Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

Related Post Roulette

28 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    Today I shall be playing HUMAN FOOSBALL.

    At a craft beer festival.

    In a minor league baseball stadium.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I can see how beer would be necessary.Report

    • Aaron David in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Is this anything like sloshball? (Softball with a keg at second.)Report

      • El Muneco in reply to Aaron David says:

        I had an idea a while back to play a “skins game” (golf, for the links-challenged) for 18 beers (the number/ABV could be adjusted depending upon how veteran the foursome is as drinkers). Scoring rules are normal for skins, only you have to drink the skins you win before the next tee-off. The plan is that winning is self-corrective, and the back nine will be unusually competitive regardless of everyone’s relative skill going in.
        I’m too chicken to actually do it.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Why can’t those poles move?

      I think people should be affixed to specific spots on the pole, and if the pole has multiple people it, they have to run the same direction to move the pole back and forth to reach the ball. Or, more likely, fail to move in the same direction, and hilarity ensues.

      That would make it more foosbally. Both having to move together…and completely missing the ball a large percentage of the time. (Maybe I’ve only played with people who are not actually good at the game.)

      I would draw the line at requiring people to flip themselves over or under the pole to kick the ball. Even a trained gymnast would have trouble holding a waist high pole and flipping themselves backwards under it.Report

  2. Mike Dwyer says:

    For simple dice games that are kid friendly, we’re fans of Toss Up. It’s about the size of two Altoid tins stacked on one another, so very portable. Grab some scrap paper, a pen and a little bit of flat space and you have a game. It’s helped us survived long layovers in airports, rained out camping trips, etc. And it teaches many of the skills you discuss above.Report

  3. Nevermoor says:

    Our 3 year old loves Monza, but generally prefers Hoot Owl Hoot.

    Also colors, but with three card hands making every turn a choice. Having multiple owls to consider moving further emphasizes strategy. More importantly, though, its cooperative so everyone wins or loses together. And she loves imagining the owls flying home at the end of a night.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Nevermoor says:

      This hammers home for me that I’m looking at these games with a set of blinders on. “Oh yeah! There are cooperative games too!”

      I should probably devote a post or seven to the best ones of those, given that it rarely occurs to me to take them into account.Report

  4. Maria says:

    We are big fans of Busy Town. It is Richard Scary’s illustrations and focuses on finding small details in big pictures. Plus it is a team game. All players work to get to the picnic before the pigs eat all the food!

    There is a spinner with numbers, “pigs eat” spaces, and “search” spaces. Each player moves their piece based on the number they spin. If you hit “pigs eat” you take away one piece of food from the picnic. The best one, though, is when you hit a search space. You pick a card with a picture of something to search for, like a potted flower or a kite, then everyone looks for that item over the whole board (which is about 5′ long). You place a mini-magnifying glass over each example you find until the timer runs out. Then you count up the examples and everyone moves forward that number.

    It is engaging for my 5 year old, my husband and I don’t mind playing, and my 2.5 year old has fun even if she hasn’t grasped the search part of it yet. It is kinesthetic, involves math, teamwork, and observational skills. I highly recommend for kids over 4.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Maria says:


      I’ve never played that one. The closest to that that I have played is Pictureka. It has 9 largish squares all with various different wacky jumbles of sketches on them (on both sides, so they can be better randomized) and the egg timer is set and you have to find 8 fire hydrants or 9 penguins or 7 mail boxes or whatever before the egg timer runs out.

      There isn’t a fun narrative that can be ascertained, it’s just a mad jumble of penguins, fire hydrants, mail boxes, traffic cones, magnifying glasses, disembodied mouths, so on and so forth.

      Now it is competitive, rather than cooperative, so it’s probably for older kids at that point.Report

    • notmme in reply to Maria says:

      I’ve never seen the game but I loved his books as a kid.Report

  5. dragonfrog says:

    We never had candyland – our first board game, I think, was chutes and ladders. It’s kind of an odd board that we have; one of the ladders is based in square 1 so you can never get to it.

    Another good one that’s a little more advanced but still well in kid reach is Labyrinth der Meister – the board is a bed for tiles with sections of maze on them – straight paths, right angles, and T junctions – laid out at random at the beginning, and you start each turn by pushing a tile in at one end, shifting a row or column to rearrange the maze, before moving.Report

  6. My kids are 7, 6, 4, 2, and 3 months. We’re pretty big on games before bedtime. At my house we’ve progressed over the last few years through Candyland, War, Uno, Jenga, Chess, Blackjack, Set, and Mastermind.

