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Stuffed Fables

Plaid Hat Games has announced Stuffed Fables at Gen Con 2017. This is a unique adventure game where players control a group of loyal stuffed animals that battle to save the children they love, and are sworn to protect, from the forces of evil.

This is the first game in Plaid Hat Games‘ StoryBoard Game series. These are games where both the action and the narrative are driven by a special game book that acts as a rules reference book, a game board, and a story reference all in one neat little package! Each of the game’s adventure scenarios takes place across a pair of pages in the book. The book is spiral bound and opens flat for each scenario to show off a map, or piece of art that is related to the story.

Fables is an adorable game, there is no question about that. But, I think the most interesting part of this announcement is that it is the first in a new line of games from Plaid Hat Games. These Storyboard games provide a lot of opportunities for storytelling in their other franchises. Imagine, if you will, a Storyboard game set in the Mice and Mystics universe? That’s a great fit. Further, all they need to do to release expansions is release new books. This means cheaper production costs, faster releases, and fewer giant boxes on gamer’s shelves.

Are you going to be picking this one up for your family? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

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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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GenCon 2016 has come and gone and it is, essentially, the E3 of board games. Every year dozens of board games are debuted there to be demoed (or purchased) by thousands of gamers hungry to be on the cutting edge of the hobby.

We, unfortunately, weren’t able to make the trip ourselves, but thanks to BoardGameGeek.com and a lot of press releases we have a pretty good idea of what games made a big splash there. Take a look below for a list of the games that we have our eyes on.


Seafall

  • Plaid Hat Games
  • Ages 14+
  • 3-5 Players
  • 90-120 minutes

Legacy games shouldn’t be anything new to board game fans as there have been several. The most recent legacy game, Pandemic: Legacy Season One, took the world by storm last year. Seafall, however, is different because it is the first game that has been built from the ground up as a Legacy game.

In Seafall, players take on the role of explorers during the age of sail that have discovered a new land. The map on the gameboard is empty and it is up to the players to explore the land and see what is going on.

What I love most about this game is that I have to speak about it in general terms because I honestly don’t know what happens. I know there is a story much like there was in previous Legacy games. I just don’t know what it is, and the fact that it is a completely new title means I have no context to try and figure it out on my on.

I guess I’ll just have to play it!

Scythe

  • Stonemeier Games
  • Ages 14+
  • 1-5 Players
  • 90-115 minutes

There are very few games that have been hyped up as much as Scythe has been over the past year. This is a game that was backed heavily on Kickstarter thanks to its gorgeous art and the fascinating premise. The game takes place in a diesel-punk alternate history version of post World War I. Some of the art featured in the game includes quant pastoral villages with adorable farmhouses being towered over by multistory diesel-belching mechs.

At first, when I saw the campaign I had assumed that it was a miniatures wargame featuring towering mechs and bear riders. But, as I learned more about the game I found out that it is really more about resource management and territory control. You actually can only earn so many points through battle. The rest of the points you earn are through other means.

One feature that I think really sets the game apart is the idea of popularity. Different achievements and resources are worth a different amount of points dependant upon your popularity level with the people. This means that taking explicitly evil actions that might turn the people against you can have a significant cost in the long run (that doesn’t mean they won’t be worth it though).

Star Trek Panic

  • USAopoly
  • Ages13+
  • 1-6 Players
  • 90-120 minutes

We have talked about Castle Panic before and you might be tempted to just write this one off as a simple reskinning of the original. Do yourself a favor and wipe those thoughts away right now.

Star Trek Panic adds a lot to the formula like

We’ve talked about Castle Panic before. Star Trek Panic is similar in form, but it does more than replace the sword and sorcery theme with a shiny sci-fi one. Instead, this game adds things like missions, character cards, and new mechanics.

The best part about the game though? The cardboard USS Enterprise that sits in the center of the game board while you play.

Star Trek: Ascendancy

  • Gale Force Nine
  • Ages 14+
  • 3 Players
  • 90-180 minutes

This is a big year for Star Trek. We had a new movie (Star Trek: Beyond),  an upcoming series (Star Trek: Discovery), and several licensed board games. While Star Trek Panic is a lighter strategy game based around an existing idea, Star Trek: Ascension brings the Trek universe into the heavy strategy genre.

The gameboard is all but blank when this game starts. That is because the galaxy will be discovered slowly as the three players (each one controlling either the Federation, The Klingon Empire, or the Romulan Empire respectively) travel around the board discovering new stars, planets, and eventually each other. At that point the players will need to trade, form alliances, and explore in order to earn the win.

