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Product Review: Get Qurious Maker Box

Get Qurious, LLC

Age Rating: 4-9 yrs

MSRP: $19.99

Style: Activity Box and App

Get those imaginations flowing, think outside the box, and play and explore in a classic story both digitally and manually.

 

Maker Box from Get Qurious on Vimeo.

Introduction

Maker Box is an innovative system that includes an app and a fun box of activities designed to encourage children to interact with the story of the Three Little Pigs through hands on and dramatic play.

Contents

12 story page cards

2 character masks

1 double-sided puzzle

1 sticker book

1 iOS app (version 8 or above)

The components are cute and colorful and clearly designed to spark imagination and encourage learning. While not super sturdy for longevity, they are fun and make for a great crafty rainy day activity.

Gameplay

Maker Box is all about bringing a story to life. Get Qurious uses an interactive app, story cards, masks, puzzles, and a sticker book to provide your child with multiple opportunities to immerse themselves in the Three Little Pigs story. Once you open the box, separate and cut out all of the components, and download the app your children will be ready to learn and play!

The Story Cards allow your child use the app to scan each card to watch an animated version of the story.  Each card is numbered so that your child can scan them in order.  Also, the app gives picture clues so your child knows which card to scan next. The story will not play out of order, but your child can play with them outside of the app to make up silly stories on their own.

The Masks (one pig and one wolf) allow your child to pretend to play their own part in the story. They can scan the mask via the app and record and playback their own voice acting like a wolf or a pig. They can also wear the masks while the story is being animated and pretend to be acting in the story.

The Puzzle allow your child to piece the puzzle together and then scan it via the app to see what the house looks like in 3-D. The child takes a picture of each part of the puzzle and once all of the pieces are correctly scanned, the house pops up in color on the app. The child can interact with the different parts of the house to see a quick little animation.

The Sticker Book allows your child to peel, place, remove, and replace stickers of various shapes in a sticker book and then scan them in to hear the story of The Wandering Wolf. There are also some fun little surprises in the book like a maze, some matching activities, and some further learning suggestions.

Is it a Family Game?

While not a game in the traditional sense, the app included with Maker Box makes it more game-like than other crafting boxes. The best thing about Maker Box is that while it uses a device, it encourages play beyond the screen. It is a terrific experience for young learners that encourages dramatic play, kinesthetic learning, audio and visual learning, and creative thinking. We think this is a wonderful rainy day activity for your younger family members. The upper age limit recommended by the manufacturer seems to be a bit of a stretch. This was a lot of fun for preschoolers, kindergartners, and first grade children who tried it in our household. Older children did not enjoy this as much as our youngest did. The story was too simplistic, the puzzle pieces were too big to be a challenge, and the activities were very easy for our older children.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a fun and creative learning activity for a rainy day for younger children. It hasn’t had a huge amount of replay value for our 7 and over crowd, but our preschool and kindergarten children play with it frequently. We love using it in our home daycare and think it would be a great addition to a classroom. However, the price point of $19.99 seems a bit high for what you get. If this is to be a monthly subscription box, $10-$15 seems much more reasonable.

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

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Pokemon Go Logo

Pokémon Go is taking the world by storm. It was developed in partnership between Niantic (The people behind the augmented reality game Ingress) and Gamefreak (The people who make Pokémon video games). When it was announced a year ago it had a lot of potential. Pokémon is a well loved brand that is popular now AND old enough to have nostalgic players hungry to recapture the glory days of their youth.

The game itself can be difficult to describe. It is an augmented reality game. This means that is a game that layers game mechanics onto real world locations. In the case of Pokémon Go, this means using Google Maps data and dropping Pokémon all over the map for us to find. The difference is that we can’t just go there in a game, we have to walk their or drive there ourselves.

A lot of parents have been caught off guard by the game’s release. As a result we are publishing this guide to help parents understand what the game is and the basics of playing it. We will follow up with additional content including an FAQ and a deeper strategy discussion to help people play the game at any level they choose. Take a look below and be sure to share this with any of your bewildered friends.

