Home » You searched for “board game review”
Search results for

"board game review"

An alien has crash landed in Blackwood Grove. A boy on a bicycle must try to pass through the force field to help the alien before the Agents do!  Visitor in Blackwood Grove has the quintessential 80’s theme, and is a unique asymmetrical reasoning game for players age 8 and up.  It is published by Resonym, with quick games only taking 5-15 minutes
for three to six players.

Game Components

  • Force Field Board
  • Object Deck (142 cards)
  • Visitor Shield
  • Trust Board
  • Trust Token
  • Role Cards (Alien, Kid, 4 Agents)
  • 13 Example Pass Rule Cards
  • 5 Card Markers (Kid and agents)
  • 4 Guess Tokens
  • Cloth bag
  • Rule booklet

Gameplay

Being an asymmetrical game, the different characters in the game have different roles and a variety of win conditions.  If the Kid figures out the pass rule first, the Visitor and Kid win. Should one Agent figure out the pass rule first, they win.  The Agents are from competing government agencies and do not share information. Finally, if the Visitor has no cards at the start of a turn all the Agents win.

Turn Options

The Visitor creates the rule for what can pass through the force field. These rules must be general enough to make it challenging for the agents but not so hard the kid cannot figure it out. The game provides thirteen rules as examples. Some pass rules include: things containing metal, things in this room,  and things with strings.

Each Agent on their turn has two options; they can Test an Object or Prove the Pass Rule.  To test and object an Agent hands a card to the Visitor without showing it to any other players. The Visitor then places the card face down either inside the forcefield or outside to prove that Agent additional information about the Pass Rule. Only the Agent that played that card can go back and look at their face down cards. An Agent successfully proves the pass rule to win the game (described below).

The Kid has two options on their turn; they can Predict an Item or Prove the Pass Rule. To Predict Objects, the Kids shows a card from their hand. The Visitor states “admitted” or “repelled”. The kid may make up to three predictions, one card at a time. If the card is repelled the Kid’s turn is over and they gain no trust. If all the cards are correct, the Trust Token moves up the Trust Board. The Kids and Visitor benefit as trust develops. The Kid gaining Trust unlocks powers and rewards for the Kid and the Visitor.

Winning The Game

The key to winning is to Prove the Pass Rule. For either the Kid or the Agents the player draws four cards from the deck. The player aligns the cards they think will be admitted forward. While, the cards they think are repelled back. Meanwhile, The Visitor, behind a screen, indicates which cards pass through or get repelled using tokens. The visitor pushes them forward or back to correspond with the cards. If the tokens reveal the cards are all correct that player is the winner. Should any cards be incorrect their turn is over. If an Agent guesses and they are wrong, the Kid also gains two trust.

Family Game Assessment

Overall

For being a quick game Visitor in Blackwood Grove has quite a few rules, and some complexities. As an asymmetrical game there are rules for the different roles within the game. The first time bringing it to the table, we found that we needed to referred back to the rule book with each turn to make sure we understood what to do. The game was quick taking about ten minutes. We play again right away, switching roles, and one the second play the game flowed much better. This game might seem overwhelming to a novice gamer initially, but with one gameplay is easy to understand.

A non reader could play this game, with the limited reading required. With that said, the age of eight and up is a good fit for most players. The asymmetrical roles, and different decisions on each turn, would be challenging for younger players.

Card Interpretation: Benefits and Perils

While we played we encountered some interpretation in the cards. There was a picture of a wooden ladder and the Pass Rule was things that contain metal. As the Visitor, I was unsure of whether to admit or repel the ladder. The picture did not show visible metal on the ladder. However, wooden ladders could have only wood pegs or have metal nails. I made the decision to assume it was build with metal nails and admit the ladder.

Having interpretation in the cards that other players might disagreed with is embedded in the components of the game. That disagreement might be a point of contention for players. You need to consider if disagreement in the interpretation of the cards is going to be problematic.

On the flip side, with children, or even with adults, it is interesting to learn how they interpreted the card in a different way. At teachable moment might be available to provide another perspective. Exploring the concept of different interpretations is a valuable experience for young players.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a game that taps your 80’s nostalgia, Visitor in Blackwood Grove is a great one to bring to the table. The quick games and different roles give this game a lot of replay-ability. This can also be played by a range of ages and skills making it a great one for family gatherings.