 

Vast: The Crystal Caverns

  • Leader Games
  • Ages 10+
  • 1-5 Players
  • 75 minutes

Asymmetrical gameplay is a challenge, but is is very cool when it comes together well in a board game. Vast: The Crystal Caverns certainly shoots to accomplish that.

Vast is a dungeon crawler game that has each player assigned to a different role from the valiant knight and the slumbering dragon to the cave itself. Each role has completely different game mechanics and win conditions. For example: The Knight wins by killing the dragon. The Dragon wins by waking up and escaping. The cave wins by collapsing in itself and crushing everyone else inside.

Kreo

  • Cool Mini or Not
  • Ages 10+
  • 3-6 Players

This is a cooperative game where players take on the role of greek titans who are working to create a sustainable world. There are element cards which help you build nature cards, Nature cards are used to build the planet.

The game looks as simple as it is fast. The entire deck of cards is dealt out to the players. Gameplay involves multiple rounds wherein players while simultaneously play cards trying to complete different phases of creation. The key is that players cannot communicate directly about what they are going to play. This limitation can be circumvented by using a limited resource, but it is a pretty significant part of the challenge.

Ticket to Ride: Rails and Sails

  • Days of Wonder
  • Ages 10+
  • 2-5 players
  • 60-120 minutes

Ticket to Ride: Rails and Sails mixes up the traditional TTR formula in two main ways. The first is that it includes a double sided map that includes a world map and a map focused on the Great Lakes region of the United States. The second is that players can also claim routes across land using trains and sea using boats. They even mix things up by including train cards and boat cards that players have to collect to claim their respective routes. This adds a lot of new decisions for players to make.

We haven’t played a bad version of Ticket to Ride yet, so we’re sure this will be a great one to add to the collection.

Beyond Baker Street

  • Z-Man
  • Ages 13+
  • 2-4 players
  • 20 minutes

This is a Sherlock Holmes themed cooperative deduction game. Players are racing to solve a crime before the legendary Sherlock Holmes can. The gameplay itself is very similar to Hanabi. Players each hold a set of five clues, but they can’t see what they have. They can only see their what their teammates are holding. Each turn players can Assist another detective, Investigate a crime scene, Confirm evidence, Eliminate dead leads, or Pursue new leads. The players win if they can gather enough evidence before Holmes does.

I’ll admit that I have had some bad experiences with Hanabi, but I am definitely willing to give this one a shot.

Captain Sonar

  • Asmodee
  • Ages 12+
  • 2-8 Players
  • 30-60 minutes

Ok. So we all played Battleship when we were kids right? Captain Sonar is a game that pits two teams of players against each other as they each run Submarines that are trying to destroy one another. Each player has a separate role and the battles take place in real time.

This sounds to us like it has the makings of a great game to pull out at game nights and we can’t wait to give it a shot.

Killer Snails: Assassins of the Sea

This is a competitive deck building game that is themed around the idea of farming deadly cone snails. They are deadly creatures, but they can be farmed to harness some of their pieces to help make medicines and other useful products.

Killer Snails was designed in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, the National Science Foundation, and the Media Center IFP. There is even a teacher’s guide to using this game to help learn.

Fight for Olympus

  • Lookout Games/Mayfair Games
  • Ages 12+
  • 2 Players
  • 30 Minutes

Fight for Olympus is a two player competitive card game with strategic elements. The game is based on Greek Mythology so we know our oldest son is hungry for this one.

Players control six spaces on a virtual game board. Three of them are reserved for military action and the other three are for resources and “Power Discs.” Creatures played in the front row deal damage to creatures directly across from them. If there are no creatures to attack then the damage is dealt to the other player directly.

The art on the different cards looks great and the combat mechanics look interesting enough to rocket this game very high on our list.


Did you see anything at GenCon 2016 that caught your eye? Sound off in the comments!

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Board Games from GenCon 2016 That We Want to Play!

GenCon took place last month and was, essentially, the E3 of board games. Every year dozens upon dozens of board games are debuted there to be demoed (or purchased) by thousands of gamers hungry to be on the cutting edge of the hobby.

We, unfortunately, weren’t able to make the trip ourselves, but thanks to BoardGameGeek.com and a lot of press releases we have a pretty good idea of what games made a big splash there. Take a look below for a list of the games that we have our eyes on.

Seafall


Plaid Hat Games

Ages 14+

3-5 Players

90-120 minutes

 

Legacy games shouldn’t be anything new to board game fans as there have been several. The most recent legacy game, Pandemic: Legacy Season One, took the world by storm last year. Seafall, however, is different because it is the first game that has been built from the ground up as a Legacy game.