 

What is Pokémon Go?Catch Pokemon in Pokemon go

It’s a hot new app developed by Niantic labs (makers of Ingress) that is being played by kids and adults alike all over the world. It’s making headlines everywhere, and here at EFG, we’ve got all of the details.

At it’s core, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality app playable ONLY on your phone. It uses the camera on your phone along with your phone’s GPS features.  As you walk various places, the GPS places your avatar on a map and you can discover Pokémon in the world around you.  You get to be a Pokémon trainer and catch Pokémon. The app also interacts with the map by bringing you to landmarks such as parks, historical sites, municipal buildings, churches, etc. that are Poké Stops where you can get free goodies to aid you in your endeavors to catch ‘em all!  There are even gyms where you can test your Pokémon trainer skills and have a Pokémon battle.

But, all of these cool features are based on the idea that you KEEP MOVING.  If you don’t walk, you quickly become unable to advance in the game. It’s designed to get people outdoors and moving.

How do I get started?

After downloading the app and FULLY CHARGING (more on that later) your device, you can go ahead and load up the game. You need a Google account or you need to sign up for a Pokémon Trainer Club account to log in.  Once you log in, you start by immediately choosing a Trainer avatar to represent you on the map. You can customize gender, skin tone, hair and eye color and basic clothing.  After you choose your avatar, you are introduced to Professor Willow. He will explain some very basic info about the game and ask you to choose your first Pokémon. The Pokémon that you can choose from are Squirtle(water type), Bulbasaur(grass type), and Charmander(fire type).  Anyone familiar with the earliest incarnation of Pokémon will immediately recognize these little guys.  That’s all there is to starting the game.

How do I play?

 

pokemon go map

When you start, your screen will look like a grid of unmarked roads.  If you look closely, you will recognize the map as the area that you are physically standing at. You may see rustling grass (marking Pokémon in the area), and local landmarks disguised as Poké Stops and Pokémon Gyms. As you move in the real world, your avatar does too. Pokémon will pop up on the map with a small vibration as you walk along. If you tap on the Pokémon that appears, you can attempt to capture it.

You will also see your avatar icon on the bottom left of the screen. You can tap on this to view your character’s level and achievements. In the center of your screen you will see a Pokéball. Tapping on this Pokéball will bring up other items such as your backpack, your Pokédex, your personal Pokémon inventory,  and the settings and tips for playing the game. On the bottom right of your screen you will see a grey or white rectangle with nearby Pokémon in it. You can tap it to expand it and see what else is nearby.

Once you’ve found a Pokémon, it’s time to throw a Poké Ball to try and capture it. You “throw” in game by touching and holding your Poké Ball. When you do this a glowing ring that shrinks and expands will appear around the Pokémon. When the ring gets to its smallest, you want to swipe your Poké Ball directly toward the creature and release your finger.  You want to aim towards hitting the Pokémon on the head. If you have successfully captured the Pokémon the ball will shake a few times and it will say “Gotcha”. If you are unsuccessful, the Pokémon will jump out of the ball after one or two shakes.

A note on the rings around the Pokémon: if the ring is green, it means the Pokémon is friendly and easier to catch. As you get farther into the game, it gets harder to catch Pokémon.  If the ring is yellow or red, you know this match will be a challenge. Don’t worry though, the game provides ways to make it so you can still catch plenty of those cute creatures.

More than one player can catch the same Pokémon; if you and another person see the same Pokémon on your screen, you can both capture it. There is no need to race each other to be the first to catch it.

Game Features

Poké Stops

Poke Stop in Pokemon Go

Poké Stops are the tall poles with blue cubes on top of them spread out across your map.  These typically coincide with physical landmarks in the real world. You can tap on it to find out exactly what the location is even if you are not in range. When a Poké Stop is within range, the blue cube will transform into a spinning circle. Inside the circle, you’ll see the Poké Stop symbol, the location’s photo, and maybe some historical info. Swipe the disc with the picture on it to spin it, and bubbles with pop up with items like Poké Balls, Poké Eggs, potions, lures, incense and more.

