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We spent some time talking about why co-op games are a great idea for your game collection and pointed out a whole host of learning opportunities that they present. Below is a list of some of our favorite Co-op games as a team. Take a look and make sure to let us know if you have any other games you think we missed in the comments.

 

Flash Point Fire Rescue

Sound the alarm and ready the hoses. In Flash Point Fire Rescue, players take the roles of firefighters entering a burning building. Random die rolls determine where smoke appears, and where there’s smoke, fire (and explosions!) quickly follow. Gameplay is tense and well balanced, and gives players the true feeling of fighting an organic and ever-growing fire. Easy to follow family rules coupled with more advanced and complicated add ons that can be incorporated ala-carte or all together give this game plenty of life for all ages of gamers.

Note: You can read our review here!

Forbidden Island/Desert

 

Our love for Gamewright games is well documented so there really wasn’t any way we could create this list without including The Forbidden games. Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert are both amazing cooperative experiences that are quick to play and easy to teach. Both of these games present their players with dangerous worlds to explore that each seem to have a mind of their own.

Where each of them succeed the most is in the delivery of their themes. Forbidden Island is about the exploration of an island that is slowly sinking into the ocean. Each turn is filled with tension as players flip over cards that indicate which tile will sink (and thus shrink the board). As the game progresses it really feels like the world is sinking.

Note: Our Forbidden Island review is here. Our Forbidden Desert review is here.

Mice and Mystics

Adventure awaits as you and three other players control brave Prince Colin and his loyal court in a battle against the treacherous sorceress-queen Vanestra in this magical tale. The catch? The court magician Maginos has turned your band of heroes into mice! Mice and Mystics blends Role Playing Game elements with an engaging story in this highly thematic dungeon crawler. Each game builds on the last as players play through chapters in the ongoing story. Battle against rats and roaches, collect mice-sized equipment, like a button shield or needle rapier, and try to save the kingdom from the evil queen.

 

Pandemic

Diseases of epic proportions run rampant through the world, and only a team of CDC specialists can eradicate them before they eradicate us. Pandemic is a 2-4 player game that pits players against rapidly spreading diseases with more chances at failing the world, than of saving it.  Each player can perform the same actions, as one unique action based on their randomly selected role at the CDC. This plus the ability to control difficulty makes each game of Pandemic a unique challenge.  Expansions (In the Lab, On the Brink and State of Emergency) add players and new situations to overcome, so it never gets old!

Note: You can read our review here!

Sentinels of The Multiverse

The Earth is in peril an evil genius is attempting to pull the moon into our home planet, and only a team of superheroes can stop him from completing his diabolical plan! Sentinels of The Multiverse is a 2-5 player card game that lets you choose from pre-constructed hero decks to face an array of villains with a variety of evil plans in a slew of comic-inspired settings. In case the original set of heroes, villains and environment decks aren’t enough to keep you busy, Sentinels has quite a few expansions that change mechanics and elements of the game to keep it interesting. The sheer number of combinations makes this game incredibly unique each time you play — Even if you only ever play your favorite character.

Note: You can read our review here!

Hanabi

To a pyrotechnician, there is nothing more important than a beautiful show of fireworks for their audience, but what do you do when there is a mix-up and you’re too honorable to admit the problem? Well, the show must go on! Hanabi is a small deck card game consisting of 60 cards, in the game players work together to put on the most impressive show they can muster, without insulting the honor of their fellow experts. Hanabi is unique in that you can’t see your own hand and other players must give you limited clues for you to identify what to play! It’s a challenging and small game that keeps you wondering and guessing and hoping that you aren’t booed off the field! The game comes with a 6th suit and a few additional variations for advanced play!

Note: You can read our review here!

Castle Panic

 

Goblins and Orcs and Trolls, oh my!!! Castle Panic is a game where 1-6 players must defend a central castle from an onslaught of monsters. Each turn new monsters appear in the forests around the edges of the board and existing monsters advance towards the castle. Different cards allow players to attack monsters at varying distances from the castle, and players can trade cards, slay monsters, and defend the castle walls. If all the walls fall, the monsters win! Players work together to keep the castle secure, but the player with the most victory points gets declared the Master Slayer!

 

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Our first stop at Toy Fair was to the Gamewright booth. We got to see a bunch of games that have just released or will be out later in 2019. One thing Gamewright is doing this year is taking two of their popular games and created new games with different gameplay elements.

Sushi Roll

For any fans of Sushi Go, Gamewright has re-imagined it into a brand new game Sushi Roll! In Sushi Roll each player rolls a set of dice and chooses which to add to their plate. The remaining sushi pass to the next player on a conveyor belt. Then each player rolls their new dice before choosing which to add to their plate. The player board lists the point values for each kind of sushi. The game includes scoring tokens as well, so players who enjoy Sushi Go, have the option to use them there as well. Sushi Roll releases later in 2019.

Rat-a-Tat Roll

Rat-a-Tat Roll is the second popular game to be re-imagined. The same aesthetic and core game element remains the same, but there is a big change, namely the board and rolling dice. The original Rat-a-Tat Cat is strictly a card game. In contrast the new Rat-a-Tat Roll game included as board that players move around, and try and gather cards with the lowest score. Rat-a-Tat Roll releases later in 2019.

This Game Goes to Eleven

Gamewright has taken this simple counting game for two to five players, which given it a light heavy metal theme. This Game Goes to Eleven is a Target Exclusive, and is for players ages eight and up. Players discard cards in their hand and add the numbers as they go. If the pile of cards is exactly eleven after you play your card, you give the whole pile to another player. On your turn, if your card bring the total over eleven you get the pile too. The player with the least cards at the end wins. This
Game Goes to Eleven is available now.

Bloom

Roll and write games a very popular right now, and Bloom is a great one in that genre. In Bloom you are trying to gather flowers of the same color and quantity as on your sheet. On your turn you roll the dice and choose which color and number best matches the flowers in your garden. To end the game, a player must have three colors of flowers where they circled all the flowers of those colors, or completed four garden beds. Bloom releases later in 2019.

Whozit?

