Bring Out The Boardgames!

Go square of Monopoly board with car player token and Monopoly money visible

What else can you do after your daily exercise and shopping outings? How about dusting off a boardgame and escaping into a world of fun, strategy or head-scratching?

There are lots of new, imaginative games out there. However it’s no surprise that old favourites still top the boardgames popularity list…

UK's favourite board games: 1 Monopoly, 2 Scrabble, 3 Snakes & Ladders, 4 Jenga, 5 Uno, 6 Trivial Pursuit, 7 Cards Against Humanity, 8 Chess, 9 Cluedo, 10 Battleships

The Many Faces Of Monopoly

For decades, the 1935-era London board was the definitive and only game. Then a special 60th anniversary edition was produced in 1995, swiftly followed by a Millennium edition in 1999, and the floodgates were opened.

The advent of Local Monopoly editions meant that people in towns and cities around the world could savour the thrill of buying the local airport, football club or even their own street and charging anyone who wandered into it.

Monopoly Disney Frozen 2 Edition Board Game by Hasbro Gaming 0Now it’s all got a little silly, and you can buy the Coronation Street edition, a Star Wars special or even one created especially for Disney’s film Frozen II. Let’s hope that the latter has a Chance card that reads, “You start singing Let It Go – go directly to jail”…

Monopoly City is really an entirely new game, with electronic credit cards and amenities to buy including schools (which add value to your property) and sewage works (position on your opponent’s property to devalue it). If you like a faster paced game with beeps and flashes, it’s worth a look!

Trivial Pursuit

Remember the Trivial Pursuit phenomenon? The game was dreamed up in 1979 in Montreal by two journalist friends who couldn’t play Scrabble as too many pieces of their set were missing. They got to work on an alternative, and general knowledge game Trivial Pursuit was released in 1981.

For most of the 1980s everyone, it seemed, became obsessed with collecting their different coloured “pieces of cheese” as they answered questions in different categories. As of 2014, according to Wikipedia, more than 100 million Trivial Pursit games had been sold in 26 countries and 17 languages.

An online version of Trivial Pursuit was launched in 2003, so even if you don’t own the game (or have lost too many “pieces of cheese”) you can still play!

Boardgames in pubs

The last three or four years have seen people suddenly starting to go to the pub to play boardgames. While this obviously isn’t an option during the coronavirus crisis, it proves there’s still more interest than you might think in traditional fun. So once more, you can suggest a boardgame confidently without drawing strange or pitying looks.

Plus during self-isolation, you can hone your skills and general knowledge so that you’re in prime mental condition for normal social life resuming. Game on!

Something New…

My 20-something son and his friends had been meeting up (until recently) to play board games, their current favourite being the haunted house adventure Betrayal At The House On The Hill.

Tentatively trying this as a family last night, we discovered that it’s lively, unpredictable and not overly gruesome. Plus you get a beautifully detailed character token to move around the house as it’s revealed, and chance to make strategic decisions. There’s a mind-boggling number of different possible endings, too. Will play again.

If Tempers Flare…

Infographic showing which board games cause most arguments - 1. Exploding Kittens, 2 Monopoly, 3 Bananagrams, 4 Scattergories. 5 Cards Against Humanity, 6 Balderdash, 7 Articulate, 8 Uno, 9 Scrabble, 10 Pictionary

Never fear, it’s quite common to fall out while playing a boardgame – it’s all about relaxing and letting off some steam, after all.

High street and online retailer The Toyshop suggests some simple steps you can take to minimise the chances of any boardgame bust-ups:

  1. Make sure everyone is clear on the rules before you begin. Disagreements or confusion over the rules are major causes of arguments when playing boardgames. So, take time to go over the rules before you start, making sure everyone is 100% clear on them.
  2. Take a break if things start to get heated. If you notice players looking a bit worked up and think an argument might be on the horizon, don’t be afraid to stop and take a break. Step away from the table for five minutes, bring out some refreshments and give everyone a chance to cool down.
  3. Remember, it’s just a game. While it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement, it’s important to remember that it’s just a game. It doesn’t really matter who wins or loses, the most important thing is that everyone has fun!

If There’s Just You…

Trivial Pursuit isn’t the only multi-player game that’s moved online. There are many Scrabble style word games available for your smartphone – plus any number of less familiar games. These range from the mentally challenging – such as Legendary Inventors – to the less taxing like Bubblee Pop.

With worldwide link-ups, there’s always someone available to play (though don’t feel obliged to chat to them, and take great care not to give away any personal information if you do).

1000 piece jigsaw in box, night time view of London landmarks

The calming, therapeutic effects of doing jigsaws are well known, too. This is your opportunity to spread out all the pieces on the table, knowing you won’t be disturbed, and finally complete that fiendish 5000-piece puzzle!

Need a new puzzle? The Toyshop have a great range of those too.

For something absorbing and tactile, why not rediscover traditional games for one such as Solitaire or Mah Jong?

Having some fun helps the time to pass, so adapt whatever game you enjoy to your circumstances. A fondly-remembered friend of mine used to play herself at Scrabble every day, well into her 80s – and she declared proudly that she never cheated once.

What’s your favourite boardgame? Let us know on Facebook!

Sarah Proctor

I've worked on a variety of regional newspapers and national magazines. My Weekly and Your Best Ever Christmas are fantastic, warm-hearted brands with an amazing, talented team. I'm a sub-editor and particularly love working on cookery, fiction and advice pages - I feel I should know all the secrets of eternal life, health and happiness by now, but hey, we all need that regular reminder!