The Joy of Game Night

Recently, my wife and I, along with a few of our friends, began an adventure that we like to call:

Once a month, we gather together at a secret location (hint, it’s always one of our houses)  to hang out and play games together.  We each bring a food item of some type to share with everyone, and we each bring our own alcohol to the shindig, because everyone has different tastes in alcohol.  The night is always full of laughter, delicious food, and great fun.  Last weekend was only our second official game night, but it was a huge success.   There were six of us gathered together that night, which was a nice sized group for the games we played.  Since we were gathering at the home of my wife and I, we each chose a game to play during the evening.  My wife chose a game called Catchprhase, and I chose a game called Telestrations.  Gather around children, and I will tell about each game and the fun we had playing each.

We began the evening playing a game called Telestrations.  This game takes the concept of the Telephone Game, played by people around the world, and extends the game by adding an element of Pictionary to the mix.  To play the game, each player gets a small notepad of dry erase boards and a black marker (both included with the game) to play with, and a card with a list of six topics on each side.  Play begins with a roll of a six-sided die to choose which topic on your card you will be using to play the game.  Once the topic has been chosen, you write that topic on the first page of your dry erase notebook along with your name so that you will know which notepad is yours.  Once you have written down you topic, a sand timer is flipped over and you have exactly one minute to draw your topic on the next page of your dry erase notepad.  Once the timer has run out, you immediately stop drawing, no matter what your picture looks like, and pass your notepad to the player on your left or right depending on how you wish to play.  The person you hand your notepad to then has to study your picture and try to figure out what the topic you were trying to convey is.  Once they have made their guess and written it down, they then pass the notepad to the next player who then has to read the guess and draw their best interpretation of said guess.  This continues on until each notepad has been passed to each player to either draw a picture or make a guess.  The real fun of the game happens after the round is over and everyone reveals the pictures and guesses on their notepad to the entire group.  There are two ways to score the game, the friendly way, or the competitive way.  In the competitive scoring, each person that guesses correctly scores a point along with the person that drew the picture that led to the correct guess.  A point is also given to the notepad owner if the final guess matches their secret topic.  In the friendly version of scoring, each notepad owner gives a point to whomever drew their favorite picture, or made their favorite guess.  After three rounds, the player with the most points wins.

Scoring isn’t really what makes the game fun to play however, the real fun of the game comes from showing the group of players the progression of pictures and guesses.  Even the most skilled artist will only have a minute to draw their best interpretation of the topic given to them, and it is often easiest to simply draw the most basic version of the topic in the time allotted.  This can lead to some truly hilarious pictures and guesses.  In one round, my wife was given crystal ball as her topic, and attempted to draw a picture of a stick figure witch looking at a crystal ball with lines pointing from the witches eyes to the crystal ball.  I received the picture drawn by my wife and could not tell by what she had drawn that her topic was crystal ball.  I looked at the witch in her drawing, and the only thing I could come up with was the movie Witch Mountain.  After writing down witch mountain, I handed the notepad to my friend Marc on my left who then drew his version of Witch Mountain.  Marc’s picture led to his wife guessing Gnome mountain which then led to the most hilarious picture of the night by my friend Gerardo of two stick figure gnomes, complete with pointed hats with pom poms on top, standing between a mushroom house and two large, triangular-shaped mountains.  We all had a great laugh during that round.

In another round, I attempted to draw a beaver that was so bad, it looked like it had devil horns on its head instead of ears.  Despite the fact that I thought my drawing was absolutely horrendous, it still managed to make it around the entire group intact with each guess staying at beaver, including the final guess of the round.  You never know how a round will play out, and that adds to the fun and excitement of the game.  There are also blank spots on some cards that, if picked by the die roll, allows the player to choose any topic they want for added fun.  If you wanted to add some extra fun to the game, you could even skip the cards and have everyone choose their own topics to draw and pass on.  Depending on the people you play with, that could lead to some very interesting evenings.

Telestrations was even more fun then I thought it would be when I bought it, and our group had a great time playing it.  The game can be played with up to eight people, and there is a party version of the game that lets you play with up to twelve people.  We had six people playing the game, and we laughed very hard during each round.  I can only imagine how fun it would be to play this game with a full complement of twelve people.  You may be laughing too hard to finish the game, but it would be well worth it.  I highly recommend this game for any game night you might have with any amount of people.  You will not go wrong playing this game.

Everything you need to play is included, including cloths to wipe the boards down with.
Everything you need to play is included, including cloths to wipe the boards down with.

Our second game of the evening was a game called Catchphrase.

Catchphrase is a game that combines the $100,00 Pyramid game show we all loved during the golden age of game shows with the classic game Hot Potato.  The game is played with a handheld electronic device that is the main focus of the game.  The device has every function you will need to play the game, categories to choose from, keeping score, and timing your game.  The game keeps score for two teams so we decided to split our group into men versus women with three members on each team.  Once the teams have been decided, you gather in your group and begin the game.  Our group played at the dining room table, sitting in a man, woman, man formation to make it easy to pass the game around, but you can just as easily play in a living room or any other arrangement you see fit.  Once your teams are set, you choose a category from those provided by the game machine.  Categories include food, places, sports and games, entertainment, and a few others.  There is also the all-encompassing “everything” category as well for those that are indecisive.  Once you have chosen your category, you hit the start button and the device immediately begins beeping to let you know the timer has begun.  The game will then give you a phrase in the category you have chosen, and you must get your team to say the phrase using any word, gesture, or sometimes even noise except the actual words in the phrase.  Once your team guesses the word, you hit the next button and pass the game device to the other team to take their turn.  As time passes, the intensity of the beeping machine increases to warn you that the end is coming.  This is where the Hot Potato side of the game comes in, because the team holding the device when the game stops beeping loses the round and the opposite team scores a point.  The game continues until one team has scored seven points and is declared the winner.

The game sounds simple enough, but it is far more challenging once you start playing.  The phrases can be difficult at times, and since the game doesn’t keep track of what is said, it will be up to the players to determine just how exact the guesses need to be to the actual phrases to score.  The beeping of the device can also make the game more challenging as a constant reminder that you need to hurry up and get your team to figure out the phrase you are trying to convey to them.  For those that like to play dirty, you can even shout out words to confuse the other team as they make their guesses as well.  The difficulty of trying to find the right words to convey your phrase, coupled with the intensity of the timer speeding up as you play makes the game a fun, intense, exciting endeavor.  We had a great time playing this game, and I am happy to say that the men’s team won more rounds than the women’s team and gave them a sound thrashing.  I would also like to point out that my last sentence may be a complete fabrication as to who the actual winners of the evening were.  Regardless of who won or lost, we all enjoyed playing Catchprhase and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good game to play on their own game night.

Game night is a lot of fun, and a great way to spend an evening with friends without spending a lot of money or hanging out at a bar.  With games like these, and a great group of friends, having a monthly game night has quickly become my favorite pastime.  I can’t wait to see what fun our next game night will bring.  I hope you enjoyed reading about our game night, and I hope it has inspired you to plan your own game night, if you haven’t already.  Until next time my friends, no matter what game you play, make sure you have fun playing.

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