Whozit? is a cooperative party game where there is a clue giver and the other players are trying to select a person or character from a pool of six. Players give clues by placing statements on a continuum from “definitely” to “definitely not”. Each correct answer moves a pawn along a small board, and players can see how well they have done at the end of the five rounds of the game. Whozits? releases later in 2019.

Port-A-Party

Everyone needs a silly party game in their collection, and Port-A-Party fits that bill. Players add or take away different attribute cards. The attributes are sorted by color and players try and name a person who meets all the criteria of the description, all while being timed. Port-A-Party releases later in 2019.

Punto

Tiny and in a portable tin Punto is a great game to take on the go. Players are trying to build a consecutive row in any direction of six of their color cards. Players may not build beyond a six by six grid, and can place their card on top of another players if they have a higher valued card. Punto will be released later in 2019.

Guju Guju

If you are looking for a silly game to play with young children check out Guju Guju. Fruit cards are placed face up in the center, and each player has a hand of additional fruit cards. Players do not know what is in their hands. Before flipping a card players must guess the fruit, if they are right a fruit frenzy occurs where they try and place as many fruits cards down as possible on the banans before all the bananas are covered.
Guju Guju is available now.

Quixx Deluxe

Quixx Deluxe takes this favorite roll and write and super sized it. There are now dry erase boards to mark your score instead of the typical consumable pad. The original game only plays up to five players, and Quixx Deluxe can support up to eight. An additional way to play is included in this edition, which is available now.

Twin It!

Speed is the name of the game. Twin It! has players quickly flipping cards trying to make matches. Keep a close eye out, there are 119 different patterns and some are very similar. The game also has three modes of play: cooperative, cooperative, or team. Twin It! is available now.

Dragon Realms

Gamewright is putting out Dragon Realm, which is the next chapter in the world of Dragonwood. Minimal details are available about the game. We know the name and there was a box for the game, but no specifics about gameplay or components. Gamewright is anticipating a launch of the game at Gencon in August.

Keep your eyes on EngagedFamilyGaming.com for more updates and reviews!

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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Top Ten Games from New York Toy Fair 2019

The Engaged Family Gaming team went to New York for Toy Fair 2019 and spent a day and a half looking at all kinds of new and upcoming games. We put together our top ten to highlight the best of what we saw.

Bunny Kingdom in the Sky

Bunny Kingdom in the Sky from Iello, is an expansion to the popular Bunny Kingdom game released in 2017 by Richard Garfield. The expansion adds a sky game board that connects to the base game by two rainbows. There are also additional cards, resources to collect, and the city tokens are larger covering a larger area. Iello is expecting an April or May release.

Dragon Realm

Gamewright is putting out Dragon Realm, which is the next chapter in the world of Dragonwood. Minimal details are available about the game. We know the name and there was a box for the game, but no specifics about gameplay or components. Gamewright is anticipating a launch of the game at Gencon in August.

Jedi Academy

Jedi Academy is the latest high tech light saber from Hasbro, with an corresponding app. For the first time you can select the color of the light saber, through a LED in the handle. The color also correlate to which Jedi master you select for trained. The light saber also has sensors and a gyroscopic technology which allows it to send details of your movements with the light saber to the app. The app shows the movements as you swing the light saber in different directions, and you can be “trained” in different offensive and defensive moves.

There is also a battle mode where you can duel another player. The screen shows the movements the players are making and corresponds them to hits and blocks. Each player has hit points, and ultimately one is defeated. Like previous light sabers from Hasbro, the intent is for swinging, and not actually striking.

Quirky Circuits

Asmodee and Plaid Hat Games have come together to make the next game to include an adventure book. This is a game for younger gamers, and the goal is to complete all the challenges cooperatively. There are 24 challenges, and the players use programmed motion to move the figure around the board. There is a twist however, and players lay their cards face down so it is a guess on what has come before in the programed motion. This is anticipated to be released in the third quarter of the year.

Snowman Dice

Snowman Dice by Brain Games is a fun, light, and silly dice rolling and flicking game. Each player gets five dice and play is simultaneous. Chaos ensues as player roll to try and get the three pieces they need to build their snowman: bottom, middle, and head. The snowflake represents a wild and used for any part of the snowman. Once your snowman is build, then you need to have an arrow dice to push your snowman to a center marker. The first player to reach the center with a complete snowman wins. There is one additional twist to the game. There are also snowballs on the dice, if your roll a snowball you can flick your dice at an opponent to try and knock down their snowman.

The current prototype has a box for the packaging, but Brain Games might be changing it into a snowball shaped bag to hold the game instead. Look for Snowman Dice to be released later this year.

SkyMagic

Sky Magic is a game coming soon from Peaceable Kingdom. Like most of the games made by Peaceable Kingdom, it is a cooperative game, and is for ages six and up. In Sky Magic players work together to get the magical creatures across the sky and back to their homes. This game incorporates some interesting elements players need to navigate, such as flaps on the game board. Flipped over a flap significantly change the path and options for the players. Sections also get covered by storm clouds and blocked, which adds a challenge to getting some creatures home.

Tic Tac Surprise

Peaceable Kingdom has taken a classic game and added an unexpected twist in Tic Tac Surprise. They created three different games: donuts, fairies and unicorns, and cats and dogs. In each version there are the regular pieces and the surprise pieces. The surprise pieces had a special feature on them, such as sprinkles on the donuts. The basic gameplay is the same as classic tic tac toe, but the surprise is with those special pieces! A special piece allows you to place your card on top of an opponents piece. Now a space is not truly unavailable once your opponent takes it. Tic Tac Surprise is available now on their website

Dirty Pig

We all love silly games to play with the while family, and North Star Games has a new game out in their Happy Planet series which fits those criteria. The latest game, Dirty Pig, has a June release. In Dirty Pig each player starts with three clean pigs and your objective is to be the first to have all three pigs dirty, since that is how they prefer to be. The cards give players the option to make their pig dirty, and clean an opponents pig. There are also cards to put your pig in the barn to protect it from the rain, have lightning strike the barn to remove it, and locking the barn so no one can go in and wash the pig. This silly game is lots of fun and has very quick gameplay.

