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Bring Board Games Back!

Updated: May 1

How one game night sparked the realization of the importance of a lost tradition

Audrey Roeder

Staff Writer 

April 30, 2024

Board games were a staple in my household growing up. My family on my mom’s side would have a game night almost every other month. Although traditional board games will always have a special place in my heart, I’m also quite fond of some of the more unique board games. When it’s just me and my mom we play the typical games; Sorry, Life, Monopoly, etc. However, when my whole family gets together we play some pretty interesting games. 

Due to the chaos of life, our family game nights are a rare occurrence but when we get the opportunity to gather around a table to play a game we always have a blast. At our most recent game night, we played Unusual Suspects, a game of essentially stereotyping people. 

Based on what I just said, I know this game probably doesn’t sound like much fun to most people, and some might even find this game controversial (according to some Amazon reviewers), but I thought this game was a blast.

The object of the game is to figure out who, out of 12 unusual suspects, committed the crime. Before playing, ensure you have 3-16 players who are 14 or older, about 20 minutes per round, a table, and the game. To set up the game shuffle the Question cards, place them face down forming the Questioning Deck, and repeat this process with the Guilty Party cards. Then shuffle the Suspect cards and place the top 12 cards in a 3x4 grid (starting with a row of 3 on top). Next, choose one player to be the Witness (the rest of the players are the Detectives) place the Yes card and the No card in front of the Witness, and have them list the players' names on the Investigation Pad. Finally, the Witness needs to secretly look at one of the Guilty Party cards and locate the selected suspect from the card in the grid of cards on the table. Now the game can begin!

When it comes time to start playing the game, keep in mind there are several rounds containing 3 phases. Now I won’t bore you with all the specific details of each phase, if you want to play it just go play it, but I will give you a brief overview of how to play.

Phase 1 is The Questioning. To start, one Detective picks a Question card and reads it aloud, to which the Witness answers by placing either the Yes or the No card next to said Question card, bringing Phase 1 to an end.

Phase 2 is The Trial. After hearing the Witness’s answer to the question the Detectives must converse and decipher which of the Suspects do not match the Witness’s answer. The Detectives can eliminate as many suspects as they want, as long as they eliminate one. If the Detectives eliminate the Guilty Suspect then the game is over. The phase ends once the Detectives decide to stop eliminating Suspects.

The 3rd and final phase is The Verdict. At the start of this phase, the Detectives write the number of Suspect cards they eliminated this round on the Investigation Pad. Then, multiply the round number by the number of Suspect cards eliminated and write the total in the corresponding box. Once this is complete the phase and round ends, prompting the start of the next round. The players should start the new round in Phase 1.

Like most games, there are two endings to this game, winning and losing. Everyone, including the Witness, loses if the Detectives eliminate the Guilty Suspect. To win the Detectives must eliminate all 11 Innocent Suspects.

Overall I thought this was a pretty fun game; however, I think the enjoyability of the game depends on who you play with. Playing with my family prompted lots of laughs and memories. I thought this game was a fun spin-off of the traditional board game, Guess Who, except you can play this game with more than two people. However, what I loved most about this game was that it allowed my family to spend valuable time together and make amazing memories.

Even though every game is different, they all have one thing in coming; they bring people together. Regardless of the game, board games are a great way to spend time with family or friends without being distracted by technology. 

It saddens me to say that it seems like board games have slowly started to phase out as online games have become more popular. This is unfortunate because board games are a great way to spend time with someone face-to-face while playing a fun game. While traditional board games will always be classics, I fear that people are starting to think they’re too boring and outdated. Even though I disagree with this statement, I’d like to point out there are thousands of games, all with different objectives and themes. So for someone to say they don’t board games, I think they’re wrong. I think they simply haven’t found the right board games for them. 

So I’ll leave you with this, instead of wasting countless hours playing “Fortnite”, “GTA”, or “Forza”; find a board game for you and your friends or family to play together. Spend time with them. Have a genuine conversation with them. Form a better connection with them. Take a break from technology. Simply, be present.

I hope you didn’t get too bored reading this!

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