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We are coming up on GENCON 2015 and Calliope Games has announced a new game that they will be showing there. “Thieves” was originally published by 999 games in Europe and Calliope Games will be publishing it in the US market towards the end of 2015 or early 2016.

“In Thieves, players take on the role of bandits pulling off the heist of a lifetime. The safes have been cracked, the bags have been loaded, and the getaway car is ready. All is going smoothly… until someone trips the alarm. Eager to put an end to the players’ crooked ways, the cops give chase, throwing up roadblocks and seizing everything from the wealthiest thief each time a police raid is triggered. Players must gather loot without making themselves a target. The thief who flees the city with the lion’s share of the loot wins! -Calliope Games”

The game will be available for demos at GENCON and we’ll be reporting on some first hand impressions after the event and as we get closer to release!



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The Titan Series is a  product line being published by Calliope Games and funded through a massive Kickstarter campaign. What makes the project special is that each game is being designed by a legendary game designer.

Calliope Games has been publishing videos to YouTube on their channel featuring the different “Titans.” Take a look below!

Richard Garfield

(Yes. THE Richard Garfield.)

Zach Weisman

Jordan Weisman

Rob Daviau

Seth Johnson

Paul Peterson

Eric Lang

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Calliope Games is a board game publisher that focuses on “gateway games.” This means that they focus on games that are easy to learn, quick to play, and are accessible to players who may not have been playing hobby board games for years. Put simply, they want to build the board game industry by bringing more players into the fold. They assume that there are some players who need some coaxing, and by giving them a simple game to learn first they may open their eyes to the wild world of hobbyist gaming and hopefully the rest of Calliope’s games while they are at it. (You an read our reviews of some Calliope Games right here!)

It’s become my personal mission to introduce as many people as possible to tabletop games and the experiences they create.” ~ Ray Wehrs, Calliope Games’ president

Recently, they announced the Titan Series; a line of games developed by legendary game designers. This fantastic team of game designers is responsible for amazing games like “Magic: The Gathering, Shadowrun, King of Tokyo, Mechwarrior, HeroClix, Marvel Dice Masters, Quarriors, and many more!” Each of them will be designing their very first gateway games! Check out the graphic below to see some of the talented designers they have brought on board! (Head here to view some interview videos with several of them!)

Everything is being funded via a massive Kickstarter that will launch tomorrow March 31st! The games themselves will be staggered over a period of three years so they are, naturally, at different stages of development. We don’t even know their themes or genre’s yet! Its all a huge mystery, but that really is part of the appeal of this process. Calliope is planning to involve backers as much as is reasonable throughout development. This will give prospective backers behind the scenes access and a glimpse at the work these geniuses do as they take a game from concept to prototype to full retail release!

This is huge news for family gamers because each of these games is planned to be family friendly. We won’t have to worry about any of these games being inappropriate for our kids. Kickstarter projects can evolve over time and having a publisher commit out the gate that these games will be family appropriate is a boon.

Keep your eyes peeled on Engaged Family Gaming for more updates as we have them!


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The “8 and up” game category opens up a whole new realm of gaming options. Game become less “kid games” and more “kid-friendly”.  At this age, reading cards is no longer a concern and the kids can handle more strategy and steps per turn.  The number of games at this age level absolutely explodes and there is no way to include everything.  This list includes some of our favorites, but there is so much more to play! 



Timeline is a competitive game for two to eight players that takes about 15 minutes to play. Player begin with at least four cards to start, and a single card is revealed. Each card is two-sided, with a matching picture on each side, however; one side has a caption describing the picture like “The invention of the Electric Iron” and the other has the year “1882”.  In order to play the game players must find the correct place on the timeline for their card without seeing the year printed on the back.

If you place your card correctly, it is revealed and becomes part of the timeline. If not, it is discarded and you draw a new card.  A round ends when a player places their final card correctly.  If any other players also place their final cards correctly that same round, a new round is played.  Rounds are continued until only one player finishes a round with no cards.

See our review here.


Dixit, a storytelling game for three to six players.  It requires that you come up with a description of your own surreal card that also leaves your opponents guessing. First, each player is dealt six incredibly beautiful cards. The storyteller (active player) chooses a card and describes it with a word or phrase. Your opponents then select one of their cards that matches your description, trying to trick the other players into voting for their card. The Storytellers and the other player cards are shuffled and displayed face up.

Players secretly vote for the card they think is the Storytellers using color-coded chips. If everyone guesses your card, all your opponents gain 2 points and you gain none. However, if no one chooses yours, your opponents all gain 2 points and you still get 0!  Should one or more person guesses my image I get 3 points and they get 3 points, plus a bonus for anyone choosing their card.

See our review here.

Blue Orange Games


Kingdomino , the 2017 winner of The Spiel Des Jahres (The Game of the Year), combines the universal simplicity of dominoes with kingdom building. It is a tile drafting and placement game for two to four players.  The game is played in short rounds. First, tiles are laid out in a field and players take turns drafting tiles based on the order of the previous round.

