10 games to play while everyone else is watching the Super Bowl (Photo: Reviewed.com)
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For some people, Super Bowl Sunday is devoted to watching a football game. For others, like me, you know the broad strokes of what to do on that first Sunday in February: Make a killer seven-layer dip, show up to a party, eat some wings, catch the half-time show, and evaluate the commercials. But what is a non-fan to do when the actual football game is on?
Play board games, that’s what. Take it from someone who knows: It is possible to be physically present at a Super Bowl party and not absorb one moment of the game itself—and be entertained by one of these board games, which are quiet, don’t take up a ton of space, and will keep you happily occupied till the last down.
1. For those who want to stay on-theme: Tabletop football
You may not be on the field, but you can pretend you are with this game. (Photo: FB)
Tabletop football is commonly played with two pieces of folded-up notebook paper, a desk, and two hands. But you can give it an upgrade with this more official version, which comes with two plastic goal posts with suction-cup bottoms and 10 plastic “flickers” covered in logos of NFL teams. Because it’s small—the goal posts are 5 by 8 inches and the flickers are 1 by 2 inches—it’s easy to break out during any dull moment and, because it’s basically the same as what’s happening on the TV, football fans might even get in on the action, too.
Get the Flick It Football set on Amazon for $19.77
2. For wordsmiths: Bananagrams
Put your vocabulary knowledge to the test with Bananagrams. (Photo: Bananagrams)
This classic portable wordplay game is perfect for anyone who wants to flex the same part of their brain as they would with Scrabble, without the time commitment or bulk. In Bananagrams, you race against opponents to build letter tiles into words until you use up all your tiles. The amount of time you dedicate to Bananagrams is up to you, depending on how many rounds you go through (each round is about five minutes). Up to eight people can play at a time, but you can also technically play Bananagrams by yourself—a version of the game the manufacturer calls “Banana Solitaire”—so if everyone else is glued to the TV, you’ll still have something to keep you occupied.
Get Bananagrams on Amazon for $14.95
3. For those who’d rather be watching a movie: The Cinephile card game
This game is ideal for movie newbies and experts alike. (Photo: Cory Everett)
If you’re like me, the real Super Bowl happens the following week, when the Academy Awards airs. For enduring a football game, the Cinephile card game is a movie lover’s must-have. The card set allows you to play at least five different games at three levels—“Movie Geek” (Easy), “Film Nerd” (Intermediate), and “Cinephile,” (Expert)—that include linking actors through a six degrees of separation test, trying to outdo your opponents in naming actors’ filmographies, and more.
Because it only requires one deck of 150 cards and two (or more) players, you can entertain yourself during the game, even if your usual favorite part of the Super Bowl is spotting actors in commercials.
Get the Cinephile Card Game on Amazon for $18
4. For those who’d think they’d make great spies: Codenames
Flex your mental muscle with this spy-roleplaying game. (Photo: Czech Games)
There’s a reason why spy-roleplaying game Codenames is often at the top of Amazon’s best-selling games list: It’s a huge crowd pleaser. In it, players split into two teams and select one member to be the “Spymaster.” The Spymasters then choose 25 cards bearing codenames at random and give out clues to get their teammates to guess the words. The team that gets through all their words first wins. Reviewers say the game is easy to learn, quick to play (about 10 to 20 minutes long), and works well with (but does not require) large groups, so you’ll be able to get in a few rounds—with as many or as few people who want to join—during each half.
Get Codenames on Amazon for $18.78
5. For aspiring property moguls: Monopoly Deal
You can own your favorite Monopoly properties without the cumbersome board. (Photo: Hasbro)
Want to play Monopoly, but don’t want to devote two-plus hours (and the inevitable resentment you feel for the friends and family you play with) to the game? Grab a Monopoly Deal card set, which should scratch your real estate-developer itch in about 15 minutes. The goal of the game is to be the first player to collect three full property sets of different colors—but your opponents can also serve you with cards that force you to give up certain cards, or pieces of property. It can be played by two to five people.
“I can’t believe how much fun this game is within around 15 minutes for a round,” writes a reviewer. “This is such a great design to combine strategy, luck and excitement for school age kids and grown up together. Now the grown ups also have tons of fun because this game makes you think. The huge bonus is you can bring this card game to any place easily since it eliminates all the paper money and pieces.”
Get Monopoly Deal on Amazon for $6.26
6. For game watchers who also need a project: A football-themed puzzle
Do something with your hands while you watch the game (or the commercials). (Photo: BasisWood)
If you like the idea of sitting in front of the television while the game is on, but need something to do with your hands and mind at the same time—similar to what one might experience while knitting and watching TV—get a puzzle. As you do it, you can keep one eye on the game and one on the puzzle, and anyone who has a spare hand and moment can add in a piece when they see a fit. Plus, if you get this football-themed one, you’ll still technically be taking part in the event’s purpose.
Get the Football Jigsaw Puzzle for $32.54
7. For vocab lovers: A crossword book
Get some extra Sunday puzzles in on Super Bowl Sunday. (Photo: The New York Times)
In a similarly semi-cerebral vein, a crossword book is a great pastime, especially if you’re alone in your pigskin apathy. All you need to work on it is a pen (OK, fine, a pencil) and your brain. You can make it more of a social experience by enlisting the help of fellow guests for tricky clues—particularly for sports-related hints, which may not be your forte. (I’m just guessing here.)
Get the New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle Book on Amazon for $10.47
8. For the ones who have faith in their psychic ability: The Mind
Always thought you could read minds? Test that theory with this game. (Photo: Pandasaurus Games)
In The Mind, two to four players work together to organize a deck of 100 numbered cards in ascending order. This sounds simple, until you consider the game’s main rule: no talking. Instead, you must communicate with your eyes and intuition to sort the cards. It being just a deck of cards make this game portable, and the silence factor means football-agnostic people can play in the main party area without distracting from the game.
Get The Mind on Amazon for $12.99
9. For the ones who’d rather be playing Dungeons and Dragons: Dragoon
No costumes required for this dragon-themed board game. (Photo: Lay Waste Games)
Dragoon is a strategy game for two to four people, in which players inhabit the mindset of dragons who live on an island and must compete among one another to end up with the most coins. When it’s your turn, you choose between claiming villages, which gives you periodic tributes from the island’s human residents, or destroying them to immediately receive a payout in the form of coins. You can also challenge other dragons/players to steal their gold, and the game ends when the last piece has been stolen. One reviewer says Dragoon is “fairly easy to explain to newcomers and even easier to pick up,” and comes with a cool cloth carrying bag. That, plus its 30 to 60 minute playing time—which should allow you to complete one game before halftime—make it a great game to tote along to your Super Bowl party.
Get Dragoon on Amazon for $4.99
10. For anyone who wants to keep it simple: A standard deck of cards
Not sure what to play? Just grab a pack of cards. (Photo: Bicycle)
If you’re not sure what you’d like to play but know you want to have something to do while the game is on, you can’t go wrong with a deck of cards. With it, you can play games that range from easy (Go Fish) to more complex (Blackjack or Poker)—or simple Solitaire, if no one else wants to join in.
Get Bicycle Premium Playing Cards on Amazon for $4.99
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