Monopoly is one the games Iowa Information sports editor Scott byers likes to play with family.

My mother and my sister came to our house for a visit this weekend.

It was a rare treat to have them both come here. My mom tries to visit us once a year, but she gets cold easily and here in the icebox portion of the state, that means she only has about a three-month window in terms of weather where it wouldn’t be a miserable experience for her.

She also has had a few health issues in recent years and doesn’t like to make the three and a half hour drive from the southern portion of the state by herself.

My sister likes to come up. My theory though is that it is more to visit my dogs than it is to see me. One of them was a gift from my sister, who had rescued it when it was a puppy. The thing is my sister is a lot like my wife in that she has several different jobs, and the combination of responsibilities means it is very hard for her to find time off.

We spent the first few hours just visiting, then went to get some supper. When we came back, it was time to break out the board games.

Playing board games or cards or some combination of the two is our idea of entertainment. The same is true on my wife’s side of the family. In fact, one of her little brothers is so into it that he is one of the organizers of something called the Cardboard Caucus in Des Moines. It’s an event that will be held Oct. 25-27 at the Hilton Garden Inn in West Des Moines for board game enthusiasts that has a library of more than 1,500 games to participate in.

If you look in the “about us” at, my brother-in-law is the one who is described as having the role of the “scruffy-looking Nerf Herder.”

While my wife’s family tends to dive into the deep end, enjoying adventure/fantasy type games (Chad’s favorite games are Scythe and Carcassone, two I’d never even heard of), my side of the family leans toward the classics. We did play Ticket To Ride this weekend, which is one of my stepson’s favorites. That one does require a little more thought as you try to build train routes around the nation. But for the most part, our choices were the mindless games that are more luck than skill. The ones that allow you to be competitive without over thinking it. That way you can keep the conversation going without losing track of what you are doing in the game.

Here is an unofficial list of a few of the board games I enjoy. It’s in no particular order, and I don’t have room for them all.

Monopoly: It’s odd that I’d list this first, but it was the first one that came to mind. I have mixed feelings about this classic game. It’s fun at first, but it takes too long and by the end gets a little monotonous. My stepson has an Okoboji-themed version of the game and having properties you are familiar with does make it a little more fun for some reason.


Sorry: Simple to play, and there it’s a lot of fun every time you get to send someone back to start.

Aggravation: Sorry’s cousin. Same concepts. Different shape of board with some shortcuts available if you are willing to gamble.

Ticket to Ride: There are so many different ways you can go about this game, which deals with building train tracks to get to your destination. If I were to try to describe it to someone that hasn’t played it would seem complicated, but my sister crushed us all and she fully admitted even after winning that she was never quite sure what her plan was.


Uno/Skip-Bo: I consider some card games to be basically the same as a board game. These are classics and fun for all ages.

Apples to Apples/Cards Against Humanity: Kind of the same game but one is the PG version and one is decidedly more for adults. Interesting because you can learn a lot about the personalities of the people you are playing with. Always good for laughs.

Yahtzee: I have the classic version, a Pittsburgh Steelers version and an outdoor version with huge wooden dice and a bucket to shake them up in.


Trivial Pursuit: I once had a friend that told me I had the most “useless knowledge” of anyone she’d ever seen. Well, it’s not useless when you can use it to win the game.