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Learning About Board Games

by Kerry Cordy

If you are working on your Board Game Badge through either the Frontier Girls or Quest Program or just looking to explore the world of board games, continue reading for all sorts of ideas and information.  Videos are mostly from Youtube so there will be ads.  Sorry about that.


Strategy Games

Strategy games are those games that are won or lost based on the choices made by the players rather than just luck or technical skill.  Choose a strategy board game and play with someone else. Examples might include Connect 4, Chinese Checkers, Battleship, Chess, Risk, Sequence, Stratego, Settlers of Catan, or any other strategy board game you might have.

You can use the Printable Board Games website  which has a printable Battleship, Chinese Checkers, and Chess board if you don’t have any of these games at home. This site also offers 38 free printable board games in PDF format.

Make sure to follow these simple rules of game board etiquette.
– All pieces are everybody’s pieces. If something falls on the ground, EVERYONE should be ready to pick it up.
-All Pieces need to be respected and put back in the box when the game is done.
-The game box should close all the way when you are done. If it doesn’t close you haven’t put it away.
Create a way to decide who will go first. For example, roll a die and the highest number goes first or maybe the one who has the closest birthday. Decide before you play who will put the game away, the winner or the loser.

Think of 2 different board games that you enjoy. Write down 3 ways they are the same and 3 ways they are different.

Word Games

Word games have increased in popularity and now encompass much more than just the traditional Scrabble. Choose one of these word games to play with someone. Scrabble, UpWards, Probe, Typo, Boggle, Bananagrams, Scattergories, Word Bingo, Hangman, or any other board game you have at home that would involve the making, guessing, or selection of words.

In order to become really good at word games, you need to understand more about words themselves.  Understanding basic word construction and which letters are used most frequently will hold you in good stead for your average word game.  Did you know that even in the game of Hangman there are 3 tricks and tips that can help you win almost every game within 11 guesses?  This Youtube video shows you some simple tips.

Increasing your vocabulary is another way to win at word games.  The more words you know, the more options you have while playing the game.  Word Buff has several great word lists and suggestions for building your vocabulary based on what type of word games you plan to play.

Games of Chance!

Make a list of games that have to do with chance instead of strategy. How do you know if it will be a game of chance or strategy? A game of chance is one where simple luck is a main component of the game.  Common devices used in a game of chance include dice, spinning tops, playing cards, roulette wheels, or numbered balls drawn from a container. Once you have a list of at least 10 chance type board games choose one and play with your family or a group of friends. The more the merrier!

Do you know the original name of the game Chutes and Ladders? Now that is a game of 100% chance! Try this online version from Toy Theater and play with a friend.

 Whether you are playing a game that involves chance or strategy there are times when kids can be a sore loser. What do you do in cases like that?

  • Stay calm and to not get drawn in to their tantrum.  Yelling back just escalates the situation
  • Make sure to model the behavior you want by being a good loser and congratulating the winner when you lose.
  • Acknowledge their disappointment.  Tell them you understand how hard it is to lose and see if they will talk about their feelings.
  • Explain how chance works and that games of chance are out of their control.  It doesn’t mean they did not play a good game. 
  • Explain that games of strategy and word games can be won through studying if they wish to learn more about the game
  • Let them lose.  It is the only way they can learn to be a good loser and gives them a sense of pride when they win as they know they earned it.


Party Games

Host a board game party! Invite some friends to play a party game, such as Taboo or Pictionary, Codenames or Catch Phrase, or maybe bring out a game you created yourself.  Party board games are those games that are designed to be played in large groups and to get all players to interact.  They frequently involve strict time limits to keep the game moving or a lot of discussion to let players interact.  Whatever you choose to play, consider those you have invited and their skill level. Pick a game that everyone can play and enjoy. If anyone asks what they can bring to your party, tell them to bring a game they don’t play anymore and you can organize a small board game drive to donate to a local children’s charity. 

Math and Monopoly

Before you take out your favorite version of Monopoly watch this video about how to use Math to win at Monopoly.  Did you know that there are over 1,000 different versions of the popular game? Check out this video on how Monopoly boards are designed.    

DIY Board Games

Upcycle and recycle old board games to create a new game you create yourself.  Come up with your own rules, cards, etc.  Or make your own version of a popular game.  Try turning an old bed sheet into Milton Bradley’s popular 1974 game, Twister.   The Spruce Crafts has some great ideas to give you inspiration.    You can also build and create a custom board game!  The Game Crafter webpage offers game designers an easy-to-use system to make a board game, card game, or custom playing cards. Free templates, instructions, videos, and proofing tools are available to help people create quality products.

Chess or Checkers?

Chess or Checkers? Which do you prefer to play? Create a survey and ask at least 8 people and then create a chart to show your results. Use a Checkerboard grid to show your results. Then create a Checkers or Chess tournament with those that love the game. Learn the basic rules for a chess tournament  at The Spruce Crafts.   YOu can even watch a kid defeat 2700 Grandmaster with Queen sacrifice during a chess tournament on this Youtube video.

Board Games Museums, Reveiws and More

Ever wonder what games previous generations played. Check out the Board Games Museum Youtube Channel where you can find reviews of the top 100 vintage board games as well as rules and reviews of more modern games as well. They even have tips for thrifting for used vintage games. Great site!

If you are looking for reviews for board games to see what games may interest you, the Board Game Geek has the largest board game review site.

Looking for the rules to your favorite board game?  The Board Game Capital  has links to the rules of hundreds of your favorite games.



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