Players draw domino shaped tiles and lay them out in their 5×5 block kingdom. only one side of their domino needs to match the land the connect to, but it can gain them more points if both sides match. The goal is to sort their kingdom so that they have large contiguous terrain (lakes, forests, etc) to earn points. Points are calculated by taking the number of continuous terrain times the number of crown icons found on any domino in that terrain. The gameplay is quick, easy to teach, and the game ages down very nicely.

See our Spiel Des Jahres 2017 article here.


Photosynthesis is a beautiful science-themed game that features the tree life cycle and a rotating sun to collect light points. The game plays two to four players and takes 45 minutes to an hour to play. In Photosynthesis the sun moves around the board three times and players plant and progress trees through their life cycle to collect points.  The trees are three dimensional and provide a beautiful visual as the forest “grows”.

Photosynthesis plays in rounds. Standard play is three rounds. Each round consists of two phases: the Photosynthesis Phase and the Life Cycle Phase.   Each tree that is not in the shadow of another tree earns Light Point  You then earn a scoring token based upon their location on the board, which represents the richness of the soil.

The game ends after the sun makes three complete revolutions around the board.  Points are then calculated based on scoring tokens and unused light points.

See our review here.

Breaking games

4 the Birds

4 The Birds is a family board game for two to six player that is a wonderfully designed classic lineup game (think Connect4 but allowing squares as well). This game is easy to learn and fun to play and has unique elements like a ‘pecking order’ among birds, non-player crows and hawks that scatter the flock, and 6 action cards that allow players to manipulate gameplay.

Each player rolls two dice on their turn to determine where they will place their bird on the tree.  If a player rolls a 4 and a 2, they get to choose if they place their bird on the 24 spot or the 42 spot.

When placing birds, territorial disputes are resolved via a mechanic called a “Pecking Order” and there is slide mechanic that goes into effect when birds vie for the same spot on the board.  If a player chooses not to place a bird they can play one of their 6 action cards instead.

See our review here.

Calliope Games


Tsuro is a tile laying game for two to eight players with a beautiful Asian aesthetic. In this game you are a flying dragon. Your dragon is represented by a colored carved token. Tsuro consists of tiles with twisting lines on them, a 6×6 grid on which to lay these tiles and a token for each player.

Each player has a hand of tiles. On your turn you do two things: place a tile from your hand onto the board next to your token and move your token as far as it can go along the line it is currently on. You continue to move it until it is stopped by an empty space with no tile in (yet), the edge of the board, or if you collide with player’s token. If your dragon reaches the edge of the board or collides with another player’s token, you are out of the game.

The goal of the game is to be the last player left with a dragon on the board. The strategy, therefore, consists of trying to drive your opponents either into each other or off of the board while trying to extend your own route in directions that will make it difficult for your opponents to hinder your path.

See our review here.

Roll For It!

Roll for It! is a simple and quick dice and card game. The object of the game is to be the first player to collect 40 points by managing dice and matching the appropriate dice to the cards in play. The game players two to four, however by purchasing both the red and purple sets, you can increase the number of players to eight.

Game play is quite easy and takes mere minutes to explain to new players. On their turn the player completes three actions.

  1. Roll for it! The player rolls dice once per turn
  2. Match it! The player then matches the results of their roll with the dice images shown on the three face-up Roll For It! cards, ignoring results that don’t match any images.
  3. Score it! Players score a Roll For It! card as soon as they’ve matched all of its die images with dice of their own color. A card is worth points equal to the number printed at the bottom.

See our review here.

Days Of Wonder

Ticket to Ride

Ticket To Ride is a two to five player game with a nicely designed heavy cardboard map of North American train routes. During gameplay, players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout the United States. Each player is working on completing their own secret routes. If another player claims a path they need, the player needs to try and find another path to complete their route, if possible. This also adds a potential “take that” element to the game.

On each turn you can only take one of 3 actions: draw Train Car Cards, claim a Route between two cities on the board, draw additional Destination Tickets. The object of the game is to score the highest number of total points. Points are earned from completing routes, and lost for incomplete route cards. Each round allows for players to plan, think strategically, and make tactical decisions.

See our review here.



In Dragonwood players take on the roll of adventures traveling and defeating creatures, collecting items to help on your adventure.  This all occurs while players deal with events cards as they come up and ultimately earning the most victory points.  Dragonwood incorporates set collection and hand management and is for two to four players.

At the beginning of the game five cards from the Dragonwood deck are laid out in a landscape.  These cards include the magical creatures, enhancements, and events.  On their turn players may draw an adventurer card or  try to capture a card from the landscape by striking, stomping, or screaming.  Players collect sets of adventurer cards and can play them to earn the number of dice equal to the number of adventurer cards they use. Players then roll to see if they can roll a total number equal or greater to the number on the card for the attack they selected.The game ends once the adventure deck has been played through twice or the two dragons in the deck are captured.  The player with the most victory points wins.