Please note: you can’t activate the Poké Stop to collect items, experience, and Poké Eggs unless you move within a close proximity to the actual landmark. As you increase in levels, you unlock new items to collect. After you visit a Poké Stop, the blue icon will turn purple and you will be unable to access it for at least five minutes.

Teams

pokemon-go-teams

When you reach level five and visit a Gym (Don’t worry we’ll explain that in a bit), you’ll be asked to join one of three color-coded teams:

  • Yellow – Team Instinct – Mascot: Zapdos
  • Blue – Team Mystic – Mascot: Articuno
  • Red – Team Valor – Mascot: Moltres

The teams do not affect the types of Pokémon you encounter, they only affect gym battles. Choosing a team of a specific color is the only way to interact with your friends (so far). You use your color to help take over and level up gyms.  If you possess a gym, you get rewards like Poké Coins and Stardust, which can help you level up and evolve your Pokémon.

Pokémon Gyms

Pokemon Go Gyms

Much like Poké Stops, Gyms are physical landmarks.  You interact with a gym by tapping it and activating it just like a PokéStop. This is where Pokémon battles happen. Players can claim them for their team, or help level up a Gym already claimed for your color to build up its prestige. Trainers can take over an unoccupied Gym and claim it for team Yellow-Instinct, Blue-Mystic, or Red-Valor.  If you encounter a Gym and your team’s color is already in control of it,  you can train your Pokémon in the Gym one at a time.  If the Gym is controlled by another color’s team, you’ll need to battle the Pokémon standing guard to lower its prestige and take over control of the Gym.

Gyms earn prestige when you train your Pokémon in one that your team controls, and lose prestige when opposing teams win battles against the Pokémon left there. As a Gym’s level increases, so does the number of Gym Leaders allowed.

Gym battles are mini-games where the goal is to attack the opposing Pokémon, and dodge their attacks. While battling, you have three options: You can tap the screen to attack, press and hold the screen to initiate a special attack, or swipe left or right to dodge an opponent’s attack. Your goal is to lower the opponent’s Pokémon to zero hit points.

To steal control of a Gym that is already occupied by an opposing color you have to defeat ALL of the Gym Leaders’ Pokémon in it. Beating leaders lowers the Gym’s prestige and it can take multiple attempts to actually take over the whole Gym.

Why do we care?  If you occupy a Gym, you help your team AND earn Poké Coins, too! Every 20-24 hours, you earn 10 Gold Poké Coins and 500 Stardust as reward for staying in the Gym.  You can use these Poké Coins to purchase items in the Shop and the Stardust to level up your Pokémon to make them more powerful.

The Shop

The Shop is where you can purchase items that are necessary to advancing in the game.  You can purchase these items with Poké Coins or with real world money via microtransactions and in app purchases. Items that can be found in The Shop include Poké Balls to capture Pokémon, Incense to lure them, and potions and revives to heal them after Gym battles.  Please note: You don’t ever HAVE to spend real money. You can stock up on most items just by visiting Poké Stops.

Items

  • Incense- lures Pokémon to your location for 30 minutes
  • Potion- Spray type medicine for treating wounds. It restores the HP (health) of 1 Pokémon by 20 points
  • Revive- a medicine that can revive fainted Pokémon. It also restores half of a fainted Pokémon’s maximum HP
  • Lucky Eggs- grant you double experience for 30 minutes
  • Lure Module- draw Pokémon to a PokéStop for 30 minutes. Other nearby players also benefit from the effect. (This is a great way for friends to help each other!)
  • Razz Berries- feed it to a Pokémon, it makes it easier to catch on you next throw (use when Pokémon is circled red or orange)
  • Poké Eggs- which can hatch into new Pokémon with the use of an Egg Incubator (you hatch eggs in the incubator by walking a certain distance listed with each egg)

Advancing in the Game

Upgrading your Pokémon

 

If you want to battle at Gyms you need to have strong Pokémon. The strength of the Pokémon is displayed as CP (combat power). A Pokemon’s Combat Power determines how useful it will be in Gym Battles.

