Bananagrams: Quit Monkeying Around!

Bananagrams is one of those classic word games that almost everyone has an edition of sitting around somewhere in their closet. With the trademark little felt banana bag and those user-friendly letter tiles, you can easily mix and match words to create your own crossword and be the first to shout out “Bananagrams!” If you’re a fan of classic word games like Scrabble or Boggle but are looking for something a little more fast-paced, you’ll love Bananagrams.

Arranging the Tiles

Bananagrams is an incredibly simple and fast-paced game that uses small tiles to form words in the shape of a grid. In this sense, it is incredibly similar to Scrabble, although Bananagrams gets rid of the game board and speeds things up by allowing each player to make their own grid. To make their words, players get to use 144 tiles that all come in a cute little bag shaped like a banana.

Bananagrams begins with all of the tiles being flipped and placed in the center of the table. Each player then takes 12 tiles and begins arranging them into words in the form of a grid, similar to the way a crossword is set up. Once a player uses up all of the letters in their bunch, they shout “peel!” and everyone has to take a new tile from the pool in the center.

If you’re stuck with a bunch of bum letters that you can’t place, then you can dump one of your tiles and draw three more. While this can help you dig your way out of the hole, beware! You may only find yourself deeper in the pit with more tiles you can’t use. Once the pool in the center of the table is almost empty, then the first person to use all of their tiles shouts out “Bananagrams!” and wins the game.

Variant Rules

Bananagrams is incredibly simple, with hands usually taking as little as 5 minutes. However, there are different variant rules within the game itself that you can use depending on where you are and how complex you want the game to be. The Banana Smoothie of the board game gives everyone their own bunch of tiles right at the start of the game, dividing it equally among everyone. This allows you to plan out your whole crossword right at the beginning.

The Banana Cafe version of Bananagrams is meant to be played in public when waiting for service. Players play with 21 tiles and are allowed to dump tiles and draw more if they need to, but they don’t have to “peel” and force anyone else to draw more tiles. You can also play the Banana Solitaire version of Bananagrams to play the game all on your own, competing against your own best time.

Bananagrams Sequels

There are several sequels to the original Bananagrams board game that allow you to play it with new and complex rules. Bananagrams Duel! turns the board game into a two-player word game that uses both letter cubes and Banana cards. Players use any side of their 12 letter cubes to try to create a crossword grid, competing for Banana cards to see who can win the most rounds.

Bananagrams Party adds 14 more “party power” tiles to the original game. These tiles range from The Re-Gifter to The Thief to Switcheroo, with each giving you a special power to use against your opponents. Bananagrams WildTiles adds 6 wild monkey tiles to the game, each of which can be used as whatever letter you like. This is similar to the wild tiles in Scrabble, which can help you make a new word when you can’t seem to find the letter you need. 

Bananagrams: Wordplay Never Tasted So Sweet

Bananagrams is playable by 1-8 players, so you can easily play it with the whole family or just on your own when you’re killing time. It’s suitable for ages 7 and up, as anyone can grasp the simplicity of the rules. Playing time lasts around 15 minutes, although you’ll definitely be playing best of 5 or best of 10.

Buy Bananagrams and add this classic tile game to your collection of word games!

 

The Game of Life: When Art Truly Does Imitate Life

Life is one of those classic board games that you played with your siblings growing up—it’s packed to the brim with nostalgia and fun memories. But this old board game more than stands the test of time, as recent versions of it have gotten rid of some of the outdated mechanics of the game and added fun new elements. Life allows you to build a life of your own in a matter of minutes, weaving around the board in an effort to make the most of the short time you have before you reach retirement.

Spinning Through Life

The game of Life is meant to mirror one’s actual life, allowing you to do things like choose a career, marry, have children, and buy a home. Unlike real life, where these decisions are made freely, Life forces you to make your choices based on a spinner. Players will advance through the spaces on the game board by spinning a spinner located in the center of the board. 

Some choices give you several options. For example, when you get to the career space, you get to pick several cards to choose from in order to decide which career best fits you. The marriage space, however, is not optional. Players are given a little miniature car to move around the board, adding small pegs to represent a spouse and kids that get added along the way.

Life Tiles

Like real life, one of the biggest goals of the game of Life is to earn as much money as possible by the time you reach retirement. Money is doled out in the form of little pieces of colored paper, which you spend and earn at various points throughout the game. There’s also an option to earn money by buying stocks, which are represented by a number 1-9. Whenever a player spins and lands on that number, you earn money.