Zombi Kidz Evolution


Legacy games are hot in the board game world right now. Iello in the Little Monsters game collection has created “baby’s first legacy game”. While the game is not actually for babies, it is perfect first step into the legacy genre. Zombie Kidz Evolution is for player ages seven and up and has fifteen minute play sessions. In this cooperative game you are trying to work together to protect yourselves and drive off the zombies. It is set in a school and has all the adults as the zombies.

Sushi Roll

For any fans of Sushi Go, Gamewright has re-imagined it into a brand new game Sushi Roll! In Sushi Roll each player rolls a set of dice and chooses which to add to their plate. The remaining sushi pass to the next player on a conveyor belt. Then each player rolls their new dice before choosing which to add to their plate. The player board lists the point values for each kind of sushi. Scoring tokens are included in the game as well, so players who enjoy Sushi Go, have the option to use them there as well.


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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Episode 163: Apex Legends Comes Out of Nowhere!

This week Stephen and Amanda have a cozy fireside chat as they talk about some of the biggest news to hit the video games this past week. They talk about their impressions of Anthem, and the surprise release of Apex Legends.

This is a cooperative venture with SuperParent.com!

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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Check out this episode!

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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!

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Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

Here at Engaged Family Gaming we want to help you with your holiday shopping.  These are some of our favorite new games for a range of ages and gaming styles.  For additional ideas of games that would best suit your family or friends you can check out recommendations by age articles, which are linked at the bottom of the gift guide.

Azul

 

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

Azul plays in rounds. 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. This is a beautiful game and a great addition to anyone’s game collection.

Photosynthesis

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 ages eight and up. 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. Each round consists of two phases: the Photosynthesis Phase and the Life Cycle Phase. 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.

Go Nuts For Donuts

Go Nuts For Donuts is a card drafting and set collection game for two to six players ages eight and up where players are trying to collect the best donuts to eat.  Player bid on the different donuts available in the donut row. Players bid in secret, and at the end of the bidding players may only collect those donuts where they are the sole bidder.

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. While the game is recommended for ages eight and up, it can be scaled down to age five by reading the text on the cards for them and a little coaching.

Funky Chicken

Funky chicken, which is found in a chicken shaped carrying case, is more or less an expansion to Happy Salmon. It is for three to six players ages six and up, and includes four new moves:  Swing, Bump, Spin, and Funky Chicken.

Funky Chicken is a great party game where everyone is laughing and being silly.  At the encouragement of the publisher North Star Games the Engaged Family Gaming team successfully combine Happy Salmon and Funky Chicken into one massive silly game! 

Monster Match

The Monster Match Game is a matching game for two to six players ages six and up. A series of cards are laid out on the table, and players roll a pair of dice. One of the dice represents an number between zero and five. The other will show either eyes, arms, or legs. Players then race to pick an card featuring an monster that has the appropriate number of arms/legs/eyes indicated on the dice. The game is adorable, fast, and accessible for almost all ages. Each card has a stack of doughnuts on them and the winner is determined by who has the most doughnuts on their total cards at the end of the game.

Forbidden Sky

Forbidden Sky is the next installment in the Forbidden series by Gamewright.  It is a cooperative game where players work to lay tiles to create the paths on a floating platform in the sky.  As players build, large and small circles are created on the board and they lay disks.  Players also  lay circuit components. Meanwhile, players are trying to survive against the wind and lightning.

As in previous Forbidden games each player has a role with special powers, and players are all trying to get the the rocket before the circuit is complete to indicate it takes off. Completing the circuit lights up the rocket and includes sound effects.

See our reviews of the predecessors:  Forbidden Island, and Forbidden Desert

 

Queendomino

Price: $27.32
Was: $29.99

Queendomino takes the Kingdomino game that we recommended in last year’s holiday guide (click here for the 2017 guide )  and adds several interesting elements to it.  In Queendomino there is a new land tile and that tile that allows you to place buildings. These buildings can give you a range of perks including, knights, towers, and crowns.  In each round if player has the most towers or matches another player in number of towers they get to have the queen visit their lands and the player enjoys some perks from her presence. This is a great tile laying game for two to four players ages ten and up with elements beyond just basic tile laying.

Ice Cool 2

Ice Cool2 is the sequel to the original Ice Cool game.  It is a flicking game about penguins in a frozen high school. The game is for two to four players ages six and up. If you combine it with the original Ice Cool game you can play up to eight players and set up multiple layouts.  New to this game there are: Tasks on the 1-point cards, Fish-moving power on the 2-point cards, and there are optional tournament scoring.  This takes a silly flicking game and adds even sillier components to it.

Rhino Hero Super Battle

Rhino Hero- Super Battle is the sequel to Rhino Hero and is a dexterity game where you build a tower with the cards.  The game is for ages five and up and plays two to four players. This game adds three more superheros:  Giraffe Boy, Big E. and Batguin.  The walls now come in two sizes; tall and short and there is a superhero medal.  Additionally there are spider monkeys which attack.

The gameplay has additional steps they includes: 1. Build!, 2. Spider monkey attack (place a spider monkey hanging from the floor if there is a spider monkey symbol and see if it makes the tower fall), 3. Climb the skyscraper! by using a die to determine how many floors to climb, 4. Super battle if two superheros are on the same level, 5. Superhero medal goes to the players if their super hero is the furthest up at this phase in their turn, 6. Draw another floor card.  The game ends when all or part of the tower collapses or all the playable floors are used.

Roller Coaster Challenge

 

 

Roller Coaster Challenge is a single player STEM game focusing on engineering for ages six and up.  It come with 60 challenge card in a range of difficulty.  The player sets up the posts and required pieces on the challenge card.  They then need to design a roller coaster that travels to the bottom successfully using some of the additional posts, 39 tracks.  The roller coaster is successful if the roller coaster car makes it to the end.  This was a Toy of the Year Finalist in 2018.

Additional Resourced by age:

Games for 2-4 year olds
Games for 5-7 year olds
Games for kids 8 and up 

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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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! 

Asmodee

Timeline 

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 

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

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

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

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.

Gamewright

Dragonwood

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.

