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board games, probing and ladies wearing jean nate

[click for bigger image]I got bored of playing Monopoly with my son. I need some variety in my life and his idea of variety was alternating between Monopoly, Star Wars Monopoly, Yankee Monopoly and NHL Monopoly.

So we went through our other board games. Operation: missing pieces. Scrabble: too boring for DJ. Outburst: played all the cards already. Same with Scattegories and Pictionary.

Rather than take a trip to Toys 'R' Us for a new board game - where I would be distracted by all the action figures and DJ would be distracted by all the video games and we would come home at least $100 poorer and still without a new board game - we decided to go to the next best place: my mother's attic.

Off we went across the street with me explaining to my son that we could find tons of games up there, games I played as a kid and as a teenager and even as a young adult who refused to move out of her parents' house until she was 27. He was skeptical that anything I played as a kid would be something that he would actually enjoy.

Up into the attic we went. Once we worked our way around the Christmas decorations and boxes of crap (holy shit, there's my C64 disks!), we found the pile of games. I rattled off the names - most of them of the trivia sort - and got thumbs down from DJ on each one.

And then I hit the jackpot of bad memories. My parents' cocktail parties/board game extravaganzas came flooding out of that place where you stick memories that make you embarassed to have been alive in the early late 60's and early 70's.

They were always playing Probe. The women with their bouffant hairdos, the men with ridiculous sideburns, the peanuts and drinks like White Russians and Brandy Alexanders and the kitchen filled with smoke. And how they would laugh and laugh at things I wasn't supposed to know about, like the sexual connotations about the word probe . How amusing it is when you have a friend sleep over and your parents are having one of their board game soirees and there's fondue and bottles of rum on the table and suddenly your mother shouts "Her word is fucking!"


I was holding in my hands a dusty, dingy, but otherwise near mint condition 1964 original version of Probe. Of course I took it home. I made the kids play with me. No, no. No liquor, no peanuts, no cursing. Though I did have a fleeting thought about making fondue.

I also found an original version of the Password board game, circa 1963. I opened the box and it smelled like the 60's. Ok, maybe that was just my memory playing tricks on me. But I could swear I recognized the scent of Brut aftershave mingled with Planters peanuts.

I can't wait for the kids to go to bed tonight so my husband and I can make White Russians and play a dirty word version of Probe. Maybe I'll even make fondue.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference board games, probing and ladies wearing jean nate:

» Probe this.... from Bloggie Broad
I saw this topic mentioned at A Small Victory and had to share....remember Probe? We had this game stashed in our basement for *years* before... [Read More]

» Battleship, circa 1967 from .:/One Little Victory\:.
click image for larger view Anyone notice anything? Anyone? Bueller...?... [Read More]

» Best of the left... from See The Donkey
Er... that "left" refers to all the fine people you see over on the left hand side of this page, and not the more common connection with the word. You know, left-handed people. The Truth Laid Bear rocks, massive commenting... [Read More]


Probe in 1963? Must have been remade in '72 when I first played with the 'rents... my favorite word was zyzzyva (didn't know what it meant but a great word.... it's a weevil of some kind). Password on the other hand, I agree with you.. the red writing over the blue, classic.

Unfortunately, my step-mother (when you're 35 and your father re-marries, is it really your step-mother?) threw out these valuable keepsakes, along with a mint collection set of all of Bill Cosby's albums, Best of Janis Joplin, most Simon and Garfunkle albums(In deference to my father's wife, my late mother would have probably thrown the same stuff out without asking any of the kids)

Not that it matters, don't have a turntable left anyway

The game was first made in '63 and that's the version I stole from my mother have. I don't remember my parents playing until about 1970 and I probably didn't start playing until after that.

Oh man. Just thinking about board games takes me back. What about Life? That's a random game if there ever was one. Risk? My sister used to cry if she didn't get the Ukraine. Now I'm thinking about when I learned strategic gaming by playing an D-Day with my dad.

When I was a kid there was not much to span the gap between Life and Monopoly and the really hard-core stuff like D-Day and Third Reich. But in the last decade there have been published about 100 games that are interesting enough to be fun, but not so complex as to drive you nuts. funagaingames.com is a good online retailer. There are decent game stores in malls too.

A really fun short game is Carcassone. Also check out Settlers of Cataan, Acquire, Bohnanza. (Though some of these games require 3 or more players, I don't know if other people play with you and DJ.)

Heck Michele, put some games on your wishlist if that's possible and someone might buy one for you (hint, hint).

There has only ever been one decent board game: Axis and Allies. You can go to www.the-underdogs.org for so many old board games.

I see Floyd has already mentioned Settlers, Carcassone, Acquire, and Bohnanza. I'll add a few more: Drakon, Citadels, and RoboRally. :)

I also recommend Cheapass Games--so known for their cheap games. Basically, they give you parts that you need, and all the reusable shit like pawns, dice, counters, and fake money--that you use from the games you already own. The pieces are kinda flimsy--again with the Cheap--but the games are entertaining. Some of my favourites are Escape From Elba, Unexploded Cow, and Kill Dr. Lucky.

Interesting that you can describe that 60s smell. Is it anything like the 70s smell that I associate with my old games and plastic toys?

Another board gamer here...for extensive info and reviews about the above games check out www.boardgamegeek.com. Other suggestions for you include Manhattan and Samurai (two seperate games there). A great party game is Apples To Apples, and there is also an Apples to Apples Junior for the 9-to-14 set. Hey -- Advanced Civilization or Supremacy anyone?

