Games with Mom
Dan Mansfield
United States
Poway
California
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When I was a kid, my mom always encouraged me to use my creativity, and playing board games was one way that I learned how to think outside the box (pardon the pun). Each time I get together with my mom, we play a board game, whether it be an old favorite or a new game that I think she will like (and she usually does).

This list is dedicated to all the moms who taught their kids that it is perfectly fine to spend one's time doing things that unleash the imagination, especially in the company of others, because in this life it is not the material things that matter, but the relationships we have with our family and friends.

Add to the list the games you played with your mom, past and present, and don't forget to give her a great big hug today.

Happy Mothers' Day!
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1. Family: Scrabble
Dan Mansfield
United States
Poway
California
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As far back as I can remember, my mom and I played Scrabble, and she never allowed me to use made-up words (imagine her surprise when I told her that yes, "za" is indeed a word according to the official Scrabble dictionary. Playing Scrabble sparked my interest in writing and etymology, and not only did I win the school spelling bee in third grade, I went on to get a BA in English literature, wrote a few short pieces for anthologies, and have worked as an editor for fifteen years. I continue to write creative pieces, especially short stories and poetry, and lead a book club each month. Although we don't play Scrabble as often as we used to—there are just too many great games to be played—we occasionally play a quick round for old times' sake. My mom likes to claim victory if she finishes within 100 points of me, since she tries to play longer words rather than going for points or using strategy.
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2. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:127] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Dan Mansfield
United States
Poway
California
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When I moved back to California, I had not played board games for several years, but being closer to my mom meant that we could now play whenever we got together for brunch or dinner. The first "new" board game I got was Ticket to Ride; I bought it after seeing some reviews on Amazon when I was looking for something to play other than Scrabble.

The first time we played Ticket to Ride was when my dad was visiting from Illinois. Everyone understood the mechanics right away because I had read the rules beforehand and was able to explain how the game worked. We settled into the game, which came down to the wire between me and my mom, with my dad sort of looking on without much interest but grudgingly playing along. When the game was over and we showed our destination tickets, I edged out my mom by just a few points, and she said, "Wow! I love that game! Let's play again!" Before I could gather up my trains, my dad had already gotten out of his seat and was headed to the living room to watch the evening news. Mom gave him a harsh scolding while I looked on and shrugged. Typical Dad. Fortunately, I take after my mom more than my dad, but I love them both.
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3. Board Game: Battle Cry: 150th Civil War Anniversary Edition [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:923]
Noshrok Grimskull
Germany
Bremen
Bremen
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Yes, my mom likes to play this one on occasion!

She always plays the Confederates and more often than not wipes the floor with my Union boys.
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4. Board Game: Hand and Foot [Average Rating:5.93 Overall Rank:7433]
James
United States
San Francisco
California
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My mom absolutely hated board games when we were growing up, perhaps not surprising when the options were Life, Candyland, Sorry!, Monopoly, etc...

We did, however, play a crapton of card games. Pinochle, poker, rummy, but especially Hand and Foot. We would mash together many decks of cards and play epic, hours-long games of Hand and Foot, when camping or just sitting around the dining room table. I still have an irrational fear of red three's to this day.
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5. Board Game: Splendor [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:116]
Marina SC
Canada
Toronto
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I've only recently (re)started playing boardgames regularly, and this was the first one I introduced to my mom. Of all the ones we've played so far, this is her favourite... and she kicks my butt at it too laugh
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6. Board Game: Love Letter [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:217]
Dan Mansfield
United States
Poway
California
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My mom came over for dinner tonight, and we played Love Letter for the first time. I just got it a week ago, and wanted to try it out before I played it with a larger group. We both slipped up a few times (especially when playing the Handmaid in a 2P game), but by the time we played our third game, we had all the moves figured out. My mom wondered why there were only 16 cards in the deck (which isn't easy to shuffle), and I said that if there were 52 cards, the game would just take forever to play and there would be too many variables to keep everything straight, making it too much like Fluxx. We played three games in a little over an hour, and although I had a chance to win the last token to claim victory, I let her win the 12th round just so we could play winner take all on the 13th round. Naturally, she won the last token and went home happy.
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7. Board Game: Trivial Pursuit [Average Rating:5.20 Overall Rank:15520]
United States
Ladson
South Carolina
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This game was made by baby boomers. My mom was a baby boomer. So me, my sister, and my dad one be on one side answering questions as a group against mom on her own and she still wiped the floor with us. "Who's Steve McQueen?"
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8. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:138] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Dan Mansfield
United States
Poway
California
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Even though Mother's Day was a few weeks ago, I will continue to add to this list as I play more board games with my mom. I usually play with more experienced gamers, but my mom learns quickly, so she's a good playing partner.

