breaking for you. Please come over and let us teach you. Think of spades played with dominoes and a revolving trump suit based on bidding. I can’t express my love for that game. If you’re going to be playing 42, you should definitely grab a set of Puremco dominoes. You can get them at great game stores or at their factory in Waco.

Games I’m Ready to Add

CarcassoneWell this game is German and that’s about all I need to know about it. I also know it is a tile laying game where you develop land outside of France and the best developer wins. I hear it is basically strategic jigsaw puzzle building. And I’m all about that. It’s also won Board Game of the Year in Germany so I’m ready to get a crack at it.

Lost CitiesThis game won the Best Family Game of the year award. The original version was for two players and it has since been expanded for 3-4 players. Apparently, it is as much fun for 2 players as for 4, which is rare.  It is praised as being easy to learn and competitive. Apparently, the final scores are often incredibly close which sure beats the inevitable domination of a Monopoly game. Is there anything worse than having to mortgage out all your properties before you can finally admit defeat and go to bed??!? I think not.

Ticket to RideThis one is about building railroads. The age limit is 8 which gives me some level of confidence that I could hold my own. It’s also one of those games where you can either go the ‘nice’ route or get in your opponents way and get tensions rising. I think tensions make games more fun, as long as they’re other peoples. DON’T MESS WITH MY NEXT MOVE. You know what I’m saying?

Pick a game and feed your closet!!!


  1. This post makes me happy. I LOVE games! Although I do not have nearly the collection that you do!

    Comment by Katie — February 10, 2010 @ 5:34 am

  2. This post may just encompass your personality.

    I LOVE THAT YOU LOVE BOARD GAMES! You’ve introduced me to so many greats, Jules. THANKS!

    This is intense, Mrs. Prothro!!!

    Comment by Jess — February 10, 2010 @ 8:13 am

  3. I live it! We jeep our extensive games in a shared closet with our liquor and other random awesome fun. Games/general fun closets are a must.

    Comment by Beardo — February 10, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  4. Carcassonne is great, as is Ticket to Ride. I would also suggest adding Princes of Florence to you “need to buy list”. Just make sure you don’t get Domaine. Just because Klaus Teuber designed it, and it’s full of Germanic awesomeness, doesn’t mean you won’t hate everyone you played it with.
    Or you could start working your way through this list:

    Comment by Brad — February 10, 2010 @ 10:47 am

    • I want to play…..your pick!

      Comment by Mom — February 10, 2010 @ 10:59 am

  5. Julie, you’ve got to add “Quelf” to your want list. it is so so so fun and stinkin hilarious! great group game. 🙂

    Comment by Brooke — February 10, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

    • Thanks for the recommendation!

      Comment by prothro — February 12, 2010 @ 9:42 am

  6. Ask Evan if he remembers Mille Bornes… it’s a great classic card game from the 60’s. We had it at the lake.

    Comment by ashley — February 10, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

  7. Alright, Julie, if you like strategy board games (which I think you do given your list of favorites) then Stratego is one that must enter your closet.

    I played this game a ton with my dad growing up. It is an awesome two player strategy game that is easy to learn but difficult to really master. Google it.

    Comment by Chris — February 12, 2010 @ 8:32 am

    • Oh yes, big fan of that one. Good reminder, I’ve totally forgotten about it.

      Comment by prothro — February 12, 2010 @ 9:42 am

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