Apparently the early high-sellers for this year have been old school favourites such as Ker-Plunk and Cluedo.
In a similar vein, the New York Times recently ran an article on a new children's game called Balloon Lagoon, in which "every child can succeed, but no child dominates"....BOR-ING! However the article does go on to examine the more traditional games like Monopoly, Risk or Battleship, which "were born out of a much more traditional sense of combative gamesmanship".
So, in the spirit of the season Londonist would like to present it's 2004 Board Game Guide - a quick rundown of some perennial favourites as well as some new kids on the board. Whether you're buying for someone else, or just stocking up so you don't have to play Trivial Pursuits again, we hope this helps.
Cranium struck board game gold last year. It won the prestigious 'Game of the year' award and also become the fastest selling independent board game in history. It's appeal lies mainly in the fact that it tries to please all the people some of the time, offering a range of different questions and tasks for players to get stuck in to...plus it has plasticine. Everyone likes playing with plasticine.
Ahhh Stratego, you are like Risk but a little less complicated and you have the potential for various move tie-ins...you are truly the king of all board games. Londonist has loved Stratego ever since childhood, it's like chess but with stabiliser wheels. But be warned if you introduce Stratego to your children they will either become chess geeks or subscribers to Weapons and Ammo magazine (or both, like Bobby Fischer).
If you're in the mood for a ruck then Loaded Questions is the board game for you. It's full of those "difficult, introspective questions" which are designed to get people's backs up, especially after a few drinks. Stuff like "If you were forced to kill one person living today, at your discretion, who would it be?". There's even a kids version (although we don't think they get the killing question).
As far as we can make out Loaded Question is only available in the US right now. You can order it from Amazon.com for $24.99.
(If you're 'attached' and don't want to order Loaded Questions from abroad, there's always Mr and Mrs, which is equally likely to end in a fight.)
Hungry Hungry Hippos
Maybe we're being a tad nostalgic here, but if you're buying for kids this Christmas then you should really think about getting them Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Ok, so they'll break it within a week and it is an extraordinarily violent and somewhat surreal concept, but it does "develop hand-eye coordination" apparently, so there is some education value there.
Plus, once the kids have gone to bed you can play with it.
Rumble in the Jungle
For a single, wonderful second we thought Rumble in the Jungle might be a Foreman v Ali game along the same lines as Hungry Hippos, but unfortunately not. Instead it's a Mousetrap-esque game with multiple parts. "The game is easy to assemble with the aid of the comprehensive instructions included" reads the manufacturer's blurb rather unconvincingly. However, on the plus side this game does have an Indiana Jones style 'boulder' as well as a golden flying monkey.