You can increase your Pokémon’s CP by either using the “Power Up” option or the “Evolve” option. Pokémon evolution is a major theme in both the cartoon series and the games. It is no different here in Pokémon Go. Evolving a Pokémon gives it a boost to its CP, health, and changes it’s abilities. It also turns the Pokémon into a new form, giving you access to more entries in your Pokédex. This gives you experience points and helps fill out the Pokédex to make you one step closer to catching them all!

Pokémon can only be Powered Up or Evolved using two specific items.  These items are called Stardust and Candy.  You earn both of them by capturing Pokemon and by leveling up or completing challenges. Stardust is universal. You can use it for any of your Pokémon. Candy is specific to different species and their evolutions. For example, capturing Caterpies will earn you Caterpie candy that you can use to evolve Caterpies into their various forms (Metapod and Butterfree)

To Upgrade your Pokémon you need to complete the following steps:

From the main screen of the game, tap the Pokéball in the center.

  • Tap on the Pokémon button.
  • Select the Pokémon you wish to level up or evolve.
  • Scroll down to the Power Up or Evolve buttons and select the one you’d like to use. (The cost for each is listed to the right of the button, with your total supply of Stardust and Candy listed above the buttons.)
  • The game will automatically either power up or evolve your creature.

Advancing your Trainer Level

Your Trainer Level advances in multiple ways. The easiest way to advance your trainer level is to catch Pokémon. Every time you catch one you gain XP. You also gain XP by interacting with Poké Stops and Gyms as we discussed above. One of the best ways to advance your Trainer Level is to Evolve your Pokémon. As your Trainer Level advances you can take on more difficult Gym Battles, you may encounter stronger and more rare Pokémon, and you get access to better items from Poké Stops.

 


This is our guide to Pokémon Go so far! Sound off in the comments if you have additional thoughts or if you think we missed anything! We’ll be updating this post regularly and adding even more content to Engaged Family Gaming in the coming weeks!

 

 

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Games That Teach Literacy and Language Skills

As parents, we are all familiar with the world of edutainment. We are bombarded with choices daily- from the endless ABC Mouse commercials to the learning description at the introduction to every Noggin cartoon to the countless app ads on our smartphones. How do we know which choice is right for our children? Do these things even work?

We are going to be delving into these questions and more over the course of several podcast episodes and articles on www.EngagedFamilyGaming.com. We are going to break the idea of learning into different topics and touch on these concepts separately. We have already talked about board games that help teach Math concepts (Read it here!) The first two editions of our learning through gaming series will specifically focus on Literacy and Language. We will be talking about History and Science shortly thereafter!

Before we go into the actual games, we need to discuss learning styles. Your child’s learning style will determine the type of game they will be most likely to enjoy and get the most out of. The three primary learning styles are Visual Learners, Auditory Learners, and Kinesthetic Learners. Visual learners are going to enjoy games with lots of graphics, bright colors, fun artwork, and maybe charts. Auditory learners will enjoy games where they get to listen to snippets of stories and hear others have discussions about different aspects of the game. Kinesthetic learners enjoy games where they get to be hands-on that have lots of pieces to move and manipulate. It’s good to think of the people you are going to be playing with to come up with the best game for your group.

While this article and podcast will focus on mainstream family-style games that are available at big-box retailers, we would be lax if we didn’t mention that there is a huge world of board games designed specifically for classroom learning. These games are designed to drill down and reinforce specific learning concepts like letter recognition, language acquisition, phonics, reading comprehension, storytelling mechanics and so forth.

Lakeshore Learning and Edupress are staples in the educational field. Please take the opportunity to go onto their websites and search for the topics you were looking to reinforce at home. We’ve played a few games in this style and while these games share some of the common game mechanics that we are familiar with, they do not have the spark that we like to have in our games to engage with our family. Unless you were using your gaming time as a type of additional homework, we don’t find the replay value to be very high or the desire to play to be very high. But, there is no denying that this type of game is a useful learning tool. They at least add a skin of fun over traditional learning.

Here at Engaged Family Gaming, we have come up with 12 games that are a lot of fun to play that teach some of these Literacy concepts as well.

