This has given me ample time to develop a grudge on every game we own, for a variety of reasons. Board games are awful*: most of them are just a fight in a box. In French, they are called "jeux de société", which suggests society is full of rampant individualism, untamed aggression, vicious reprisals and sulking, which is completely .. oh.
I give you here the fruits of my research, so that you do not need to suffer needlessly. Say no to board games people, make this madness stop. Read a book. Send your children to their bedrooms. Wash the kitchen floor. Do anything, but do not suggest brightly "shall we play a game?"
Are you ninety? Are we appearing in an episode of The Archers? Are we in a half-timbered country pub with a fat labrador dozing by the roaring fire? Are you of an age when being able to count to six is a cause for celebration? If the answer to all of these questions is no, none of us has any place playing dominoes. Step away from the spots, punk, no one gives a shit and winning doesn't even feel good since it's PURE DUMB LUCK.
For a game so apparently innocuous, Uno creates a fugue state of hysteria in my children far worse than any food colouring, Nintendo game, violent Japanese cartoon or Haribo. I think it's the colours and the potential for minor acts of cruelty to your nearest and dearest. Do I know if you can keep putting "plus 4 cards" down infinitely, eldest child? No, I do not, nor do I care.
I want no part of it. Fuck off, Uno and take your pointless, expensive derivatives and variants (Robot Uno, Uno Extream, iPad Uno, Uno themed cheese strings for all I know) with you.
A Scrabble board is no place for the bilingually semi-literate. I love my children dearly, but their vocabulary and spelling renders this farcical: I end up playing for all of us, and getting progressively angrier as their proudly placed 3 letter words close the board down catastrophically.
Lashes asked me to buy it and told me he "loved Scrabble". I can only assume this was one of our many linguistic misunderstandings. He must have said "I love taking off my dirty socks and throwing them into the corner of the room" or "I love fighting", or "I love being bought enormous boxes of Lego". At least no one ever asks to play Scrabble anymore after my last strop about the use of "Yo" as the starting word.
This is a source of great sadness to me. I used to love Memory. When I was a biddable, bookish, shadow of a child, much preoccupied with death and ponies, we had a tragic but much-loved French Memory game with pictures of several kinds of nougat de Montelimar, champagne corks, pieces of the Eiffel Tower and stinking wheels of Brie. It was like a great, seventies middle class game-gasm. Best of all: I usually won. Imagine, then, my bitter disappointment that (a) our Memory game features Diego, Dora the twatting Explorer's overachieving, sloth fondling cousin; and (b) that my children DESTROY me at it.
"I've seen that damn coatimundi!" I hiss, staring angrily at the grid of cards. Then I jab at one, hopefully. It is not a coatimundi. It is fucking Diego riding a fucking turtle. My children fall about laughing, not wholly unkindly.
"Mais non, maman" they say, with infinite condescension, patting my hand. Often Fingers is cackling with joy and rubbing his long, long digits together as he swiftly locates the two sloths AND the two Diegos riding turtles. I start every game in high spirits, confident of victory this time and end every game contemplating mortality, my inevitable decay, loss of critical faculties and undignified death, or at least where I can find a draught of hemlock. Which is nice. If I want a memento mori, I'll find a more aesthetically pleasing one, thanks, Diego. Lo siento, and all that.
I don't really need to go into it, do I? We all know about Monopoly and how it's an interminable, conflict generating, heap of old toss. It is the original "fight in a box". I don't know why they don't just put that on the side. "Monopoly: a rancorous fight guaranteed every time". How do you play, reader? Fight, or get bored and abandon? I favour the second option, but I am always outvoted.
I like you, Pictureka, but you try too hard. Four different "rounds" in a single game? Teams? Miming? Eh. I'm exhausted just thinking about you. Two specific pointers for you, Pictureka: First, how the fuck do you expect me to mime "singing nurse?" And second: a board game shouldn't involve physical exertion, so don't go asking me to "jump like a frog". JOG ON.
In our household, we all believe we like Cluedo, but I am here to tell you that we are labouring under a massive delusion. Here is why:
1. Modern Cluedo seems to be set in some kind of low rent Champneys crossed with an episode of the Young and the Reckless. "A soirée at a millionaire mogul's mansion", says the description. It is monstrously vulgar: hitting people with a dumbbell? A trophy? A SPA (I don't think you hit people with the spa, but you get my point)? What was wrong with the candlestick, for pity's sake? What of the noble lead piping? Why does Miss Scarlet look like Stephanie Beacham circa 1982? I feel like a high court judge when I look at the board, furious and confused.
2. Again, this is a game my children are shit at. The youngest often forgets to show us his cards when he's supposed to. The eldest likes to show us all how clever he is by expounding his deductive reasoning out loud. Both of them forget to write anything down. Nevertheless, Lashes is convinced from about five minutes in that he knows all details of the horrible crime and hastens to the swimming pool (I TOLD YOU, vulgar) where he is proved wrong, and retires to sulk. After that, the youngest and I continue in increasingly mutual confusion until one of us decides to give it a punt. We will also be wrong. Then the last person tries and is also wrong. At this point what usually happens is that we realise that one of the cards is missing, probably under the dog.
Does this piece of shit even exist in English? God knows, I hope not for your sakes. It is, I am assured, a French classic, though it used to just be a card game and they have only recently introduced the board version for extra "fun". You are a small plastic car. You must travel 1000 kilometres before the other cars, by playing cards with varying kilometre values, that you pick up from a central pack, while the other players try to stop you by giving you cards with flat tyres, red lights and empty fuel reservoirs.
Ok, my main problem with this game is that you need a green light card to get started. I never, EVER get a green light card. The whole shagging game is usually over before I get a green light card. On the odd occasion that I do manage to limp a few hundred kilometres, one of my children blasts me with a red light and I get stuck again for the remainder of the game. Do I sulk? Yes, yes I do. I am thirty seven years old and I want to win 1000 Bornes for once in my life. Is that too much to ask? (Yes)
This is like a visual acuity and deductive reasoning test and unsurprisingly, I fail every single time. There are 5 wooden figures: a red chair, a green bottle, a grey mouse, a blue book and a white ghost. There is a pack of cards. On each card there is some combination of some of the figures, but the colours are mixed up. Or they might not be. You have to find EITHER: the thing that is missing, OR the thing that is accurately represented on the card. Confused? Yes, that is normal, you are supposed to be if you aged over 10. I have stopped even trying to play: it is hopeless, I am far too slow to ever win a round, and the risk of injury from my children's fingerclaws is too high.
I think I nurture a particular prejudice against this, because it is one of those really wholesome Germanic board games that cost a million Euros and which your children tire of within 30 seconds because they are both boring and complex. Though at least this one comes with extra violence, I suppose.
Which board games do you play, gentle readers? Do you hate them all? Am I missing some gem which will reconcile us all?
(*Any suggestions that I am prejudiced against board games because my redundancy leaving present after 11 years service was a board game called 'Anti-Monopoly' are frivolous and unfounded.)