Thursday, November 30, 2006

Significant Other

The best board & card games to play with your spouse and/or S.O...

Also nominated:

For comparison, the top five games from 2002:

The Apple Pickers stated a number of preferences - but remember that these preferences are for playing with spouses/s.o.'s and not other gamers:

  • Mystery Rummy #1 (Jack the Ripper) was the most popular, though #3 (Jekyll & Hyde) wasn't far behind. Interestingly, all 4 games were mentioned.
  • The ONLY version of Ticket To Ride to receive votes was the original game.
  • "Vanilla" Carcassonne was the popular choice, with the Inns & Cathedrals expansion and the stand-alone Castle game tied for second.
  • The ONLY version of Settlers of Catan to receive votes was the original game.
Not surprising that the most stripped down versions of these games were chosen to play with non-gamer s.o.'s...

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Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...

Voting note: Can't Stop & FlowerPower were both one vote out of receiving "just missed the cut" status... and Mystery Rummy was one vote behind them.

Some personal thoughts:
- Scrabble is a GREAT 2 player game... I didn't like it growing up, but that's because we played 4 player. Shari & I play this pretty regularly now, thanks to a travel Scrabble set that allows us to close the game & return to it later.
- Lost Cities is still a family favorite, even if she does beat me most of the time.
- In our house, LOTR is still popular... and we're not too far from Braeden being able to join us. (Leaving Collin to sit in his high chair and throw things at us while we play.)
- We used to play Settlers Card Game a good bit (even with the German edition), but then I got better at making evil card combinations & Shari didn't like it when the game got "mean."
- I'm not sure who you people are who can get your spouses to play Settlers or Carcassonne.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Valerie Putman said...

This category bothers me because it implies that significant others, as a group, are more similar in their preferences than gamers. It implies that we could pin down the preferences of a person because they belong to a particular group. In other words, it is asking us to reinforce stereotypes. Considering how different our significant others are likely to be (perhaps you've met Tyler, my video-gaming, hack-and-slash dungeon crawling, on the verge of leaving Eurogames for wargames forever, gamer husband), why would we think that they have a more narrow range of game preferences than we do? Was this category actually intended to be answered as if it read "games that non-gamers will play with you in the less intimidating privacy of your own home?" In which case, call the category non-intimidating games and I would have gladly listed games that I play with my sister-in-law, not my significant other. Onthe other hand, perhaps the purpose of this category really is to explore the kinds of games that a particular group of people likes, as opposed to a category of games. If so, then stereotype away. Just don't be surprised that I'm offended.

1:17 PM  
Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...


I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts & feelings on this particular category. (BTW, Valerie is one of the Apple Pickers & expressed these same things to me back when we originally nominated & voted on the category.)

I think you are probably correct in that s.o.'s can not be typed as a group - and yet there is some value in listing "games you can play with your non-gamer live-in wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/other" without needing a 22 inch monitor to read the post. Hence, the less-than-satisfactory "S.O." name.

It's probably also influenced by the fact that my wonderful wife, Shari Jo, fits squarely in the stereotype (well, most of the time - her period of playing the German version of Settlers Kartenspiel is the exception that proves the rule).

1:53 PM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...


While I wouldn't disagree with you in the spirit of your comments (I wondered if I should even vote in this category, since Kim plays and enjoys 90+% of the games I do), I think the category still has merit.

This is certainly not the first category in which the title hasn't been terribly enlightening. The 15 minute or less category was won by a game that takes about 30-40 minutes to play for most people and about which my only complaint is that it can be a little long, the fantasy category was won by a game whose only real fantasy element was the art, the 3+ hour category was won by a 2-hour game, and so on. But you look at the actual games that are in the categories and you can see past the titles sometimes and say "yeah, OK, I know what you mean". In that vein, these really aren't SO games so much as they are 2-player games to play with your gaming or competition-shy friends, spouses, siblings, parents, etc. That's how I voted, anyway; if I were voting strictly for the games that Kim & I have most enjoyed, I'd have to pick the Middle-Earth CCG and Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, but I honestly didn't think that was what Mark really wanted or what would useful to people.

I ended up voting for Scrabble, Carcassonne: The Castle, Lost Cities, and the Settlers Card Game, all of which are great, accessible, less-competitive games in my opinion (and that my friends enjoy playing with their "non-gaming?" SOs). I also nominated Jambo, Starship Catan, and Memoir '44 (my theory is that M'44 works for less-competitive people because most of the scenarios are so unbalanced, and the game is so luck-heavy, it's hard to play it competitively, and so easier to just enjoy the game).

4:18 PM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

This was a pretty easy category to vote for--I just picked the games that I've used to get MY non-gamer wife into the fold. And while I agree with Valerie that this is a stereotype, it's also a fairly common one (and a useful one at that), so it doesn't bother me too much. S.O. is also a genderless term, which helps.

Because of the method I used, I went pretty much with two-player games (or games that work very well with two). So Lost Cities and Carc made my list. (What is it about Carc that Shari doesn't like, Mark? It was a pretty easy one for me to work in. And you were the one that suggested the perfect introductory game for it: Flower Power!) So yes, Flower Power was also on my list; it's a great, non-threatening S.O. game, particularly if the loved one is female (sorry, Valerie, but sometimes the stereotypes happen to work out!). I also went with Mystery Rummy #3 (certainly the easiest of the M.R. games, although still interesting) and Can't Stop (another marvelous S.O. game--the only reason I can think of why it didn't get picked is because there aren't that many copies out there).