If this sounds good to you, then you can purchase a copy of the game here on Amazon. (And if you do, then we get a percentage to help keep the lights on!)

FCC disclosure: A copy of this game was sent to us by the publisher for the purposes of this review.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

As a Storm Trooper you tremble at the sight of the Millennium Falcon. It bobs and weaves above your head as you try and dodge out of the way. In Loopin’ Chewie, You are trying to defend you are storm troopers from Chewbacca in the millennium Falcon. To defend your storm troopers you have a paddle to knock the Millennium Falcon away. Your goal is to be the last person to still have storm troopers in play. Loopin’ Chewie is a game by Hasbro that supports two to three players ages four and up.

Game Components

  • Millennium Falcon
  • Base unit
  • 3 paddle arms
  • 3 paddle units
  • 1 flight arm on center cone
  • 9 tokens (Storm Troopers)

Gameplay

To begin the Millennium Falcon starts pointing straight up to the ceiling on it’s swiveling arm. One player turns on the motor and releases the Millennium Falcon to spin around. Players use their pad to tap the Millennium Falcon up and over their storm troopers. However, players need to be careful not to use too much force which can shake their own storm troopers out of play.

Loopin’ Chewie has a player elimination style with a bit of a twist. Once all 3 storm troopers are knocked below a player is no longer eligible to win the game. They may however continued to play and try to knock the millennium Falcon into the storm troopers of their opponents. The last player with with Storm Troopers at the end wins the game.

Games are played very quickly with a simple reset. This lends the game to be played multiple times in a row.

Family Game Assessment

Loopin’ Chewie is quintessential family game. With it simple set up, simple gameplay, and fast play it encourages multiple plays in one setting. The format allows for multi age and multi generation play, by being so simple and requiring little skill or strategy.

The Star Wars theme is engaging across the ages too. It is not the most portable game, being a medium size box. However the pieces do disassemble easily to fit back in the box, which is convenient for storage. For a quick light game Loopin’ Chewie is a great game in a family collection.

Final Thoughts

For any young Star Wars fan Loopin’ Chewy is a great addition to a family game collection. It is a good quick game that takes moments to set up and play.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Poison brewing? Stubborn donkey pushing? Table flipping? Let the Orclympics begin!

Brain Games

Get ready for a menagerie of different creatures battling head to head to win Orc-lympics events. Orc-lympics is a card game were you are drafting your team of Orclympians to compete in various events. You then need to manage the roster as your Orclympians compete. The game is for two to five players ages eight and up and plays in 10 to 20 minutes.

Components

  • 12 event cards
  • 42 Orc-lympics cards: Humans, Goblins, Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, Halflings, and Djinns
  • Gold and silver trophies

Gameplay

Orc-lympics plays in three phases: Reveal Competitions, Build Team, Compete.

Reveal Competitions

At the beginning of the game, to reveal the competitions, player set up the deck by shuffling the 12 event cards. There are three main event cards as well, which are set aside initially. Players deal the 12 event cards face up and six face down into two parallel rows. The face up cards have different scores and an illustration of the competition. Players sort cards least to greatest. The Main Event cards is randomly selected at the end, and is worth 7 points. The remaining 6 event cards which are face down are worth two points each. A main event card is placed at the end face down and is worth four points.

Build Team

To build teams, shuffle the 42 Orc-lympians cards and eight cards, and deal to each player. Players then draft their cards. To do this each player selects one card from their hand simultaneously and places it face down on the table in front of them. Players then take the remaining cards and pass them to the player on their left. Players continue to pick and pass cards until all eight cards have been selected. Next, players edit their team. They must limit their team of players to any three races, discarding any cards exceeded that criteria.

On each Orclympian card there are scores for three attributes; Speed, Cunning, and Strength. These scores are essential for competing in the competitions.