In Seafall, players take on the role of explorers during the age of sail that have discovered a new land. The map on the gameboard is empty and it is up to the players to explore the land and see what is going on.

What I love most about this game is that I have to speak about it in general terms because I honestly don’t know what happens. I know there is a story much like there was in previous Legacy games. I just don’t know what it is, and the fact that it is a completely new title means I have no context to try and figure it out on my on.

I guess I’ll just have to play it!

 

Scythe


Stonemeier Games

Ages 14+

1-5 Players

90-115 minutes

 

There are very few games that have been hyped up as much as Scythe has been over the past year. This is a game that was backed heavily on Kickstarter thanks to its gorgeous art and the fascinating premise. The game takes place in a diesel-punk alternate history version of post World War I. Some of the art featured in the game includes quant pastoral villages with adorable farmhouses being towered over by multistory diesel-belching mechs.

At first, when I saw the campaign I had assumed that it was a miniatures wargame featuring towering mechs and bear riders. But, as I learned more about the game I found out that it is really more about resource management and territory control. You actually can only earn so many points through battle. The rest of the points you earn are through other means.

One feature that I think really sets the game apart is the idea of popularity. Different achievements and resources are worth a different amount of points dependant upon your popularity level with the people. This means that taking explicitly evil actions that might turn the people against you can have a significant cost in the long run (that doesn’t mean they won’t be worth it though).

 

Star Trek Panic

USAopoly

Ages13+

1-6 Players

90-120 minutes

 

We have talked about Castle Panic before and you might be tempted to just write this one off as a simple reskinning of the original. Do yourself a favor and wipe those thoughts away right now.

Star Trek Panic adds a lot to the formula like

We’ve talked about Castle Panic before. Star Trek Panic is similar in form, but it does more than replace the sword and sorcery theme with a shiny sci-fi one. Instead, this game adds things like missions, character cards, and new mechanics.

The best part about the game though? The cardboard USS Enterprise that sits in the center of the game board while you play.

 

Star Trek: Ascendancy

Gale Force Nine

Ages 14+

3 Players

90-180 minutes

 

This is a big year for Star Trek. We had a new movie (Star Trek: Beyond),  an upcoming series (Star Trek: Discovery), and several licensed board games. While Star Trek Panic is a lighter strategy game based around an existing idea, Star Trek: Ascension brings the Trek universe into the heavy strategy genre.

The gameboard is all but blank when this game starts. That is because the galaxy will be discovered slowly as the three players (each one controlling either the Federation, The Klingon Empire, or the Romulan Empire respectively) travel around the board discovering new stars, planets, and eventually each other. At that point the players will need to trade, form alliances, and explore in order to earn the win.  

 

Vast: The Crystal Caverns

BoardGameGeek Link

Leader Games

Ages 10+

1-5 Players

75 minutes

Asymmetrical gameplay is a challenge, but is is very cool when it comes together well in a board game. Vast: The Crystal Caverns certainly shoots to accomplish that.

Vast is a dungeon crawler game that has each player assigned to a different role from the valiant knight and the slumbering dragon to the cave itself. Each role has completely different game mechanics and win conditions. For example: The Knight wins by killing the dragon. The Dragon wins by waking up and escaping. The cave wins by collapsing in itself and crushing everyone else inside.

 

Kreo

BoardGameGeek Link

Cool Mini or Not

Ages 10+

3-6 Players

 

This is a cooperative game where players take on the role of greek titans who are working to create a sustainable world. There are element cards which help you build nature cards, Nature cards are used to build the planet.

The game looks as simple as it is fast. The entire deck of cards is dealt out to the players. Gameplay involves multiple rounds wherein players while simultaneously play cards trying to complete different phases of creation. The key is that players cannot communicate directly about what they are going to play. This limitation can be circumvented by using a limited resource, but it is a pretty significant part of the challenge.

 

Ticket to Ride: Rails and Sails

Days of Wonder

Ages 10+

2-5 players

60-120 minutes

 

Ticket to Ride: Rails and Sails mixes up the traditional TTR formula in two main ways. The first is that it includes a double sided map that includes a world map and a map focused on the Great Lakes region of the United States. The second is that players can also claim routes across land using trains and sea using boats. They even mix things up by including train cards and boat cards that players have to collect to claim their respective routes. This adds a lot of new decisions for players to make.

We haven’t played a bad version of Ticket to Ride yet, so we’re sure this will be a great one to add to the collection.

