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Experience some time with other real-life people by diving into these tabletop games


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"Pelicans love pollywog falafels" is nonsensical gibberish — but say it while holding your tongue (ah!) and you might get some giggles. That's the premise of Hasbro's Speak Out game: draw a card from the deck, and with a plastic mouthpiece preventing you from closing your mouth, attempt to say the phrase printed on it. The other players then have to fight through their laughter to interpret the babble. Whoever guesses correctly wins the card, and the player (or team) with the most cards at the end is triumphant. So if the election results have your family members hurling epithets at each other, at least Speak Out will have you looking and sounding like buffoons together. As long as you don't mind sharing a mouthpiece with Uncle Fudd. Psych! Ages 16 and up; $20 (CD)


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Aspiring industrialists, listen up! In the award-winning game Ticket to Ride, players collect cards featuring different types of train cars in an effort to claim railroad tracks across America, or (in separately sold installments of the game) India, Africa, Asia, Europe and even on the high seas (via shipping routes). Two to five players compete to acquire the biggest network of rails, through tunnels, onto ferries, city-to-city, station-to-station. Plunge into the age of early 20th-century travel, exploration and commerce. If you're ambitious enough, world domination. Build an empire! Just don't let it go to your head, kid; I hear imperialist tendencies aren't really en vogue these days. Ages 8 and up; $50 (CD)


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In the vein of the ever-popular Carcassonne — a historical, kingdom-building tile game— comes Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King. Each player starts with a castle, and after collecting gold to buy more tiles (more territory for your fiefdom!), seeks to become the dominant clan on the windswept Scottish island. With a number of scoring rules and various components, it's a bit more complex than it sounds. And you thought being a ruthless conqueror was going to be easy? Don't despair ("Keep the heid!"), the back of the box says it's "Lots of Fun" and features "Woolly Sheep." Ages 8 and up; $37 (CD)


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If you smell a rat, chances are you're right. In Betrayal at House on the Hill, a perennial favorite, players roam a vermin-infested haunted mansion, moving room to room (the "Exploration" phase) until one player is revealed as a traitor and joins an evil entity (the "Haunt" phase). The other participants must then collaborate against the zombies, cannibals, vampires or whatever (there are 50 different "haunt" scenarios) to get out alive. But you're at the mercy of the spirits within the creepy house; draw an Event card or an Omen and you have to follow the instructions — your fate is sealed. Run! Ages 12 and up; $50 (CD)


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George Lucas, you've created a monster. This December, another "epic space opera," called Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will grace movie screens worldwide, bringing Chewbacca Velvet Leggings and Star Wars-themed nonfat dairy creamer (yes, those exist) into your life again. Perhaps it is your destiny, then, that you'll also pick up a collectible dice and card game. Star Wars: Destiny allows two players to choose a team of heroes or villains (from the Force, Command and Rogue factions) with whom they'll go to battle in a back-and-forth of "what if" situations. Roll the dice, activate special abilities, and damage your enemies; then binge-watch the entire anthology until you're mumbling incoherently in Galactic Basic. Ages 10 and up; $15 (CD)


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Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is a game of fantasy, unless you can wrap your head around the ideas of the late Zechariah Sitchin, in which case it might be an example of art imitating life. Sitchin outlined in his book The 12th Planet the idea that humanity was created and enslaved by an ancient race of hostile interdimensional extraterrestrials, kind of like the giant Gnostic Archons or, perhaps, the Nephilim in Genesis. In the game, the evil gods are called the Old Ones, and they're on the verge of escaping from a cosmic imprisonment into our world. Your mission, with fellow investigators, is to seal the portals through which the madness of the 12 beings could emerge, and stop cults from summoning them, or risk going insane. Psychedelics not included. Ages 14 and up; $40 (CD)


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One of the most popular entries at this year's Gen Con, the largest board game convention in North America, was Oceanos. Rumored to be the favorite game of its acclaimed designer Antoine Bauza, it takes players into the depths of the sea in a submarine adventure worthy of Jules Verne's imagination. Score points in your search for elusive creatures and coral reefs, send divers on treasure hunts and upgrade your vessel (get all 5 puzzle pieces) for speed. But beware... of the Kraken. Ages 8 and up; $32 (CD)


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Harry's saga may have concluded with the play version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this summer (or does Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them give it legs?), but Potterheads can relive the magic in a new game, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. Assume the role of Harry, Ron, Hermione or Neville and cooperate to defend the Hogwarts castle from villains. Each character possesses his or her own deck of cards, used to acquire spells, employ Dark Arts against evil and gain influence. Magic isn't real, you say? Rumor has it if you play this game in the presence of a Ouija board and clap three times, all of your libertarian friends turn into socialists. Ages 11 and up; $50 (CD)


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Feeling apocalyptic lately? So too has the paranormal group F.A.I.T.H. (Federal Authority for the Interdiction of Transdimensional Horrors) in their defense of the city of Haven against the 7 Deadly Sins. In The Others, the occult Hell Club has invited the Sins into our dimension, and their intent is to destroy. As a Leader, Bruiser, Sniper or Fixer, your goal is to fight back. Unless, of course, you play as one of the Sins. Terror, Corruption and Redemption stories give the game a multitude of outcomes, all with the aim of purifying the remnants of humanity and expelling the monstrous Sins from Earth. This game hasn't been directly endorsed by the Vatican, but should be. Ages 14 and up; $68 (CD)


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There is no blood, no destruction, no evil, no violence in Sushi Go Party!, the expanded reprise of Sushi Go! You guessed it: this game is about sushi. It's a classic addition to the card-drafting genre where, after being dealt a hand, players pick a card (a la carte-style) and pass their unwanted ones to a neighbor, refining (hopefully) their hand with each round. Each card is assigned a particular ingredient (wasabi, eel, nigiri, etc.) or tool (chopsticks, takeout box, etc.), to the benefit or detriment of your roll. Tofu, for example, is worth 2 points, or 6 points if you hold two of them and none if you hold three. "Tofu," the game explains, "is really good for you, but eat too much and you could get sick of it." There's a subtle and profound wisdom in there somewhere. Ages 8 and up; $22 (CD)

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