Compete

To Compete, players go around and can play any number of cards. However, the attribute listed on their Orclympian myst be one or greater in the skill of the competition. When a player becomes the highest scoring player they take the gold trophy,and second place player takes silver. Play may continue to go around with players adding cards if they wish, though one a player passes they can not add more players to the competition. Once all players have passed for that competition, it ends.
The player in first place takes the face up competition card and earns the points listed. The second place player takes the face down competition card under it and earns two points for regular competitions and four points for the main event. For the first and second place they also discard a cards used in the competition. The remaining players may take one card back and must discard the rest. Play continues until all seven competitions conculde. Each player is not required to compete in each competition.

Is this a Family Game?

Orc-lympics is a great gateway to more complex game mechanics. It incorporates drafting and resource management in a simple and accessible way. Players draft their “Orclympians,” edit their teams, and manage their players. It is nearly impossible to compete in every event so players need to prioritize how they will utilize their competitors to try and earn the most points.

There is quite a bit if strategy both with drafting and managing the resources of the Orc-lympians. There are several different layers of strategy, so you’ll need to coach younger players. Our youngest player was six years old and he needed a lot of support. He has learned some of the strategy needed after several games, but still benefits from coaching to keep the frustration at bay. With that said, the recommendation of age eight and up seems a good fit.

Final Thoughts

The Orc-lympic theme is light hearted and ties nicely into sports competitions and creating teams. As a stepping stone into card drafting and light resource management Orc-lympics is a good fit. At first glance the game seems complicated, but the steps are easy to understand and the game plays quickly so different strategies can be tried in rapid succession.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!







0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail


  • Plan B Games
  • Age Rating: 8+ 
  • Players: 2-4
  • Timeframe: 30-45 minutes
  • MSRP: $39.99
  • Style: Abstract Strategy/Drafting

Introduced by the Moors, “azulejos” (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese, when their King Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, was mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles. The king, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles.

– Plan B Game

Azul is an award winning game designed by Michael Kiesling that took the gaming world by storm in 2018.  This is an abstract strategy game where players compete as artisans hired to decorate the walls of the Royal Palace.  Players must plan ahead and carefully draft the correct quantity and style of tiles in order to achieve the highest score all while being careful not to create waste for the next round. 

Contents

  • Complete Rule Booklet
  • Linen Bag
  • 100 Multi-colored tiles 
  • 4 Player Boards
  • 9 Factory Display Boards
  • 4 Scoring Markers
  • 1 Starting Player Marker

Gameplay

Azul is played over a series of rounds, each round consisting of three steps.  During the round, players take turns drafting beautifully colored tiles from factory supply disks to their player board. Later in the round, players score points based on how they’ve placed their tiles on their player board to help decorate the palace walls. Extra points are scored for  completing specific patterns and completing sets. Any wasted supplies harm the player’s score. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Setting Up The Game

Players start by laying Factory Display disks in the center of the table.  Colored tiles are placed in the linen draw bag, and the starting player places four randomly drawn tiles on each disk.  Each player gets a player board and score token.

Play in Rounds

Each round consists of three steps. 

First is the “Factory Offer” – Players may either choose one set of tiles from a Factory disk in the center of the table or tiles that are already in the center.  If a player chooses a disk, they take all the tiles of one color from the disk and discard the rest in the center of the circle. If a player takes from the center, they must take all tiles of a single color/pattern.  The first one to take from the center becomes the starting player on the next round. After the player selects their tiles, they must place them on ONE pattern line on their player board. Players may only place tiles of the same color/pattern on a single line.  Once that line is full, it is complete, and extra tiles go on the floor line (which count against your score). After a player has chosen and placed their tiles on their player board, it’s the next player’s turn. Play continues like this until all tiles have been claimed from the Factory disks and center of the table.

Next up is “Wall-Tiling” – During this phase, players move tiles from their completed (full) pattern lines to the wall area on their player board. Players perform this simultaneously.  Starting at the top of their pattern lines, players move one tile from each complete line to the corresponding tile on the wall in that row. Players score each tile immediately.  All of the remaining tiles from that pattern line are placed in the game box. Any tiles left in incomplete rows remain until the next round. The scoring portion of this step is where all of your strategy and pre-planning pays off (or not). 

