It's Only A Game
Hi, and welcome back. You're just in time to take another trip into the past by way of my memories.
When I was young, video games hadn't been invented. There was no Nintendo, X-box or Wii. I was nearly a teen when we got our first video game system, known to the world as "Pong".
To those of you who don't have the faintest idea what Pong was, here it is in a nutshell. You have two lines (one on each side) and a little square. The object was to keep the square bouncing between the lines like tennis. It also had a one player option that kept you bouncing the square off a wall on the left. No color, no intense graphics, just lines & a square. Sounds like fun, eh? I'll bet that it couldn't keep one of today's kids occupied for five minutes.
So what did we do for games? Board games were the rage. Everything I know about board games, I learned from Sir Gattabout. He was a take-no-prisoner player. Here are some of the strategies he (and later I) employed against anyone willing to take us on:
Monopoly: The key to this game is to buy anything you land on. It drives you competition nuts. We always put $500 in the middle of the board to start off. Anyone landing on "Free Parking" got the cash. Any fines to be paid also went into the middle pot. This gave you extra money to buy properties and/or houses. You could also trade property to obtain the one you were missing. these deals always came with the disclaimer that "I get to land on the set X number of times without paying". Invariably, the free ride came to an end, and you were reduced to a pauper by having to pay the rent with motels on the property.
Battleship: Start a diagonal line down the board (A1, B2, C3, etc.). When you get a hit, call out all surrounding locations. When I caught on to what my brother was doing, I began arranging my ships in clumps or straight lines. I even spelled out the word "HI" with my ships. It drove my brother nuts.
Stratego: My brother always surrounded his flag with bombs. I, on the other hand, set my 1 (the Marshall) and 2 (the General) next to my flag, and sprinkle bombs throughout the playing field. Gattabout would inevitably lose his 1 or 2 to one of my hidden bombs. My brother always wanted to be blue, because , as I later found out, you can see through the red if you have your back to a sunny window or a bright lamp.
Yahtzee: This was a favorite of Mom's, and if she heard us starting to play, she would jump in. I liked it when mom played, because Gattabout couldn't cheat. When Mom wasn't playing, one of the dice would always roll off the table and miraculously land on the number he needed (he was faster picking the dice up than I was a getting a glimpse).
Chess: I never understood during international chess competitions how they could call a draw with each player still having 9-10 pieces on the board. When we played, it was to the death. There were matches where someone only had only their king left, and the other chased him around until checkmate was achieved.
We had great times playing each other, but had even more fun when some of Aunt Shelly's kids came over. That always gave Gattabout fresh blood to spill on the board of combat.
The problem is, when you have been taught to go for the jugular when young, it leave few people who want to play you when you get older. My wife refuses to play anything with me because when we were first married, I was unmerciful. I have mellowed with age. My grandson, "The Boy", and I play games by times. He has taken me to the shed in Chutes & Ladders, Aggravation & Uno.
Did you play board games as a child? If so,which ones? If not, why?