Go Nuts For Donuts 

Go Nuts For Donuts is a card drafting and set collection game for two to six players where players are trying to collect the best donuts to eat.  Since there is no sharing in this game, player are bidding on the different donuts available in the donut row. Players bid in secret and at the end of the bidding only those donuts with a single bidder are collected.  This brings in an element of  strategy with bidding.  The most desired cards often receive multiple bids and can not be collected.

Each kind of the 21 kinds donut ( and two beverages) has either points it gains you, an action you can take immediately upon retrieving the card, or both. The kinds of donut cards available to players increases with the player count. The game ends when there are not enough cards to complete another round of bidding and the player with the most points wins.

Sushi Go

 Sushi-Go takes place in the fast-paced world of a sushi chef, you must be the most creative and the fastest of all to be the best! The game comes in a cute tin and plays two to five players.

Players start with cards in their hand based on the number of players, and select one card to play before passing the rest of their cards to the next player to choose from!  The game plays in 3 hands, where all but dessert cards are cleared from the table and scored at the end.  The strategy of the game lies in making the most of the cards passed to you, while trying to stop opponents from making the combinations they need to maximize points.

The most interesting dynamic of this game is the chopsticks.  They are played in one round, and used on a subsequent turn to play two cards at once from the current hand.  The chopsticks get passed on to be used by someone else.

As is, Sushi Go! is a fun game to play with your children or even with your adult friends, even if you don’t like sushi!

See our review here.

Sushi Go Party

Sushi Go Party takes the best of  Sushi Go and adds more. It plays two to eight players,and comes in a bigger tin that shows off more cute sushi rolls. The main gameplay difference is that players spend the first bit of the game choosing which cards to include in the deck that everyone drafts. There is no established rule in the book for determining which cards are selected either. The rule book includes eight deck suggestions, and players can come up with their own interesting combinations.


Monopoly Gamer

Monopoly Gamer is a must see for any Nintendo fan.  Nintendo elements infuse through the game, and the gameplay is vastly different.  Power-ups give players the ability to collect coins, force opponents to drop coins, and move forward. Coins replace the paper dollars, and are used for everything. Passing Go now has player activating Boss Battles, and these Boss Battles will reward the victor with additional coins for the end of the game, as well as some fun treats like a free property, or stolen goods from an opponent.

With all of these added features and a significantly faster pace, Monopoly Gamer feels like a game Nintendo and Parker Brothers can be proud to have their names on. The ability to add additional player characters is also a great way to add replayability to this one.

See our review here.

Horrible Games

Potion Explosion

Potion Explosion is a game that will fit right into any household dominated by Harry Potter fans. Two to four players take on the role of wizards who are trying to make potions. They take turns pulling marbles out of an (ingenious) game board to collect resources. If marbles of the same color are touching when they pull out their first marble, then they get those as well. Both the look of game board and the matching color component is very reminiscent of mobile matching games.  The concept is straight forward and the puzzle-like mechanics will keep everyone engaged.

Players work to complete two potions at a time on their “work station” , and earn points for each complete token. Once players complete the potion components they have the option  to “drink” them potion.  Drinking the potion give the player a single use ability. Using up all the skill tokens or the potion cards ends the game. Points earned from completing potions determines the winner.


King of Tokyo

Attacking Aliens, Rampaging Lizards, Giant Robots, Mutant Bugs, and Ferocious Gorillas: this game has them all! King of Tokyo is a game for two to six players that combines a board game, a dice game and a card game. You play as one monster whose main goals are to destroy Tokyo and battle other monsters in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo!

At the beginning of the turn, each player rolls six dice. The dice show the following symbols: numbers 1, 2, or 3 (representing Victory Points that can be earned), a lightning bolt (representing Energy that can be earned), a heart (representing Healing), and a claw (representing Attack). The player with the most Attack dice goes first (the fiercest). Each turn consists of 4 steps: rolling and re-rolling the dice, resolving the dice, buying cards and using their effects, and the end of turn decision.

The fiercest player will occupy Tokyo, and earn extra victory points, but that player can’t heal and must face all the other monsters alone! When you add in cards that can have a permanent or temporary effect, like growing a second head, body armor, nova death ray, etc., you get a VERY exciting game. In order to win the game, one must either destroy Tokyo by accumulating 20 victory points, or be the only surviving monster once the fighting has ended.

See our review here

Kids Table Board Gaming

Food Fighters

Food Fighters is a 2 player game. This game is a player elimination style of game with some fun dice rolling mechanics as well as a bit of card drafting and component collecting opportunities. The rule booklet is fun and well laid out. The game mechanics are clear and well balanced(though the power cards initially felt uneven, further game play changed our opinion).

On their turn, each player completes three actions- a) Roll for Beans or Swap fighter tiles or Attack b) Spend Beans to buy a tool from the pantry c) Allow opponent to repair their formation. After these actions are complete, play passes to the opponent. The ultimate goal is to be the first player to knock out three matching enemy fighters. This is great strategy battle game that plays quickly and is easy to learn and explain to other players.

See our review here.