Last week, we played Carcassonne for the second or third time. When I was growing up, we often did jigsaw puzzles together, and even today we will exchange puzzles now and then. That's one reason why I think my mom likes Carcassonne, as laying the tiles and connecting the roads, fields, and walls is much like solving a living, breathing jigsaw puzzle that never ends up the same way twice.

In our last game, my mom built a city of seven or eight tiles by finding an inner piece and fitting it in after rotating it several times, as if she could not believe her luck at finding just the piece she needed. At that point, we were close to running out of tiles, so she scored a lot of points and was just pumped up about it. I've played the game more often than she has, though, and I managed to squeeze out a close win in the final scoring.

Since I have the big box with several expansions, she was curious about how the expansions change the game. So, the next time we get together for dinner, we're going to give the Inns and Cathedrals expansion a go. I didn't even have to suggest we try the I&C expansion, so it's safe to say that this is one of her new favorites.
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9. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:49]
Dan Mansfield
United States
Poway
California
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Yeah, I took the bold step of introducing my mom to Race for the Galaxy today. One of the first things I said was to ignore the outer space theme and think of it as a numbers-crunching game. Since this was the first time she had played, we went with open hands so that I could show her some of her options based on what she had on her tableau and what was in her hand. In essence, I was playing for both of us, offering suggestions and explaining the meaning of each icon.

My mom is a very visual person, so she picked up the iconography quickly, but we didn't have time for a second game. When we finished playing (let's just say that I beat myself 34-31, rather than that I beat my mom 34-31), we sat down and talked about some of the different card combinations and how one development might work really well with a certain combination of cards from the first few rounds in order to churn out the VP chips.

She liked the game, even though she was a bit confused by some of the procedures. I think we will be playing this one again, since my mom is the type of person who likes to understand what is going on and then use an effective strategy to play a game.

I am proud of my mom for sticking with it and not tossing her cards on the table and walking away, saying that it is all too confusing (as someone else did last week). As with any game, the first play is usually somewhat confusing. The second play, the lightbulb begins to glow as realization sets in, and then by the third or fourth play, a person is fully engaged in the game. Whether it's Ticket to Ride, Terra Mystica, or Race for the Galaxy, few people will grasp all the complexities of a game on the first go. I look forward to playing this one again, because it is a load of fun and no two games ever play the same.
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10. Board Game: Age of War [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:1485]
Dan Mansfield
United States
Poway
California
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Happy Mother's Day once again. My mom came over today for brunch, and we played this game afterward. I have a nice new table cover, so throwing a bunch of dice on the table didn't cause any damage. We used to play Yahtzee quite a bit when I was a kid, so I got Age of War because it reminded me of that game, with the match-the-dice mechanic. I wouldn't call this an awesome game, but it is a nice filler when you don't want a longer game. Even though it dragged a bit at times when we couldn't get the dice rolls we needed, it still took us just 20 minutes to play. We didn't play a very cutthroat game; after all, today was Mother's Day and I wanted to be nice to the woman who has spent much of her life cleaning up my messes.
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11. Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:114] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
Dan Mansfield
United States
Poway
California
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My mom is already familiar with vanilla TTR, but it isn't that much fun for two players. I got Nordic Countries a while back, and it works much better for two, although the maximum of three would probably make for a more interesting game.

We drew destination tickets for different sides of the map, so there wasn't much conflict. After I completed my first three routes, I drew new tickets and happened to have two of them already completed on the eastern side of the map. So what the heck, I kept the third ticket as well and tried to get into my mom's territory. The result: Mom blocked me off and forced me in another direction. Fortunately, the big Murmansk-Lieksa route was still open, so I blew the rest of my hand to claim that route even though I didn't need it for my destination tickets.

I've only played this one 2P, and would like to see how it works with 3, since then we would be able to use the double routes.
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