Stuck at home on furlough, quarantine or just don’t want to go outside? Is the blue light of the 21st century straining your eyes? Look no further than this analog bundle of fun. The carnies at Two Bit Circus thought a kit of social games would be a nice compliment to time at home. It’s a collection I’ve carried with me for years because it covers games for almost every palate (word, logic, and dexterity) and it’s portable enough for even a weekend carry-on.

SNATCH IT. In this fast-paced, word-stealing game, there’s no slowing down for taking turns or keeping score. When you see a word, shout it out and grab it! But beware-it may not be yours for long. Any player can snatch your word at any time simply by adding a letter! As the words grow, so does the excitement.

ANOMIA. Anomia is simple. Players flip cards until the symbols on two players cards match. Matching players race to give an example of the category on their opponent’s card. Sounds easy, right? Think again. Wild Cards create unexpected matches and even losing a card can set off a chain of cascading face-offs! Look out, it could be your turn at any time!

SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception. SET is one of the most awarded games of all time! Race to find as many SETs as you can — the player with the most SETs at the end of the game wins! Play SET solo or with as many people as you can fit around the table! It’s perfect for travel, parties or as a quick after-dinner game. Fast-moving and fun, SET is a perfect for any get-together with family and friends! It’s triple matching mania that anybody can play, but nobody can stop! SET, although made as a game of fun, has a ton of educational value. SET is also a perfect game to help keep your brain active and healthy. Exercise your brain while playing a game!

Games that require minimal materials

FISHBOWL

PLAYERS: 4+ players, ages 6+
NEED: 3–4 pens, paper, a container (most bowls will do), timer

  1. FILL THE BOWL. Gather everyone into two teams. Each player will then take three strips of paper and write a word or familiar phrase on each piece. Players will have to guess the words or phrases later on, so they shouldn’t be too obscure. Each player then folds their pieces of paper in half and places them into the fishbowl. After all of the pieces of paper are in the fishbowl, someone has to shake the bowl to mix them up.
  2. PLAY THE “TABOO” ROUND. The taboo round is first up. The goal of this round is to guess as many words or phrases as possible within 1 minute.

The round progresses like this:

The starting team selects a player to go first. That player will grab a piece of paper from the fishbowl and reads it. The 1-minute timer will start as soon as they pick a piece of paper from the fishbowl. The player will then use words to get their teammates to guess the word or phrase that is on the paper. They cannot use any hand gestures — only words. They can’t say any of the words that are on the paper, as they are the “taboo” words. For example, if the word is “Cheeseburger” they might say “You eat this at McDonalds”If the player thinks the word or phrase is too hard, they can “pass” and put the paper back into the fishbowl. However, players are only do this once per round.If the team successfully guesses the word, they get to keep the piece of paper. After 1 minute has elapsed, the other team gets their turn. They also have 1-minute to guess as many words as possible.

Each team continues to take 1-minute turns until all of the pieces of paper have been removed from the fishbowl.

When the fishbowl is empty, each team counts the pieces of paper they have gathered. Each piece contributes 1 point to their score. After tallying the each team’s score, fill the fishbowl with the pieces of paper and move onto round 2!

3. PLAY THE “PASSWORD” ROUND. The next round is played in a similar fashion, with each team having 1-minute to guess as many words or phrases as possible. The team that went second last time will get to go first for this round.The main difference is that the player reading the paper can only use one word to describe the word or phrase. So, if the word is “Cheeseburger” this time they may use a single word like “McDonalds” to describe it. The team needs to remember the words that were mentioned in the first round and use the “password” as a hint. The teams continue to alternate with 1-minute rounds each, then the pieces of paper are tallied and placed back into the fishbowl.

4. PLAY THE “CHARADES ROUND. The next round plays out in the same way, with each team taking their one minute turns . The main difference here is that player with the paper cannot speak. They must use physical gestures to communicate the word on the paper. For “Cheeseburger” they might pretend to be holding and eating a cheeseburger. At the end of the round, the scores are tallied up once more. The team that has the most points from all three rounds is declared the winner!

5. BONUS ROUND. Why let the fun end there? If you want to take The Fishbowl Game to the next level, play the spooky version! Get a bed sheet from the cupboard and drape it over the player who is reading the pieces of paper. The team will then have to guess the word while the player makes movements beneath the sheet! It is very challenging and a ton of fun.

POUNCE

PLAYERS: 4+ players, ages 8+
GOAL: The object of the game is to get rid of your pounce pile. The player that finishes first yells “Pounce” and everyone else playing has to stop where they are.
HOW TO PLAY:
Everyone playing needs their own deck of cards, and you need a sheet of paper to keep score. All of the decks need to be different enough in appearance to be separated easily, because, during the course of the game, they are all going to get mixed together.

Pounce is kind of like group speed solitaire. Everyone starts be dealing a sort of solitaire set up directly in front of them. First you deal out your “Pounce Pile,” a stack of cards, twelve down and one up, totaling thirteen. Then to the right of that, deal out 4 cards in a row. I will call these 4 cards the “tray.”