Hasbro

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.

Iello

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

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

Hanabi

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

Santorini

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

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.

Pandemic

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!

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Games for Beginning Readers: Board Game Recommendations For Ages 5 to 7

Finding games that are the right fit for children aged 5 to 7 can be challenging. As they move into school age they can begin handling more in games.  Young children who are just learning to read or are beginning readers are often not ready for games with lots of reading or complex turns.  Attention spans still tend to be short so game duration is a relevant factor.

Some game in this age range are part of a movement in the game industry to make simpler versions of their games.  Ticket to Ride, Catan, and Stone Age have tapped into this age by creating “my first” or “junior” versions of their games.

Gamewright 

Outfoxed!


Outfoxed! is a cooperative game deduction game for players ages 5 and up and for two to four players where the players are…chickens. Chickens chasing clues to catch a fox that has absconded with a prized pot pie.  What family can resist working together to solve such a heinous crime? The game includes a special evidence scanner to rule out the different fox suspects by showing if the thief is wearing a particular object. On each players turn they declare if they will Search for Clues or Reveal Suspects. They then have three chances to roll the dice to get all three dice icons to match their choice. If they success they complete the stated action, but if not the culprit moves closer to escaping with the pie.

Too Many Monkeys


Too Many Monkeys A Totally Bananas Card Game is a playful, lively game is designed to appeal to young gamers and parents alike. It is a fast paced, simple game for ages 6 and up and for two to six players that subtly reinforces math concepts such as number sequencing and probability while still allowing kids to be silly and have fun.

Too Many Monkeys is played in a series of rounds. Players are dealt out 6 cards face down. Players draw from the discard pile or the draw pile and swap it face up with a card in the position that matches the number on the card they drew. The winner of the first round gets dealt one less card at the start of the next round. All other players have the same number as the previous round. Play continues as above with players’ hands getting smaller each round. You continue in rounds until one player is down to just one card and draws the number 1 card (with Primo asleep). When that happens, Primo is back to sleep and the game is over!

Slamwich


Slamwich is a fast-paced, silly, and energetic card flipping game reminiscent of Slapjack, War, Uno, etc. The game is recommended for ages 6 and up for two to six players. Taking turns, each player takes the top card of their deck and flips it onto a center pile. If a set of criteria is met, players race to slap the pile. The combinations are easy to understand. A Double Decker-If the flipped card is identical to the card directly underneath. A Slamwich– If two identical cards have exactly one card in between them (like a sandwich). Special cards like a Thief or a Muncher add unique criteria and help to make winning more random. If a player runs out of cards, they are out of the game. Whoever collects all of the cards wins.

Super Tooth


Super Tooth is, at its core, a matching card game for ages 6 and up for two to four players. Players collect matched sets of plant eating dinosaurs. Each turn includes a “landscape” of three cards on the play area. First, the player resolve event cards, such as the egg that lets the player bring back a card that had previously been discarded. Next, they player feed or chase away meat eaters, and then ultimately choose one type of plant eater from the board.

Super Tooth relies a little on luck, but it is important for players to choose cards carefully to build matched sets and not just random cards. Players cash in matching sets of cards for tooth tokens, and the more matching cards the more tokens they earn.  The first player with 3 tokens in a three or four player game wins, and 5 tokens in a two player game wins.

Flashlights and Fireflies


Flashlights and Fireflies is a board game version of flashlight freeze tag for  two to five players. The game plays in three quick phases per round, and the game ends when one player reaches home.  The board includes three sections; the woods, the firefly field, and the path home. Flashlights and Fireflies plays in rounds, and each round include four phases: hide, catch, shine, and sneak.  Flashlights and Fireflies is a great game for the whole family.  The game moves quickly through each round and takes about 20 to 30 minutes to play.  The age recommended is 6 and up, but since there is no reading in the game it does scale down nicely to slightly younger players.

Education Outdoors

Toasted or Roasted


Toasted or Roasted has you building the campfire and trying to toast marshmallows without them becoming roasted. It is for two to four players and is recommended for ages 6 and up.There are several objectives to complete in Toasted Or Roasted.  First, each player needs light their campfire by playing a Fire Starter card.  Once you play a Fire Starter card you flip your Firewood Disk over to the campfire side.  Then, each player needs to try and toast 3 marshmallows to win.  

Toasted or Roasted is a great light family game.  The game has minimal reading so it can easily scale down to players even younger than the recommended 6 years old. Roasting a competitor’s marshmallows is a light “take that” element.  Young players need to be able to handle it if someone “spoils” their marshmallow.

Monkeybeak Games

Hoagie


Hoagie is a fast paced game for two to five players that is recommended for ages 5 and up.  Each player is trying to build the perfect sandwich without any part getting spoiled by three oogies (pictured on the spoiled food and special action cards). Hoagie’s gameplay is very easy and takes just minutes to learn.  Each player is dealt a hand if 6 cards to start the game.  On each players turn they play a card from their hand on their sandwich or an opponent’s. Several actions with the cards can occur, but only one can occur per turn. In order to win, a player must begin their turn with a perfect sandwich, which consists of bread, meat, cheese, lettuce, and bread.

Carma Games, LLC.

Tenzi


Tenzi is a super simple dice game for two to four players ages 7 and up that is very fast-paced. This is a great icebreaker, boredom buster, or introduction to kick off a bigger game night. The game is noisy, quick, and simple. The variations within the rules make it something that has a high replay value. It’s also nice the game does a tiny bit of teaching while still being fun. We found that it’s been playable by children as young as five while still being entertaining to adults.

Iello

Tales and Games


Iello games has produced a series of games based on classic children’s stories and fairy tales. The games look like beautiful hardbound storybooks with classically illustrated covers and spines. Each game takes about 20 minutes to play through and they all have different mechanics and designs. They and are designed to be played by players ages 7 and up.