Plan B Games


Azul is an abstract game for two to four players, and won the 2018 Speil De Jahar. Players are working to replicate the design on their board.

At the beginning of each round players select tiles from a factory display represented by  circles with four tiles on each or the center discard pile. Players each take one design and discards the rest to the center pile. The selected tiles are placed in pattern lines. There are one to five spaces for tiles in each pattern line. Extra tiles are placed on the floor line and score negative points at the end of that round.  Players score points as  they place their tiles.  Adjacent tile or completing a column or row on their “wall” earn additional points.  The game ends when one or  more players have completed a row by the scoring phase of a round.

Privateer Press

Zombies Keep Out

Zombies Keep Out is a cooperative games for one to six players. Like all cooperative games there are MANY ways to lose and only one way to win. Players must collect parts and build 3 contraptions while facing nearly insurmountable odds as each player’s turn increases the urgency of the situation! The interesting dynamic that Zombies Keep Out has that sets it apart, is that the player who draws the aptly named “Terrible Things” card must choose between 3 options of many possible occurrences that do their title justice.  As the game progresses. “Terrible Things” become “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad” Things.

The pool of zombies (it is actually a literal swimming pool full of zombies) depletes, and the option of being bitten becomes more and more probable.  Biting adds a very kid-friendly scale of terribleness. The bitten player looses the ability to speak normally and their decision making is increasingly hindered with additional bites. Any bite past the third will turn you into a full fledged Zombie, groaning continuously.

This game is immensely enjoyable and the cartoonish characters will be a quick favorite of most children. Zombies Keep Out is basically the answer to the question on all of our minds: what happens after Pandemic?

See our review here.

R&R Games


The game is simple.  Hanabi is the Japanese word for Fireworks, and you are pyrotechnicians who have accidentally mixed up all of the parts of your fireworks display and now — THE SHOW MUST GO ON!  You have to work together to create the best display you possibly can despite your myriad of mistakes! The kicker is, you can’t look at your own hand!

Your teammates can give you limited information about your hand as their turn, but if you misunderstand and play the wrong firework, it can be disastrous!

The game is immensely challenging, and really makes you consider every move!  While the recommended age is 8+, this game mechanic seems to lend itself to older players.  It requires patience, reading your team-mates and figuring out how best to convey half (or less) of the picture to your fellow “fireworkers”.  Hanabi teaches simple strategy and teamwork in a somewhat high pressure environment where you don’t have access to all of the variables at play.

See our review here


Spin Master Games


In Santorini players take on  the roll of builders to create beautiful towers with two to four players.  On each turn, players move one of their two builders to an adjacent space. Players are then required to build on a neighboring space. Players are trying to complete a three level building and have a worker standing on top of it.  The first player to accomplish this wins the game.  Buildings may be complete it with a dome, and that blocks players from placing their worker on it.  

Santorini also incorporates god and hero powers into the game in the form of Greek gods and heros.  These god card allow for special actions or a change in win conditions. The god cards add a unique variability to the game.

Z-Man Games


Carcassonne is a medieval France themed tile laying and area control game for two to five players. Players are trying to build features and have their followers (meeples) on features to score points.

Players take turns taking a tile and placing it against a matching feature, such as city, road, and fields. There are also monasteries, which sit in the middle of fields. Players score points for: completed roads, completed cities, surrounded monasteries, and completed fields.  When players run out of tiles the game ends and players get partial points for incomplete features.

Carcassonne is well know for its many expansions and versions.  The current base game now include two mini expansions: the River and the Abbott. At the time of this writing the Z-Man Games website had 8 expansions for sale.  There also is a big box versions which contains the base game and 11 expansions. Additionally, there are three stand alone games with different settings and themes.


In Pandemic, two to four players take on one of several roles, such as Medic, Dispatcher, or Researcher, in their quest to cure 4 diseases before time runs out and humanity is wiped out.

Game play follows a standard turn-based approach. Each player starts their turn by drawing from an event deck to determine where the newest infections are.  Then, they use location cards to move around the globe, treating diseases to prevent outbreaks.  Finally, they draw more location cards to restock their hand.  If a player can get three location cards of a single color and can get to a lab, they can create a cure.  The cure that won’t immediately eradicate the disease. Rather, it will make the disease easier to treat.

There is one way to win (working together to cure all 4 diseases), and multiple ways to lose (running out of time, being overwhelmed by diseases, etc.)  Players can change the difficult by increasing the starting number of infections.

See our review here.

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!

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On March 31st 2015 Calliope Games set out on a game development journey of titanic proportions (Yes. I went there.) They launched The Titan Series, a Kickstarter campaign, to help fund a dozen games designed by renowned game designers all at once. This was a difficult task, but it was a fruitful one. Their Kickstarter goal was satisfied relatively quickly and they set to work bringing this game shelf worth of board games to live.

A year and a half has passed and we are finally nearing the home stretch on the first three games to be released in the Titan Series. Take a look below to see if any of them interest you!