    My two oldest participate fully, and the 4-year old keeps up as best she can. Uno is probably our favorite game: it’s fast, fun, and the little ones can understand it pretty easily. Jenga often results in tears, some shouting and finger-pointing, and hurt feelings. Checkers never really caught on, oddly, even though Chess has been popular. I tried to teach them poker, but that never really took hold either. We’ve tried jigsaw puzzles before, but they don’t seem too fired up over those. I think we may try something like Risk or Go next, or even make the jump to video games.

    I agree with you about Monopoly. A proper game of Monopoly seriously takes like 5 hours and requires a certain disposition. I also remember being the only one who liked Monopoly when I was a kid, so I could never ever find anyone to play with. Sigh.Report

    • El Muneco in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      Well, no one actually plays Monopoly, they play the game they learned as a kid that involves a Monopoly set. A lot of this involves house rules trying to extend the game to involve young children, for whom it’s totally inappropriate, thus ruining both the game and the experience. Mostly through trying to let people down easy, but instead keeping them hanging around long after they have no chance of winning but with no way to escape.
      The real game should be short, vicious, and interpersonal. Hell, it’s about how dysfunctional that type of High Finance is. Not for children, until they’re ready for it later – but when they are, I suspect the real game would be perfect.Report

      • Kim in reply to El Muneco says:

        I think I actually played monopoly straight once or twice.
        It’s hideously boring, and designed to take up days.Report

      • fillyjonk in reply to El Muneco says:

        Exactly. We had House Rules Monopoly – no auctioning of “unwanted” properties, no loans, sometimes set a time limit and whoever had the most properties at the end of the time won.

        Though to be honest, most of the time the game ended because someone got ticked off over something and flipped the board. Which maybe isn’t too unlike real High Finance, now I think of it…Report

      • DavidTC in reply to El Muneco says:

        The actual problem with Monopoly is that every single house modification of the rules, or just *ignorance* of the rules, makes the game longer.

        Just actually doing bidding on non-purchased properties can cut the game by 90%. Seriously. Hold the damn auctions, people.

        The weird thing is, I’ve seen *strategies* listed about how to win at Monopoly. Guys, the winning strategy is: Buy as many properties as possible. At some point, if you have excess money, or after almost the properties have been bought, put as many houses on them as possible, again as fast as possible.

        That…is it. That is the entire thing. Don’t try to figure what you should buy. Buy *everything*. Put houses on *everything*…at worse, you just denied a house to someone else. (Note the number of houses in the game is *limited* by the number of houses in the box, no, you cannot start using pennies as houses or whatever.)

        The person who gets the most properties, fastest, wins. Period. It is a trivially simple game, and most people understand it so badly that if I play it, and I insist on the actual standard rules, I almost always win. Not because I’m particularly good at it (The game between knowledgeable opponents is completely random.), but as no one else seems to understand it.

        It’s weird, because the entire point is *literally in the name of the game*.Report

  7. Aaron David says:

    Sorry! was always a favorite as a kid. And when the boy got older, it was great fun to play with himReport

  8. El Muneco says:

    Hmm, I never played any of the games 538 lists as the best for families. My biggest memory is “The Game of Life”, which I expect aged as well as disco.
    Either that or it would plant the seed for kids to become socialists or populists – which might not be bad in the grand scheme of things, but probably not what their parents had intended.Report

  9. Will H. says:

    I remember playing Wahoo as an early board game.
    My grandmother had a big, elaborately painted wooden board she kept tucked away in a corner for that.Report

  10. fillyjonk says:

    Not a board game per se, but I have happy memories of playing “Mille Bornes” (“Thousand Milestones”) at my grandma’s with my brother and assorted cousins. It was a card game that tried to mimic a rally-type road race – there were mileposts you could play, and hazards you could throw at your opponent (“Panne d’essence!” – the cards were in French and English). And there were “safety” cards, like having puncture-proof tires.

    We were older than five, though.

    We also played a lot of Sorry! and one of those games that had the Pop-o-Matic dice (Trouble, maybe?)

    When we got older we played Clue, also, but that might be a bit morbid for real littles.Report

    • Kim in reply to fillyjonk says:

      Mille bornes was super cool, and I totally forgot the name of the game (played it in french class first grade or so).Report

    • DavidTC in reply to fillyjonk says:

      When we got older we played Clue, also, but that might be a bit morbid for real littles.

      The actual plot of Clue can be completely glossed over while playing the game. I know some of the cards say some morbid stuff on them, but you don’t even really have to make it a murder…maybe people just ‘hurt’ Mr. Boddy.

      OTOH, Clue is probably too *complicated* for children. It’s all about keeping track of both facts (What cards you have seen) and guesses (What other people have presented, assuming they were not lying to confuse people.)

      And if you screw it up…you lose. You just lose.

      I think the actual minimum *competency* requirement for Clue is probably teenager.Report