Monopoly was only slightly better than LIFE with my kids. TOO MANY ways to cheat, but not that end the game faster. And, everyone wants to be the same game piece. And no one wants to pay taxes and someone always cries. Not a good choice.
It took years of experimenting but we finally settled on a few we could OCCASIONALLY play together without needing a family intervention therapist.
CADOO. This had enough silliness and action to keep even the one-who-shall-not-be-named happy. What's not to like about drawing, modeling with clay and acting, right? Ok, you can fiddle with the cards and cheat and get one you're good at, but it never matters in Caddo like in Monopoly or Life.
Blokus is one of my all-time favorite games! It's very, very hard to cheat except by hiding game pieces. And, normally I'm the only one put-out by the color choice I end up with! It takes a little bit of peace and quiet too, to work out the right moves. It's not about silly, but rather about SMART and that, to my mind at least, is a darned good thing! We've outgrown Cadoo, but Blokus still comes out when we're desperate to reconnect with each other.
Apples to Apples Junior was a very, very popular gift one year. It has the right amount of silly--one player is the "judge" and has to decide which is the most appropriate comparison. It doesn't necessarily come out rational. In fact it's often hilarious.
A few years ago we upgraded to the "grown up" edition. This has a very good effect on developing vocabulary for the SAT--a pleasant side effect. We like it, but the one who can tell you exactly which hair care product to use for any occasion still has the vocabulary of a 2nd grader because that "one" will not read so it isn't always FUN to play this version!
For Christmas this year we entered the 21st Century and got a Wii. Occasionally, when I remember we have it, I have no problems getting someone to bowl against me or play some equally normal game on it. No one will play basketball against P because he plays it whenever possible. It's fun though to see the mighty fall and whip his little.....at bowling or archery or something like that! Although some parents are naive and think you can't cheat at video games--of course you can. There are entire books of "cheat codes" published for that reason!! Still, cheating at Wii bowling is not really worth the effort!
These are the games for all three of us to play together. I've always found that playing one-on-one with only one child (usually when the other was on a sleepover) yields the best results. B and I played hours and hours of Mancala and P and I played entire war's worth of Battleship--I even used this game in homeschool for graphing practice.
For myself there is only one game: SCRABBLE! (I also LOVE WORDS WITH FRIENDS). I'll try any version, but always go back to the original. SCRABBLE is a book persons dream game. All those lovely words.
And tonight, I'm really hoping that the ladies at Church Game Night love Scrabble, too!