Sports column: For family fun, fights, break out the board games

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, November 28, 2021

Looking for a fun way to pass the time during family holiday gatherings? Maybe tick off an annoying cousin? Or outright start a fistfight that will get someone cut out of grandpa’s will?

Well, dear readers, you’ll be happy to know you don’t have to sling personal insults to get things rolling. Just break out some board games and let the good times roll!

In an age when people have their faces buried in cellphones and tablets, there’s nothing to bring them together and then tear them apart again like a good old-fashioned board game. From the tactile feel of the pieces to the visceral thrill of delivering a killing blow, it’s easy to create lifelong memories from just a couple of hours sitting around a table.

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Let’s rank a few classics based on the created-just-now Family Feud Index (FFI), which ranks games on a scale of 1 (least likely to cause an argument) to 5 (We. Are never. Speaking. Again.):

• Battleship: A simple, fast-paced game with an iconic tagline — “You sank my battleship!” — is fun. Even if everybody knows that the battleship itself is overrated. Finding that annoying two-peg PT boat is the real challenge.

FFI: 1. You can play enough games in a short enough time that each person should win a few and keep arguments to a minimum.

• Monopoly and Risk: The opposite of Battleship in terms of strategy and flow. One round of these games could easily last all weekend as you try to buy up Atlantic City or conquer the world.

FFI: 2. By the time someone is ready to drop the hammer on their opponents and engage in real trash-talking, the weekend is over.

•  Fireball Island: A personal favorite from the late 1980s that most people probably aren’t familiar with. The general idea is to make your way across an awesome 3D island map, steal a jewel from a primitive god, and escape with it. Anger the god enough, and your opponent gets to roll a fireball — a red marble — down the path at you. If it hits you, you go back to the beginning.

FFI: 3. Aggressively wiping out your little brother’s plastic explorer with a fireball will certainly lead to tears.

• Left Center Right: Also known as LCR, this is a cheap and fun dice game that’s best played in groups. Roll the dice and pass your chips to other players while collecting theirs. You lose when you run out of chips, and win when you have everyone else’s.

FFI: 2. A mostly fun and harmless game, until you replace the worthless chips with dollar bills. Then trouble’s a-brewing.

• Pictionary: Charades, but with pen and paper. Can be played with large or small groups, which is a bonus.

FFI: 4. You’ll want to murder your own teammates at their inability to decipher your crude drawing of a bird that looks like an elephant, which was a clue for the movie “Avengers.”

•  Uno: Technically not a board game, but it occupies the same space on the gaming spectrum. Fast-paced and fun, with some malleable house rules.

FFI: 20. See those those four Draw Four Wild cards in your hand? Go ahead. Slam them down on the table and see what happens.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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