Hardly anyone will play these with me, though. Sigh. And fuck online games. I mean IRL. FYI: The pics are all of my own sets. Pretty, huh? Wanna play? P.S. Fuck Cards Against Humanity.
  1. Go
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    The only ancient strategy game I know of where top-level humans can still beat computers. Easy to learn, hard to master. Easy to handicap when teaching noobs how to play. Endless variety during play...they say no game has ever been played twice. You want to win, but it's a game of cooperation, in a way: you have to give in order to get. Yin and yang. Top-level players often lose by only a 1/2 point (which you get if you don't play first).
  2. Chess
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    I loved chess as a kid but lost interest when Kasparov was defeated by Deep Blue in 1997. The sign of a great chess set is what the knight looks like. Because it isn't symmetrical, it has to be hand-carved and can't be, like all the other pieces (other than top-decorations), turned on a lathe.
  3. Backgammon
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    Part luck, part skill. I play this on my iPad when I travel. Except the A.I. cheats and gets an improbable number of doubles. Fucker. My oldest friend, Tim, taught me how to play and whenever we hang out IRL, we'll enjoy a bunch of games. He's much less of a sore loser than he used to be.
  4. Mancala
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    Popular in Africa and the Middle East. Millions of variants and names. Not super strategically interesting (there are only so many good moves and if you know what you're doing, you can almost always win if you play first), but it's still fun and you get to play a game with actual goddam seeds as pieces!
  5. Yahtzee!
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    Mostly, I like it because I have fond memories as a kid of watching/listening to my dad/gramma/grampa play together at the kitchen table. And when one of them got a Yahtzee, they'd yell, "YAHTZEE TAHTZEE!!"
  6. Scrabble
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    I just realized that I don't own a Scrabble board. My ex got it. Dammit. Gonna remedy that now. Ok, bought it on amazon. If you play with a dictionary, you are more hard-core than I am (and probably a dick). Relevant: http://bit.ly/1IoAnyM
  7. Parcheesi
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    Many other games are based on it, like Sorry! in America. But I think parcheesi is more strategically-interesting. Like creating blockades and shit. Plus, I like the colors and abstract shapes on the board. I call it "Pachisi" because that is what it is called in India and because evidently I'm pretentious as Hell.
  8. Dominoes
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    A pretty easy game to learn, plus there are a bazillion variations to try. Nothing is more satisfying than twirling the old bones around on their spinners.
  9. Mahjong
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    It's played like rummy. Not like solitaire. I have only ever played online because I'm too lazy/shy to go find some IRL players. I love the artistry and complexity of all the art on the tiles.