Lastly, players Prepare for Next Round – This step is fairly obvious.  Players follow the instructions for refilling factory disks and prepare for the next round.  Play continues in rounds until all one player completes a horizontal row on their tile wall. Here are additional points to be earned at the end of the game based on pattern completion choices.

Is it a Family Game?

This game is designed for players eight and up and has very simple rules that are easy to explain and understand.  The game pieces are sturdy, pretty, and easy to manipulate (the tiles are a LOT like Starburst candies). There is no reading involved which makes it great for young players.  However, we found the seeming simplicity to be deceptive. The strategy and choices you make have a huge impact on your overall score and make the game much more complex. There are so many different ways to play which ensures the game does not get stale.  You can play specifically to obstruct your opponents, you can play casually and only worry about your own player board, or you can play the long game to score high via combos in the end. Younger players often miss these options and may get frustrated by low scores. 

Conclusion

This game is visually stunning, easy to set up and clean up, easy to understand, and is quite challenging.  The different choices and options accommodate differing playing styles and it is clear that the design of the game was well thought out.  While the game does have a theme, it does not carry through the game or effect gameplay. It is very similar to abstract strategy game along the lines of Indigo, Tak, Seikatsu, etc.  We do feel that there is plenty of replay value to this game and can clearly see why it won so many awards.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Tiny Ninjas is a heads-up two player card game where players take turns playing ninja cards in an attempt to deal damage to their opponent. One of its coolest features is a transforming game box that not only stores the game components, but makes it portable so you can take your ninja battle anywhere (even in the car!)

How Do You Play?

Players are dealt five card hands. They then take turns as the either attacker or the defender as they play cards into the arena. The attacked goes first by playing a card, follower by the defender. Then the damage is resolved by comparing the two cards (and any associated die rolls). The attacker can continue to play cards from their hand to try and deal extra damage, but they have to be careful because the player on defense can draw back up to their starting hand size when they switch roles, but the attacker cannot. That hand management is crucial.

The Tiny Ninjas website features several wonderful how to play videos that are even highlighted in their rulebook.

Components

Tiny Ninjas is meant to be a portable board game experience so everything is made with that in mind. The box would likely survive being hit by a car (although we didn’t specifically test that). The cards are of great quality that won’t bend easily. The custom dice are large enough that they are easy to find when dropped in the back seat of a car (we did, unfortunately, test that).

The component list includes the following:

58 Ninja cards
2 reference cards
1 shuriken die
1 kunai die
2 connector walls
2 health dials
4 sensei markers
1 transforming game box
1 rulebook

Is it a kid’s game?

The box says the game is for ages 8+ and I agree. In fact, I think game savvy kids could play this game at any age as long as they are familiar with numbers.

Tiny Ninjas does include an advanced rule set that will need to be reserved for more skilled players/readers, but the base game has very little reading at all.

Will kids want to play it?

We live in a world that is crowded by two player card combat games that cover all sorts of themes. Tiny Ninjas does a great job of battling its way to the top of the heap.

First, it is impossible to talk about this game without addressing the art style. Put simply, we loved it. Ninjas will always be a hit in our house, but the Tiny Ninjas took things to another level. My youngest was actually disappointed to find out that it wasn’t a licensed game with a Netflix show to binge watch. The characters all share the same template (tiny body, giant round head), but they were still infused with personality.

Second, Tiny Ninjas is surprisingly deep. I mentioned hand management above, but it is worth mentioning again. Managing your hand to ensure that you are applying pressure to your opponent while also leaving yourself cards to defend yourself is very important. The cards don’t all deal static amounts of damage, because of their reliance on dice rolls. This means that, at any time, your opponent could draw into a very explosive hand. It is incredibly risky to empty your entire hand on offense. As we play tested the game for our review, we found that there was never a right answer. The different card combinations kept anyone from “solving” the game.

Lastly, we really enjoyed the fact that this small box included, essentially, two games in one. The advanced ninja rules add another layer of depth by allowing players to use more complex ninja cards and play with cool Sensei Abilities. These add even more complex decision to the gameplay.