Someone says “go” and the play begins.

If anyone has an Ace, either on their pounce pile or in their tray, they can immediately put that Ace out into the center of the table. If the Ace was on the pounce pile, then you can turn over the next card on the pile. If the Ace was in the tray, now leaving a space, you take the top card off of the pounce pile and move it over to fill the space and then flip over the next card on the pounce pile. All of the players stack their cards in the center of the table, moving from Ace to king by suit. Meanwhile you can play cards from your pounce pile onto your tray moving from king to two alternating red and black, like solitaire. At the same time, you are moving through your deck three cards at a time, turning them over and playing whatever cards are out. If there is an Ace out you can play it into the center. If there’s a 6 of Clubs and there’s a 5 of Clubs on a Clubs pile in the center, you play the 6 on the 5. If under that 6 of Clubs is a 4 of Diamonds and if you can play it into the center of the pile onto a 3 of Diamonds, that’s great.

You want to get as many cards as possible into the center. Each of these cards is a point in your favor, every card left over in your pounce pile counts two against you. The only other weird rule is you can’t play cards onto your pounce pile. It’s not in your best interests anyway.

So after someone yells pounce and the round is over, everyone separates the different piles into the decks. Count the cards you got out there. If you got out 25 cards and you have 4 cards left in your pounce pile, then the you score +13 because the four cards in your pounce pile count double against you (4x2=8) and you subtract your pounce score from the cards you got out (25–8=13).

If someone pounces really quickly and you still have lots of cards left in your pounce pile, you are out of luck. Let’s say you were only able to get 5 cards out and your pounce pile has 10 cards left in it; your score is -15 (5–20=-15). This is bad and you do not want this. Each game lasts until a player reaches 100 points and the final tally can easy be 103, 54, 7, and -36.

GIN RUMMY

PLAYERS: 2–4 players, ages 8+
GOAL: Each player uses their hand to form combinations of three or more cards, to get more than the 100 points required to win the game before their opponent does so when played over several hands.
DURATION: 15 minutes
RANK OF CARDS. The order of the cards, from highest to lowest, is: king (K), queen (Q), jack (J), ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, deuce and ace.As for the value of the cards, the figure cards are worth 10 points and the other cards are worth the value indicated by their pips.

THE DEAL. The deck is spread out on the table and each player takes a card. The player who draws the highest card chooses where to sit and deals out ten cards to each player, one by one, leaving the deck with the remaining cards in the center of the table. The top card of the stock deck is placed face up next to it to start the discard pile.

HOW TO PLAY:

The player who did not deal the cards starts the game, with the option to pick up the upturned card next to the stock deck, meaning that one of their cards must be discarded. If the said card is of no interest, the player passes without discarding. The opponent may, in turn, take that card and discard another, and if they are not interested, they pass without discarding. Then the first player can now take the top card off the stock deck, discarding another. The game continues, with each player in turn being able to take the top card off the stock deck or the discard pile, then discarding a card, but which may not be the same card that they just picked up from the discard pile.

The game consists of players grouping the 10 cards in their hand to make minimum combinations of three cards of the same rank or runs of the same suit. The ace can be combined with the deuce but not with the king (K). A player can fold when their hand contains only unmatched cards worth a total value of no more than 10 points, making a Knock.

As soon as a player discards their last card, they show all of their cards, announcing the number of points that are left without combining. It is not compulsory to Knock, a player can prolong the game in order to improve their hand. The best hand is to make Gin, consisting of placing down the ten cards combined.

In either case, when a player folds, exposing all of their cards, the opponent does the same, having the opportunity to get rid of those cards that were left unmatched and being able to combine cards with those exposed by the player who Knocked or announced Gin. A partial game also ends when there are only two cards left in the deck, this game is declared null and the same player cards deals out a new hand.

When a player announces Gin they win the partial game, whereas if a player Knocks, either that player or the opposing player can win it. The player wins if the value of their unmatched cards is less than the value of the opponent’s unmatched cards and the opponent wins if the value of their unmatched cards is equal to or less than that of the one that Knocked.

The cards of the opponent to the one who announced Gin or Knocked are valued after having discarded the cards that they have not combined and that link with combinations of the hand laid down by the one declared Gin or Knock.

HOW TO KEEP SCORE.

A game ends when sufficient partial games have been played to allow one player to get 100 or more points.The player who makes Gin, scores 20 points plus the value of the opponent’s unmatched cards. If the player who Knocks wins the game, they score the difference in the value of their unmatched cards with those of their opponent, while if the opponent wins, they score 10 points plus the difference in the value of the unmatched cards between both players. If there is no difference, the 10 point bonus remains.

Once the game has finished, the players note down the following bonuses: 100 points for winning a game, 20 points for each partial game won and 100 points for winning all the rounds of a game without the opponent having won any.

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