Thursday, August 8, 2013

Shabbat Games Aren't Just for Kids Anymore

Board games aren't just for kids. If you're shomer Shabbat, you hopefully already know this. If you looked around orthodox sites, you'll really only see games mentioned for kids, so I thought it was time to refresh you on your gaming options.

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: 

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):

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? 


  1. We play Scrabble occasionally, but more on Yom Tov. We keep score with playing cards. We used to keep score with books (put a bookmark on page 104 if you have 104 points) but that is too cumbersome physically, especially if you're trying to help a little kid keep score. With playing cards you have 4 of each of the digits, and you use the aces for zeroes.

  2. Michael and I also have found a game called Carcassonne which is a lot of fun and Shabbos appropriate. Next time we spend Shabbos with you, we will bring it along with Ticket to ride (and maybe we can play Settlers since I haven't played in a long time).

  3. Ooh, I love Settlers! Its so hard to find others to play with though :(

  4. We play bananagrams with our non Orthodox friends all the time. Also Perpetual Commotion is a great game. Stratego.

  5. I love 7 Wonders and Munchkin! 7 Wonders is awesome -- just be sure to have someone who's good at mental addition to calculate the scores. And my college's Hillel hosted a Munchkin tournament. Once you get familiar with the game, I highly recommend the expansion packs.

  6. You absolutely can play Clue on Shabbat! You just can't write down everyone and everything you've ruled out. It makes it more challenging and more fun, IMO. I've won multiple rounds against non-shomer friends, so I promise you it's possible.

  7. I've played Settlers of Catan with two players

  8. My mother and I play Skip-bo. It's my favorite Shabbath game! If you don't keep score you could also play Dutch Blitz. Very fast paced game.