I used to wonder why my mother sighed so much. Specifically, every time I asked her to play a board game. At some point, she confessed that she "just wasn't much of a board game person." How was this even possible? I mean, my mom seemed like a normal, rational person, possessing all of her faculties. And who in her right mind didn't love sitting down to a good board game?
Answer: mothers. Mothers who need to cook dinner or put away laundry or focus on a rush project for work or who just want to watch a little TV or surf the Internet. Mothers who are happy to interact with their children, but, REALLY? A board game? Requiring concentration and total recall of various arbitrary rules? Can we kick a soccer ball? At least we'd get some fresh air, and some exercise. Or can we play with the six Viking ships that occupy a (very cute) basket in the (don't ask) dining room? You know, to justify the fact that we continue to own six Viking ships, which we store in a (very cute) basket in the (don't ask) dining room?
Enter The Uglydoll Game, which is really sort of an un-game. TUG gets my vote for best kid game ever, for the following reasons:
1) It's an Uglydoll tie-in, and I [heart] Uglydolls, on account of how they are un-dolls. (Clearly, "un" is a big thing with me.) They are kind of ugly (hence the name), but so ugly that they are cute, and they have interesting back stories. And, also, they don't do anything (like talk, or wet, or - remember that I have boys - launch missiles), so you are forced to use your imagination when you play with them. Or, if you can't muster any imagination, you can use them as a pillow. So, you know, there's the whole social utility thing going for them.
2) The rules are subversive, and ridiculously simple to follow, for kids and adults alike. You spread all of the cards out, face down. They don't have to be arranged in grid format, like with "Memory." In fact, I think that the instructions actually instruct you to spread 'em in a messy pile. Then you take turns flipping over a card. The person who most recently took a bath or shower goes first. Again, unlike "Memory," you don't turn the card back over - once it's face up, it's face up. The cards have pictures of Uglydolls on them, and the object of the game is to collect three cards with the same Uglydoll, so you take turns flipping over cards until you have three of a kind. Then it's a race to pick them up, and you get as many cards as you grab (so you might get all three, or two, or one), and if two people grab the same card at the same time, the first person to say "UGLY UGLY UGLY" gets the card.
It's over when the last card is flipped. And then you count how many cards each player has, and highest number of cards wins.
3) It's easy to manipulate the game to allow the youngest family member to win. As in, you take your time reaching for the cards once "three of a kind" is achieved, allowing said youngster to collect most, or all, of the cards. Well, truth be told, this kind of happens naturally, on account of how little kids are fast and excitable. The deck (small pun intended) is pretty much stacked in their favor.
4) It's okay if you misplace a card every now and then, because you end up with a few unmatched cards at the end, anyway.
5) The game is portable. It's a flippin' deck of cards, people. (Hey, another card pun!)
6) The game is also fully customizable. More often than not, we choose to play the game on an unmade bed, meaning that the messy pile of cards is on the "really messy" end of the mess spectrum, and the cards have a tendency to flip back over on their own. And that's okay, because it adds an additional degree of difficulty. "Hey, we have three Ice Bats! Oh, wait, one of the Ice Bats flipped over. WHERE THE HECK WAS THAT ICE BAT? Oh, it's probably under the big iceberg of cards that formed when the cat jumped on the bed and all of the cards slid off of the peak of Mount Duvet over there." You may lose track of cards in "Memory," but they don't actually MOVE around the playing area. I'm just sayin.'
Also, it's an unwritten rule in our household that you must say the name of the Uglydoll on a card as you flip it, and you must say the name in a bored monotone - until you hit three of a kind. "Jeero." "Target." "[Sigh] Babo." "[Sigh] Another Jeero." "Ugly Dog." "Jeero - UGLY UGLY UGLY!"
And, also again, it is another unwritten rule in our household that you must call all of the Uglydolls by their actual names except for Tray. This is Tray:
Tray's given name is derived, I think, from the three bumps on her head (each housing, I am told, a separate brain). However, we have collectively decided that she does not look like a Tray. She looks like a "Pinko." Or a "Plinko." It varies. Either she's a derogatory name for a Communist or she's a popular Price is Right game, but the point is, SHE DOESN'T LOOK ENOUGH LIKE A TRAY FOR US TO REMEMBER THAT HER NAME IS TRAY. So she's Pinko. Or Plinko.
This concludes my dissertation on why The Uglydoll Game is the best. game. ever. (From a parent's perspective - and, based on empirical evidence, from a child's perspective as well.) Now go hither and procure one hence.