Conclusion

Tiny Ninjas is a great addition to your board game collection. I particularly recommend it for families looking for additional options on long road trips. The transforming box is made of thick cardboard and easily set up in the back set of a car to keep kids occupied without electronic devices.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Coder Mindz is the latest programming game from the maker of Coder Bunnyz, nine year old Samaira Mehta along with her brother Aadit.  In Coder Mindz, you are a programmer of a bot in the year 2045.  Players create code and train their robot to “identify” images and collect data, using tokens represent the images and date.

Game Components

  • Code Cards
    • Basic Code Cards
      • Move  Forward, Move Right, Move Left, Move Any, Move Any 2
      • Zap
    • Advanced Code Cards
      • Conditional
      • Loop
      • Function
  • Tokens
  • Game Board
  • 6 Sided die with numbers 1-3
  • 4 Wooden Bots

 

Levels of Play

Coder Mindz has multiple levels of play which increase in complexity as you move through the levels.  Each level adds additional coding skills and strategies.

  1. Training
    • 1.1 Basic
    • 1.2 Advanced
  2. Image Recognition
    • 2.1 Inference
    • 2.2 Adaptive Learning
  3. Autonomous
    • 3.1 Basic
    • 3.2 Advanced

Gameplay

Overview

Like its predecessor, Coder Mindz has you using cards to program the motion of your Bot to land of their end point. There are multiple variants which increase in difficulty as you gain skills in the game.  Zap cards are also incorporated in multiple variants.  Zap cards send an opponent back to their starting space.

To play

  1. Players start their turn by rolling a sisix-sidedie which has the numbers one, two, and three on it. Then they draw the number of cards indicated by their roll.
  2. The active player determines the order they wish to use their cards, discarding any that are unplayable. A player may also play a Zap card during their turn at any point their Bot in a position allowing the use of a Zap.  However, a Zap card may only be used once per player per game.
  3. The player moves their Bot based on their program cards.
  4. The first player to get to their end point wins. The remaining players can continue playing to determine the second, third and fourth place.

Levels of Play Variations

In the Training mode, players start by becoming familiar with the Code Cards and how they can plan bot movement with basic Code Cards.  Advanced Code Cards are introduced only one per turn in Advanced Training.

Image Recognition incorporates one image token which is split into two pieces.  Players place the two pieces strategically on the board.  Before the bot reaches their endpoint they need to collect both image pieces. Players can scale the level of difficulty by adding or omitting advance function cards as well as Zap cards.

Autonomous mode of play has players plan their whole code before moving their Bot. Players then execute the code they developed correctly.  Players place the image tokens on the board.  They take turns rolling the die to determine how many cards to draw each turn.  Once determining the next steps of their code the cards are placed face down, so the players have to remember where it would put them on the board. Once a player thinks they have “programmed” their bot to collect the image tokens and arrive at their endpoint they announce that their code is complete.  The player then flips their cards over an follows the code to move their Bot.  If the code is successful the player wins, if not they have a chance to debug their code, but can not win the game.

Family Game Assessment

Coder Mindz presents the concepts of coding in an accessible format for a young player, but it is also engaging for older players.  Having three modes of play with two levels of difficulty at each level makes the game easy to scale based on the age of the players as well as the experience they have with creating code.

I introduced Coder Mindz to two 6-year-olds at a family gathering, and both kids picked up the basic game within minutes.  They were so engaged and excited by the game they wanted to play again as soon as our robots got to their endpoints.

Of the coding games I have had the opportunity to play, Coder Mindz is the most streamlined and easy to learn.  The limited number of variants keep it from being overwhelming, and the components are easy to manage for younger players.

Educational Applications

This is a great tool for teaching code at any age.  The Bots are adorable and engaging for players of all ages.  The Autonomous Mode is challenging and demonstrates the accuracy and precision needed in writing code.

Conclusion

Coder Mindz is a great introduction to coding by using cards to program motion.  Of the coding games in my library this is my favorite.

FCC Disclosure: A copy of Coder Mindz was provided for review.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Tournament of Towers is a dexterity game from Iron Hippo Games where players try to draft the best pieces using cards to create the highest scoring tower.  Players have the role to build the greatest monument for the kingdom of Geometria. This game was originally funded on Kickstarter and is now available for retail. The game is for players age five and up and can play two to four players.