I didn't go with Blokus because I was concentrating on two players and I think of that as being a 4er, but it's a very good choice: very easy to learn and attractive to gamers of all stripes. Ticket was one I considered, but it's a little more involved than the others, so I knocked it down a bit. Scrabble, on the other hand, just isn't a game I care for and it's artificial play (what with the emphasis on obscure short words) makes it a less promising pick to me than Boggle or Upwords.

My other two nominees were Boggle and LOTR (mostly for the cooperative aspect--it's not a very easy game to learn), but there were many other possibilities. Balloon Cup, Bohnanza, and Schotten Totten were others I considered. Elfenland I consider a bit too involved; I guess it scores on its theme. Odin's Ravens is a bit nasty and just doesn't seem to fit the mold, even though I like it quite a bit. Settlers is kind of complex, despite its rep as a gateway game. And the Kartenspiel as an S.O. game? I don't see that at all--it's long, involved, and can get nasty. Finally, Tichu makes it as the ultimate partnership game, but I don't think it's a terribly appropriate choice--lots of fiddly rules and unfamiliar gameplay.

8:10 PM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

By the way, I didn't consider Chris' suggestion of Jambo, but my wife really likes it, so maybe I should have. I still think it's a bit on the complex side. I also wonder if we had voted today how Thurn and Taxis would have placed. It's a slight step up from TtR in complexity, but still very much in that mold and probably plays best with two. It's also a relatively friendly, non-nasty game (well, at least at first), which also would also have helped it.

8:15 PM  
Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...

Larry wrote:
---What is it about Carc that Shari doesn't like, Mark? It was a pretty easy one for me to work in. And you were the one that suggested the perfect introductory game for it: Flower Power!---

The meanness - I've played too much on BSW and become accustomed to playing to block & trap meeples rather than simply build & score. And - this is my problem, not hers - I find it hard to shift gears back to a kinder, gentler style of play.

The same problem exists to some extent w/FlowerPower... she would be happy if we waited on playing to the middle section of the garden until late in the game.

Oh, well. Good thing I like Skip-Bo.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Kevin_Whitmore said...

I like what Valerie has to say. If you look at the roster of Apple Pickers you'll see 53 names, of whom I believe only 4 are women. So the selected games are, to some degree, games that men think women might want to play. I wonder what a panel of 49 women and 4 men might come up with?

Regarding the winners:

Blokus - I wish I had voted for Blokus, but my wife has just recently started playing that. I recently got Travel Blokus (for 2 players) and its been popular so far.

Carcassonne - Sadly a big DUD at my home.

Lost Cities - I voted for it. it has been popular in the past; but we haven't played it in years.

Scrabble - We play this ocassionally, a minor hit.

Ticket to Ride - She's never tried it. I am not all that hopeful it will be popular.

I think Valerie's point is valid. The games that might appeal to my wife have almost no relevance to what might interest your non-gaming SO.

Generally, as gamers, we want to see our unconvinced SO's embrace our hobby and find the fun that we do. After 20 years of marraige, I'm convinced it ain't gonna happen at my house.

As far as proprietary games go, Settlers is king around here. As for the rest, once in a great while something else might work for a while, but it's not going to change her life.

In this category, I disagree with Mark's ground rules. Games like dominoes, cribbage and backgammon have more to do with my wife's gaming interests than my collection of 300+ proprietary games.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Shannon Appelcline said...

Well, my wife despised Blokus the one time I asked her to play it, but Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne each generated 50+ plays when she still played games and Lost Cities 20+. Scrabble was what we played on our first date.

So, I'd rank that as a pretty good set.

2:13 PM  
Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...


Ah, once again my much-maligned "no non-proprietary games" ground rule takes a sucker punch. And, in this case, not an invalid one.

But, for the sake of those who haven't gone through this argument with me in the 2002 Apples Project... or EVERY year I've done the Five & Dime reports:

I choose NOT to include games like Backgammon (which I love) or Canasta (which I also love) or Chess (which I admire but don't enjoy) or Go (which just scares me) because those games get plenty of press & exposure. My intention is to highlight games that aren't already known to most individuals.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

Yes, everybody's Significant Other is different. Additionally, I never got an answer to the question, "Are these supposed to be two-player games or multi-player games the SO enjoys playing?" when we were in the nominating and voting stages. So I wasn't quite sure where we were heading. I agree with Valerie that if we were looking for a category of games that people who aren't constant gamers would be likely to play and enjoy, it should have been called something different. As it is, I guess what we've got is a very subjective survey of what the voters' Significant Others enjoy playing with them... which is not particularly more or less useful than a category called "party games" when we all go to different parties.

Anyway, my Significant Other enjoys a great many games. When it's just the two of us, she likes Freibeuter, Ta Yu, Thurn & Taxis, Fiasko, Pussy Cat, Schotten-Totten, Kupferkessel Co., Carcassonne, Ubongo, cribbage, Can't Stop, Masons, Jambo, etc., and Jotto and Schnapsen which she taught me. (Excellent two-handed card game, Schnapsen!) With additional players we'll do the ones above that work as well as Cartagena (a hit with her family in Austria), Settlers of Catan, Himmelssturmer, Res Publica, Scrabble, Kaleidos, Stadt Land, Around the World in 80 Days, Ticket to Ride, Tsuro, etc., and her longtime favorite Celebrities.

Stven Carlberg

1:26 PM  

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