Scrabble 8+ (Vocabulary Development and Letter Arrangement)

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Scrabble, by Hasbro games, is a classic for a reason. It has retained its popularity through the years (think Words With Friends) because it is fun to play and challenging. In case you’ve never played Scrabble, it is a word game in which two to four players score points by placing tiles, each bearing a single letter, onto a gameboard which is divided into a 15×15 grid of squares. The tile must be placed in a crossword pattern (words flow left to right in rows or downwards in columns). The words must be standard and acceptable words in an agreed upon dictionary. Players score points based on the numbers on their letter tiles and can add bonuses from cues on the gameboard. Scrabble has many variations, including a Junior version designed to help younger kids with letter matching and recognition. This is a great game for kinesthetic learners because there are small pieces to manipulate which these learners LOVE to handle.

Bananagrams 7+ (Vocabulary Development, Letter Arrangement, Time Management)

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Bananagrams, by Banagrams, is a similar game to Scrabble, but it doesn’t require a game board, pen, paper, etcetera. It is a letter tile game that comes in a fun banana shaped zip up pouch. It is easily portable and gives you more freedom than Scrabble because you play independently for speed while making your individual crossword board. There are no complications from trying to get the perfect spot on the board, or waiting for a slow player to make a decision, or from losing out on the triple letter space. This game moves quickly because you are working against a clock. There are some unique challenges and ways to manipulate game play which add some fun elements into the game and can allow you to put a crimp in your opponents’ play. In our playtests of this game, we found that this game can be more of a challenge for younger players because it lacks some of the structure built into Scrabble, but some of your outside the box players will enjoy this one much more. Much like Scrabble, this game appeals to kinesthetic learners because of the tile manipulation. Also, since there is no game board, please make sure to play this one on a smooth surface. The tablecloth became way more of a hindrance during play than any of us anticipated.

Rory’s Story Cubes 8+ (Language Development, Vocabulary Development, Story Sequencing, Storytelling)

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Rory’s Story Cubes, by Gamewright, is a pocket-sized creative story generator. The original game comes in a box with 9 cubes (dice) with different images on each side. Players simply roll the cubes and let the pictures spark their imagination and tell a story out loud based on the pictures on their cubes. There are several expansions to the base game with different themes (actions, voyages, clues, Batman, intergalactic, etc.). There are infinite ways to play with Rory’s Story Cubes. The rules suggest playing solitaire or with others. The 8+ age suggestion is misleading. This game can definitely be played with younger players. We’ve used this game as a party game or ice-breaker and I’ve used it to work with my youngest on speaking & listening skills. My oldest finds a way to use these as story starters for creative inspiration in his writing activities. They can also help early learners with literacy development and problem-solving. Again, because this game involves dice rolling, it is great for kinesthetic learners. And, because the stories are told aloud, we’ve had great luck honing our children’s auditory learning skills with this game. Finally, because of the creative images on the cubes, this game works as a great inspiration for visual learners. All around, these are a terrific learning tool to add to your arsenal.

Fitzit 10+ (Language Development, Vocabulary Development, Reading Comprehension)

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FitzIt, by Gamewright, is a card based party game where you play a card with a simple statement on it. The player has to name an object that fits the attributes on their cards and then play them to the grid. The more cards you play, the faster you score. Gamewright has a few party games in this style, but we like this one because it is simple to play, plays very quickly, and the statements are easy to read for early readers. Again, the 10+ guideline is a bit misleading. Our early readers love this game because it encourages creativity, imagination, and helps them reinforce their reading comprehension skills. They players’ answers require your child to display an understanding of the words they read to come up an object that makes sense.

In a Pickle 10+ (Language Development, Vocabulary Development, Reading Comprehension)

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In a Pickle, by Gamewright, is game of creative thinking and silly scenarios. Players try to win a set of cards by fitting smaller things into bigger things (there’s some juice in a pickle, in a supermarket, in a parking lot). Play the fourth word card to claim the set, unless one of your opponents can trump with a larger word. The player with the most sets at the end is the BIG winner! This game is more abstract than FitzIt and really encourages creativity and imagination. The scenarios get very outrageous and it requires players to think outside of the box and invent options that seem preposterous. The silliness is fun for kids, but we think the 10+ guideline on this one is accurate because of the challenges in making the words fit.

