Timeless Games for Timeless Activities

Up here in the Southern Ontario portion of Canada we have a tradition called "cottaging".  It's very different then what the urban dictionary says it is.  What we do is pack up the car on a Friday, drive 2 to 5 hours in extreme traffic, hang out in a small building with limited amenities, and then drive home in the same ridiculous traffic 48 hours later.  Sounds crazy, right?
But there are some up sides.  Most of the time you are in a beautiful setting on the water somewhere, with lots of toys to play with, and with lots of fun friends and family.  And in the evenings, there's not much to do besides play games. So here are some of the classics that come up often with my friends and family at the cottage.

Sorry, wrong Bauer...
1) Euchre. This is a trick collecting card game with 24 cards, which can be made from any standard 52 card deck.  It is most often played by 4 players in pairs, though there are 2, 3 and 6 player variants. Trump is called by a player and that player's team must collect more than half the tricks in that hand to gain their point.  The full rules are available here.  This game has a fair amount of strategy to keep it interesting.  It also helps to know your partner and their playing style as you must trust them to help you and no table talk is allowed.

Betty White has always been awesome.
2) Password.  This game has many other names, but this is the most common as it is based on the 1960's TV show.  There are many versions of this as a board game, but we play a simplified version that requires nothing to be bought other than some paper and pens.  In our version, we cut paper in to small strips, and each player gets a set number (usually 10 to 15) of them.  On each strip they write a word or simple phrase.  All the strips are then folded and put in to a bowl.  Players are divided in to teams.  One player from a team takes a piece at a time from the bowl and attempts to get their teammates to say the words on the paper by describing them, but without saying any of the words themselves.  They do this for as many as they can in 1 minute.  Play is then passed to the next team.  One point is scored for each word correctly guessed. Any passed words go back in to the bowl and are counted as a negative point. Once all words are guessed, points are totaled and a winner declared.

Not sure these ones are
in the official dictionary.
3) Scrabble.  A classic game for 2 to 4 players that never gets old in my opinion.  Players make words with letter tiles and score based on the value of each letter plus modifiers on the board.  There are official word lists and Scrabble dictionaries.  It is up to the players to decide what words will be accepted before the game starts.  I prefer some of the older word lists that don't accept some foreign words.  The best part of this game is that it is always a learning experience, and a chance to expand your vocabulary.

With friends we also play a ton of newer games; Euro board games like Ticket to Ride, Carcassone, and many of the others I've mentioned on this blog, and Cards Against Humanity is becoming a great favourite - but not when I play with my parents...


  1. Our favourite cottage game is "Sticks." I have no idea if that's the official name or other versions exist elsewhere. It's a card game played with 2-4 decks of cards for almost any number of players. You draw "sticks" marked with various patterns of cards you need to collect (Flushes, straights, multiples of a kind in various quantities), and the first one who collects X number of completed sticks first wins (depending on how many players you have and how long you want to play - 5 sets is usually a good base number). It's pretty simple and lots of fun, even for large groups.

    As for Scrabble, it depends on the group. (Like any game, I suppose) If you have one or two highly-competitive players, one player who tries the whole game to spell "Oxygen" because they got an "X" and a "G" in their opening hand, and another player who just spells "Cat" and "Bow" and "It," it ends up being a massively frustrating and boring game.

    1. We play something similar to sticks called Hand and Foot. I suspect both are variations on Canasta, and the version we play has some house rules that make it a bit different, but the main gist is explained here: http://www.pagat.com/rummy/handfoot.html

  2. Thank you! Our kids are having fun and learning new things . This looks like so much fun for them.

    lessons for kids


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