We have included them here because they have sparked interest in the classic stories that they are based on in our household. The stories released so far are:

The Three Little Pigs

Baba Yaga

The Hare and the Tortoise

The Grasshopper and the Ant

Little Red Riding Hood

The Pied Piper

Aladdin and the Magic Lamp

Brain Games

Ice Cool


Ice Cool is a flicking game about penguins in a frozen high school. Players take turns flicking their penguin pawns through the halls. The goal is to get your pawn through open doorways to catch fish  and earn points. This is more complicated because each player takes a turn as the hall monitor who’s objective is to catch the other players. Ice Cool is more fun than I expected and the kids love it. The game board designed allows for some really interesting trick shots like flicking your penguin pawn so that you have a decent spin going and having it travel in an arc through multiple doors. You can even try to send your penguin OVER walls if you like.

Thinkfun

Rush-hour Junior


Rush-hour Junior is one player, portable, colorful, and mentally wonderful for ages 5 and up. The board is small and packed with vehicles which have set directions that they can move. The goal is to move the vehicles in a particular order to get the little red car out of the traffic jam. A negative is that every piece is important. Don’t lose them! This game is great for waiting rooms or car trips as it comes with its own board and it small enough to hold in a child’s hand or lap. The junior version has 40 challenges and 15 blocking pieces

Roller Coaster Challenge


Roller Coaster Challenge is a single player STEM game focusing on engineering for ages 6.  It come with 60 challenge card in a range of difficulty.  The player sets up the posts and required pieces on the challenge card.  They then need to design a roller coaster that travels to the bottom successfully using some of the additional posts, 39 tracks.  The roller coaster is successful if the roller coaster car makes it to the end.  This was a Toy of the Year Finalist in 2018.

Laser Maze Jr.


Laser Maze Jr. is a single player logic game designed for ages 6 and up by Thinkfun. This game challenges the player to set up tokens to match a challenge card. The player then adds mirrors to the board. The objective is to reflect a laser beam so it lights up the rocket (or rockets with more difficult cards) light up. The player selects a challenge card. There are four levels of play: easy, medium, hard, super hard. The 40 numbered cards get progressively harder as they move within each level of play.

The player selects a card and inserts it under the Game Grid.  The card shows the locations of the Rocket target and Space Rock Blockers. At the bottom of the card the additional pieces needed to complete the challenge are displayed. The player then manipulates the additional pieces around the Game Grid in order to reflect the laser. The challenge is successful once the Rocket Target is lit up by the laser beam.

Haba

Rhino Hero


Rhino Hero is a competitive  3-D stacking game for ages 5 and up and is for two to five players where players are building a tower of cards and moving Rhino Hero up the tower.  This dexterity game directs players were the wall cards need to go on each turn.  Players have wall and ceiling tiles.  On their turn, the player first builds the wall in the place indicated on the ceiling tile and then place their ceiling tile.  Actions indicated on some of the ceiling tiles and those benefit the player, such as skipping the next player.  The game ends when the tower fall, a player places their last roof card, or all the walls are built.  

Rhino Hero- Super Battle


Rhino Hero- Super Battle is the sequel to Rhino Hero.  The game is for ages 5 and up and plays two to four players. This game adds three more superheros:  Giraffe Boy, Big E. and Batguin.  The walls now come in two sizes; tall and short and there is a superhero medal.  Additionally there are spider monkeys which attack. 

The gameplay has additional steps they includes: 1. Build!, 2. Spider monkey attack (place a spider monkey hanging from the floor if there is a spider monkey symbol and see if it makes the tower fall), 3. Climb the skyscraper! by using a die to determine how many floors to climb, 4. Super battle if two superheros are on the same level, 5. Superhero medal goes to the players if their super hero is the furthest up at this phase in their turn, 6. Draw another floor card.  The game ends when all or part of the tower collapses or all the floors that are playable have been used.

Monza


Monza is a racing game for ages 5 and up and plays two to six players. Movement of your race car in this game is based on rolling six color dice.  Players must utilize strategic thinking to use the colors you roll to plan the path for your car. Players can only move to a forward space and may not enter a space with an obstacle.

This game is more thoughtful than a straight roll and move because you need to plan your path based on the colors you roll. With a luck roll and good planning a player can move six spaces. Any die that do not correspond to a color ahead of the player on the board are discarded for that turn. The first player to the finish line is the winner.

Brandon the Brave


Brandon the Brave is a tile placement game for ages 5 and up for one to four players, where you are a knave desiring to be a brave knight like “Brandon the Brave”. Knaves prove their intuition and skills by completing tasks.  To do this players place field tiles and are trying to match colored crosses.  These crosses represent a location of a completed task and the color needs to match one color of the task card. As players lay tiles a jousting arena may be build. The player who places the sixth tiles completing the arena gets to place a task card in the center.  The game ends once a player completes all their task cards or all the field tiles are placed.

May Day Games 

Coconuts


Coconuts is a dexterity game for ages 7 and up for two to four players where you are launching coconuts with your monkey and trying to land them into baskets in the center.  When you land a coconut in a basket you get to place the cup on your game board.  To win you need to collect 6 baskets and stack them into a pyramid on your board, but there are not enough baskets in the center for everyone to collect.  You need to try and steal from your opponent by landing a coconut in their basket. An added component is the basket are red and yellow.  Should you land in a red basket you get to take a additional shot.

Playroom Entertainment

The Magic Labyrinth


The Magic Labyrinth is a memory and grid movement game for ages 6 and up and plays two to four players. In this game you are playing apprentices that have lost various objects, which are now in the Magic Labyrinth.  The twist is there are invisible walls!  Players must move and remember where the wall are when they or a competitor hits a wall.  A series of wooden blocks in a grid under the gameboard create the walls.  The walls are movable so the maze can be different each time you play. The pawn is magnetic and a ball sticks to it. If you hit a wall the ball falls off an rolls to one of the trays on the side and you go back to the start corner.

At the beginning of the game players draw a few lost objects tokens and place them on their corresponding picture throughout the maze.   A players landing on the space with a token they get to keep it.  A new token is then drawn out of a bag and placed on the board.  The first player to collect five objects wins.

