Re-Inventing Home Games
A version of this post originated as a Twitter thread from @MzMollyTL on March 26, 2020. This is an expanded post.
I am the eldest of three children. When my brother, sister, and I were younger, we used to play all sorts of games that we invented ourselves. Not all activities are transferable, but one such game was. When I had children of my own, I introduced the idea to them and we played it ourselves. The equipment changed a bit. In the 1970s and 1980s, my siblings and I used those plastic green army men and golf balls. In the 2000s, 2010s and now in 2020, we used different materials – in our case, some GoGo Crazy Bones collectible plastic figurines and a single rubber ball. Read all about this game and see if you can create your own house rules with supplies you already possess.
You will need some sort of small but topple-able set of objects, some sort of projectile or ball, and space to set up. We traditionally play with three players but I’d be curious to see how many could possibly participate or if there’s a way to create a solo play mode.
Players take their turns choosing which item / figure / meeple will be on their team or roster. This can take a while, as players try to choose their favourite figures. I know that when we used Crazy Bones, we looked for characters that had a wide base that wouldn’t tip over easily.
After every player received an equal amount of figures, then the players situate themselves in a corner or near the wall in a room that has clear empty floor space. Then, each player sets up their army / team. While setting up, players are only allowed to put their figures within arm’s length from where he/she/they would sit during the battle. When placing figures, the little people must be in front of us and visible to the other players.
We have learned from experience to try and block off any areas where the balls could roll and get stuck, like under the couch. We use blankets or pillows for that job.
Once set-up is complete, it’s time to play. We only use a single ball. When I was a child, we had multiple golf balls for more than one shot per turn. Taking turns (going clockwise in our most recent match), players roll or bounce the ball in a way to try and knock down as many of their opponent’s figures as possible. We have a lot of regulations around the process. You must be fully seated with your behind on the ground, but you can reach when you roll or throw. Players should not touch the ball until it has come to a complete stop. If the ball hits some of your own figures and they fall, then they are removed from the game; it’s “friendly fire”. However, if your figure still remains upright after an “attack” but the ball moves his/her/its position, the figure is not defeated and is allowed to stay where he/she/it was shifted. You can choose to “attack” whatever player you wish, as the turn order is pre-set.
Players take turns rolling and throwing the balls, knocking down as many of their opponent’s figures as possible. Players are eliminated from the game when they have no more figures left standing in their “army”. The winner is the player who still has upright figures. It is fascinating to see how initially, the “body count” is very high (e.g. a player can take out 8-10 figures in just one roll) but as the game progresses, it becomes harder and harder to eliminate those figures, as the spaces between the characters widen and accuracy becomes more important.
In the end, it game down to my cheerful little green meeple and my son’s team. It was a suspenseful, one-on-one battle. Sadly, although that little happy chap on my team evaded annihilation before, his luck ran out and he was defeated. I was amazed to see that the last figure standing on my son’s team, a prized team member he called “AC-DC”, was situated right in the middle of the floor!
As you can see, it’s a pretty simple game but one that has entertainment value for at least an hour and can be played by individuals of varying ages. I’d love to hear more about those invented games we created as children as well as how this game can be modified by others. Have fun!