We have an extensive board game collection, and one of my favorites is the 1967 version of
Battleship. On the cover is Dad and Son playing a rousing game at the kitchen table, while Mom and Sis happily wash and dry the dinner dishes and beam with pride at how happy their men are...ah, the good old days... ;)

My daughter keeps telling me she wants Apples to Apples and I had no idea what it was. I thought she made it up.

I never got into the "conquer the world" type games - but I kicked ass at Trouble!

Wow, your trek to the attic reminds me of my folks house. We kept our games upstairs in the closet between my sisters room and the boys room. We had kids games, every thing from chutes and ladders to monopoly and even Stocks and Bonds for the older kids. The adults had tripoly...which involved gambling for penneys and such in pots around a plastic sheet. There was also poker chips and various other odds and ends. Thanks for the great story....it reminded me of the sundays spent at the dinning room table, trying to stirke a deal for boardwalk from my sneaky little brother.

No no no...

You need to find a copy of "Public Assistance" where you stay on welfare for a year and the winner is who has the most loot and swag. You will laugh your birkenstocks off. Oh, just don't land on a "get a job" square cause you lose all your illegitimate children and have to pay taxes. I just picked up one off of ebay so they are around. Best game ever. I once won with 14 illegitimate children. I am not making this up.

Michele, do you remember Pokerino (maybe I misspelled it)? It came in a red lacquered-like box and was obviously some kinda takeoff on poker from the 1960s....another basement find. Great game if you're sloshed, according to my grandfather.

Ummm, the name was Pokeno -- sorry 'bout that.

For 2 players - Lost Cities, a card game.

For 5 players, 4 in a pinch - Adel Verpflichtet (name means Noblesse Oblige). Play English aristocrats touring stately homes showing off their collections of objets d'art - and stealing them from one another.

For 6 to 10 players in 2 teams - Taboo. A word-guessing game.

The more the merrier - Apples to Apples.

Oh, and speaking of aristocrats, I forgot Guillotine. Marie Antoinette - 5 points!

Lots of fun board games are reviewed in my latest post.


Zork might be fun with/for you and your son.

Might I suggest a quick game of Go. Simple to learn, easy to teach, and has been indirectly liked to making kids smarter. All around fun for two people.

err.. linked that is.
Beer has been indirectly linked to making people bad spellers.

Another vote for Settlers of Catan here, and also for Cheapass Games (especially Kill Dr. Lucky, Give Me the Brain, and Lord of the Fries).

May I recommmend a simple deck of playing cards? It may be too obvious, but literally hundreds of thousands of games involve a deck of 52. Even better, many games can be adapted for 1, 2, or more players. After y'all get bored of one game, move on to another. Seriously, the fun in a single deck of cards is severly under-rated.

Chez Geek! The one where you win by sleeping, drinking beer, and watching TV. And nookie.

OK, it's not an old game like Tripoly, Life or Scrabble, but my favorite board game would have to be Cashflow. Regardless of where you start, and what kind of deals you're handed, it really is up to the player to handle his money correctly in order to achieve their goal or buy their dream.

It's also one of the few games that you can easily apply what you learn to real life.

My parents use to party and play Funny Bones with their friends. You had teams of two, usually man and woman but not you spouse. It was a deck of big cards with things like "knee bone connected to the elbow bone". You would put the card between the bones (one bone per team member) and draw another one. Winning team had the most cards between bones without dropping any. Not easy when drinking Harvy Wallbangers.

You might also look at Games Magazines Annual Buyer's Guide to Games, 100 each of traditional board/card type games and 100 computer games. The reviews are good, and they give the web sites of the companies, so if you see something you really like you don't have to brave the local store and a) not fine what you are looking for
b) find LOTS of stuff to buy that you hadn't planned on.

You can find the list in the December issue of Games (in stores now!) or go to FunagainGames at

And I'll add a further plug for CheapAss Games, since that's my brother-in-law, and FOUR of his games are in this year's Games 100!


Try Citadels, though it works best with 6 or 7. It's a card game where each player tries to build a city while guessing what each other player will do.

For a good laugh, try Evo. It's a board game where each player plays a race of dinosaurs competing for habitats on an island as the climate changes (and the meteor gets closer to the Earth). Best for 4. Always play the cutthroat variant, where you extend the game by two turns but auction off one fewer gene each round.

I'd suggest Diplomacy, but I'm not sure you'd still have a family afterwards. Think locking 7 people armed with knives into a darkened room.

For a little of the same cutthroat flavor, try any of the 18xx train games. Consider Avalon Hill/Hasbro's 1830, about the start of the great railroad companies in the Eastern US. You don't start a company only to make a profit—you start it so you can loot it and start a second company…

Try Formula De, a Formula One style racing game. One game I played had five of the ten cars crashing out in the first half-lap, and not from doing anything stupid either. Watch out; if you buy the additional tracks, it can get expensive. Try a gaming club.

Finally, and definately not last, is Puerto Rico. Players try to buy plantations on Puerto Rico, build buildings that let them break the ordinary rules of the game, and ship goods back to Europe while preventing others from doing so. Players in turn take roles like Mayor, Trader and Captain; each role gives the player a slight advantage in performing the action, but every other player gets to do it too; a player might help her opponents more than herself. Works best with 4 players.

Basically, go to any fancy game store. Yes, there will be a few too many kids playing Magic: The Marketing or Games Workshop trash, but you'll find games far more entertaining than Monopoly there.