Today’s post comes from Verily Sherrilee

I’m not sure exactly when my family got our first game of Aggravation. It’s like Parcheesi; six players move their pieces around the board to their safe home base. Until you are home safe, if any other player lands on your space, back to the beginning you go. My father didn’t care for it much; he said that since it was a dice game, it was just a game of chance so not very challenging. For a while my sister and my mom and I played against each other – each taking two colors of marbles. After a few years my sister slowly withdrew leaving Nonny and me squared off playing three colors each.

We’ve played Aggravation for decades now – whenever we visit one another, out comes the game and the marbles. My game board had duct tape on the bottom side holding it together and for many years at her house, we had one oddly-colored yellow marble. We each have a favorite die (although I do trade off every now and then). Having gone up against each other for so many years, I can honestly say that Nonny and I play exactly the same game. Aggressive right out of the chute, addicted to the center spot and wildly competitive. Very very rarely does either of us make a move that the other can’t predict.

My dad was right – it’s just the dice. Nonny agrees with this assessment. But we keep playing anyway and while we do win about the same number of games, the pattern is weird. Two years ago when she was here, she won 8 out of 9 games but this past Thanksgiving week I won 10 out of 11. The fact that both Nonny and I remember these stats should probably be disturbing.

What board game makes you competitive?

43 thoughts on “Aggravation!”

  1. Oh my that is one of the games that would send one or more of us over the edge. Parcheesi is also like that and I really preferred the latter, for no real reason. The worst though to bring in a family squabble was the board game Risk, and we only ever played Monopoly with my father one time. He was ruthless. Loved this post and so glad you are still able to share that game, and I find it cute that you remember the stats. Of course I am a stat-a-holic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My father and middle sister were the Risk aficionados in the family. I’m also not crazy about Chess or Go – they feel more like work than games to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I am not competitive with board games — I usually just want them to be over. Now sports and karate — that’s where I get competitive. I’ve always found it amusing when women are competing in karate — at least when I competed at the under belt levels (non-black belt). The women are usually sincerely super nice to each other — chatting while waiting, saying stuff like “wow, nice job!” or “you did great” after performing. I never noticed the men doing that sort of thing.

    Of course, i would be polite and chat and so forth — but I never felt the need to cheer on a competitor or tell her how good she did (unless she was from my school). My usual reaction *in my head* was “bite me” or “you’re going down, girl!”

    I haven’t competed at Black Belt yet, but I think I will in the Spring. I miss competing.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Mexican Train isn’t technically a board game, but Husband and I have played it frequently the past few years when there’s not much else going on. We each take two positions, like you and Nonny doubling/tripling up, to keep it more interesting. I don’t usually consider myself competitive, but I sometimes wonder how I can get SO frustrated, feeling like the universe is out to “get me” during this game.

    (I also like to make varying designs with the dominoes – each number of dice is a different color, which makes some people wonder, but there you are.)


  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    We have a family joke about Aggravation. We played many board games with the kids when they were grade school age and up. Aggravation was in the mix, only Lou could never remember the name–and called it Irritation. We still don’t let him forget that!

    I have not played this in years, but Risk is the game that brings out my “Gotta Win” side.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have probably never heard of Racko. We played it to death when I was a child. It is a pretty quick game. I hated Monopoly for its length. Then one day in a game store in MOA I saw it and bought it. My wife and daughter played it to death. My daughter still has the game, but her kids, who like board games, are not all that fond of it. You put ten numbered cards in a rack so only you can see them. The trick is to arrange the cards from lowest to highest drawing from a pack as in gin.


  5. Backgammon brings my competitive side out of dormancy.

    Pandemic is a rare thing in the world of board games – a game where cooperation yields better results than competition. “We all do better when we all do better”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I played a lot of backgammon in college – also the card game “Spit”. We often played with 6 or 7 folks; that can get dangerous. Also it takes forever to sort the cards back into decks!


  6. OT: in response to Renee’s comment about conservative Western relatives, I mentioned a story I had written along similar lines. The Midwestern/Western divide in families I think is common. This is based on incidents my mother and sister had with the Western branch of the family. The dinner incident is close to nonfiction. It happened on a trip in which Sandy got very ill on our drive home from San Jose.


  7. My son while in HS had made friends with kids from Duluth, Superior and Silver Bay through speech. They would meet our house to play board games and watch movies. Their favorite game was Life. Then as a reunion after their first year in college, they met again. Suddenly Life wasn’t any fun to play. Too real.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was thinking the other day of the local dime store, the Five and Dime, the Ben Franklin. The back end, raised a few step above the front section, was the models, games, and toy sections. It had piles of games on the shelves. Piles of models, too, for which I saved my money. Books and books of paper dolls. The Butterick patterns were back there, too. So much for sale in such a small space. Up front a hot nuts counter. Anyone remember those?


