Sibling rivalry: a game for all the family (no it’s not) (yes it is) (that’s not fair, you always take her side)

A game for 2-6 players (if you have more than 5 siblings, we suggest our Deluxe Sumo edition)

Object of the game

The object of the game is to covet and secure as much of your parents’ attention as possible, ideally at the expense of your brothers and sisters. You do this by collecting Brownie Points and successfully deploying Attention-Seeking Missiles to win you as many Badges of Approval as possible. Once you win a Badge, you stick it to the school jumper of your chosen animal figurine’s school jumper. Badges include: ‘Mummy’s Favourite’, ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’, ‘Chip Off the Old Block’, ‘#1 Child, Son and Heir’, ‘Dream Daughter’, ‘I’m The One (They Secretly Like Best)’, ‘You’re the Milkman’s’, and so on.

You can also win Badges of Approval by taking on challenges and answering questions as you go round the board, but beware! Your siblings are out to get in your way and will stop at nothing to steal the ones you’ve already got. And that’s OK because you’ll be doing the same back to them… (Ow! Get off.) (You started it!)

Getting started (No – you started it!!)

Players each choose an animal figurine – shark, hyena, wolf, jackal, tarantula or cuddly little bear. To see who gets to start first, each player flicks a bogey in the face of the person sitting opposite them. The person who can get their bogey closest to the tip of the nose of their opposite number gets to choose first; second closest chooses second, and so on. In the case of a dead heat, the winner is decided with a quick round of face-slap.

The bogey-flicking (or face-slapping) winner may well choose the cuddly bear figure — this makes her officially The Baby for the duration of the game, even though that’s not fair, just because she’s the youngest, she always gets her way, I never got to stay up that late when I was her age. Being The Baby confers various advantages — for example, an extra 30 seconds on any timed challenge. (This can be useful as some of these are quite tricky eg: ‘Name a time the sibling to your left was kind to you in your childhood’.) Don’t forget, though, that being The Baby can also mean the player finds themselves excluded from certain incentives and opportunities because, come on, stop whining, he’s three years older than you, it’s only right he gets to stay up a bit later.

Next, players shuffle the Parental Blackmail cards, prime their Attention-Seeking Missile Launchers, assemble the Unholy Alliance Spinner, and place them all in their respective spots on the board. To get them started, each player is given 5 Brownie Points and a Maturity Quotient Card.

Playing the game

The youngest player starts because, come on, she’s only an ickle cuddly bear while you’re a big hairy, scary beast. And besides she’ll start howling again if we don’t let her. Play proceeds clockwise, as players roll the dice and progress through the heart-shaped Maze of Moodiness, round the Square of Squabbles, up the Ladder of Annoyance, and finally into the Time Tunnel to play the Grand Finale.

Along the way they pick up Parental Blackmail cards, which can work for or against them, for example: ‘You wash dad’s car spontaneously. Gain 10 Brownie Points.’ Or: ‘When washing dad’s car, you drench your little sister in dirty brown water and ruin her brand-new dress that you knew she wanted to wear for her recorder concert. Now look at her! Lose an Attention-Seeking Missile.’

There are more Brownie Points and Attention-Seeking Missiles to win via the Truth or Dare Challenge squares – albeit at a cost. For example: ‘Confess to a time you stole from a sibling’ or ‘Say what you really think of your sister’s partner’. A player who rises to the challenge will advance in the game, but may have some fallout to endure in real life. A player who lands on a Ninja Burn square must spin the Playground Torture Wheel and face the punishment, to be administered in all cases by the player with the strongest available grip.

Whenever a player has accrued enough Brownie Points, she can have a go at winning another Badge of Approval by firing an Attention-Seeking Missile at mum or dad. The 12-sided Dice of Sighs tells her whether she’s hit her target, but seasoned players will be able to guess from just a look at their sibling’s face. Aww, you just got wrecked!!

Strategy
Now you know the basic rules of the game, here are a few pointers to help you hone your strategy:

  • The You Love Him/Her More Than Me card cannot be played by a player in possession of three or more Last Straws.
  • Players can steal each other’s Brownie Points and Badges of Approval at any time. If they are caught in the act, however, they must miss a go and endure a Ninja Wrist Burn from the injured party.
  • A player’s Maturity Quotient is no guide to anything.
  • Players may form Unholy Alliances at strategic points in the game, but they will lose Brownie Points if they fail to renege on their promises before the Grand Finale.
  • Players must enter the Time Tunnel and play the Grand Finale alone. In the war for attention, there can only be one winner.

The Grand Finale

Only a player who has pinned six Badges of Approval on their animal’s school jumper and managed to place their Word into the Pie of Edgeways can enter the Time Tunnel. Here they can continue to gain Brownie Points until all their siblings have joined them.

The Time Tunnel transports players to the present day, where they must play the Grand Finale as an adult, with all their siblings at a Christmas Day dinner round mum and dad’s. At this point, all players are stripped of their Maturity Quotient, their Badges of Approval and their Blackmail Boosters, as they find themselves in exactly the same dynamic with each other as when they were growing up. She’s still moaning and whimpering, he’s still pretending to be the perfect angelic one, you’re still winding the youngest up — and mum is begging to have just one meal in peace before I die! It’s like you’re all five again! Play continues until the cooking sherry runs out or an emergency vehicle is called, whichever comes later. Because in case you hadn’t noticed yet, there is no end to this game, life’s like that, so suck it up, loser! You just got roasted! Ow! Stop it the pair of you! She hit me first! Ugh — bogey!! Your face makes me vomit. Get wrecked! I hate you.

Dan’s competition shortlists include Flash500, Sunderland University/Waterstones, Wimbledon BookFest, Fish and Retreat West. His work has appeared in Cabinet of Heed, Spelk, Ginger Collect, and Fiction Pool. He wrote for Dead Ringers (BBC Radio 4) and has also made two appearances in Christopher Fielden’s To Hull and Back comic-writing anthology (2015, 2016). His agent is Ger Nichol, and both his first novel #unforgivable and a collection of short stories, Hotel du Jack, are currently under consideration.

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