Game Components

  • 4 Foundation Pieces
  • 4 Architect Figures
  • 40 Stone Pieces
  • 20 Gold Pieces
  • 60 Building Material Cards
  • 1 Event Die

Gameplay

Tournament of Towers incorporates a drafting component into the dexterity and strategy of building your tower.  Additionally, there are multiple rule variants.

Standard Rules

The game plays in two rounds.   The game begins by distributing a foundation piece and Architect figure to each player.

In each round, you start by shuffling the building material cards and dealing seven cards to each player.  Players then draft the cards.  To do this each player chooses one card from their hand and places it face-down in front of them.  Then they pass their remaining hand to the person on their left. Again, they choose a card from their new hand and pass the remaining cards to the left.  Drafting continues until all cards have been used.  Next, each player designates their building order. This is done by placing their cards in a row, and the building order is read left to right.  Then, there is the option to roll an event.  Depending on the round different events occur such as changing the order of your Building material cards or moving a piece from the player to your right and add it to your tower.

Once all players finalize their building material cards, they gather the pieces shown on their cards and build their towers in the order of the building cards. Players have the option to add their Architect figure to the top of their tower to gain an additional point. Players call out “Done” when their tower is complete. Which ends the round for them.  If the tower falls between rounds it is considered a Mulligan and can be rebuilt.

A Mulligan is where a player is permitted to fix their tower by placing the pieces in approximately the same places they were before it falls.

Rule Variants

Simplifying

To scale down the challenge level deal out fewer cards which result in placing fewer pieces.  The recommendation is to only deal four or five cards and add an extra mulligan.

Family Style

Family Style tower building becomes a cooperative game.  Players construct until the collectively decide the tower is complete and a masterpiece worthy of the King and Queen of Geometria or until the tower falls.  Players begin by shuffling the whole deck.  On their turn, a player draws to cards and decides which one to play. The piece placed corresponds to that card.  The selected card is placed in the discard pile and the unused card is placed at the bottom of the deck.

Ultimate Tower

Using a single foundation piece the player or players are challenged to create a tower using all the pieces of the game.

Apprentice Rule

In this variant, players may use one Mulligan per round to fix their tower if a piece falls.

Competitive play

Players place each piece of their tower one at a time in turn.  For example, each player individually places their third piece, and unlike in other modes of play, the turns are not done simultaneously.

Family Gaming Assessment

The beauty of Tournament of Towers as a family game is its flexibility and how easy it is to learn. It took the family only a few minutes to learn the game and start playing. The ease of learning makes is a game that is perfect for a family party.  The rules can be scaled to the skill level of the players. The rules recommend that that novice players use fewer cards per round and add Mulligans.

Children as young as 5 can certainly access and enjoy this game, but the children I played with struggled to complete a tower after the first round when we played standard rules. Later we played by the simplified rules by playing fewer cards per round. The game became much more accessible and less frustrating for the kids.  As we were getting to know the balance features of each of the pieces there were also unlimited Mulligans.

For anyone looking for some STEM activities for their children Tournament of Towers incorporates engineering.   The Ultimate Tower challenge is a perfect example of a STEM task when there is an end goal and components and the player problem solve and work through how to balance all the pieces.

Conclusion

Tournament of Towers is a unique game with wonderful components.  The pieces of this game provide such a range of open ended opportunities. It is accessible for a huge range of players. The rules are so simple and the gamplay so quick making it a great fit to family gatherings and game nights.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Blurble is a game all about racing and talking.  So many of us love to talk and this gives us the chance to put that talking to good use. In Blurble, players race to say a word first that starts with the same letter as the picture on the card. North Star Games published Blurble, which takes about 15 minutes to play, is recommended for ages 8 and up and plays 4-8 players

Game Components

Blurble contains 348 colorful cards with a wide range of pictures. An Exercises booklet included gives many ideas for other ways to use the cards beyond the game.