Players will collect what are called Life Tiles whenever they land on a space or hit a certain milestone. These tiles can give you money through sudden windfalls such as winning the lottery; or, they can hit you with unforeseen expenses like a midlife crisis or damage to your home. These are some of the most fun and silly elements of the game, as things may be going great for you until botched plastic surgery saddles you with debt!

One of the most interesting things about this board game is that the choices you make may not always be what you would do in real life. Sure, who doesn’t want to own a mansion?  But in Life, drawing the mansion card saddles you with a hefty bill and no discernable benefit, whereas the cheap trailer will do just fine. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase insurance, which can save you in the event that you land on a space that burns your house down.

Life Sequels

Life has been out for over 60 years, cementing its place in history as a classic family board game. Since its first release, there have been countless sequel board games with new and interesting variations. The Electronic Banking version of Life makes things slightly easier (and more up to date) by tracking everyone’s funds with a card system instead of using cash.

Life: Twists and Turns has several updates, giving you new choices and possibilities as well as a “LIFEpod” that helps you track time and manage your careers and families. There’s also a Star Wars version of the board game called Life: A Jedi’s Path that forces you to do battle, go on missions, and build your lightsaber as you enhance your connection to the Force. Will you choose the righteous Jedi Path or the tempting Dark Path?

Breeze Your Way Through Life

Life is playable by 2-6 players, which makes it the perfect board game for families of all sizes. It’s suitable for ages 8 and up, so it’s a great way to introduce younger players to things like money management. Life has a playing time of around an hour, giving you plenty of time to explore the board and see what fate has in store for your life.

Buy Life today and enjoy the wacky fun of this nostalgic classic!

 

Mahjong: The Perfect Blend Of Luck, Skill, and Strategy

Mahjong is a game of great fun that requires more than just skill. Players will draw tiles to try to complete matching sets, drawing and discarding them at will until they have a perfect mahjong. While Mahjong is similar to the card game Rummy, its use of traditional Chinese characters,  symbols, and its focus on the directions of the wind elevate it beyond just your average game.

Mahjong goes all the way back to the Qing dynasty in China, but it’s since spread throughout the world. For every country in the world that Mahjong is played in, there is a unique regional variant. But while the rules and scoring methods may differ slightly, Mahjong always relies on the same blend of luck, skill, and strategy to win.

Simples, Honors, and Bonus Tiles

The goal of each round of Mahjong is to get what is called a mahjong, which is when you get four sets of three tiles and one pair of matching tiles. A set of three is called either a “pung,” which is three of the same tile, or a “chow,” which is three consecutive numbers within the same suit. The pair, however, must always be two identical tiles. Because you start the game with a hand of 13 tiles, you must achieve your mahjong by drawing the 14th tile you need to complete your set.

Although different regional versions of the game may vary, Mahjong is normally played with a standard set of 144 tiles or cards. The tiles are split into three separate categories: simples, honors, and bonus tiles. Within the category, there are three different suits that are each numbered from 1 to 9. The simples suits are dots, bamboo, and characters.

The honors tiles have two different suits: winds and dragons. Winds are separated into the four compass directions, while there are three different colors of dragons. Lastly, there are two suits of bonus tiles: flowers and seasons. These have four of each. The bonus tiles are special in that, any time you draw a bonus tile, you don’t add it to your hand, but set it aside to be used to boost your score in the event that you win a hand.

Hands, Rounds, and Matches

The game of Mahjong begins with all the tiles getting placed face down on the table and shuffled. Players will then stack a row of 18 tiles with two tiles in each stack in front of them. They then push the rows together to form a square wall, after which they cut the deck based on the role of a die and each takes their hand of 13 tiles. Players then go around the circle drawing tiles from the wall and discarding their own tiles into the center of the table for other players to draw.

The way that this tile or card game is played is through a number of hands, rounds, and matches. There are at least four hands within each round and four rounds within a match. During each hand, one of the four players gets to take the position of dealer. If the dealer wins their hand, then they get to go again as dealer for an additional hand. Once all four players have taken their turn as dealer, then the round ends.

Explore the Beauty of Mahjong

Mahjong is playable by 3-4 players depending on which rules you’re playing with. It’s suitable for ages 8 and up, so it’s an excellent tile or card game to use to teach younger players about strategy. Mahjong has a playing time of around 2 hours, so it’s definitely a special event any time you sit down to play a match with friends.

Because Mahjong requires you to have a bit of luck, many players think that where they sit, how they hold the pieces, and even what they wear can influence the outcome and help them win the game. Whether you’re an experienced Mahjong player or you’re learning it for the first time, you’ll be sure to appreciate the rich and beautiful history of this game. Buy Mahjong today and may the winds blow in your favor!

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