Family 5: Classic Games for Boys
Remember the board game "Escape from Frankenstein?" Or "The Slime Monster Game," where your hapless board piece ended up covered in green ooze? They're only available at garage sales or on auction sites these days, but many of the games today's dads grew up with are still around, waiting to be enjoyed with a new generation of young men. They're worth remembering, particularly if you'd like to steer your little boy away from all those omnipresent, hyper-violent video games. They kind of make a green slime monster seem innocent, don't they?
Calling generals and majors. A staple of the war-strategizing genre since 1961, this two-player game is all about rankings and hierarchies (like chess) but your opponent doesn't know what rank he's up against. The goal is to capture your rival's flag. It's a fun game and repeats are a forgone conclusion.
Axis and Allies
This popular series is a competitive exploration of World War II. Up to five players can participate, playing the roles of Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the United States. There are a number of themed editions (D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge) but playing any of them will expose children to history as well as foster an awareness of politics, economics, and geography. It's also a lot of fun to cream the bad guys.
The classic battle for world domination lives on. A great way to familiarize kids with geography (anyone familiar with Kamchatka and Irkutsk is a guaranteed former player), Risk was and is the favorite board game for countless boys beginning with its American debut in 1959. There are new versions available, but the original is still the best-selling. A legend in the board game world, there's also a yearly Risk Tournament of Champions in case your son REALLY gets into it.
Dungeons & Dragons
Yes, it's become a punch line. Yes, it's shorthand for "total geek." But if you were into it as a kid and then "outgrew" it (read: dropped it after getting one too many wedgies), haven't you come full circle now and it's time to embrace it? Maybe, maybe not (especially if your wife forbids it). But if your son's a chip off the old Gelatinous Cube you might want to encourage him -- it's all about being who you are, right?
The old standby has gone hi-tech (a computer screen now separates the two opponents) but the principles are the same. With its unforgettably plaintive tagline "You sank my battleship!" now a permanent fixture on the pop-culture landscape, Battleship is still just as engaging as when Dad played it.