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You would think that in this modern era of high octane computer games, traditional board games might no longer enjoy such widespread appeal. Yet surprisingly, old-fashioned board games are still passionately played in Dutch living rooms up and down the country, with or without a favourite Dutch drink and typical Dutch snacks such as borrelnootjes (cocktail nuts), a portion of Hollandse kaasblokjes (Dutch cheese cubes), bitterballen (deep-fried meatballs) or knakworstjes (party sausages) to sustain players throughout the game. A list of the top selling board games in the Netherlands between 2009-2011 (source: speelgoedinfo.nl) can be found below.
A game for 2 to 4 players in which participants must create as many number combinations as possible, in order to be the first to get rid of all their tiles. In 1983 Rummikub was ‘Game of the Year’ in the Netherlands, yet it is popular around the globe, as evidenced by the regular world championships which, incidentally, have been won three times by Dutch players. A travel version of Rummikub is also available (featuring a set of mini tiles) and these days it can even be played online.
Maybe it’s because of the extraordinary popularity of the online app Wordfeud, that this celebrated word game has recently become so popular in the Netherlands again in. Whatever the reasons for its current revival, the game is both extremely educational and an excellent way to keep your Dutch language skills truly ‘alive’! Scrabble also comes in a handy, travel version.
This well known game hit the American market in 1934 and went on to pretty much conquer the entire planet with a number of versions being released in a variety of languages and locations. Of course, there’s also a Dutch version of Monopoly, where Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat are the two most expensive, and thus sought after, streets. Monopoly is also available in a convenient, foldable travel version.
4. Mens Erger Je Niet
You may believe that this classic board game is typically Dutch, but actually the opposite is true. The game originated in India in 1896 and was first released in Britain, where it is known as ‘Ludo’. Passions can run high during a game, which is perhaps why this often infuriating game is known as ‘Mens Erger Je Niet’ in Holland, which translates roughly as ‘Don’t get worked up guys!’
This aim of this word game is to find a legitimate word on the board before any of your opponents. Like Scrabble, it’s great for your Dutch and extremely convenient on long trips as it comes in a practical plastic box.
6. Dokter Bibber
The most harmless way to play ‘doctor’! In this entertaining game known as ‘Operation’ in English, players use a pair of tweezers to perform a variety of delicate, surgical operations on an imaginary patient. Shake too much though, and your patient will scream out loud! Especially fun for young children, who can learn to develop their coordination skills in a fun way. Dr. Bibber (literally Dr Tremble) was Dutch ‘Toy of the Year’ in 2007.
A game of strategy where players move through a maze of fixed and moving objects, collecting treasures allocated from a variety of cards that they have been dealt. Skilful players are able to successfully hinder their opponents by rearranging the maze to their advantage.
8. Party & Co
A fun-filled game for all ages, where participants must master an entire range of skills from lip reading to answering trivia type questions, to gain the most points.
9. Ik Hou van Holland (I Love Holland)
The perfect game for those who miss Holland or want to keep their Dutch trivia (on Dutch films, music and general knowledge) up to date. Just as in Linda de Mol’s popular Dutch television show based on the game, music plays a central role. Be warned though – if you’re asked a music question, then you’ll also be expected to perform two flawless lines from the song in question!
A game of skill and dexterity that has been incredibly popular since the 1970’s and remains a hilarious way to spend an enjoyable evening. In this game, players take turns to place a body part on coloured circles on the mat. The player who is able to maintain their uncomfortable position without falling over, leaving any of their circles or touching the wrong circles, for the longest, is declared the winner. A firm favourite with children, but also extremely popular with students. The Twister mat can be easily folded, making it an ideal travel game too!