House Rules

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You’ve been there. We all have. You’re sitting around the table with six people instead of five and all the games you brought only work for five instead of six and you want to panic. Chills, the sweats. You start to mumble up things like maybe if you can just find a deck of playing cards some game that everyone can play will materialize from your childhood memories. Or maybe, you suggest, someone might want to sit by the fire. There has to be one person doesn’t like or games anyway. Or maybe you just hope for something to come in over the news, like a missile alert, say.

Of course, there’s something else. Something you haven’t thought of, that doesn’t appear in the rule books or in the little figures on the box that tell you, with unbending finality, how many people are allowed to play. It’s a cheat code. A hack. And it can save you from the most terrible of situations –  where someone feels left out.

House rules. Changing something about your activity to make a more inclusive, dangerous, or downright more entertaining for the situation that you’re in.

Let’s walk ourselves back to Sunday. It’s brunch. We’re circling the coffee table with the aforementioned too many players and too few spots situation. Thankfully, we’ve chosen a flexible game. The Mountains of Madness. Some games, when you have too many players, slow to a crawl and everyone proceeds to check out their phones to see who’s popping what pictures on Instafacebookgramchat. In Mountains of Madness, everyone plays at the same time. A party game gimmick mixed with serious game strategy. Ideal for unorthodox expansion.

So we play with six. I deal an extra hand. We get off the mountain alive, though, granted it was probably easier than the game’s creators intended. Even so, the experience comes with smiles and laughter. People are able to dash away fro a mimosa refill, or take care of kids, and there’s plenty around to keep the game moving.

We have a good time. I cheated, and nobody cared.

So next time you’re in an awkward player situation, see if you can’t bend or break your favorite game to accommodate your party. It might work. And sure, it might not, but you’ll probably have fun anyway.