Running Of the Bulls

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Running of the Bulls is a race to the coast where players take on the role of tourists who are vacationing in the idyllic village of El Toro. The goal of the game is to help the tourists outwit a herd of rampaging bulls and make it to the tourist destinations at the bottom of the map.

The game is broken up into three rounds, called “days.” During each day players will use actions cards to help navigate the village streets and trick the bulls. Having your tourists reach their destinations earns you points. The player with the most points wins!

The game board for Running of the Bulls is bright and colorful. It features hilarious images of bulls being wild in this once peaceful town.


Hive Mind

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Hive Mind is an interesting take on the trivia game genre. The goal is for the person whose turn it is to guess the same answer to a given question as one or more people at the table. For example, the question might be “What are three things that are better when they are hot?” Every player will secretly answer the questions and compare them. The active player will take one step further into the hive for every person they match, and will take steps backwards if they fail to match anyone. The goal is to NOT get kicked out of the hive.

The game comes with 300 cards that each has 6 questions. That’s 1800 questions total within the box! That should be more than enough to keep your family or  gaming group (of up to 12 people) going for a VERY long time.


Menu Masters

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I am more familiar with this game because I have actually played it. I played a demo of the game with a prototype copy while I was at New York Toy Fair. 

Menu Masters is a clever game where player takes on the role of a renowned chef. The goal is to create the best menu that you can which earns you victory points. You do this by earning money and spending it on ingredients at various stores (A butcher, a bakery, etc).

On each turn you can choose to either get in line to purchase the ingredients you need OR forgo gathering ingredients in favor of opening the shop yourself. Identifying when it is a good time to take either action is key to victory.

The game components feature cheeky illustrations of various styles of chef. All of them look like caricatures of the kinds of chefs we might see on food TV or in movies. I really enjoy what I have seen of the art so far.

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The Connecticut Festival of Independent Games took place on September 17th and we were lucky enough to have boots on the ground there to get a look at some of the great games they had to offer.

It was a day-long event at the Friendly Neighborhood Tabletop Shop in Newington, CT.  We couldn’t even come close to playing everything that was there as there were dozens of games on display and several of them  (like Dragoon by Lay Waste Games) had long lines waiting to play them.

We didn’t leave without getting our hands on some great games though. Take a look below for a taste of what we played.


Awesomebots is a card game that was on display with Geek Fever Games. It is one they had been trying to get in our hands for a review for a long time and it only took a few turns to see why. It’s a great experience.

The goal of the game is to earn victory points by converting resources drawn from your deck of cards into robots. In a two player game the deck of cards is divided out evenly between the two players and then play will take place simultaneously. On each turn a player will:

  1. Draw up to 4 cards in their hand
  2. Play a card from their hand ; paying for it using the resources they already have in their workshop
  3. Choose a card to “pass” to their opponent and place it in a pile in front of their opponent.
  4. Choose a card to keep for themselves and place it in a pile in front of themselves.
  5. Repeat

Players will repeat those steps until they run out of cards, at which point they will pick up the pile their opponent has “passed” to them and they will continue. Play continues until all of the cards have been either “upgraded” or “scrapped” per the instructions on each card.

The game was great fun and we can’t wait to get more time in with this one now that we know how to play.


Juxtabo is an abstract strategy game by Funnybone Toys that is all about color and pattern matching. All of the game pieces are double sided, multicolored chips. The goal is to find (or create) certain patterns in an array of those chips. You do this by placing your own pieces on top of existing ones. The trick to the game is that you can only place a disk if the bottom side matches the color of the piece you are placing it on. This means you almost have to look at your pieces sideways as you think about your next move.

We played a few games and really enjoyed the time we spent with the game. A review is incoming as they were gracious enough to give us a sample copy for review.

Shadow Strike – Ninja Combat Game

Shadow Strike – Ninja Combat Game plays just like it sounds. It is a hex based ninja miniatures game that allows up to 6 players at a time to battle it out with a pair of crafty ninjas. The game is fast and all of the rules are simplified to allow players to get through their turns quickly.

Our favorite part of the game had to be the art style though. It was bright and colorful and featured chibi ninjas that were as adorable as they were fierce.

Cauldron: Bubble and Boil

Cauldron was probably the best game that we played all day. Each player takes on the role of a witch or warlock who is trying to be the leader of their guild. They decide their leader through a potion brewing contest!

Each turn players will have a chance to place hexes on their opponents, harvest materials from their gardens, and put new recipes in their spellbooks. The trick is that each card they draw is a spell, a piece that can be laid down as a garden, and a recipe and they can only be used for one thing!

Even  better? There is a memory aspect that adds a bit of randomness to the game. Once a player places their materials in their cauldron (or a recipe in their recipe book) they can’t look at them again until the game ends!


Unstable is a game that will be coming to Kickstarter in February of next year. It is a unique take on the role and move genre that we all played to death when we were kids. The difference here is that while players are rolling to move around the colorful board and collecting blocks to help them get to the center of the board there are also a series of cards that can be used to change the game entirely.