Gameplay

To begin a round, players select one player as the Blurber.  This person puts the deck between them and the player to their left.  First, the top card is flipped over, and then two players then go head to head racing to first shout out a legal word starting with the same letter as the picture. The other players act as referees. They determine who said their word first and if it meets the criteria to be a legal word. The card goes to the winner, and the card scores a point. The Blurber then moves to next player clockwise around the table until that Burbler has raced every player.

The next round begins by moving the roll of Blurber to the left.  Play continues until all players have been the Blurber twice in a 4-6 player game or once in a 7 and 8 player game. The player with the most points wins.  The rules also state that in the case of a tie the youngest player wins.

The criteria that qualifies what is a legal word in this game is very straight forward.  First the word must start with the same letter as the picture. Secondly, the word must be in English. Finally, each word is only playable once per game.  Additionally for the restrictions the word cannot be; a proper noun, a number, an acronym, or have any part of the name or the card or answer overlap (for example rain and rainbow).

Rule Variants

The rules also offer multiple rules variants. There are two  variants for playing with younger children against an older player.  The first suggestions are that the younger player does not have the same restrictions on their words, just that it begins with the same letter.  The second variant has the younger player following the standard word rules, but the older player has additional restrictions, such as it must be a noun.

Game play variants can add some different flavor to the game.  The variants include; King of the Hill, The Thief, and The Brainiac. 

  • King of the Hill: Each race winner becomes the Blurber. The game plays to 10 points.  
  • The Thief:  All players may jump in when an illegal word is used and try and steal the card by providing a legal.
  • The Brainiac: Players further limit the criteria on what makes a legal word for all players.

Family Gaming Assessment

Blurble allows play with multiple ages and skills by adjusting the criteria of a legal word, and the recommended ages 8 and up and without any changes that age works well.  In playing with a kindergartener (age 5), he could not come up with a word quickly so for children who are pre-readers or beginning readers this may require some customization of the rule to best use the game. Blurble takes minutes to teach and can play up to 8 players making it great for a gathering of family or friends.  Scaling criteria of a legal word accommodate multiple skill levels within the same game.

I think it is an asset of the game that the rules can be so adapted and flexible.  The one rule I encountered, which I questioned is the rule in the event of a tie. The rules state that in that instance the youngest player would win.  In this case I disagree with that default. I would much prefer a final head to head between the two players to determine a winner. Choosing the youngest player to win is arbitrary. The rule could just as easily said the player with the longest hair wins in the event of a tie.   

Educational Exercises

Blurble contains a booklet labeled Educational Exercises. Within it explains other uses of the cards in Blurble as an educational tool for parents and teachers.  Activities are categorized by type, and then further broken down by age.  As a primary teacher, I found these great ideas to utilize the cards in a range of other activities. The activities include Object Identification/Vocabulary, Spelling, Storytelling, Identifying Characteristics, Information Retrieval, and Group games. These activities range for ages 2 (with object identification) to age 11 with storytelling. The activities suggested could be helpful for Home School lessons, centers in a classroom, or skill reinforcement at home.

The educational opportunities are quite extensive with the range of quality pictures on the cards.  There are additional possibilities for educational activities using the Blurble cards beyond the Educational Exercise suggestions.  Some possibilities include sorts, phonic feature identifications, and story starters.

Conclusion

Blurble tailors to accommodate multiple skills and ages within the same game and provides a great deal of flexibility on how to play. This is a good party game with the ease of learning, and the player count up to 8.  The additional educational activities available utilizing the game cards exponentially adds the opportunities to interact with the components of the game.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Coder Bunnyz is a coding game created by Samaira Mehta when she was a second grader.  Her goal was to combine her love of bunnies and coding into a board game so that children of all ages could also learn to code. Coder Bunnyz is designed for 1-4 players ages 4 and older, and the difficulty scales up as players master game skills.

Game Components

  • Game Board
  • Die: with numbers 1-1-2-2-3-3
  • Code Cards in four colors
    • Move  Forward
    • Turn Left
    • Turn Right
    • Jump
    • Repeat 2, Repeat 3, Repeat 4
    • Function
  • Bunnyz tokens
    • Bunnies (in each color)
    • Bug-Fixit!
    • Carrots
    • Destination (Park, Carnival, School, Zoo)
    • Fence
    • Puddle

Gameplay

The objective of the game is to navigate your bunny to their carrot and then to your destination first.   There are thirteen variants in the game, and as the player skills increase the gameplay can advance with their skills. 

