What’s Better in Puzzles and Games – Loud or Quiet?

One of my favorite things about puzzles is how peaceful they are.

Sure, escape rooms can be cacophonous, and dropping a jigsaw puzzle can be infuriating, but for the most part, puzzles are soothing.

The satisfying scratch of pencil on paper as you fill in a word, watching the pile of unplaced jigsaw pieces slowly dwindle as the picture continues to form, getting a little victory chime when you solve a puzzle in your favorite app…

Board games, on the other hand, tend to get loud.

Sometimes, it’s good-natured debate or enthusiastic contributions, like when things get tense in a cooperative game, or when the game generally encourages rambunctiousness, like Throw Throw Burrito.

Other times, it’s a by-product of the gameplay itself. There’s a fair amount of frenzied clacking in Hungry Hungry Hippos, for instance, but I never hear people complain about the noise that comes along with a round or two of marble-chomping.

[Image courtesy of Grey Mass Games.]

Of course, that increase in volume can be for reasons that are a little more heated. Maybe someone betrayed someone else in a game like Sheriff of Nottingham. Monopoly famously inspires people to flip the board in frustration.

Social deduction games where identities are secret, or where there’s some level of deception involved, also tend to get pretty loud. Whether it’s Mafia, Ultimate Werewolf, Secret Hitler, Blood on the Clocktower, or others, raised voices are common.

But when it comes to loud board games, I think we can all agree that one particular dexterity takes the cake.

Say it with me now…

JENGA!

Yes, Jenga — by design — is loud. The only way the game can end is with a toppling tower of wooden blocks. CRASH! I know several board game cafes that have banned it for that specific reason.

Sure, KerPlunk can be loud, but even a stack of falling marbles doesn’t seem to compare to the jarring clatter of a stack of Jenga tiles hitting the table and/or the floor.

Sure, Perfection can be loud, but that’s kind of the point. You’re trying to complete the task BEFORE the buzzer. So it is possible to play without the cacophony.

Jenga is so infamously loud that there are other games that sell themselves on being quieter than Jenga but offering the same stacking mechanic. Rhino Hero and Rhino Hero Super Battle employ cards instead of wooden blocks, so the collapse is less more tolerable, while Catch the Moon employs ladders, which makes for an oddly soothing yet still stressful game experience.

But where do you stand on noise-making games and puzzles? Do you like them soothing and soft or calamitous and crashing? And just what is the loudest game? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.


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Monopoly Opens Up the Community Chest to the Community!

monopoly

Monopoly has been around for more than 80 years, and over the decades, they’ve made all sorts of attempts to modernize or update the product. They’ve ditched paper money for electronic banking and credit cards, they’ve utilized motion sensors, and even released Millennial, political, and cheaters’ editions in the hopes of freshening up the game.

This time around, they’re asking for the public’s help in changing the game. Specifically, they’re looking to update the Community Chest cards.

community-chest-vintage

According to the Hasbro press release:

Covering topics like beauty contests, holiday funds, and life insurance, there is no denying the Monopoly game’s Community Chest Cards are long overdue for a refresh. And, coming out of the tumultuous year of 2020, the term “community” has taken on a whole new meaning. Hasbro is counting on their fans to help reflect what community means in their real lives, into the Monopoly game, by voting for new cards like “Shop Local”, “Rescue A Puppy” or “Help Your Neighbors.”

Naturally, because of the Internet, this is already being reported in some outlets as a desperate attempt by the company to appear “woke” or more socially aware. And that seems a tad pessimistic in my view.

Sure, this could be a cynical corporate strategy, but it doesn’t mean updating the game is a bad idea. I mean, when’s the last time the bank actually made an error in your favor and you got $200?

community-chest-bank-error-in-your-favor

This isn’t even the first time they’ve crowdsourced an update to the game. A House Rules edition of the game was published with five house rules suggested by fans.