We enjoyed our limited time with their prototype. We especially liked the wooden blocks used in the game. They gave the game a very solid feel in the same way that the chips in Splendor do.

Super  Weapon

Super Weapon was a lot of fun. It played similarly to Roll for it by Calliope Games, but it had a very different (and hilarious) twist. Players play the role of different countries trying to use their super weapons to destroy each other.

They do this by rolling dice to complete launch code cards. Once they complete both of their launch code cards (using 6 dice) they can they can target an opponent and deal damage to them. The goal is to be the last man country standing.

Two things make this game different from other dice rolling games. First each country is in control of an AI that has a specific power. They might allow you to reroll one die for free, or deal bonus damage. There are also Agent cards that players draw each turn. They also effect the game by allowing players to manipulate, reroll, or steal dice.

Mr. Game

Mr. Game is another interesting take on the traditional roll and move genre. This time the key is that the rules of the game are constantly changing thanks to a deck of cards that let you move the goal, add/remove spaces, etc. That by itself isn’t terribly different. What makes the game VERY different is that for each game one person is put in charge of the rulebook and is designated “Mr. Game.” Their job is, throughout the course of the game, to make any and all rules decisions that may come up as a result of vague wording or interesting situations. For example, they would decide what it means to “place a tile anywhere on the board” and so on. This can lead to some very interesting experiences. This is especially true if you get a group of very savvy gamers at the table.

We were also fortunate enough to get a sample game from the developer so we will have a review as soon as we can!

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GenCon 2015 is happening as we speak and board game publishers and independent designers alike are spread out across the show floor demoing some very exciting games. Below is a list of some of the more exciting family friendly games being shown.


Tail Feathers

Mice and Mystics is am amazing cooperative gaming experience. Plaid Hat Games knows that they have a great game world on their hands and are in the process of developing a miniatures based war game in the Mice and Mystics universe called Tail Feathers.  It is, without question, our most anticipated game of the near future.


We are huge fans of Dixit here at Engaged Family Gaming. Mysterium is a game that shares some similarities in that the game is driven by people’s empathy and understanding the potential meaning behind a given image. The difference is that Mysterium has a specific end goal. Players are each psychic mediums who are attempting to solve a murder with the help of a spirit who is sending them dream images to communicate who the killer was, where it took place, and what the murder weapon was (Sound familiar?)

This will likely be a bit difficult for younger players, but will be  a great game to have around as your family gets older

7 Wonders: Duel

This game shares a lot theme-wise with 7 Wonders. The difference is that instead of drafting cards from a hand that you pass from player to player you draft your cards from a pattern of cards placed face down and face up on the table between you. Also, as the name suggests this is a game intended for two players.

Two players games can be difficult for families as they often don’t allow for highly varied skill sets, but it is hard to ignore the pedigree. Stay tuned for more info as release comes closer.


Thieves_Calliope Games

We posted about this one the other day when it was announced. Thieves was originally published in Europe but it is finally making its way to the US. Calliope Games does a great job of picking amazing games to publish so we are looking forward to getting our hands on this one.

Ninja Camp

Maybe we jump have summer camp on the brain since our oldest just came back from one, but this looks like a very fun little game.

Players each take on the roll of a Ninja competing to be the student of a master.  Each player starts with two cards, each of which is a ninja move, and the rest of the cards are dealt face-up on the play area. Players progress across the board and add new moves to their hand.It looks like a lot of fun

Smash-up: Munchkin

This is pretty straight forward. It is a munchkin themed version of Smash-Up. Both of these are popular games that turn genres upside down in an attempt at random humor. This looks like a lot of fun.

Broom Service

This one was a Kennerspiel des Jahres nominee for 2015. Anything that is even NOMINATED for such a prestigious award is going to be worth at least a look.


Nefarious The Mad Scientist Game


This is the second edition of a game that was released several years ago.

What kid doesn’t want to play the role of a mad scientist? This is purportedly a quick playing game where players are racing to build crazy contraptions like freeze rays and attack robots before their opponents can.

Penny Press


I would never have thought that I would want so desperately to play a board game based on running a news paper during the early 1900’s, but this worker placement game is doing it to me.

Players each have a number of reporters that they can spread out throughout the city to cover different stories to fill up their paper. Different stories are worth different amounts, but take up different amounts of space on the paper. Its worker placement at what looks to be its finest.

Medieval Academy


This a game where each player takes on the role of a squire who is competing with the other players in an attempt to earn chivalry points. The art is hilarious and it is being published by IELLO who has done some really great games in the past.


This list is not even close to complete. we are certain that there are tons of games we didn’t have enough room to talk about. What did we miss? Sound off in the comments!

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The American Tabletop Awards are awards given to board games that were released in the previous calendar year. The awards committee is comprised of a number of talented and experience board games media specialists.

The awards are given in four categories: Early Gamers, Casual Games, Strategy Games, and Complex Games.

The 2020 American Tabletop Award Awards have been announced. Here are the winners.