There are four basic levels of play with sub skills introduced separately:

  • Level 1: Basic Coding
    • Teaches Sequence
    • Introduces jump
    • Introduces conditionals
    • Teaches Code-it!
  • Level 2: Advanced Coding (recommended for players 8 and up)
    • Repeat
    • Introduces Function
  • Level 3: Strategic and Code-it!
    • Single color
    • Mix-N-Match
  • Level 4: Pro Coding
    • Introducing Inheritance
    • Parallel Play (introducing Parallelism)
    • Getting List-Y
    • Queue-Y (Introducing Queue)
    • Stack Y (Introducing Stack)

The basic gameplay has a few consistent elements across all levels.  These include selecting cards and programming the movement your rabbit takes to first get their carrot and then go to their destination.  At some levels, the number of cards you draw is determined by rolling the die. The pool of Code Cards increases as you advance through the levels of play, and the cards become more complicated in what they represent.  

Family Game Assessment

Coder Bunnyz is a great accessible game to introduce young children to the basics of coding and to develop coding skills in older children.  I introduced it to my 6-year-old and he picked right up on the concept of planning the movement of his bunny. As a beginning player, he did benefit from some coaching, as well as the Bug-Fixit! Token to undo a move that would not have worked.  We played through level 1.1 and 1.2 which is the most simplistic and introduces the sequence cards and the jump card.

Having thirteen variants of play included within the four basic levels allows the game to scale with the age and skill level of the players.  This makes it challenging and engaging for players of all levels.

One thing we noticed while playing Coder Bunnyz was game board was bumped frequently causing the tiles to shift. This happened more while playing with younger players, though we were able to fix the board easily.  Players who struggle with fine or gross motor skills may find the tiles shifting frustrating if the game board is bumped.

Educational Application

Coder Bunnyz also has a strong educational benefit.  It introduces the basics of coding in a friendly and accessible format. Younger beginning players benefit from coaching and direct instruction on the best way to program the motion of their bunny.  Older and more experienced players can create greater challenges with the board layout to refine their strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

Conclusion

For any family or teacher looking to introduce the fundamentals of coding, Coder Bunnyz provides a wonderful tool.  With the focus in education on problem-solving and STEM it is critical to support children in developing reasoning and planning skills. Coder Bunnyz is a tool that can help children develop skills that will be an asset to them in school and beyond.   

FCC Disclosure: A copy of Coder Bunnyz was provided for review.

 

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail

Amaze is a single player maze game from ThinkFun, and recommended for players ages 8 to adult. The maze board is changeable with 16 different mazes, and puts an interesting spin on maze games.

Game Contents

  • Maze board and an attached stylus
  • 16 challenge settings available on the back (with three difficulty levels)
  • Instructions included in the box provide further directions and also proved the solutions to all the mazes

Game Play

Amaze is extremely easy to set up.  There are red indicators on the left side of the board, and those indicators program to one of 16 mazes.  These settings make the maze progressively harder.  Once the player set the maze, you trace your path through the maze without lifting the stylus from start to finish.  During play, the player pushes the red bars left or right to open up a new path, or potentially trap you.  

Family Gaming Assessment

Amaze is a perfect travel game for families.  Amaze has the ideal design feature, attaching the stylus so it can not be lost.  Additionally, the maze itself is small enough to fit in a purse or backpack. For as simple as the design is the mazes are challenging and don’t present obvious solutions.  Being a single player game kids or adults can work on the maze for a while and put it away easily when they need a break.  Another advantage of Amaze is this is a battery free quiet game.  Amaze is perfect for a waiting room, since play is quiet.

Conclusion


Since this game has come into my house is has been played by children as young as five and up to adults.  The appeal is in the simplicity of the game, yet challenging nature of the mazes.  This is a great addition to a game collection for travel or quiet play and will appeal to anyone who enjoys mazes.

1 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditEmail
Newer Posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More