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Traditional Board Games from the Netherlands

Everything there is to know about the Netherlands

Nothing beats a cozy evening with friends or family, sitting around the table, drinking tea, and playing board games. It is the definition of gezellig! All it takes is some dice, a board, or cards and you are set for a long evening of friendly competition, good-natured squabbles, and family fun. 

With so many different games available it can be difficult to decide what to play. But I am always a fan of the simple classics that have passed the test of time! Together with the Typical Dutch Stuff, we have come up with a list of some of the most iconic Dutch tabletop games to help you decide which game to play on your next games night. 

Ganzenbord

Ganzenbord, which translates to ‘The Game of the Goose’, is one of the oldest board games in the Netherlands. It dates all the way back to the 16th century when the goose was seen as a lucky animal. If you’ve spent any time in the Netherlands, this is a game that you will remember fondly. Most of us grew up and learned to count by playing this game.  

Everything there is to know about the Netherlands

So how do you play it? The board consists of a track with 63 spaces on it, each with a different picture on it. The rules are simple, roll the dice to move, and get to the end of the track first. This is where fun comes in, as you move along the track you will encounter different obstacles that can help you move faster or slower. Keep your fingers crossed that you land on the goose and can take another turn! 

Ganzenbord is full of surprises yet very easy to play which is why it has been a staple of Dutch culture for literally hundreds of years. 

Party And Co

Some of my favorite game nights ever happen when we play team games. You can really unleash silly competitiveness and camaraderie when playing a team board game. And Party and Co doesn’t disappoint. Party and Co has been a best-selling game in the Netherlands since 1992. It can be played by up to 20 people and is the perfect team game to spice up your parties. 

Everything there is to know about the Netherlands

To win Party and Co, your team must earn five disks, one in each category: charades, drawing, trivia, lipreading, and word guessing. As you can imagine, there is much hilarity as you try to guess if someone is acting out The Lion King or Koningsdag! Get five disks first and your team are officially the champions, which is an honor worth fighting for. Boasting rights until a rematch? Yes, please! 

Whenever we brought Party and Co out, the evening was guaranteed to be full of non-stop silliness and laughter. Nowadays you can even buy a Party and Co Junior version that is more suitable for younger players, allowing you to include everyone, no matter their age. 

Ik Houd Van Holland

Ik Houd van Holland translates to “I love Holland” so, as you can probably guess, this game is all about the Netherlands. Based on a popular Dutch TV show of the same name, where celebrities must compete in all sorts of challenges to prove who knows the most about the Netherlands, this game makes you feel like you are actually in the TV studio. 

Everything there is to know about the Netherlands

This game consists of various challenges that the two teams must compete in. These can be anything from finding the cheese capitals of the Netherlands on a map to singing a traditional Dutch song and naming all the cities in the Elfstedentocht. Winning challenges earns you money which helps you to win the game. 

This is the perfect game to brush up on your knowledge of the Netherlands, prove just how Dutch you really are, or prepare for your chance to go on Dutch TV and be a contestant in Ik Houd van Holland. 

Mens Erger Je Niet

While the name of this game means “Man, don’t worry”, it is not a game for the fainthearted. Mens erger je niet is similar to the classic English game Ludo, but with a twist that will have you biting your nails in frustration. This twist makes Mens erger je niet one of the most played games in Dutch households, and might just be one of the main causes of petty squabbles between siblings! 

Everything there is to know about the Netherlands

It starts with the traditional Ludo rules, each player has four colored pieces that they need to move, by rolling dice, around the board and into the matching colored home base. This sounds easy enough until you add in the existence of other players, who in Mens erger je niet, can send your piece straight back to the starting area or block your movement on the board. 

This game is the epitome of strategy, fun, and frustration. I’m sure many of us will remember long hours sitting around the table muttering “roll a one, roll a one, roll a one” under our breath in the hopes that it would impact the dice rolls. But there is nothing quite like the sense of relief you feel when one of your pieces makes it safely to the home base! 