In 2017, Hasbro launched an Internet poll to determine a new lineup of tokens for editions of the game, which resulted in the boot, wheelbarrow, and thimble being removed from the game (and replaced with a rubber duck, a penguin, and a Tyrannosaurus rex).

So they’ve posted a poll where you can choose between two possible options for each of the 16 cards.

For instance, one pairing let me choose between “You go to the local school’s car wash fundraiser — but forget to close your windows! Pay $100” and “You held a neighborhood party — but you didn’t recycle your trash! Pay $100.”

Other cards mention bake sales, video chatting, running for charity, volunteering, community gardens, donating blood, and more.

community chest

So, this begs the question: what suggestions would you make?

Would you replace the beauty contest with second place in a hot wings-eating contest? Would you help a friend secure a small business loan? Would you contribute to an off-the-grid community?

Let us know your ideas for new and fresh Community Chest card ideas in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


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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.


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Weird Versions of Monopoly, Part 2!

Last week, we ventured on a deep dive into the expansive world of Monopoly. Yes, that most ubiquitous of games that everybody knows. That quintessential board game that comes in many different flavors, but only one texture.

In last week’s post, we strolled up and down the game’s historical timeline, covering curious updates, odd revamps, and truly baffling licensing deals that made for a cavalcade of dice-rolling piece-moving strangeness.

But we restricted ourselves to official releases authorized by either Hasbro or Winning Moves UK. That still leaves a world of unofficial, unauthorized, and third-party variations on Monopoly out there to be covered.

andy mangold monopoly

[Check out this incredibly classy repackaging of Monopoly
by designer and artist Andy Mangold.]

So in part two of this trip down a Marvin Gardens path of peculiarity, we’re casting a wider net and seeing what we catch.

These are the weirdest, least likely, and most envelope-pushing versions of Monopoly I could find. (Oh, and I’m excluding purposely offensive versions, so versions that mention ethnicity or sexuality have been left out of this post.)

Without further ado, let’s enjoy!


anti-monopoly

Anti-Monopoly

Let’s start with perhaps the most famous unofficial version of Monopoly to ever hit shelves. Anti-Monopoly starts where a traditional game ends — with many properties held by a few wealthy entities — and challenges the players to break up the monopolies. Both a smart inversion of the original and an interesting gameplay experience in itself, Anti-Monopoly kicked off an infamous legal battle.

In fact, after two appeals, the inventor was forced to let Parker Brothers buy him out, rather than go bankrupt himself defending his creation. That is the saddest sort of irony.

web-lovers-monopoly

Web Lovers Monopoly

A game that plays like Monopoly but bends some of its classic elements to fit the gimmick, Web Lovers Monopoly replaces properties with websites, including swapping Boardwalk for Yahoo and placing Facebook, Google, and YouTube fairly early on in the board, which makes me wonder when this game was produced.

Also, free parking is now free wireless and jail has been replaced with the real world. Other than mentioning websites and lightly ribbing internet users, I’m not really sure what the point of this game is. If it’s a satire, Monopoly for Millennials had more bite than this.

bibleopoly

BibleOpoly

Using a game representing one of the classic seven deadly sins to teach younger players about the Bible is certainly a curious choice, but hey, we’re not here to judge. (Okay, maybe we are, a little bit.)

In BibleOpoly (a name that does NOT flow off the tongue), players travel through Biblical cities in order to earn the bricks and steeple necessary to build a church. Instead of selfish or greed-fueled acts, you succeed by helping fellow players, making offerings, and doing Community Service (their version of Community Chest), which is nice.

But the less said about The Abyss being listed as a place alongside spots like Nazareth and Bethlehem, the better. Yikes.

photo-opoly

Photo-opoly

Yup, it’s a DIY Monopoly board where you select 22 photos to incorporate into the game. This is actually a cool idea — once you get past the whole “Here, I bought you this, now YOU make it” aspect of the game.