      1. The five and dime in Ames was Montgomery Wards. My parents always called it Monkey Wards.

        Those places were magic for a kid, as they were filled to the rafters with affordable (ie “cheap”) amusements. Many sold pets in the back of the store, so there would be aquaria bubbling away with colorful fish in them and the sharp whistle of parakeets cutting the air. The Monkey Wards in Ames had the best assortment of candy in town, including novelty candy like wax lips, Pez, candy cigarettes, marshmallow peanuts and all. Most dimestores had a popcorn machine, which gave the whole store a distinctive smell. The bigger ones had lunch counters that served sandwiches, sundaes and sodas of all sorts.

        My family made a purchase in that store that changed my life. It was a radio small enough to be used in my bedroom, so it became my first personal radio. Before plastic became the ubiquitous material for cheap products there was bakelite, and this was an ivory bakelight AM radio with tubes inside. It hummed when first turned on. At night when I was supposed to be asleep the Airline radio was my secret little magic carpet for visiting the world beyond Ames. a world where there was country music, rhythm & blues and a gritty sort of rock music made by musicians who weren’t white.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. The Woolworth’s in downtown Minneapolis had hot nuts as part of a large bank of varieties of bulk candy. As I recall, there was a carousel in the middle of the hot nuts section.
    When I was too young to leave at home, my mother would sometimes take me with her shopping downtown. Part of every shopping trip were visits to Kresge’s and Woolworth’s. Both had lunch counters and, as you mentioned, a little bit of just about everything.
    I particularly remember the downstairs floors. They had a distinctive aural atmosphere produced by a pair of motorized displays and also from the fact that parakeets were for sale down there. One of the displays was for a toy known as a Jacobs Ladder, comprised of several wooden blocks connected by ribbons in such a way that when you turn over the top block, the rest cascade down alternately with a clacking sound. The display was set up so that the top block was turned back and forth producing a perpetual clacking. (These were presumably for sale, hence the display, but they couldn’t have been a profit center.)

    The other display was for a kind of whistle in the shape of a bird. When it was filled with water, it made a trilling, gargling sound. The display was set up to blow, repeated tootles through the whistle. All day long.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. We didn’t have Jacob’s Ladder but did have that drinking bird – wish I could remember it’s actual name.
    I do get competitive playing Scrabble. One of my Grandmothers had Racko and we cousins spent many hours playing it. My best friend and I played Life a bunch. We altered the rules so that after we passed the final opportunity to have kids, we turned around and traveled back to getting married, and continued this until we had several carloads of kids. Who cared about the Day of Reckoning? Our objective was to amass the most kids.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It’s not a board game, but I’m competitive in Boggle. The 3-minute rounds suit my short attention span and you don’t have to wait your turn since everyone plays at once. Plus it’s fairly quiet, except for the shaking at the beginning.


  11. I sometimes like Scrabble. i am not a game player, stemming from all the times, as an only child, that I had to play games by myself.


  12. We called the game “Marbles”. Well before we were married, my now ex-wife, made a point of attacking me on every occasion. Then in our teenage years she relented and never attacked me. I wonder why? Maybe had she continued to punish me, I might never have become attracted to her. My how things can change with the throw of a die!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My clan has always loved games! Somewhat of a given, considering my overly competitive twin brothers (they’ve been known to ‘bend the rules’ sometimes)… My dad and I used to play Blackjack and ‘Kings in the Corners.’ My brothers, sister and I would play Monopoly, Life, Risk, Hearts, Spades, Canasta, Uno… We’d love it when my aunt & uncle would come up from Cloquet for an evening of ‘Crazy Smear’ with my folks because it meant there’d be snacks to pilfer.

    But…there is one game that my brother discovered that has become our favorite. It was a 1981 Milton Bradley flash in the pan, now long out-of-print but can still be found on eBay. It was an attempt at a ‘crossover’ with the game’s theme meant to appeal to D & D folks (even though it was a straight-up card game, not a role-playing game). It was called DragonMaster.

    The idea is that you get a ‘bank’ of plastic gems when you start. There is a deck of cards with suits & ranks. Each player gets a turn at being the dealer. The dealer has to play five games, one hand each. Each game has it’s own goal: First or Last, don’t take the first or last trick. Wizards, don’t take any of that rank. Dragonlords, don’t take any of that suit. Runesword, don’t take one specific card. Staff of Power, all 4 other games combined. The dealer can choose which game he/she wants to play but must play all five, one time each. As you’d expect, there are costs each time you take cards you’re not supposed to. As the dealer, you want to rake in as much money as possible. When not the dealer, you want to avoid paying. The person with the most money when everyone has been the dealer and played all five games, wins.

    My clan loves strategy-based games. We understand that a certain amount of luck/fortune/randomness has to take place but we like minimizing that as much as possible. Card games seem to fit that bill. As they say, you play the person across from you as much as you play your hand.

    Liked by 1 person

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