Today we spent a few hours playing a new board game: Scotland Yard. It’s a real classic – I grew up playing it and now my son asked for one, too, having played it on holidays in Germany. Fortunately for all of us, Granny kindly sent him one – which meant we could spend a lazy afternoon hunting Mr X across London!
As part of my Advent calendar – or, rather, Blogvent calendar – I have been introducing you to a range of traditions that make a German christmas so special, from baking to decorations and to various celebrations. Today’s post is about the way we spend time together as a family.
Board games are incredibly popular in Germany and are played by everybody: children, teens, and adults. The world’s biggest trade fair for games takes place every year in Nürnberg and attracts thousands of visitors. You can check out all the new products and even try out the games that are being promoted – it’s basically a giant indoor playground. I know quite a few of my university friends used to go, always bringing back a new game to play.
If you were thinking of buying a board game, there are a few things you need to consider: the age of the players, how long it takes to play, and whether you prefer a game that depends on luck or one that involves strategic thinking. Personally I like a game to last no longer than 45 minutes (so no Monopoly for me, thank you!) and that involves not too much strategic thinking, so that I have a chance of winning it 😉
Scotland Yard fulfils all these criteria: it’s simple to understand. uses a mix of strategic thinking and luck, and doesn’t take too long. The rules are simple: up to 5 players hunt ‘Mr X’ across London; they can use the underground, buses and taxis. Mr X is invisible: a black cap protects their eyes so you can’t see where they are going. Every 5 rounds or so they have to reveal themselves and the other players – the detectives – can try and catch him. to ensure Mr X isn’t cheating, they have to keep track of their route.
Although our little one loves to take part in these games, this one’s really for older children and adults; the recommended age is 10+ but younger ones enjoy it, too, when playing detectives, due to the cooperative nature of the game. I love the fact that it’s the map of central London – many of the places have personal memories and we end up taking little detours in order to visit a nice cafe or take a walk in the park…
It’s not exactly the latest board game in that it won the ‘Spiel des Jahres’, the most important medal for board games, in 1983. On the upside this means that it comes highly recommended, and if you’re looking for a fun gift for anyone over 10 we can highly recommend it!
Have you got any favourite games that you play with family or friends? Or did you play them as a kid? Or are you even one of those that drew little spots on the back of certain Scrabble tiles? Or worse – did you ever fall out with a friend over a game of ‘Risk‘, at 3am, because they did not fulfil their side of the non-aggression pact?!