Drei Maiger Spiele 

Enchanted Tower


Enchanted Tower is a hidden information/deduction game for ages 5 and up and is for two to four players.  The princess is captive, locked away in a tower by the wizard.  The board sits inside the box with compartment so the metal key can be hidden under the board. There are token covering the compartments. Players are either playing the wizard or the prince and they are trying to get to the key first.  At the beginning of the game the wizard hides the key in one of the compartments. The players take turns rolling specialty dice which have a player color corresponding to the pawns and number of spaces to move for each color.

The wizard (blue) has to start on a lower track and has eight extra spaces to move than the prince (red).  This advantage evens the playing field since the wizard player knows the location. When a pawn lands on the space where the key is under, it clicks against the magnet at the bottom of the pawn. Once a player finds the key, they try it in one of the six keyholes of the tower.  If the princess pops out they win.  If not the wizard hides the key again and players start over.  First to free the princess wins.

Asmodee

Catan Junior


A popular game which has been simplified for younger gamers is Catan Junior.  This is a route building  resource management game for ages 6 and up and is for two to four players.  Like the original Settlers of Catan you are collecting resources based on the numbers that  come up with each roll. These resources used to build or get Coco the Parrot cards which provide resources or the ability to build at no cost. Instead of building settlements, cities, and roads in the full version you are building pirate ships and hideouts.  The first player to build seven pirate hideouts wins.

Days of Wonder

Ticket to Ride: First Journey


Ticket to Ride: First Journey takes the formula of its predecessor and strips out several of the more complex concepts in favor of a streamlined experience that can be played by kids who are even younger! We have always said that the Ticket to Ride series was accessible to savvy kids, but this new version is even better.The map is simplified also. The game board is large, and the various cities are larger and more defined.  Each of the cities includes a colorfully illustrated image associated with it. The winner is the first person to finish six routes. This game teaches players the general flow of a game of Ticket to Ride without the burden of some of the finer details of the senior game.

Z-Man Games

My First Stone Age


My First Stone Age is another popular game simplified for younger children ages 5 and up and players two to four players. Like the original game you gather resources to build huts, but the worker placement component is not included in this simpler game. The game has large chunky high quality pieces.

On each players turn they take a forest tile from the perimeter of the board. On each tile is a resource, an image of a die, or a dog.  If a player pull a resource they move to that resource space and take one of that resource.  A die image indicates the player may move that many spaces along the path.  A dog is a wild card and can represent any resources.  If there are not any more dog tokens in the resources pile players can steal a dog from another player.  Players have a field of three huts they are trying to collect the resources to buy.  When a player purchases one with their resources, they flip over a new hut revealing the cost of the next hut. The first player to build three huts wins.

Blue Orange Games

Doodle Quest


Doodle Quest is a drawing game for one to four players ages 6 and up. In this underwater themed game players choose one of the 18 quest cards.  Each card includes drawing instructions specific to the card.  Players then draw on blank transparent sheets with dry erase markers. Once complete, each transparent sheet is placed on the quest card and is scored based on how each players doodle aligns with the picture. The player with the most points after 6 challenges is the winner. Additionally, each quest card has a beginner and advanced challenge side.

Dr. Eureka


Dr. Eureka is a logic and dexterity game for ages 6 and up and is for two to four players.  It was originally published as an 8 and up game, but in later publications changed to a 6 and up game.  In this game you are taking molecules (balls) in a test tube and need to combine colors to correspond to a challenge card.  The dexterity challenge is you can not touch the balls and cannot drop them!  The round ends when one player has their molecules match the formula exactly, and they call out “Eureka”. That player gets the cards, but players do not reset their test tubes.  The players begin the next round with the configuration the ended the previous round.

This game is great for multiple ages and skills because you can scale the rules to add challenges for more advanced players, and eliminate rules as needed.  There are also several variants that add different challenges to the game.

Peaceable Kingdom

Cauldron Quest


Cauldron Quest is a cooperative game that will fit right at home in any house full of Harry Potter fans. It is for players 6 and up and plays two to four players. Players are working together in Cauldron Quest to brew a magic potion that their kingdom needs to break a magic spell cast by an evil wizard. They do this by trying to move special barrels of ingredients from the outside of the board into the cauldron in the center. This might SOUND easy, but the evil wizard is trying to stop them by putting magic barriers in the way. Players need to get the correct three ingredients to the center before the wizard blocks all six paths.

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

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Kickstarter of the Week: Clear the Decks!

Naval warfare has never been so exciting.  In Clear the Decks! players are working together battling an enemy ship with their own navel ship and crew. Clear the Decks is designed by Christopher Pinyan of Crispy Games Co.

The Engaged Family Gaming team has had the pleasure to see Clear the Decks evolve over the past year.  Our first look at this game was at the 2017 Connecticut Festival of Independent GamesClear The Decks was again at the 2018 Connecticut Festival of Independent Games.

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc. 

Clear the Decks! is a 1-4 player cooperative card game depicting ship to ship combat in the age of fighting sail. For ages 10 and up.

What is the elevator pitch? 

On the high seas, you have met your enemy. By yourself or with shipmates, you each have 3 gun crews using different ammunition, tactics, officers, and marines to attack the enemy ship’s guns, crew and structures. Can you smash enough leaks in the enemy ship before they have destroyed all of your cannons? It’s time to beat to quarters and Clear the Decks!

When is your Kickstarter going live?

The Kickstarter went live on July 17, 2018, and runs through August 16th.

Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete? 

All the line art for the game is complete. We have a couple weeks’ worth of coloring still to do and will provide updates over the course of the campaign. Some of the stretch goal cards are already designed and just waiting for enough funding to include them in the game. We estimate that by end of August we will be ready to send to printer for production review.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game? 

The closest I would consider is Castle Panic. It is also cooperative (though there still is a “winner”), there is the concept of impending danger and you have to come up with certain combinations of card and location in order to attack your target.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?

The movie Master and Commander was always a favorite. I got hooked on reading the book series, which then led to reading several non-fiction books on the US and British navies during the late 17 and early 1800’s. Reading through the sea battles, watching them in the Horatio Hornblower series on BBC made me of puzzle combinations – which cannon, which ammunition, which part of the ship, all the other issues to deal with during a battle and all of the different people on a ship – with different roles and how they all had to work together to be successful. That sounded like a great game to me. It had to be co-op and I didn’t want semi-co op where people are working together but ultimately still looking out for themselves to the possible detriment of the team. I love to see families sit down and work together, sometimes the parents coaching the kids, but plenty of times the kids getting excited and telling mom or dad what they should do. I loved the theme and it made designing now promoting the game fun. Sprinkling in a little history to maybe get people interested in reading up on the time period is a possible bonus.

