When it comes to games, little kids are pretty easy to please – they’re willing to try just about anything, and it doesn’t take a lot of arm twisting or bribery to get them to cooperate with family game night. Tweens and teens, though, are a different story. They spend most of their free time texting, updating their Facebook pages, and sometimes even hanging out with real, live friends. And then, of course, there’s the “it’s-not-cool-to-spend- time-with-your-parents” factor. Getting THEM to participate in game night can be a real challenge. This week, we review three board games that are specifically aimed at kids 10 and up – and that hit that mark quite nicely.
Snake Oil (Out of the Box games): The goal of this Snake Oil is the same one that snake-oil salesmen of the old West had: get some unsuspecting sucker to buy something he or she doesn’t need. The game is elegantly simple. One player randomly picks a one-word Customer Card – anything from gangsters and frat boys to witches and amputees. Each of the other players gets six Word Cards and picks two to create a “product” to sell to the Customer. The bizarre word combinations (you could end up with a “noise nose,” an “ear button,” a “spit book” or any of a few thousand others) and the ridiculous sales pitches are what make Snake Oil so entertaining. Players have 30 seconds to make their pitch. The Customer awards the Customer Card to the winner. Most Customer Cards wins. For 3-10 players, ages 10+. Takes five minutes to learn and 20-30 to play. $19.95, www.otb-games.com/ games/
Anger Management (Endless Games): Have you ever muttered something to a driver in another car or to a character on TV – even though you know they can’t hear you? Or have you ever wanted to choke the lady in front of you at the grocery checkout line for making her purchase in pennies? If so, you’ll like Anger Management. The goal is pretty simple: Move up your Rage-O-Meter from “perfectly calm” to “absolutely steamed.” The player who’s most likely to throw a tantrum if he or she doesn’t go first starts by spinning the Out of Control spinner. That player then draws a card from the category the spinner landed on and reads it to the group. The players whose answers match the majority move up a notch on their Rage-O-Meter. For example, if the category is “least favorite chocolate-covered food,” and most people say “donuts,” those players win the round. First one to Absolutely Steamed wins. The others will no doubt whine and complain about conspiracies and evil plots. Number of players: 3-6 (odd numbers are best since you need a majority), ages 14 and up. $29.95. www.endlessgames. com/new.html
Furt (Wiggity Bang!): Of the three games, Furt, which bills itself as “a befuzzling eruption of laughter in a box,” is the most complicated. It might also be the most fun, in part because there really aren’t any rules – you have to figure it out as you play. The only thing that’s clear is that players are racing to be the first into the mouth of a fiery volcano. And the only way that happens is by completing tasks from one of six categories. Along the way, you’ll have to reveal secrets (or tell bald-faced lies), act out random words, and keep a straight face while other players scream funny words at you, and generally make a fool of yourself in front of other people. Number of players: 3-8 (the more the better), ages 13 and up, Takes about 60 rolling-on-the-floor hilarious minutes. $29.95. www.wiggitybang.com/furt/