 

Beyond Baker Street

Z-Man

Ages 13+

2-4 players

20 minutes

 

This is a Sherlock Holmes themed cooperative deduction game. Players are racing to solve a crime before the legendary Sherlock Holmes can. The gameplay itself is very similar to Hanabi. Players each hold a set of five clues, but they can’t see what they have. They can only see their what their teammates are holding. Each turn players can Assist another detective, Investigate a crime scene, Confirm evidence, Eliminate dead leads, or Pursue new leads. The players win if they can gather enough evidence before Holmes does.

I’ll admit that I have had some bad experiences with Hanabi, but I am definitely willing to give this one a shot.    

 

Captain Sonar

Asmodee

Ages 12+

2-8 Players

30-60 minutes

 

Ok. So we all played Battleship when we were kids right? Captain Sonar is a game that pits two teams of players against each other as they each run Submarines that are trying to destroy one another. Each player has a separate role and the battles take place in real time.

This sounds to us like it has the makings of a great game to pull out at game nights and we can’t wait to give it a shot.  

 

Killer Snails: Assassins of the Sea

This is a competitive deck building game that is themed around the idea of farming deadly cone snails. They are deadly creatures, but they can be farmed to harness some of their pieces to help make medicines and other useful products.

Killer Snails was designed in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, the National Science Foundation, and the Media Center IFP. There is even a teacher’s guide to using this game to help learn.

 

Fight for Olympus

Lookout Games/Mayfair Games

Ages 12+

2 Players

30 Minutes

 

Fight for Olympus is a two player competitive card game with strategic elements. The game is based on Greek Mythology so we know our oldest son is hungry for this one.

Players control six spaces on a virtual game board. Three of them are reserved for military action and the other three are for resources and “Power Discs.” Creatures played in the front row deal damage to creatures directly across from them. If there are no creatures to attack then the damage is dealt to the other player directly.

The art on the different cards looks great and the combat mechanics look interesting enough to rocket this game very high on our list.

 

Cytomel T3 for sale
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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.

Mysterium

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!

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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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

Eleminis 

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.  

 

Indulgence 

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.  

Adapt 

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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This week we’re celebrating our 100th episode! We definitely around playing around either. We brought back one of the original co-hosts: Kelly Allard to talk about Adventurebook games from Plaid Hat Games, and revisit some of our original topics.

Jaipur

Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle

The Monster Box of Monsters Expansion

Stuffed Fables

Hero Kids

 

 

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Plaid Hat Games

1-4 Players

Ages 7+

60-90 Minutes

MSRP: $74.99

COOPERATIVE

Prince Collin clutches his sword tight as the evil minions advance. The glow of magic forms around the end of the Maginos’ staff, accompanied by a faint hum, as the wizard readies a spell. The blacksmith Nez steps forward, swinging his hammer, and lets forth a mighty battle….. squeak?

Mice and Mystics is a 4-player cooperative game where players take the roles of mighty heroes, still loyal to the king, battling against the evil forces of the sorceress queen Vanestra. The catch? The heroes have turned themselves into mice in order to escape the dungeon where they have been imprisoned.

The heroes will face a variety of perils – rats, cockroaches, spiders and centipedes – as they try to escape the castle and save the kingdom. The game plays out over 11 unique “chapters”, each contained in a gameplay session lasting one to two hours. Every chapter builds on the last, weaving together an ongoing story of the heroes’ adventures. The heroes gain new abilities and find different equipment, leading to some role-playing game style advancement as the game plays out.

As a fully cooperative game, there is no “game master” or “overlord” type player controlling the monsters and villains. Instead, players move their adversaries via a programmed/established logic, depending on the opponent, and roll dice to represent the monster’s attack or defense. This allows players to focus instead on working together to control their individual hero or heroes to victory.

Component Quality

First and foremost, Mice and Mystics looks gorgeous. From the evocative cover illustration to the beautifully sculpted miniatures, everything about the game is a treat for the eyes. Each chapter is played out on a “board” built out of three or four of the eight included modular tiles, all painted to evoke the dappled light of the dungeon cell or glow of underground moss, further enhancing the immersion in the world of the game. Players advance from tile to tile either at the edges, where tiles connect, or in a unique manner where mice move up or down a level in the castle by flipping over the tiles to reveal the another level of the same area.

All of the graphic design is fantastically handled as well, with natural textures reminiscent of wood grains and stone throughout. The iconography supports the gameplay and is easily interpreted even by the younger gamers. The custom dice serve many different functions in the game, with different symbols on the same sides of the dice representing everything from searching, defending, attacking and more. There are a number of tokens used for various statuses and special characters (perhaps an overwhelming number for newer players) but each is clearly labeled and easy to read, or explained on a summary page in the rulebook.