What was your design process like? 

Reading and taking notes on gun sizes, the different ammunition types and what they were used for. Lots of notes on the different parts of a ship. Reading about the different other things – good and bad – that might randomly happen during a battle lead me to create Event and Fortune cards. Tricks of combat became player tactics cards and of course – all the different people became Crew cards. Then allowing myself some creative license to be less restrictive on what combinations would be allowed to attack certain cards. Some mathematics to determine a good ratio of certain cards in the game (Round shot vs Chain shot for example). Then on to gameplay – lots of testing and making sure the tension remains to the end and putting in some resource management requirements – saving the right cards for the right part of the game, but keeping the temptation there to get the unwary to use them at the wrong time and jeopardize a victory. Wanting the game available as a solitaire, and for younger and older families generated the concept of different sizes and difficulties of the ship – making lots of opportunities for interesting play among different age groups.

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

Work together for a change! Show how teamwork and giving can help everyone succeed together. Can’t we ALL be happy and have fun on family game night? If we do – then maybe getting people interested in another family game night is easier. This is a way to get kids interested in this topic.  It may put them down the path to developing their own reading habit. This was not the original goal of the whole game process, but if happens to be an unintended side effect – great.

How long has this game been in development? 

About 2 and a half years.  Around Feb 2015 when I started evolving the mechanics of an earlier game I was working on for 18 months previously into this one.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game? 

Number one is time! With a day job and two teenagers its tough to get even an hour of uninterrupted time to focus on something. On a personal level, getting outside the comfort zone.  First, to go out and show it to playtesters. Then take the feedback of something you worked so hard on – without taking offense. That is a real personal growth opportunity.

What did your first prototype look like? 

Blank cards I ordered online that I drew on with markers. On the back, I got a tall ship ink stamp from a scrapbooking friend and red and blue ink pads for the two card types.

Why did you get into making games? 

I grew up playing games – at home, at the park during the summer. I discovered local game conventions and once the indie game craze started – I thought I could do it.

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

Clear the Decks is driven by theme, and the theme is driven by my passion for it. I worked in a lot of little details that I love to share during demos. I hope people will discover on their own as the play the game. Inspiring people to search for a couple of my references, maybe more people become interested in an amazing period and some amazing people in history.
You can learn more about Clear the Decks! by checking out my website www.crispygamesco.com
or by following me on Instagram and Facebook at Crispygamesco.

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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Finding engaging games to play with toddlers and preschoolers that are not excessively tedious for the adults can be a challenge.  Memory, Candy Land, and Chutes and Ladders are classics and likely in any collection with young kids.  I can vouch that they are in my kids’ collection too! There are many more games to choose from that are good for young players.  These games have are appealing, have cute themes, and you will enjoy playing with your preschooler.

Haba Games

My Very First Games Series

My Very First Games are for ages 2 and up. There are 17  games for sale on the Haba website in this set and some of the most recommended are First Orchard, Hanna Honeybee and Animal Upon Animal. Haba games are high quality and include wooden pieces.

First Orchard


First Orchard is a cooperative game where players are trying to collect all the fruit before the raven reaches the end of the path. The game has large brightly colored wooden fruit and a chunky wooden raven.  The path and orchard are easy to set up and reinforces sorting skills. This is a simplified version of Haba’s Orchard game.

Hanna Honeybee


Hanna Honeybee is a cooperative game were one to four players are rolling a chunky wooden die to find and collect flowers of that color.  Once collected it goes into the  beehive which flips the card so it comes out on the honey side.  A second way to play it to have the cards upside down and that adds a memory component to the game.

Animal Upon Animal


Animal Upon Animal has three ways of play.  There are two competitive variants and a cooperative variant. The animals are much larger than the classic game and they stack much more easily, so it accommodates the level of fine motor skills you find in younger players.

Standard Haba Games for Younger Players

Some of Haba’s games that are not only from the My First Game Series are also good for preschoolers.  Their pieces are slightly smaller and there are more rules to the game.

Animal Upon Animal


Animal Upon Animal has slightly smaller pieces than the First Game version. This game is for ages 4 and up. Players are asked to roll to determine how many animals they are stacking or they may be asked to add a piece to the base adjacent to the crocodile.

Unicorn Glitterluck


Unicorn Glitterluck is a roll and move game with some added components for ages 3 and up.  Players move their unicorns along the path and collect crystals.  If they land on a crystal image they have to roll a special die to find out how many crystals to take.  The player to reach the sun first ends the game and players count their crystals.  The player with the most crystals wins.  The back of the game board also has a counter track so players can lay out their crystals by the player and visually see who has the most.

Gamewright

Gamewright makes great family games! There is something for all ages and many of their games play well multi-age.  The themes are light-hearted and their games are easy to learn. For the youngest gamers, they also have developed a cardholder.  This is a great tool for little hands who struggle to hold a hand of cards.

Go Away Monster


Go Away Monster is a re-release of a game for the younger set with new art and prettier components. The main thrust of the game is that you have to fill up your card with different puzzle pieces to make up a child’s bedroom. You do that by reaching into a blind bag and feeling around for the piece that you need. The trick is that there are monsters in the bag. If you pick a monster out of the bag then you lose your turn.

Feed The Kitty


Feed The Kitty is a dice game where players roll the dice to see what they have to do with their mice.  At the beginning of the game, each player gets some wooden mice and some go in the Kitty’s bowl. The two custom dice have four other actions, and they complete both on their turn. Players may need to pass a mouse to the player on the left, or do nothing if there is a sleeping cat.  Rolling a bowl image indicates they have to put a mouse in the bowl, or a mouse image and they take a mouse out of the bowl. Players can not roll if they are out of mice, but they are not out of the game.  The game ends when only one player has a mouse (or mice).

