Monday, November 30, 2015

Our New Thing is a new game

Our family plays games. In fact, one of Tim’s and my first dates was over a Pictionary game. When Sophie was little, she called it Family Game Night because that’s what it said on the Sorry box from Parker Bros: “Plan a Family Game Night!” Over the years, we’ve enjoyed Sorry, Clue, Scattergories, and a whole batch of others.

When Sophie discovered Quickword, that became our go-to game. It was a word game with different variations (name as many words as you can in one minute that have to do with baseball or name as many words as you can with AY preceded by L somewhere in the word). That always led to squawking because Tim included generic words like people, men, women, thing, etc. no matter whether it was baseball or circuses; but everyone had their own specialty in one variation or another so things equaled out.

We always took Boggle on family vacations because it was small, but lately, the only way it’s competitive is if Tim and I combine scores against half of Sophie’s. And I’m no longer willing to play Monopoly when there are three of us because it always turns into two people making a deal while the third just goes round and round and lands on things.

Then we moved on to Buzz Word, which is our latest dinner party game and one of the ways we launched Empty Nest social life. We invite over four people and we play two teams of three. It’s still words, but it’s easier and a lot of fun.

This is how you can tell a Third Third party game from ones we’ve known before:
  • It does not involve drinking.

  • It does not involve trivia.

  • It does not go on forever and take all night.

  • We don’t start the timer until the question person has his or her reading glasses on.

  • All the answers are on the tips of all our tongues; they’re just not retrievable.

  • We play it in teams so if popular music isn’t your specialty, for example, you just have to patiently wait for one of your teammates to get it. No frustrating, fruitless, solo circling of the board.

Sophie is trying to introduce us to Settlers of Catan, but I’m still wary of interminable games – Risk, 1863 Civil War. They were horrible as a kid – practically torture – so they never even made it into my Second Third. But I’m remaining open; she insists it’s fun.
Recently, Connie taught me how to play Five Crowns, her family’s favorite, and I brought it back home. For once, we have a non-word game with the right balance of luck and paying-attention. Eleven rounds, so if you muff up badly in one round, there’s still a chance to redeem yourself (and wait for someone else to screw up badly).

Thanksgiving. I am thankful for a visit from Sophie, dinner with good friends, and the many, many games of Five Crowns our family played this past week. New Thing meets Old Tradition, and somehow we all come out winners (no matter what all the score sheet evidence says).


  1. a great fast non-trivia non-word game is Nuclear War

  2. I love word games! (But my favorite game of all time is bridge. Unfortunately, it's not something one can pick up in 5 minutes.)

    We played 5 Crowns with some couples we met on a cruise. At first, the woman who brought the game always won. After a while something clicked and the rest of us started winning. It's a good one for those who don't want to play word games.


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