Of course, it makes one wonder about the consequences of making a family version of this game, then having another child, and then that child discovering they’re not included in the family Monopoly game. Or who gets the game in the divorce.

Let’s move on, shall we?

medical monopoly

Medical Monopoly

Yup. The for-profit medical industry in Monopoly form. The first player (er, doctor) to fill their hospital with patients wins.

I feel gross just writing about this game. And that was before I read the instructions:

The object of the game is to introduce and inform young people to the cause and treatment of common physical problems that have a solution known as First Aid. Office Visits to a doctor are also explained for both common and serious problems, giving a better understanding to the patient.

Yeah, they try to pass off this soulless cash-grabbery as a learning experience. ICK.

communist-monopoly

Queue

Now let’s look at a strange version of Monopoly that actually is educational. Queue, the creation of Karol Madj, is set in communist Poland and designed to educate folks on daily life at the time.

Yes, it’s Communist Monopoly. Which is interesting, since Fidel Castro ordered the nationwide destruction of Monopoly games upon taking power in Cuba.

Anyway, the goal of Queue is to line up in an orderly fashion to buy goods and services, including bread. It’s a sobering take on the traditionally cash-flashy game, and one that really immerses you in a different cultural experience.

And like many educational games, it is boring as all get out.

onopo

Onopo

Let’s close out today’s post with a visually fascinating variation of the famous game.

This is Onopo, the minimalist’s approach to Monopoly. An art project by creator Matthew Hollet, Onopo was designed to boil Monopoly down to basics in a visual sense, stripping away the traditional design elements but leaving behind a playable result.

onopo-4-460x460

There’s no geography and virtually no text in the game, but even a cursory glance at the gameboard and the cards reveal just how effective the minimalist approach can be. After a few seconds of confusion, you figure it all out.

onopo-3-460x460

Although Onopo was never commercially released, it’s worth including both for its ambitious design and the statement it makes about branding. In a game that increasingly remains relevant by draping itself in other popular trappings and logos, it becomes less interesting than this bare-bones version of itself.


We hope you enjoyed this two-week trip down the many avenues (and occasional places) that Monopoly has traveled.

Is there a strange or noteworthy version of the game that we missed? 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!

Weird Versions of Monopoly!

When it comes to board games, there’s no game more ubiquitous than Monopoly. Everyone has played it, every household has a copy somewhere, and whether you enjoy the game or not, you still have a favorite game piece.

Not only has Monopoly conquered game shelves around the world, but there are so many specialty versions of the game that you’re guaranteed to find one just for you. From The Golden Girls and Star Wars to Hello Kitty and Littlest Pet Shop, from cat lovers and horse lovers to Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, there are an insane number of Monopoly variants on the market.

sunmaid

And some of these Monopoly games are just plain weird. (Heinz, Sun-Maid, and Best Buy all have their own versions!)

So today, we thought we’d take you for a stroll down Memory Lane (which was renamed Mediterranean Avenue in the 1950s) to revisit the board game everyone knows, but in forms you might not have seen before.

These are the weirdest, least likely, and most baffling versions of Monopoly I could find. (Oh, and if you’re looking for Cheaters Edition, we’ve already covered that one.)

Enjoy!


First, let’s look at the different ways they’ve tried to update Monopoly over the years.

monopoly electronic banking

Electronic Banking Monopoly

One of the bright spots of playing Monopoly is the colorful money. Whether you’re the banker or one of the players, you can’t resist rifling through stacks of fake cash.

So when Monopoly announced that they’d be updating the game with a calculator, credit cards, and even electronic banking, I couldn’t help but ask, “Why?” No amount of tech, no matter how cool, can duplicate dropping a $500 dollar bill.

monopoly-ultimate

Ultimate Banking Monopoly

Again, this version has cashless gameplay, as well as property values that rise and fall as you play. Although the property value gimmick is an interesting change, losing the money seems to suck a lot of the fun from the experience.

monopoly-revolution

Monopoly Revolution

No, you’re not overthrowing the elites and eating the rich in this version of the famous game. Instead, they just made the classic board round. (Oh, and also added an electronic aspect to track players’ money and add sound effects.)

