What Are Your Board Game House Rules?

house-rules

[Image courtesy of Bell of Lost Souls.]

Many board games are meticulously designed, every aspect playtested dozens if not hundreds of times to ensure the optimal play experience no matter what choices the players make, how the dice roll, or how the various game mechanics interact.

But, of course, any game that becomes a household favorite is bound to be played so often that new rules and styles of play emerge. Maybe they’re designed to even the playing field for new or younger players. Maybe they’re designed to extend the gameplay time. Maybe they’re designed to inject new life into a game that has lost some of its sparkle.

We call these modifications “house rules,” and virtually every household has them, for one game or another.

There’s arguably no game that’s subject to more house rules than Monopoly.

Did you grow up with the rule that all fees and fines collected go in the center of the board, and are then collected by the first player to land on Free Parking? I certainly did. (And interestingly, studies have shown that this house rule lengthens an already long game experience, rather than shortening it or evening the playing field, potentially making the game worse.)

Maybe you get a bonus if you land directly on Go. Maybe your assets are frozen when you’re in jail and you can’t collect any rent money you earn. Maybe you allow the utilities to collect 5% of any player-to-player transactions over $200. But certainly, there’s at least one variant rule that your family considers standard.

(Monopoly once held a contest where players submitted house rules and five of them were added to a special House Rules edition of the game.)

The best house rule for Monopoly I’ve encountered is called “the mugging rule.” If someone lands on a space that is currently occupied, that player can choose to mug the player already there. They take turns rolling the dice, and if the mugger rolls higher, they steal $100. If the person being mugged rolls higher, the mugger goes to jail.

unocards

Another game rife with house rules is Uno.

Back in 2019, I wrote a post about the official Uno Twitter account declaring that you cannot stack Draw 2 or Draw 4 cards.

It turns out, one of the most famous rules in Uno is a house rule. An incredibly common one, to be sure, but not standard at all.

And there are a host of other house rules in Uno. Playing a Zero card rotates everyone’s hands in the direction of play. So if the game is going left, you hand your cards to the player on your left and receive the hand from the player on your right.

Playing a 7 allows you to swap hands with the player of your choice.

Instead of drawing a single card if you can’t play, some households require you to keep drawing until you can play a card. Which would cause your hand to balloon quickly!

The crew at No Rolls Barred tried out a classic rules Uno game versus an all-house rule game, and a single round of the house rules game lasted nearly an hour!

HiveMind

[Image courtesy of The Board Game Family.]

Naturally, our in-office game group has all sorts of house rules we’ve added to games we play frequently.

My favorite is probably the bonus rule we added to Hive Mind.

Hive Mind is kind of like Scattergories, where you have a given topic and you’re trying to write an answer down for it. But instead of being unique, your goal is to match as many other players as possible.

Unfortunately, sometimes that doesn’t work out, and if you have a knack for not matching players — like I do — then our house rule comes in handy.

Everyone votes on their favorite answer that didn’t match anyone, and that person gets bonus points. It’s rarely enough to tip the scales entirely, but it often ensures that players last longer, and in Hive Mind, that’s always a plus.

stack of games

[Image courtesy of StoreMyBoardGames.com.]

What are some of your favorite board game house rules, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers?

Do you let the person who can make the longest word go first in Scrabble, ensuring lots of places to add letters? Do you try to chase the killer down in Clue after they’re revealed?

Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

Have You Been Playing Uno Wrong All Along?

unocards

The holiday season is one of the few times in a given calendar year I play games with most of my family members.

The necessity of gathering for multiple events — it takes two or three days to see everyone around Christmastime, based on geography, family obligations, and such — creates opportunities for group gameplay that simply don’t exist other times of the year.

This got me thinking about house rules.

Every family has house rules for games and activities. Maybe it’s where you stand and throw in a round of cornhole, or what’s fair in a game of Horse, or how many do-overs younger kids get during a trivia game. It could be whether you call all shots during a pool game or only the 8-ball shot. That sort of thing.

I virtually guarantee that every household has some house rules for Monopoly, whether it’s doubling your $200 if you land directly on Go or collecting previously-paid fees when you land on Free Parking.

As it turns out, a lot of us have been playing Uno with house rules as well.

Get this:

unocards3

That’s from the official Uno Twitter account, which I didn’t know was a thing.

This was also a total surprise to me. Growing up, I learned that you can stack Draw 2 cards or Draw 4 cards. Apparently, in some households, you can add to Draw 2 with a Draw 4 or a Draw 4 with a Draw 2, making a Draw 6 for an opponent.

In any case, that sort of stacking has never been allowed in the official rules.

Gasp! That means many heartbreaking Uno moments from my childhood could have been avoided!

So, I decided to dig a little further. Were there other rules I didn’t know about?

As it turns out… there were.

unocards2

In this Facebook post from January of 2018, an astonished Uno player discovered this little gem in the Uno rule book:

Did y’all know that you can only play the Draw 4 Wild card IF you have NO other cards of the same color that can be played??! AND if you suspect that someone has illegally played this card, they have to show you their hand. AND if they in fact played the card illegally they must draw 4, but if not, the person who challenged the play must DRAW 6?

How am I only learning about these rules now?! I, for one, never knew that you could force someone to show you their hand if they broke the honor system Go Fish-style.

Have these revelations changed the way you play Uno, fellow puzzlers? Or am I in the minority as part of a group that thought we knew the rules, but were very much mistaken?

Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!