 

Hiss


Hiss is a competitive game where players draw tiles and try and build the longest snakes.  Each snake has different colors and players need to match the colors for adjacent snake pieces.  To build a complete snake they need to have a head, at least one middle body segment, and a tail. This is a game that easily scales down to youngster players.

Educational Insights 

Educational Insights’ goal is to make games that are both fun  and educational.  They have infused an educational theme into each of their games, and also put a animal squeezer which develops fine motor skills and hand strength into a series of their games.

 

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game


The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game is where you are collecting acorns to feed your hungry squirrel.  At the beginning of each turn you spin the spinner and that dictated the color acorn you can take or if another event occurs.  If a player lands on a storm cloud their acorns get blown back onto the tree. A sad squirrel means you lose a turn.  The thieving squirrel picture allows the player to steal one acorn from another player. The first person to fill their log with acorns wins.

Educational Insights have developed a line of games with a squeezer that also include: Hoppy Floppy Happy Hunt and Sophie’s Seashell Scramble.

Blue Orange Games

Blue Orange Games, the award-winning tabletop game publisher has a whole series of Spot it games in a range of theme.  Some other Spot it Games include: numbers and shapes, sports, Gone Camping, Frozen.

Spot it Jr.


Spot it Jr. is simple, inexpensive, and portable. Oh! And your Preschooler has a decent shot at beating you in it. This is a matching game with multiple variables of play.  There is one matching animal on every card so you are trying to be the first to find the matching animal.  This is great for even the youngest gamers and helps to develop their observational skills.

Blue Orange  preschool games released in 2018

Happy Bunny


“In this cooperative counting game, players work as a team to help the bunny pick the best carrots from the farmer’s garden. Each turn, one player picks a number of carrots from the garden and sorts them into two piles, one for the bunny and one for the farmer. At the end of the game, everyone helps line up the piles for comparison. If the bunny’s line is longer, the players win! The durable carrot pieces are firmly planted inside the box, so the self-contained game helps little hands develop fine motor skills.”

Where’s Mr. Wolf?


“A cooperative game where everyone pitches in on the farm! Players must work together as a team to help the farm animals get back to their barns before Mr. Wolf arrives. Every time a Mr. Wolf token is found, he creeps one space closer, and every time a farm animal token is found, players must remember which barn they belong to. The cute animal tokens, 3D barns, and shared goal help children work on memory and teamwork at the same time.”

Kitty Bitty


“Kitty Bitty is a remake of the beloved Blue Orange classic, Froggy Boogie. This adorable wooden game has little minds use memory and color recognition to help their kitten make it around the yarn balls and back to the basket. Each turn, players need to find the correct mommy cat and pick up one of her eyes; if it’s blank they can move on to the next yarn ball, but if there’s a kitten printed on the bottom they stay put and it’s the next players turn. The first kitten that makes it around all the yarn balls and back to the basket wins!”

Peaceable Kingdom

Snug as a Bug in a Rug


Snug as a Bug in a Rug is a cooperative game for player ages 3 and up.  The game is also designed with three levels of play to increase difficulty as players get older. The bugs in the game have multiple features.  They are different colors, have shapes, have different numbers of shapes, and have large or small eyes.

The basic gameplay has the players roll the specialized die to determine the attribute they are looking for in their bug and then spin the spinner to specify the attribute.  For example, if they roll the color attribute on the die, the spinner would tell them to find the blue bug.  Once they find a bug with that attribute it goes under the rug (the game board). If there are no bugs that match that feature a stink bug is placed on the rug.  The game ends when all the bugs are under the run, which means players win, or there are three stink bugs on the rug.

 

Count Your Chickens


Count Your Chickens is a cooperative game where you are trying to get all 40 chicks back to the coop before the hen reaches it.  On each turn, the player spins the spinner that has various pictures that correspond to picture on the path.  The player moves the mother hen to the next space with that picture and counts the number of spaces they travel.  The number of spaces is how many chicks they put in the coop. If the spinner lands on the fox one chick is taken out of the coop and put back in the farmyard.

Hoot Owl Hoot


Hoot Owl Hoot is a cooperative game to bring the owls back to the nest.  The goal is to get all the owls back before the sun comes up.  Each player has three cards dealt in front of them.  Players choose a color card to pla, and draws a card to refill at the end of their turn.  With a color car,d the player selects an owl and move it to the next corresponding space of that color. If a player has a sun card they must play it, and the sun moves one space on the tracker. The difficulty can be increased by adding more owls to put back in the nest.

Wonderforge

 

I Can Do That!



I Can Do That! is an active game that gets kids moving.  This takes some items from Dr. Seuss books and has made them into props to complete silly actions.  On each turn player pull one card from three different decks.  Deck number one is an action, deck number two is a prop, and deck number three is a direction to do with the prop.  There is also a Trick-a-ma-stick Foam Bar that players may need to go under or around.  There are Stop Card scattered in the three decks.  If a player draws one their turn is over.  On each card there are  stars.  Players keep the cards for all successfully completed actions, and the player with the most stars wins.

 

Thinkfun

Zingo


Zingo is a bingo game with a few twists by Thinkfun.  The game is for players ages four and up and can play two to six players, and game play is quick and a game take 15-20 minutes. Zingo is a great game to have for young players.  Thinkfun has also created  multiple versions of Zingo published by Thinkfun. They include: Zingo 1-2-3Zingo Sight Words, Zingo Time-Telling, and Zingo Word Builder.  These can be great ways to develop beginning reading and math skills, and for preschool and primary students the Zingo variations are a great fit.  The random nature of the game allow for play with the whole family.  

Proto Toys

Build or Boom


Build or BOOM is a block stacking dexterity game designed to be played by even the youngest member of your family. Your goal is to race your opponent to complete a tower out of uniquely shaped blocks and BOOM their tower to keep them from winning. This game is absolutely playable by everyone in the family. It is designed for kids 4 yrs old and over, but is still fun and playable by the more mature members of the family. The concepts are simple to understand and no reading is required. The plastic pieces are big enough for tiny hands to manipulate and the towers are challenging for all ages.

 


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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