Several of the branded versions of Monopoly have also used the circular board, many claiming that it helps make the game more compact and portable.

millionaire-monopoly

Monopoly Millionaire

In this greed-fueled version of the game, the first player to reach a million dollars wins. This does strip down the game — eliminating railroads, utilities, and tax spaces — as well as limiting the number of players to 4, but they make up for it by adding upgradable tokens and twists through Fortune Cards and Millionaire Lifestyle spots (instead of Chance and Community Chest).

This boils Monopoly down to its roots, and you feel slightly dirtier just by playing it.

monopoly empire

Monopoly Empire

Similar to Monopoly Millionaire, this isn’t a race to acquire property and muscle out your competitors, it’s a race to fill your tower with billboards representing different companies. And you can up the rent you charge as your tower grows.

Spaces are brands, tokens are brands, brands brands brands.

On the plus side, you can’t go bankrupt in this game. I guess you’re too big to fail.

gold monopoly

Monopoly Luxury Edition

Of course, there are blinged-out versions of Monopoly that are larger, more ornate, and designed more as discussion pieces than games to be played.

But nothing quite compares to this $10,000 edition of the game with 18-karat-gold dice, diamond ornamentation, and actual money. (Oh, except for the FAO Schwarz version with actual currency that costs $100,000. It’s insane.)

monopoly live

That is, except for Monopoly Live, which features an electronic talking tower with motion sensors.

Yeah, the infrared tower runs the game. No dice, no cards, no money. Everything is managed with the tower and a few interactive game pieces on the board.

Have you ever wanted to play board games with Big Brother? Now you can!


Now let’s look at some of the intriguing licenses and branding the game has embraced over the decades.

monopoly tut

Monopoly: Tutankhamun and The Golden Age of the Pharaohs

Go big or go home. Based on the King Tut exhibit that toured the world in the mid-2000s, this game has you building shrines and pyramids instead of houses and hotels, along with gold versions of the classic game pieces. (Bummer, I wanted to be a scarab or the unblinking red eye of Ra!)

Honestly, this is weird, but pretty cool.

monopoly-millennial

Monopoly for Millennials

The most “OK Boomer” of the editions of Monopoly I could find, this one can’t seem to decide if it’s celebrating millennials or mocking them.

On one hand, you’re buying experiences instead of properties: retreats, music festivals, etc. On the other hand, the game box itself says, “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway,” while the game has spaces like “Parents’ Basement” for you to land on.

Hasbro_MonopolyHouseDivided-1-1024x576

Monopoly: House Divided edition

Hey, does regular Monopoly not provoke enough ill will or table-flipping in your household? Why not try a version where each player is a candidate trying to earn votes in different states?

Yeah, in this one, your token indicates party loyalty — red or blue, how lovely — and features everything from fundraising, Executive Power spaces, and a White House token.

monopoly pizza

Monopoly Pizza Game

Pizza and board games have been tag team partners for mellow game nights forever, but this is something else entirely. In Monopoly Pizza edition, you’re trying to collect as many pizza slices as you can.

This is actually a pretty cute idea — and friendlier to kids than the soul-crushing real estate version we all know — but it’s hard not to be jarred by the pizza box packaging and menu-style gameboard.

It makes me hungry instead of angry. I guess that’s a win.

monopoly angry birds

Angry Birds Monopoly

Oh, and speaking of anger, check out this fusion of board games and app games.

In this strange mix of property acquisition and dexterity, you get to pick up characters AND fire tiny figures at cardboard pigs across four different worlds (versions) of Angry Birds.

It’s a very busy game board — Mousetrap-level busyness, to be honest — but makes a valiant attempt to bring both games together.

com-edition-featured-1

.Com Monopoly

Would you like to play a business-inspired game while reminiscing about the delightful highs and lows of the dotcom bubble bursting? This version has got you covered, replacing houses and hotels with households and offices.

