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strategery

Among the gifts underneath our Xmess tree this year were a few board games. The husband, the baby, and I enjoy playing games together, but had run into a problem recently where we (okay, I) hated all of our games. My kid would sweetly request my time over a board and a couple plastic peg things and then I would suck the joy out of life by lying on the couch, shouting out rejections as he ran down the list of available games.

“Mouse Trap?”

“Naw, man, that takes forever.”

“Clue?”

“That also takes forever.”

“Monopoly?”

“Aw, dude, Monopoly sucks.* What’s wrong with Candyland?  Candyland owns.”

“I don’t want to play Candyland. The Game of Life?”

“Dude, you said you were never playing Life again after last time when you had five kids.”

“True.”

Last night, we decided to try one of his new games, Stratego, which they play at the baby’s after-school program. Apparently, this game has been around forever, but the husband and I had never heard of it. The husband was laid up on the couch with a headache so the baby and I opened up Stratego. This was at, like, 8:30. I did not realize, however, that prior to actually playing the game, we would have to finish assembling the goddamned thing, which meant putting decals on 60 game pieces. Suddenly, the baby’s innocent question of, “Are you any good with decals?” which he asked while I was busy dropping stuff with my gimpy hand in the kitchen, made sense. The husband mumbled that the baby should NOT apply any decals because GOD FORBID any of them be crooked. So this task was left to me, the chick with terrible eyesight and only one truly functioning hand. Some of the decals were still crooked, shockingly enough, but the sun still came up today so I guess it’s cool.

The baby started reading the directions aloud and they were more than three sentences long so my mind started to wander. I skimmed over them when he was done and went about setting up my pieces, trusting the directions that said that I could arrange them any way I wanted. We started playing and quickly realized that neither of us had any idea what we were doing.

The husband emerged from the couch and came to join us. “Uh, I think I set up my pieces poorly,” I mumbled.

“Yeah, you did. Why did you put all of your bombs around your flag?”

“Well, it said I could put them however I want. I didn’t realize that I needed to set them up in any kind of strategic way.”

“For Stratego. You didn’t realize you needed to use strategy for Stratego.”

“Correct.”

The baby, despite reportedly playing this game before, wasn’t much better. And we crossed off, “General of any armed forces” of our mental list of career paths that we might encourage after seeing that his strategy was basically, “Uh, don’t attack this. It’s nothing. Honest.” All of this strategic failure led to the husband and I saying, “Strategery,” a number of times, which made us need to watch a YouTube compilation of Dubya’s more absurd moments, which made us laugh until the inevitable, “Holy god that man was president,” depression took hold.

We’re attempting Stratego again tonight, now that the decals are in place and we’re all on the same page as far as the strategy aspect of gameplay goes. It’s cool that we’re able to squeeze some games in because it’s indicative of the baby being more mature about getting homework and piano practice done with only a minimal amount of histrionics. It’s been way less upsetting and stressful for me and I keep saying, “Quaaality tiiiime,” in my best Diane Keaton voice. Because Baby Boom was my favorite movie when I was, like, 11 before re-watching it post-feminist-awakening-working-mom-existence made it almost excruciating, analytically speaking.

* I maintain that Monopoly does indeed suck. But I also suck at it and I mostly just don’t get it at all and I suppose that this comes as no surprise to people who read my uber-commie rant about privatized healthcare on Facebook this morning. Comrades or whatever. Cranium is the jam, though.

8 comments to strategery

  • You guys should get Ticket To Ride, it’s about trains and it’s AWESOME. The first time I played I was so stressed out and anxious about completing my routes I drank like, 800 beers.

  • I had Stratego as a kid and loved it, mostly because I was somewhat good at it and mostly because when our next-door-neighbors used to babysit Cris and I we’d play it regularly. The had an old version from the 60’s or 70’s. Then I got an 80’s-ified electronic version that was pretty nifty.

    http://www.edcollins.com/stratego/stratego-history-2.htm

  • rachelraven

    Forbidden Island has quickly become a favorite in our house. You play as a cooperative team *against* the island, check it out: http://blogcritics.org/gaming/article/board-game-review-forbidden-island/

    Also, we like Dicecapades as well. And Eva got Headbandz for Christmas (not the kid’s only version, the regular one), and we find that fun, too, especially with a larger group. Scrabble too… she liked that and did well with it, but she’s always been a super verbal kid/great speller, so that’s in her favor there.

    I hate Monopoly too.

    Oh, and if you can ever get your hands on this vintage game, do so:

    Dragonmaster: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2/dragonmaster

  • Celestine

    You might want to look into Eurogames (non-traditional board and card games).

    Things I’d recommend that are easy to learn/family friendly:

    Munchkin (and it’s various versions)
    Carcassone
    Ticket to Ride

  • Ed

    Monopoly does suck, for many reasons, the simplest being that the game is basically over after you’ve made three trips round the board. By then, one person’s (usually whoever goes first) lucky dice rolls gave them a bunch of properties, and the rest subsist on table scraps.

    Scrabble sucks because I just exchanged EEIO and got back EIIO dammit!

    Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne are indeed awesome. Settlers of Catan is what Monopoly wishes it was.

    For a true gateway to chess, try Abalone. Those dumb little marbles on what looks like the inner part of a Chinese Checkers board will pull your brain out through your ears.

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