Pim Pam Pet

Pim Pam Pet is a highspeed, classic team game from the 70s, that has been a family favorite ever since. It combines trivia, quick thinking, and general knowledge. To top it off it can be played by up to ten players – so it is perfect for big groups of friends or families. 

Everything there is to know about the Netherlands

The rules are simple, split into two teams and win the most cards. At the beginning of each round, a card is turned over, that card has a category, for example, animals or famous Dutch singers. Once the category is known someone must spin the letter spinner and the teams must race to name something in the category that begins with the letter on the spinner. The quickest team wins the card. 

This may sound like a very easy game, but trust me, there is nothing like a bit of time pressure to make you forget any word you ever knew. Anyone who has played this game has been there, yelling “avocado”, and “apple” when really they needed to yell out the name of an animal. In fact, Pim Pam Pet is a true test to see how well people can stay focussed under pressure. After all, beating your family or friends on games night is a lot of pressure. In my household winning games night sometimes even got you out of washing up duties for the evening. 

Pim Pam Pet is a brilliant test of your vocabulary, spelling, and general knowledge. It brings out the competitive, speed demons in all of us and is brilliant fun to play on games night! 

Rummikub

Rummikub, while not originally a Dutch game, has been a favorite game in Dutch households for many years. Because of that, every Dutch household plays Rummikub with slightly different rules. Yes, there is an instruction manual, but that doesn’t mean every family is going to follow it. So if you are playing with a new family or friends, make sure that you know what their special family rules are so you don’t get caught out!

Everything there is to know about the Netherlands

Rummikub consists of around tiles in four different colors with the numbers 1 to 13 on them, and then four joker tiles. Each player is dealt a set amount of tiles at the beginning and the aim is to place all your tiles on the table first. To do this you need to make sets that can be tiles with the same number or runs in the same color. What makes the game exciting is that you can fully rearrange the tiles that are out on the table, as long as all the tiles on the table are still used. This is the perfect way to mess up your fellow player’s game plan. 

This game is a brilliant game for people who are good with patterns and numbers but is a lot of fun for everyone. While the rules are simple the game requires quite some mental gymnastics. You can tell if you are playing with someone who is experienced at playing Rummikub because they can rearrange the tiles on the table in more ways than you thought possible.  

Wie Is De Mol?

Wie is de Mol is one of the most famous Dutch reality shows, where a bunch of well-known Dutch celebrities travel abroad and partake in adventurous exercises – all the while one of them is trying to sabotage the others. And with Wie is de Mol the board game, you can now try and find the saboteur. 

Everything there is to know about the Netherlands

If you haven’t watched or talked about who the “mol” is in at least one season of Wie is de Mol, are you really even Dutch? This TV show swiftly became a big part of Dutch culture and many a Dutchie has been heard to say “I would go on Wie is de Mol”. So this board game gives us all a taste of what it is like to have to sabotage our own team. 

The rules are simple, each player must try and guess the code word from a series of questions. The “mol” already knows what the code word is and must try to stop the rest of the players guessing what the word is. At the end of 45 minutes (the duration of the game), each player must individually write down what they think the word is, the winner is whoever gets the word correct. If no one is correct then the “mol” has successfully sabotaged the team and won the game. If you want to add a layer of extra silliness to this game, you could act as one of your favorite Wie is de Mol contestants throughout the game.

This game is the epitome of bluffing and figuring out who you trust. You might get a bit of a nasty shock when you find out how well some of your friends can lie to you. But don’t worry too much, it’s all a bit of fun! And more importantly, you can finally size up how well you would do as a contestant on Wie is de Mol. 

Conclusions

Here are just some of the many fun, traditional Dutch games you can play. For some of us, they bring back nostalgic memories of sitting around the table with family and friends, for others, they are new, exciting games to try out. These games have all withstood the test of time, and have, over the years provided hours of cozy fun with friends and family. 

Should you want to buy one of these games, or browse for games from the Netherlands, check out the Typical Dutch Stuff, which has all the Dutch products you could dream of, available to order online from over 200 countries. Whether you want to relive your childhood memories or discover a new culture, you will find something to make you happy and entertained. Have fun!

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