With properties like Lycos and Yahoo! on the board — as well as “timely” tokens like a surfboard, a pixelated hand-style cursor, and a virus — this is a nostalgic trip back to the days when modems screeched at you to indicate a successful connection and your dad could ruin a four-hour song download by picking up the phone to call your grandma.

Monopoly-Unicorns-Vs.-Llamas-Board-Game

Monopoly: Unicorns vs. Llamas

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly version of House Divided, there’s always this sugary-sweet version of the game. In this version, players are members of either Team Unicorn or Team Llama, and they’re trying to buy up spaces for their particular animal. But instead of properties, you’re buying yearbook-style awards for your creature like “most huggable.”

Rainbow-splashed and glitter-bombed to the extreme, this game is very weird — was I supposed to know llamas and unicorns have some sort of rivalry? — but also very cute.


And here we go. The weirdest official version of Monopoly I could find.

Are you ready?

Let’s do this.

bass fishing

Monopoly: Bass Fishing edition

Bass Fishing Monopoly.

The outdoorsy version of Monopoly — in that you just sit around until it’s your turn to do something — bass fishing was clearly begging for its own dedicated version of Monopoly. You can stop rubbing that lamp, your wish has been granted.

Yeah, you land on equipment, boats, and places to fish, as well as random spaces for large AND small-mouthed bass.

But that’s not all.

Seriously. It’s not all. If you want to really splash out, there’s an even more specialized version out there dedicated to bass-fishing lakes. All the properties are lakes, though there are still random fish spaces.


Let’s end with a nice one, shall we?

monopoly-glass

Monopoly: Glass edition

Designed with a tempered glass board and translucent game pieces, this game is absolutely beautiful. It feels crisp and clean and delicate. It’s a conversation piece, basically, but one you can play.

It’ll set you back about $80 on Amazon, and it doesn’t inspire the same adrenaline rush as Bass Fishing Monopoly, but it sure is pretty to look at.


There you go, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers. I hope you enjoyed this trip to various Boardwalks, Park Places, and community chests.

Keep in mind, these are just the weird ones actually licensed by Monopoly. Next week, I’ll be covering the weirdest ones made by outside parties!


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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!

Relaxing Games: More Tranquil Than Tactical

Everybody has a copy of Monopoly lying around, but that’s not really the most relaxing game experience, is it?

Most of the classics, however fun, are also pretty competitive. But what about games that help restore your spirit, ease your anxiety, and put you in a good mood?

As much fun as co-op games like Forbidden Island, The Oregon Trail Card Game, and Castle Panic! can be, they can also be a little stressful. And if you’re looking to relax, those might not be the games for you.

So today, I thought we could turn our attention to games that will help you enjoy a more calming gameplay experience.


Now, before I get started, I’m well aware that you might not have these games at the ready. Maybe you’re a jigsaw family and you find calmness and distraction in placing those last few satisfying little pieces and completing the image. Or maybe you like making your own fun with pencil and paper.

Whatever your jam, as long as you’re engaging in play and passing the time in fun ways, you’re already ahead of the game.


When I asked fellow game enthusiasts for games that are mellow and relaxing, the first one that always comes to mind is Tsuro.

In Tsuro, up to 8 players adopt the role of flying dragons soaring through the sky. Each player chooses from the tiles in their hands in order to build paths on the board, representing their paths through the sky. Naturally, these paths will eventually intersect, and you need to be careful to avoid colliding with another dragon or following a path right off the edge of the board. (Both of those scenarios cause you to lose.)

Despite the potential for competition, most Tsuro games are peaceful affairs as everyone enjoys watching their dragon token loop and swirl across various intersecting paths, hoping to be the last dragon standing on the board. It’s a beautiful, simple game that only takes about twenty minutes to play, and it’s the perfect palate cleanser after a more stressful round of some other game.

beforetherewerestars

[Image courtesy of Board Game Geek.]

