In Italy, bocce found not only the name it's widely known by to this day, but also its true character. Even with the occasional point of the game being to knock out your opponent's bocce, violently denying them victory, the game has a relaxed, social feeling to it.
Seriously, as you toss the bocce around the backyard, you can't help escape the feeling you should be sipping a strong shot of espresso between turns.
If you want a game that involves everyone, regardless of age or ability, it's hard to go wrong when you bust out the backyard bocces.
That's great, but what if we add some hammers?
No. 2: Croquet
Croquet may bring to mind images of tea and crumpets or "Alice in Wonderland," but what's not to love about a sport involving mallets?
While the supposed point of the game is to be the first one to knock your wooden ball through all the hoops, everybody knows the real thrill of croquet is when your ball hits an opponent's ball.
That's because you then get the choice of either planting your ball against your opponent's and smashing it clear into the neighbor's yard or -- and, who are we kidding, nobody ever chooses the "or" -- taking two free shots.
If you ever played this game growing up, you know that actually playing by the rules soon became secondary to sending croquet balls flying in any and all directions.
There's just something so vicious, and personal, about the game that belies its starched, proper British upbringing, making it perfect for some backyard fun.
Last up, ask yourself, how do you improve on a classic?
No. 1: Ladder ball
Somebody somewhere once took a look at horseshoes and thought to him or herself, "I can do better."
And that's exactly what they did.
Whether you call it ladder ball, ladder golf, ladder toss or even redneck horseshoes, the game involves tossing bolas, two balls joined by a string, at a three-rung "ladder" constructed of PVC pipe. Points are scored by getting the rope to wrap around one of the rungs.
But, wait, there's more. Standard ladder ball etiquette -- or at least the way we play it -- encourages you to make as many distracting remarks, sounds and/or movements possible in the name of throwing your opponent off his or her game.
It's no wonder the game has caught on despite easily being the newest on our list. From summer barbecues and picnics to tailgating parties, ladder toss has become the ultimate backyard game.