Early Gamers

Winner – Draftosaurus

Designers: Antoine Bauza, Corentin Lebrat, Ludovic Maublanc, Théo Rivière
Publisher: Ankama

Your goal in Draftosaurus is to have the dino park most likely to attract visitors. To do so, you have to draft dino meeples and place them in pens that have some placement restrictions. Each turn, one of the players roll a die and this adds a constraint to which pens any other player can add their dinosaur.

American Tabletop Awards

Casual Games

Winner – Ship Shape

Designer: Rob Daviau
Publisher: Calliope Games

Set sail for fun, adventure, and riches with ShipShape! This game is about outwitting and outbidding all others to earn the biggest bounty while keeping your hold shipshape! As a savvy captain, you must skillfully use your crew to fill your ship’s hold with the best combination of treasure, cannons, and perhaps some risky – but lucrative – contraband. Over three voyages, use numbered crew cards to bid for crates off the central stack. Score coins by comparing your holds with everyone else, looking only at what’s visible in your hold!

American Tabletop Awards

Strategy Games



Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave
Publisher: Stonemaier Games

Wingspan is a competitive bird-collection, engine-building Game for 1-5 players. You are bird enthusiasts researchers, bird watchers, ornithologists, and collectors seeking to discover and attract the best birds to your aviary. Each bird extends a chain of powerful combinations in one of your habitats (actions). these habitats focus on several key aspects of growth: gain food tokens via custom dice in a birdfeeder dice tower. Lay eggs using egg miniatures in a variety of colors draw from hundreds of unique bird cards and play them the winner is the player with the most points accumulated from birds, bonus cards, end-of-round goals, eggs, cached food, and tucked birds.

American Tabletop Awards

Complex Games


The Taverns of Tiefenthal

Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Publisher: North Star Games

In the village of Tiefenthal lies “The Tavern of the Deep Valley”. There, all citizens from the area gather, but it’s important to attract new, wealthy guests for only then is there enough money to expand the tavern, which will then lure nobles into the tavern as well. But which tavern expansion is best? Should you focus on money? Or rather ensure that the beer will keep flowing?

American Tabletop Awards

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

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I had the opportunity to meet with the staff at Calliope Games while I attended New York Toy Fair last week. I was excited to talk to them about their upcoming press your luck game The Mansky Caper. The game, designed by Ken Franklin and funded by Kickstarter, will be reaching stores later this year and I am super excited to play it with my family.

This game lived inside Ken’s mind for what sounds like decades. It was originally conceived as a thought experiment. Think about this:

Imagine that you are standing in a room. Inside that room are 300,000 boxes. All of those boses have an $5 bill. ONE of those boxes, however, contains nuclear device that would end all life on Earth. How many of those boxes would you open?

Interesting right? There is no right answer either. It’s going to vary for each person thinking about it. I don’t know what answer I would give, but I do know that I want to play an game that will help me find out!

The Mansky Caper is themed around an prohibition era heist. Players take on the roles of members of a family of thieves as they attempt to rob from Mr. Mansky. Gameplay consists of moving from room to room and breaking into an series of safes.

The key is that each safe has a set amount of loot in it, as well as trouble cards that will hinder your thievery, or set off the alarm and force you to leave. You will always know what was in the safe from the beginning as each room clearly labels the tokens that will be going into the safe as game setup takes place. This means that you have to pay attention to what your opponents have done and make your decisions appropriately.

Another super cool feature in the game is the way it handles variable player powers. Each player takes on the role of an member of an criminal family. They each have unique powers that can be incredibly powerful in the right situation. Unfortunately, they can never use their power for themselves. Instead, they can call in favors from their friends using favor tokens. This means that when players choose a character they’re actually choosing the power that they DON’T want to have access to. That’s an interesting concept.

The Mansky Caper will be releasing later on this year barring any logistical hurdles with the components. Keep your eyes on EFG for more information as we get closer to launch including a review.


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Penny Arcade has been running their PAX conventions all around the world for years now, but they have always been very broad. They have reached out to all corners of the gaming world and tried to bring them together. This wide net approach is great, but it isn’t a perfect match for the board game community. Board game culture is dominated by massive board game focused conventions like GenCon, Essen Spiel, Origins, and others. So it only makes sense that PAX would eventually expand in that direction. PAX Unplugged was their first attempt at doing so.

The EFG team has had some time to reflect on our experiences there now that we are home, unpacked, and survived the holiday season and I’m happy to report that we had a blast. Unplugged was a great show and it still has room to grow into a major event.

The event took place in the Philadelphia Convention Center. Its a massive facility located in the heart of Philly. It is also right across the street from the Reading Terminal Market for easy access (during the day) to all sorts of awesome food. I was impressed by the facility compared to some of the other convention centers I’ve been to in the past. It was sprawling, but I never felt lost while inside.

There were just too many games for us to cover all of them. We would have driven ourselves mad. Take a look below at our impressions of the games we DID get a chance to see.