Some of the most enjoyable and low-key game experiences are storytelling games. I could recommend one with high-fantasy flavor like Once Upon a Time or one with a tongue-in-cheek Addams Family-esque humor like Gloom. But the one that piques my interest the most is based in mythology and sharing stories around a fire.

In Before There Were Stars…, players claim constellation cards to use in crafting the origin story of the world itself. Each player shares how things were in the beginning, at the dawn of civilization, when a great hero emerges, and at the end of days. Along the way, players grant each other points — little star-shaped point tokens, naturally — for their favorite story moments, as everyone encourages each other in creating epic mythologies.

Although there can be a winner based on points, playing this game always feels more like a storytelling session than a competition, and it can lead to some unforgettable gaming moments.

[Image courtesy of Starlit Citadel.]

Tokaido is another game about movement, but in a very different vein. Players in this game are all travelers, journeying across Japan’s famed East Sea Road from Kyoto to Edo. Whereas most travel-based games are about reaching a destination first, Tokaido is about reaching a destination with the widest array of meaningful experiences.

Along the way, your character can meet new people, enjoy new cuisines, collect souvenirs, visit hot springs, and visit scenic locales. You add experience points for these events (and acquire achievement cards) that represent your traveler partaking of these experiences.

This elegant game bypasses traditional competition entirely, building a unique game mechanic out of living your best life.

[Image courtesy of Board Game Quest.]

Sagrada is another wonderfully visual game about individual accomplishment. In this game, each player is building a stained glass window using different colored dice. No dice of the same color can neighbor each other, so you need to be strategic about how you place the dice you roll.

Each window is different, and has certain rules for maximizing points. (A certain pane can only be a certain color, or a certain die value, etc.) The players can boost their scores by selecting cards that reward them with points if they create certain patterns within their stained glass window.

Except for competing for the best point total at the end, there’s virtually no interaction between players. You’re all simply working simultaneously on the best window, which is a gameplay style that breeds camaraderie more than competitiveness. It’s genuinely encouraging to see fellow players make good choices in dice placement to create the most beautiful, elegant window patterns.

[Image courtesy of Starlit Citadel.]

For a change of pace, let’s look at a game that’s more about interaction with other players. Dixit is a gorgeous card game where each player is given a handful of cards, each depicting a different, unique, evocative piece of art.

Player 1 will choose a card from their hand and say a word or phrase to the other players that has some connection to that card. It could reference color, or part of the imagery. It could be a joke, or an idiom, or a song lyric. The goal is to be vague, but not too vague. The other players will then each select a card from their hand that could also be described by Player 1’s statement, and the cards are all shuffled face down so no one can see who submitted what card.

The cards are then all placed face up, and each player (except Player 1) votes on which piece of art they think Player 1 chose. Player 1 gets points if some (but not ALL) players chose his card. (If every player chooses it, the clue was too easy, and Player 1 gets no points.) And any other player’s card that earns votes also earns that player points.

This sort of associative gameplay really encourages your imagination and teaches you about how the other players think. There’s no other game quite like it on the market today, and it makes for an intriguing, low-key gaming experience.

Finally, let’s close out today’s post with a classic tile game that mixes Uno-style color- and pattern-matching with Mexican Train Dominoes-style gameplay. Qwirkle is a bit more competitive than the other games on today’s list, but it’s still a game more about collaborating than outdoing your opponents.

By placing different tiles onto a shared play area — either by matching colors or matching symbols — players earn points. If you complete a Qwirkle — a pattern of all six colors for a given shape or all six shapes in the same color — you earn bonus points.

The lighthearted gameplay style lends itself to friendly competition rather than the cutthroat mien evoked by games like Monopoly. Qwirkle’s not about grinding the other players down, it’s about adding to a colorful world in interesting, inventive new ways.


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