But, in fairness to all opinions, you should know that some groups believe everyone over bar/bat miztvah age "should desist" from playing games on Shabbat. You should be learning Torah instead, which cannot be learned from spending social time with other people. Unless you're using that social time to argue a minute point of Gemara. Sadly, for the person new to the frum community, this link is the second or third on Google in every Shabbat game related search I ran. Most of the others limit the discussion to games for children (or playing with children), which can justify this opinion to the new BT or conversion candidate. /rant.
Whether the idea of adults still playing board games is new to you or you're looking for some new games, maybe you'll find a new favorite game below! On long Shabbat afternoons, games can be a lifesaver from the 4 hour nap that keeps you awake until 3am.
I haven't checked these games for Shabbat-compliance (and there may be differences of opinions on that point anyway, which is why I don't even try), and I haven't played all of them.
You have your traditional games:
- Checkers, Chess, Backgammon (I'm confused why there is a halacha book titled Can I Play Chess on Shabbas?, but the comments on Amazon make me think I would hurl this book across the room in anger.)
- Puzzles: Some opposition.
- Scrabble: Some opposition, but people seem to be more united in opposing the Deluxe version, which has a frame the tiles lock into. You'll need to find a way to keep track of score.
- Card games: Everyone should have a pack of cards somewhere in the house.
- Apples to Apples - there's a Jewish version!
- Battleship: Remember to get the low-tech version without lights or sounds.
- Trivial Pursuit
And you can't forget the summer camp standard, Bananagrams! But did you know there is a Hebrew version?? While Bananagrams are insanely common in the frum community, I feel that many Americans have never heard of it. Does anyone know why that is?
Here are some more options to consider (I haven't played all of these, so I apologize if something is obviously not Shabbos appropriate):
- Settlers of Catan: Contrary to popular belief, you can play with "only" 2 players.
- Ticket to Ride: Similar to Settlers of Catan with similar 2 person play.
- Munchkin: Must have a sense of humor. I linked directly to the Deluxe version, but there are many expansion packs.
- Cards Against Humanity: Gaining underground popularity in the young and frum community as an alternative to Apples to Apples, its tagline is "a party game for horrible people." It occasionally goes out of print, but the company offers a free printable version.
- Fact or Crap
- Battle of the Sexes
- Anger Management
- Reverse Charades
- Spot It (A more adult-friendly version of Catch the Match)
- Bubble Talk
- Zombie Dice
- Alhambra (Note that some are opposed to the use of Monopoly money on Shabbat)
- Jungle Speed
Thie week, The Simple Dollar, one of my favorite blogs, posted a list of his favorite inexpensive board games. I haven't heard of any of them, but they sound fun! Seven Wonderful Inexpensive Board Games for a Game Night (or Three) with Family and Friends
Games profiled or mentioned:
Coup (currently out of print and not available on Amazon, but Trent says it will be re-released soon)
Pandemic (I linked to the much-cheaper 2nd edition)
Battlestar Gallactica (great TV show!)
Ra (Remember to not accidentally worship Ra)
Games that are fun for the rest of the week:
Remember that many games offer expansion packs and additional versions for a new twist on an old game!
What is your favorite Shabbat game? Can you recommend any of the ones posted above or suggest a new one for the list? As a practical matter, how do you keep score?