Home Alone the Board Game: Booby Traps for the Whole Family
I don’t think it’s any secret that I enjoy a good theme in a board game. Just toss in some ghosts and a haunted house for a spooky game and I am all over it. Theme can really make a big difference in my enjoyment. Sometimes it comes from a TV show or a movie, and honestly it can be really hit or miss. There must be about a million different versions of Monopoly now, and I’m not particularly attracted to any of them more than the others. But recently we got our hands on a licensed game that has blown our minds - Home Alone - and it’s proven that theme can still steal the show and win my heart.
As I’ve pointed out before - in our list of movies we can’t wait to show our kids - our son hasn’t seen Home Alone yet. But we have read the amazing picture book by Kim Smith (which you really must read) and we have watched a few clips of the booby traps scene. He absolutely adores those booby traps. Of course this is why Home Alone became such a huge hit to begin with. Kids everywhere are absolutely enamored with the idea of creatively booby trapping their house to stop burglars.
After we first read the picture book, our son became obsessed with booby traps. The obsession has calmed down a little bit now, but for a while there we were tying strings to laundry baskets and trying to catch our family members every night. And the fact that my son was so enamored with the idea has definitely endeared this classic movie to me - even more than the power of my own nostalgia. I simply had to buy this board game when I saw it.
I didn’t even know what to expect from this game to be honest. Home Alone was published by Big G Creative, and it was designed by Prospero Hall (who also made another one of our very favorite games - Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger). But all I really knew about the game before buying it was that I loved the way the box looked. The whole thing looks like a knitted Christmas sweater, and on the top it reads “Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Animal!”. How could I possibly say no to putting this one under the Christmas tree?
Because of the combination of the known and the secret information, this is very much a battle of the wits and a game of bluffing.
When we opened it up for the first time, we discovered that the game is played primarily with cards. There are ways to play Home Alone with up to 4 players, but basically it’s a 1-on-1 battle - Kevin McCallister vs the Wet Bandits. The Wet Bandits are trying to steal $2000 worth of loot from inside the house, while Kevin’s job is simply to prevent that from happening.
Both sides have their own deck of cards. Kevin’s deck is full of traps and decoys. This is probably the best part of the game, because the booby traps scene is everyone’s favorite memory of the movie. We have blow torch cards, broken Christmas ornaments, tar on the steps, and even the dreaded tarantula card. Some of the cards, however, are simply decoys - like a mannequin in the window. And each round Kevin lays out his cards secretly to make it harder for the Wet Bandits to reach the loot.
The Wet Bandits’ deck is full of cards that basically help them “pay” to break in the house, and to get past traps one at a time. There are also several special cards that allow them to do things like peek at the hidden loot or break in for free. Let’s say they break into the downstairs window, and then they get past all the traps that Kevin put by the window that round. Then the bandits would get the loot Kevin hid by the window that round and they add it to their total.
Kevin’s deck is full of traps and decoys. This is probably the best part of the game, because the booby traps scene is everyone’s favorite memory of the movie.
There are three entry points into the house, and therefore there are three pieces of loot each round as well. The Wet Bandits are aware what the three pieces of loot are before the round starts, but then Kevin turns them over and decides where to hide them secretly, as well as which traps to secretly put down between the entry point and the loot.
Because of the combination of the known and the secret information, this is very much a battle of wits and a game of bluffing. And it’s probably the bluffing element of the strategy that really hooks me. You also have to be very good at managing your resources on both sides, because if you run out of cards in your deck you are simply out of luck and unable to set more traps or break into the house.
And speaking of bluffing, within minutes of playing this game for the very first time, our 6-year-old son whispered to his mom, “let’s put the most expensive loot behind the least amount of traps and trick Daddy!” And it worked! Dad, the foolish Wet Bandit, spent all of his cards breaking into the upstairs window and getting past a long string of traps only to find an empty box of pizza waiting for me at the end. How embarrassing! But I was very proud of his trickery!
Our son always wants to be Kevin and never the Wet Bandits - most likely because of his love of the booby traps. Who are we to say no? Go be Kevin until your heart is content.
The age on the box says 8+, but our 6-year-old is more than capable of playing along. However, he always wants to be Kevin and never the Wet Bandits - most likely because of his love of the booby traps. Who are we to say no? Go be Kevin until your heart is content. My wife and I really love this game a lot too, so we usually play as a threesome, with our son teamed up with whoever is playing as Kevin. He loves setting those traps, especially that dangerous tarantula card, and he really loves rolling the die for the chance at hitting the bandits with an extra paint bucket.
It’s worth mentioning that we played this game far more than any other game during Christmas break, and that’s really saying a lot. In fact, I’m not sure we’ve ever played a game so many times in one week ever before. I’d also like to point out that it took me no less than 7 tries to finally beat my wife for the first time, and despite that abysmal record I was always eager to try again because of how fun it is.
Have you played Home Alone the Board Game yet? Have your kids seen the movie? Did they try setting booby traps all around the house? Let us know all about it in the comments!