Your House, Your Rules

house-rulesFor a month or so now, I’ve wanted to write an article about “house rules” because in my family we have house rules for a slew of our favorite games.  In Boggle only 4-letter words count, in the Game of Life if you don’t like your occupation you can start over and try for a new one, and so on.  It’s not that we don’t like the rules as they are; we’ve just tailored them to fit our family.   And we’re not the only ones that do it.  Free Parking money in Monopoly is a widespread house rule; it’s not in the real rules, yet someone made it up and it stuck.  Something similar with UNO, there are a lot of people who make players pick until they draw a card they can play whereas the real rules state that players should only select one card.

So then are these changes/modifications wrong?  Of course not, once you purchase a game it’s yours to play how you like.  Just have fun!  And if you come up with a great rule or way to play – share it!  Nate Scheidler who is the Organizer for both the Chicago Board Games Meetup and Chicago Boardgame Designers Meetup thinks:

“’House Rules’ [are] where many designers get their start. They don’t always fit, but trying to improve a game experience (or increase its challenges) is a good thing.”

So whether yours makes the game harder, easier, faster or more fun, my question is:

What are YOUR house rules?

To start us off, I’ve compiled a list and I hope you add to it by leaving a comment below.

  • In UNO we play multiple hands until someone reaches 250 points, and if you get EXACTLY 250 points (accumulative) you go back to zero.  (The Vandenbroucke family)
  • While playing Apples to Apples, if someone plays the “Helen Keller” card they automatically win the round.  * FYI -I hear this is in homage to a previous game. (The Grzybek family)
  • When playing Monopoly add an extra die to move around the board faster and pass GO more often. (The Brown family)
  • In Pay Day instead of the money from paying bills going to the bank, the first one to reach “Pay Day” each month got that pile of cash. (The Brown family)
  • In the Out of the Box 10 Day series, allow players to trade positions of 2 cards in their rack on their turn instead of drawing and discarding a card. (The Couzin family)
  • Play Scrabble with separated vowels and consonants. On each draw, players can choose how many to take from each pile. Bingos (7-letter words) are easier to get, so only count them for 30 points, instead of 50.“ (The Goroff family via Think Fun’s Facebook Page – Thanks Charlotte for posting!)


Add yours
  1. Colleen McCarthy-Evans

    In Gamewright’s Funny Business, by Jack Degnan, we play that the playes cannot vote for their own answer. (I think Jack prefers it this way, too!) And if there is a tie, both players who tied score.

  2. Erik Mantsch

    In the game “In a Pickle” by a one Mrs. McCarthy-Evans we don’t allow word cards to be “tucked under” previously played cards. You have to always go BIG!

  3. Kim Vandenbroucke

    @GeekInsight Something funny about your comment – a couple years ago I designed a game and the manufacturer made an error in the directions and thousands of copies were sold with some confusing directions. Funny thing was after reading a couple different blog posts, people created their “house rules” to correct the error and while some of them got pretty close to what the directions SHOULD have said, others found very unique ways to play around the confusing rule. So in the end a lot of them played it as I intended – but through creating their own “house rule.”

  4. Cliff Etters

    Usually, I play straight up rule as written (RAW) but I’ll cop to playing with the “Free Parking” rule in Monopoly.

    That being said, as a miniature wargamer (mostly Warhammer 40,000), I love it when someone takes a game and makes it their own. Too often in miniature wargames, the “game” part gets lost in the “rules” part, and what started off as a friendly game devolves to rules lawyering. Never a fun time.

    So in the spirit of the article, I encourage everyone to have fun, and if that involves changing the rules a bit?

    Well, I’ll never tell…

  5. Halling Family

    I plan on getting the game Big Pay Day soon, so after reading all the reviews I could find on Pay Day and Big Pay Day, I combined the rules from both versions. A lot of people complained about the savings being dropped and that you make lots of money to easily. I added Savings w/ 10% interest back into the game (changed $50 fee to $500 fee) and changed the interest for loans from 10% to 20%. We will start the game and get payed $3,500 instead of $5,000. We don’t agree with gambling either, so I will be changing Jackpot to Side Work and we will cover all the Lottery spaces with other tiles (the great thing about Big Pay Day).

    Side Work = Whenever any player rolls a six he or she did side work to earn all the money that’s been placed on the Side Work space. If there’s no money or you don’t collect within your turn, then you didn’t do any side work and earned no money.

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