A Hero is Born

Each of the six included heroes in Mice and Mystics feels unique and has a personality of their own, further enhanced through story moments scattered throughout the game. All six conform in many ways to fantasy archetypes, for those familiar, but the mouse theme and character development make them feel fresh. Each character will have a moment to shine in the story, be it the matronly healer Tilda, to the shady rogue Filch. The sculpts (That’s artist for “figure”. – Stephen) for the figures are beautifully crafted, but are unpainted. Even the budding painter will want to finish them off to really bring the immersion in the game to its fullest.

While there are six playable characters in the box, only four are selected in most chapters, and different chapters have different setup rules on which characters should be included. Those who are really looking for an RPG experience, where they level one character up through all the stories, may be disappointed in their inability to become too attached to one character. However, the choice works overall in service to the ongoing story.

Gameplay

While the theme of Mice and Mystics hits squarely in the all ages category, don’t mistake the game for easy. The enemies all move and attack with predictable patterns (as one would expect from a fully co-op game) but a timer system, in the form of a cheese wheel, keeps the tension up and the gameplay fast and furious. Filling the wheel, either by delaying too long in a room after the enemies have been defeated, or by the rolling of cheese on the dice when taking enemy actions, results in a “surge” of new enemies appearing. In addition, the page marker advances, moving the players one step closer to chapter end and utter defeat.

Cheese is not always bad, though. Players can earn cheese on their die rolls as well. These cheese are then used to power special abilities, or buy more abilities as the game progresses. The cheese mechanic certainly helps to balance out the unfortunate die rolls, as a missed attack or fumbled defense can result in cheese to help in future turns.

Even with the balance provided by the unique cheese mechanic, Mice and Mystics is a challenging game. With experienced adult gamers, it’s not uncommon to fail 20-30% of the games played. This can be especially frustrating for younger players, and we have often “house ruled” certain scenarios to improve the enjoyment of the younger kids.

The Good, the Bad and the Squeaky

Overall, a lot of what players get out of Mice and Mystics will depend largely on what they come in expecting. While the game has RPG elements, it doesn’t allow the freedom of choice that a true RPG system has. In addition, the levelling system from chapter to chapter may leave the hardcore RPG fans wanting more. For those coming to the game from a dungeon crawl style board game background, the game may feel too dice-dependent and lacking in strategy, especially given it’s fully cooperative nature.

The problem with all these expectations is that Mice and Mystics is none of those things, even though it shares characteristics with them all. In the end, much of Mice and Mystics charm is the knife-edge balancing act it strikes between story-book tale, Dungeon-crawl gameplay and RPG advancement, while still feeling unique from all of those things. If we were to leverage one complaint against the game, independent of expectations, it’s that the game is almost a *must* at the four-player count. Chapters are designed and balanced for four mice heroes, and any lower player count doesn’t result in fewer heroes on the board. Instead, one player just controls more. It’s certainly *possible* to play with three or two (or even one) player, but doing so feels like an incomplete game.

Conclusion

In the end, Mice and Mystics is incredibly successful at what it does well. It creates an incredibly immersive story with gorgeous components and a saturation of theme. With one small-box expansion (Heart of Glorm) and one large box expansion (Downwood Tales) already available, and more sure to come in the future, there is no shortage of stories to experience in the world of Colin and his tiny companions. Given that chapters tend to be quite variable in how long they play out (usually in the 60-120 minute range) the game requires setting aside a full afternoon or evening to play, but it’s an adventure we strongly recommend making the time for.

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Hello and Welcome to Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast! This is episode 121. This week we are talking video games.

Host:

Stephen Duetzmann @EFGaming

Co-Host:

Jenna Duetzmann

Around the Horn!

Santorini

The Monster Match Game

Stuffed Fables

Kickstarter Round-up!

Robin Hood and the Merry Men

Pocket Subs

The Swordcrafter

Topic!

Our tips on how to have a successful board game party!


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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This week Stephen is joined by Dr. Regina McMenomy, Ph.D of http://www.thegeekembassy.com/ and the book Mothering: The Game https://www.inkshares.com/books/mothering-the-game

 

The games!

Seikatsu

Mouse Trap

Perfection

If you have issues with mental health go to www.takethis.org for help.

And after the break

Plaidhat games
Mice and mystics

Bob Ross the art of chill
http://www.bobrossgame.com/

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