iStock
iStock

11 Brilliant Gifts for the Board Game Lover in Your Life

iStock
iStock

Board games are currently enjoying a renaissance; family favorites are still going strong, but a new class of games has emerged and created their own culture. Whether your favorite gamer is a child or a chess master (or a child chess master), we've got you covered.

1. SUSHI GO!; $11

This fast-paced card game is good-natured fun for ages 8 and up. Users score points by grabbing the best combination of sushi dishes and finishing the meal with the most pudding dessert. The short play time (only 20 minutes) makes it a perfect choice for those with short attention spans, and the little box and friendly price point make it an ideal stocking stuffer.

Find it: Amazon

2. MEEPLE GAME PIECES; PRICES VARY

No need to splurge on a new game to make somebody’s day; you could just help restore or jazz up the one they already have. Meeple Source offers wooden tokens and resources like coins and crops. You can also buy game-specific upgrade kits for today’s most popular titles.

Find it: Meeple Source

3. FIREFLY MONOPOLY; $32

With Firefly Monopoly, fans of the beloved sci-fi series (ages 8 and up) can be big damn heroes, stealing precious real estate right from under the Alliance’s nose and drawing “Gorram” and “Shiny!” cards.

Find it: Amazon

4. 1000 BLANK WHITE CARDS STARTER KIT; $10

For the gamer who has everything, try giving the gift of game creation. The rules are simple: there are no rules. You can make your own starter kit for less than $10 with blank white index cards, a few pens, and a box to keep them in. It may not look like much, but trust us: this game is awesome.

Find it: Your local office supply store 

5. AGRICOLA; $54

Never before has agriculture been so fun. Agricola players compete to rack up the most points through peaceful pastimes like farming, fishing, cooking, and herding. Fans of the TV show Orphan Black may also recognize Agricola as the centerpiece of Scott Smith’s beloved game night.

Find it: Amazon

6. ICE SPEED CHESS SET; $13

This ice chess set turns up the heat on gameplay, forcing players to move quickly before their pieces melt. The set comes with two silicone molds to make two sets of chess pieces.

Find it: ThinkGeek

7. BOARD GAME BOX ORGANIZERS; $24 AND UP

Some of today’s most popular games involve a lot of pieces. To minimize that chaos, The Broken Token offers board game box organizers. Each organizer is title-specific, designed to tidy up the boxes of the most popular games on the market.

Find it: The Broken Token

8. KING OF TOKYO; $40

The goal is simple, but the obstacles are legion. Each player in King of Tokyo is a monster with visions of world domination. But to claim the title of King of Tokyo, everybody else has to go down. The monster fights, detailed art, and satisfying gameplay make this great entertainment for both parties and kids.

Find it: Iello Games

9. TICKET TO RIDE; $39

Learning how to play Ticket to Ride is easy, but mastering it is another story. Players become retro railroad tycoons, battling it out to build the most rail lines across the U.S. If that’s just not enough territory, the game also comes in Asian, African, and European editions.

Find it: Amazon

10. CHAIN MAIL DICE BAG; $10

This dice bag is both hefty and roomy, making it a great home for a beloved dice collection—and the perfect Secret Santa gift or stocking stuffer for a tabletop gamer.

Find it: ThinkGeek

11. MYSTERIUM; $68

In a twist on the classic murder mystery, Mysterium turns one of the players into a ghost, who must then get the other players to identify the killer. For all its morbid fun, the game is cooperative, not competitive, which makes it a great choice for parties.

Find it: Amazon

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Kena Betancur, AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Health
Want to Live as Long as an Olympian? Become a Chess Grandmaster
Kena Betancur, AFP/Getty Images
Kena Betancur, AFP/Getty Images

It’s well known that physical fitness can help prolong your life, so it’s not surprising that elite athletes, like Olympians, tend to have longer lifespans than your average couch potato. But it seems that “mind sports” can help keep you alive longer, too. According to BPS Research Digest, a recent study suggests that international chess grandmasters have lifespans comparable to Olympic athletes.

The study, published in PLOS ONE, examined the survival rates of 1208 mostly male chess grandmasters and 15,157 Olympic medalists from 28 countries, and analyzed their life expectancy at 30 years and 60 years after they attained their grandmaster titles. They found that both grandmasters and Olympic medalists exhibited significant lifespan advantages over the general population. In fact, there was no statistical difference between the relative survival rates of chess champions and athletic champions.

There are several variables that the study couldn’t take into account that may be linked to chess players’ long lifespans, though. Grandmasters often employ nutritionists and physical trainers to keep them at their best, according to the researchers, and exercise regularly. Economic and social status can also influence lifespans, and becoming a world-champion chess player likely results in a boost in both areas.

Some research has shown that keeping your mind sharp can help you in old age. Certain kinds of brain training might lower the risk of developing dementia, and one study found that board game players in particular have slightly lower rates of dementia.

If keeping the mind sharp with chess really does extend lifespans, the same effect might apply as well to elite players of other “mind sports,” like Go, poker, or competitive video games. We’ll need more research to find out.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
David Franzen, Library of Congress
arrow
architecture
You Can Thank 1950s Suburban Architecture for ‘The Floor Is Lava’
David Franzen, Library of Congress
David Franzen, Library of Congress

No one knows who, exactly, was the first kid to play "The Floor Is Lava," the simple childhood game that has only one rule: You can’t touch the floor. But as Quartz reports, a new paper contends that the game wouldn't have come about if it weren’t for the rise of American suburbs.

Published in the Social Science Research Network, the analysis by Tim Hwang of the MIT Media Laboratory argues that architecture was a vital factor in the spread of the folk game.

In the new suburban housing developments of postwar America, builders began to market the relatively new idea of the family room, an informal room designed for the social needs of the whole family. This room was separate from the formal living room and dining room, both of which were more likely to contain the inhabitants’ good furniture and fancy china. In building plans popular in the 1950s and 1960s, they were also set apart from the kitchen. One 1965 poll found that seven of 10 new houses built that year contained a family room.

And these factors, Hwang argues, are integral to playing The Floor is Lava. Family rooms provide big couches, coffee tables, and other furniture that kids can move around, climb on, and use as props for the game. Bedrooms would be too small, and formal living and dining rooms too full of potentially fragile items that Mom and Dad would be livid to find disturbed. And kitchens were seen as a mother’s domain, meaning that she would likely be there to put a stop to any shenanigans.

"What is unique about the family room space is both the quantity of space and permission that it affords to the play of The Floor is Lava,” Hwang writes.

However, this is just a hypothesis, and no one can really identify who started playing the game first. Kids in urban apartments can also theoretically jump all over their parents’ living room furniture, if allowed. During my childhood, the game typically took place on a playground rather than inside, requiring players to avoid the ground rather than the family room floor. There are games that originated elsewhere in the world that also revolve around avoiding the floor—Hwang notes examples from Kenya and the UK. But given how the spread of suburbs in the U.S. during the postwar period affected home design, it makes sense that a game might arise from the new spaces children lived in. We may never truly know how The Floor Is Lava was invented, but architecture seems like a good clue.

[h/t Quartz]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios