We grow up on board games and some board games grow up with us. On family nights and rainy days, we turn time after time to the classics, removing a twenty-year-old edition of Monopoly, The Game of Life, or Clue from closet shelves. Why these three? Like most board games, they too are governed by dice-rolling, wheel-spinning, and chance. See below why they are the 3 best classic family board games to play with your family!
It is only fitting that the business shark’s board game makes the king of the list. It was invented by Charles B. Darrow during the Great Depression. It will surprise you to know that the game, now sold in 103 countries and produced in 41 languages, was originally rejected by Parker Brothers. It wasn’t until after Darrow produced it on his own with such success that he couldn’t meet demand that Parker Brothers made a deal with him. Years later, hundreds of special editions of the game exist including a Canadian Monopoly . Even McDonald’s runs an annual Monopoly-based prize-winning promotion.
How To Play
The object of Monopoly is to become the wealthiest player through real estate strategy including buying, building on, renting, and selling properties. The term “Monopoly” itself is used to describe when a player buys all of the properties within a set, which are usually three like-coloured squares on the board game. You can only build on properties you have a Monopoly over, and you can only buy the properties you land on, so this is where the luck of the roll comes in. The most lucrative set is “Park Place” and “Boardwalk.”
Other elements of chance include “Community Chest” and “Chance” squares: when you draw a card you might be saddled with a doctor’s fee, school tax, or sent to the nearest railroad and made to pay the owner twice the rent he or she is entitled. Alternatively, you could inherit money, profit, or obtain the now infamous “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Don’t forget to collect $200 when you pass go!
Monopoly does have the potential to stretch on for long periods of time and can get very competitive; but it is this very quality, along with the glory of capitalism that is as appealing now as it was in the Great Depression, that both frustrates and keeps players coming back.
The Game of LIFE
Now produced by Hasbro, Life as we know it was originally inspired by The Checkered Game of Life, an 1860 invention created by Milton Bradley himself. The modern board game version re-envisioned by Reuben Klamer was released in 1960 and has been thriving ever since. Just as trends and times change, many subsequent editions of The Game of Life have been released over the years to reflect those changes, but always the game remains one of personal narrative with which players can identify.
How to Play
The modern board game begins with two options: “Start College” and “Start Career”. As in real life, players who elect to go to college start the game by taking out thousands of dollars in loans. Players move their car along the track by spinning a dial numbered 1-10 and following the command on the square that they land on.
Good behaviour and character-building experience is rewarded: landing on “Study in Europe,” “Adopt a pet,” “Baby boy!” or “Don’t drink and drive”. This prompts you to collect a LIFE tile, which at the end of the board game, is flipped over to reveal a large monetary bonus. But in addition to prompts like “Write Best-seller. Collect $80,000,” Life has it downs, too: landing on squares such as “Taxes Due,” “Tree falls on house. Pay $15,000 if not insured” and “Tropical vacation. Pay $25,000” reflect life’s varied expenditures.
Though some elements of the game are perhaps unrealistic, a minimum salary of $40,000 a year, drawing careers, homes, and stocks from a hand of cards, and the limited choice of retiring in either “Countryside Acres” or “Millionaire Estates”, the game does present a reasonable depiction of life’s traditional milestones. Players are required to stop at certain points along the road for a job search, to get married, and to buy a house. With the timeless journey it offers, it is easy to see how The Game of Life has remained popular throughout the years. This is a favourite of both family board game nights and children playing pretend.
In 1998, The Game of Life CD-ROM, an interactive computer edition of the game, was released.
Cluedo was invented by Anthony E. Pratt and first released by Waddingtons in 1949, and in the same year the US rights to the game were bought by Parker Brothers, who marketed it as Clue. Like Monopoly and Life it is now produced by Hasbro.
What makes Clue one of the most outstanding board games is its unique and intriguing story premise. Mr. Boddy (Mr. Black in other countries) has been murdered in his mansion and it is up to you to figure out who is responsible. The whodunit plot of Clue has six suspect characters: Colonel Mustard, Professor Plum, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Miss Scarlet, and Miss White.
How to Play Clue
At the beginning of the game three cards, one character card, one weapon card, and one room card are slipped into a case file. The rest of the cards are dealt to the players, who then roll the dice to navigate the mansion. When a player enters a room he or she can voice a theory, listing a suspect, weapon, and the room he or she is in. For example: “I think it was Mr. Green with the lead pipe in the ballroom”. Other players check their hand of cards: if it contains one or more of the three items listed Mr. Green, Lead Pipe, and Ballroom, that player must show the inquirer one card. Players keep a detective’s list of suspects, weapons, and rooms, and as they move from room to room. All this in conjecture to narrow down the list by process of elimination.
When a player is confident that he or she has pinpointed the killer, weapon, and room, he or she then moves to the centre of the board game. The player then makes an accusation: “It was Professor Plum with the candlestick in the library”. The player then checks the three cards inside the confidential case file; if they match, the accuser wins the game.
“The Classic Detective Board Game”
Called “The Classic Detective Board Game”, Clue has been applauded for teaching the ability to use logic and reason. It was published into a successful children’s crime-solving / mystery book series (published by Scholastic in the 1990’s). And it has also been adapted into a 1985 film with three possible endings.
Unlike other games, Monopoly, The Game of Life, and Clue capitalize on timeless elements of story and engage us again and again!