1. Scrabble -- This one's a classic that actually rewards you for being good at something other than rapidly pushing your thumb into a plastic controller.
2. Pinochle -- People don't play enough cards anymore. Pinochle is highly addictive and only requires a moderate level of skill -- I know, because I play against these types all summer (they're my family members). And you can play in groups of three, four or six.
3. Risk -- In these days of real-life global domination, a game like Monopoly seems way too tame. No, Risk is the real deal. Nothing beats the feeling you'll get when you wipe little Timmy off the board. (OK, it's not so good if he cries.) Strategy is simple: Never try to win a two-front war in Europe.
4. Balderdash -- If you haven't played this, it's the game where everyone writes a definition of a really random word. Then, all definitions are read aloud -- including the real definition -- and players guess which are fake. Kind of a twist on Scrabble, but you'll be laughing for days at some of the crazy stuff people come up with.
5. Bocce -- Even with a name like McGregor, believe it or not, I'm one-quarter Italian. Perhaps that's why I love Bocce ball -- the national sport of Italy after soccer. Ideally, you do need a place to play where the grass is kept nice and short.
6. Nerf Football -- A cheap little Nerf football will provide you with hours of fun. Of course you can line up the neighbor kids on the front lawn for a real game of football. But even more fun is just throwing the ball back and forth, with points lost for dropped balls -- or extra points for stylish catches.
7. Kick the Can -- It's hide-and-seek with a twist: One person gets the near-impossible job of protecting the can, and everybody else hides. For full rules, check out www.streetplay.com.
8. Horseshoes -- This is proof that good games are often the product of boredom plus whatever items happen to be lying around. In the case of horseshoes, it was probably blacksmiths who dreamed up throwing heavy, odd-shaped pieces of metal to pass the time. That's a fun image to contemplate as you alternate between swigs on your PBR and wildly flinging the irons.
Publication date: 06/10/04