Seven games that will drastically improve your life

From Monopoly Cards to Carcassonne, these games will save you from boring holidays and dull guests

You’ll thank me for this. I’m about to list seven games that will drastically improve your life. They’ll let you bond with your children or grandchildren. They’ll save you having to engage with dull guests. They’ll fill in all the boring gaps on holiday. Most importantly (the main purpose of games), they’ll act as a much more agreeable substitute for real life.

Zilch
You need six dice (though I’ve always played with five). Check the rules on the internet, but basically the goal is to roll your way to 10,000 points by throwing high-scoring combinations like three-of-a-kind or a straight. You can keep on rolling as long as you like but if you throw a zilch (a no-point hand) then you lose all the points accumulated in that round. This mindless, undemanding game offers fascinating insights into player psychology, pitting flair against caution, luck against probability, hares against tortoises. Dull plodders usually win, but when flamboyant risk-takers do they get many more high-fives from their fellow players.

Monopoly Card Game
This is like Monopoly on crack with none of the tedium or turgidity and about ten times the vicious cruelty. You can be on the verge of winning, then suddenly find yourself property-less and reduced to penury if the other players decide to gang up on you. Great for making small children cry.

Pass The Pigs
Possibly the most aesthetically perfect game ever, this involves throwing two tiny rubber pigs. You score according to the combinations of positions in which the pigs land, the ultimate being a Double Leaning Jowler (60 points). Occasionally you’ll delude yourself that there’s a knack; more often you’ll accept it’s pure dumb luck.

Settlers of Catan
Simple, addictive strategy game in which you build an empire by trading and accumulating basic resources (wool, grain, brick, ore, lumber), building armies and conquering territory. Brutally unfair if you’re losing; deliciously satisfying if you’re winning. Invented by a German.

Carcassonne
Another brilliant German strategy game. This time you join tiles to form an ever-expanding landscape of roads, castles, monasteries, winning points in ways too complicated to explain here. Buy the full bumper set with all the expansion packs — not the basic model. You won’t regret it.

Snatch It
Viciously competitive, quick-reaction word-making game involving much stealing from other people’s hands. Say they’ve got ‘rusted’ and the next player turns over a ‘c’ from the central pile of letters, you can quickly shout out ‘crusted’ and nick your rival’s word. Best player I’ve ever come across is the supermodel Edie Campbell.

Cards Against Humanity
Still not sure about this: the gameplay isn’t as involving as any of the above. But then it’s designed to be played very late at night by disgustingly drunk adults who want to enjoy cheap laughs about sick topics — ‘a party game for horrible people’ — and at this it works very well. Picking up the ‘Gary Glitter’ card is the equivalent of getting a Q in Scrabble.


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