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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 01.09.09
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Family game night: the rules

Object

The object is to play a board game together as a family without losing one's temper or sanity.

Setup

There are two ways to set up the game. The first is to remove all the pieces from the box and begin play immediately based on an approximate knowledge of the rules. The second way is to delay play while a player insists on reading the rules for everyone to hear.

Players decide which version to play by bickering about it for five minutes, using such phrases as "The time we've taken bickering could have been spent reading the rules," and "Let's just play!"

Once the rules are agreed upon, the players equip themselves with various items before play can begin, namely the Snacks of Distraction and the Slurpy Drinks of Doom.

Players take turns retrieving these items; as soon as one player sits down with his/her items, the next one gets up. A player may, however, ask another player who is already up to retrieve his/her items.

For example, Player A asks Player B for the Potato Chips of Commotion. Player B may either agree or refuse. If Player B refuses, he/she must explain why (ex: "Because you wouldn't share your Gum of Snappiness"). Player B is then designated a Big Meanie for the duration of the game.

Players next choose their tokens. When playing for the first time, the choices are Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue. Upon subsequent plays, because someone didn't put the game away properly, the choices are a Penny, a Small Rock, a Checker, and a Severed Barbie(r) Foot.

Playing the Game

Players roll the dice to see who goes first, making sure to discuss in detail whether it's the highest or lowest who goes first, whether it's one die or two, and what happens in the case of a tie.

Players then take turns rolling the dice and moving their tokens around the board. However, one player will secretly assign him/herself the role of Jumper, occasionally playing out of turn and placing the game in Pandemonium.

During each round, players have the option of getting up from the board to refresh their Snacks of Distraction or Slurpy Drinks of Doom. Normally this is done just before it is the player's turn to move. This continues until the player known as the Killjoy (usually the oldest player) declares No More. The remaining players then congregate in Complaint Corner to discuss the unfairness of the decision and how hungry they are.

Throughout the game, players may attempt to distract other players by various means. These include:

    - tapping fingers

    - breathing heavily

    - sniffing

    - chewing the Snacks of Distraction with their mouths open

    - making such sounds as "Boola boola boola waggo wa wa" over and over

    - whistling tunelessly

If Player A provokes Player B into yelling, "Shut up!" Player A earns 1 point. If Player B is subsequently reprimanded by the Killjoy for yelling "Shut up!" Player A earns 2 points.

When Player A spills his/her Slurpy Drink of Doom, he/she must retrieve the Paper Towel of Perplexity before play can continue.

At any point during the game, the Killjoy may declare That's Enough. This puts a Damper on the game. To get the game out of Damper, a player must make a bodily noise. This puts the game into Giggles. The Killjoy may or may not join in the Giggles, depending on his/her mood. In fact, a player who puts the game into Giggles runs the risk of being Expelled by the Killjoy.

The Killjoy may terminate play at any moment, so watch it.

Ending the Game

The game ends either when one player is declared a winner or when everyone's had enough and decides to do something where they can all get along, namely playing individual video games on their laptop computers and iPods.

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