Thursday I was at my FLGS, The Game Depot AZ. I’m there so often visiting my friends, the owners of the store, that the Thursday crowd seems quite convinced that I work there. Common mistake I guess, as I you will often find me behind the counter, but I honestly am not employed there. I’ve had offers, but I prefer to keep The Game Depot my place of entertainment, rather than employment. We joke about me being their intern, as I will often grab Cokes for customers, answer questions about games when I can, and help stock the new shipments. I get paid with good conversation, and an air-conditioned environment in which to play games with my meeps.

But I digress. Thursday, I jokingly said to my friends Patty and Dave, “Let’s play a game!” knowing the great irony is that they don’t get to play when they work, even though it’s a game store. Just a few moments later a couple of guys came in trying to find a “Mom game” for one of their mothers for, you guessed it, Mother’s Day. Patty and I set about trying to find the perfect game. It had to be fun, light, but not too light. There had to be some substance, but you still wanted to be able to socialize, so it couldn’t be too thinky.

In honor of the experience, and of course Mother’s Day, I thought I’d post a list of what we came up with and maybe even add a few of my own if I become inspired at some point in the next few minutes.

Parlay – This is a card game that’s a cross between Scrabble and Poker. Your have a standard playing card deck. Each card has the added bonus of having a letter on it.  Not only do you have to come up with the best possible Poker hand, but also the highest possible point-value word. You can’t rely too heavily on either the word or the Poker hand, so neither the card sharks nor the Scrabble players are at an advantage. This, I believe, is what makes it safe for the whole family, and would keep the Moms happy.

Apples to Apples – This is a popular party game. There are two types of cards: red apples and green apples. You have a hand of red apples that have random nouns on them. The Judge plays a green card, which is a description. You try to win green apples by cleverly playing your red apples. Everyone plays the red apple card from their hand (face down) that they think the the Judge will proclaim best describes the green apple in play. For example, the Judge plays “Corrupt”. The players throw in their cards. The Judge shuffles them up and lays them out. We giggle over the crazy selection: Milk, Gym Socks, The Dalai Lama, Killer Bees, and Canada. Maybe the Judge is a Mom with a teenage boy. Gym Socks is the clear winner. The player who threw in Gym Socks wins the green apple. Whatever the Judge says goes. You can try to convince the Judge for and against certain cards. If someone else had been the Judge, and they were lactose intolerant, Milk may have won. Knowing your judge is key. The next player then becomes the Judge, and the game continues.

Qwirkle – This has been described as “Caveman Scrabble”. It’s an apt description. You have tiles with six colors and six shapes on them. High score wins. Players take turns laying tiles to earn points. To lay down tiles they must match either in color or in shape, with no duplicates. The playing area ends up looking a lot like a crossword puzzle made of colorful, geometric shapes, hense “Caveman Scrabble”.

Pickomino – More tiles to lay. These have pictures of worms on them. Cute little cartoon worms. I know, Mom, they can’t be cute enough to get you to play, but other Moms might like them. Everyone takes turns rolling dice, and trying to get the most worms. Each tile has a number on it, as well as a number of worms. The higher the number, the more worms. You begin by rolling all your dice. You choose one number and “freeze” all dice of that number. You then roll the remaining number of dice again, repeating the process until you can add up all the frozen dice to get what you think is the highest numbered tile you can take. You may end up not being able to take anything if the dice are working against you, or you may roll the exact number one someone else’s tile, and choose to steal it from them. It’s a press-your-luck sort of game. It’s fun, especially if yo Mama is a trash-talker.

Snatch – You know I had to mention my Snatch. My game boys love my Snatch. What can I say? ( See Item 4 to bring yourself up to speed ) Snatch is another tile-laying game. This one is all letters. Player take turns flipping tiles face up. When someone spots a word they call it out and take the tiles. Don’t get too attached to your words (which are your points, BTW). As soon as another player can spot another word they can turn your word or words into by adding at least one new letter, they can and will snatch your word. That’s right, I’ll take your Cud and pull her Leg to make my own Cudgel. If I’d spotted the S in on the table, too, I would have said so and made it Cudgels, but I didn’t and it’s too late now, because you can’t simply pluralize a word or add a prefix or suffix. You have to change the root of the word. Really, it’s good clean fun, unless you have dirty-minded people snatching words left and right.

If you’re interested, Parlay, Qwirkle, and Apples to Apples were three games we suggested. Qwirkle won. There’s a store copy of Qwirkle so Patty and I got to play…I mean we demo’d the game for the two gentlemen. They had fun and approved of the game as Mom-worthy. Oh and they also got LCR, a fancy version of it, which we didn’t need to “demo” because they’d already played that one.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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