Games we came home with


Flying Meeple

Eleminis is a game for 2-8 players ages five and up.  This is a light set collecting game.  In this game you are trying to collect five different elements, but there are limitations to what you can trade and other players can use action cards to thwart you.  This game is reminiscent of Hoagie with building a set and the ability to spoil the other players’ sets.

Gimme Gimme Guinea Pigs 

Flying Meeple

This is a very fast paced and simple game for 2-6 players ages 3 and up.  In Gimme Gimme Guinea Pigs you are trying to be the first to collect a set of all the same pet, but you can only hold 7 cards in your hand.  Discarded cards are placed face up for other players to take.  This was super quick and easy to play, and a very simple game for the youngest gamers.

Down Force 

Restoration Games 

Downforce is a old game, know under other names which has been given a modern update.  In Downforce players bid on cars and each car the win gives them a power.  The cars are raced around a track using a deck for moving the cars.  There are choke points build in so you can block other cars.  Players also bet on the cars, and the winner is the player with the most money at the end of the game, regardless if you win the race or not.  The board is also double sided with two levels of play.  Suggestions for how to scale the game down to younger players is also included in the rules.

Stop Thief 

Restoration Games

Stop Thief is a revival of the game that was originally published in 1979.  In this game player take on the roll of investigators trying to catch several thieves to collect the reward money so they can retire.  This game incorporates an app that provides sound clues to the location of the thief.  The app provided different levels of difficulty in play as well as a retro mode with vintage sounds.  There is also a cooperative mode in development.  This is a great deductive reasoning game for the whole family.  



Restoration Games

Indulgence is a trick taking game similar to Hearts.  In this game, which is set in Renaissance Italy players take turns playing the ruler and putting out three edicts (rules) to follow with which cards to collect or avoid.  One players per round can also decide to play the sinner and do the opposite of the edicts.  The risk is high and the reward great if you accomplish the sin.  The game has beautiful components that play up the opulence of the Renaissance theme.


Duck! Duck! Go!

Ape Games 

Duck! Duck! Go! is a game for 2-4 players for players 8 and up.  Using movement cards you move your ducky around the board so it makes the rounds and touches all three buoys.  The first ducky to do get back to the drain after touching all three buoys wins. The game board is build using two sided tiles so each game has a unique board.  


Games We Played

Bubblee Pop  

Quick Simple Fun Games

Bubblee Pop is an two player strategy game that attempts to mimic game play elements from match-3 puzzle games like Candy Crush and Puzzle Quest. It does remarkably well considering how Video Gamey I thought those mechanics were.

The designer managed to capture an lot of the strategy elements from the two player versions of these types of games and threw it onto an board game. This is interesting because it removes the sometimes frantic nature of the video game version and encourages deeper strategies.

Stuffed Fables

Plaid Hat Games

Stuffled Fables is easily our most anticipated board game right now. We’ve where excited about it since it was announced. Our hype intensified when we interviews Jerry Hawthorne on our podcast. We’re even MORE excited now that we’ve played it.

The theme is adorable. Players take on the roles of a little girl’s stuffed animals as they defend her while she sleeps. The game is played by pulling dice from an bag and rolling them to perform various skill checks. These things are cool, but they aren’t what sets the game apart.

Stuffed Fables is separated from the crowd by its Adventure Book. It’s an spiral bound, choose-your-own adventure style book where each

Shiba Inu House 

Renegade Game Studio

In Shiba Inu House you are matching pictures from a card with one two or three Shiba Inus sitting on a colorful dog house.  Using the cards you match the dog image and build a doghouse. The pictures can get mashed up as long as the image is correct of each dog with their house.  The graphics are very bright and colorful

Doggy Go 

Renegade Game Studio

Doggy Go is a speed  game for 1-4 player game for ages 6 and up.  Players are trying to complete a pattern on acrobat cards with their doggie tiles and acrobat item cards.  You gain the acrobat cards for correctly completing your pattern first.  The player with the most cards wins.

Castles of Caladale

Renegade Game Studios

Castles of Caladale is a tile laying game for 1-4 players ages 8 and up.  In this game each player is trying to rebuild their castle using the mixed up pieces left from all the castles being destroyed.  The player to build the largest and most complete castle, and scores the most point on their castle wins.  


Gate Keeper Games

Adapt is a card and dice game for 2-3 players ages 14 and up where you start as a guppy and your fish evolves over the course of the game, and then uses their adaption to battle at the end of the game with the other players.  The game has a reversible mat to simplify the game and make it a game for ages 7 and up.

Kaiju Crush 

Fireside Games

Kaiju Crush is a light strategy game for 2-4 players ages 10 and up.  Each player takes their turn as a Kaiju with unique powers and they move to crush a City Tile and fight other kaiju. Players earn victory points and when they run out of movements the player with the most victory points wins.

Dicey Peaks 

Calliope Games

Dicey Peaks is a 2-6 player game for ages 8 and up, and is the newest game from Calliope Games.  In this game players are trying to climb a mountain.  They need to manage their Oxygen levels by deciding when to climb and when to rest.  They also need to watch out for the Yeti. The first player to the top of the mountain is the winner.


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