Last Letter 8+ (Vocabulary Development, Letter Recognition, Picture Cues, Time Management)

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In Last Letter, by ThinkFun, each player gets five cards featuring intricate, fun, and brightly colored illustrations. Players must race to come up with and shout out a word from one of the picture cards in their hand. The word MUST begin with the last letter of the word previously called. The first player to get rid of all of their cards will win the round. This game is an awesome game for visual learners! The fast paced nature of this game might make it more challenging for younger players who are slower to process what they are seeing in front of them. If play around the table gets too excitable and loud, you may lose younger auditory learners as well. But, be prepared to be surprised by the creative words kids come up with from the images that adults would not normally think of.

Smartmouth 8+ (Letter Arrangement & Recognition, Vocabulary Development, Time Management)

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In Smartmouth, by ThinkFun, players race to make the best word in 60 seconds. Players roll the die to determine the word category, slide the Letter Getter to reveal two letter tiles and, using those letters, shout out a word that fits the given category before the timer runs out. The player who calls out the first word and the player with the highest-ranking word both collect a letter tile for the round. Once all tiles are gone, the player with the most tiles wins. The categories of adjective, verb, natural objects, famous people, man made objects, etc. help reinforce language skills learned in school. The game includes dice rolling and manipulating the letter tiles and the timer and slider which will appeal to kinesthetic learners, while the picture cues on the dice will appeal to visual learners. Because answers are shouted out loud, auditory learners will be engaged as well.

Zingo 3+ (Letter Arrangement & Recognition, Vocabulary Development, Picture Cues, Time Management)

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Zingo is a new classic with a few different variations of the game available. It’s like Bingo with a fun twist. The original Zingo is a matching game that encourages pre-readers and early readers to match pictures and words to their challenge cards. The Zingo! Zinger dispenses tiles as players race to be the first player with a full card and yell “ZINGO!” With two levels of play, this matching game builds language skills through fast-paced play. This game is designed to develop early literacy skills for very young players. Zingo Sight Words and Zingo Word Builder are also available and these games introduce more challenging literacy skills. Our children request these games regularly and LOVE to play them. While these are learning games at their core, they use fun and exciting game mechanics to keep young players engaged!

Letter Tycoon 8+ (Letter Arrangement & Recognition, Vocabulary Development)

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Letter Tycoon, by BreakingGames, is word game for 2-5 players that can best be described as a cross between Scrabble and Monopoly. Players take turns forming a word using a seven-card hand and a three-card community card pool, scoring money and stock rewards based on length and letter strength in their word. When enough of the alphabet has been claimed, players finish the current turn, then score all money, stock and letter patents owned. The game has an awesome antique look and style that really appealed to my family. The game mechanics were easy to understand and fun to play, but our younger players had difficulty competing with adult players. The game aesthetic really appealed to us more than other games in this genre and encouraged discussion about some of the historical and antique aspects mentioned in the game.

PaperBack 8+ (Letter Arrangement, Language Development, Vocabulary Development)

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Paperback, designed by by Tim Fowers, is a Word building/Deck building game with an aesthetic that completely immerses players in the world of writing and story building. The cards are uniquely illustrated and fun. Players are supposed to be an author trying to finish kitschy paperback novels. They compete to complete Westerns, Science Fiction, Romance or even a Crime Noir. There is no age recommendation for the game, but we have found that the player should be at least 8 years old to grasp the game mechanics. Players start with a deck of letter cards and wild cards. Each hand they form words, and purchase more powerful letters based on how well their word scored. Most letters have abilities that activate when then are used in a word, such as drawing more cards or double letter score. Players buy wilds to gain victory points. This game functions similarly to the other word building games in this list and emphasized the same skills but it has the added game mechanic of a deckbuilder.

Dixit 8+ (Language Development, Story Sequencing, Storytelling, Picture Cues)

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Using a deck of cards illustrated with dreamlike images, players select cards that match a title suggested by the “storyteller”, and attempt to guess which card the “storyteller” selected. Each player starts the game with six random cards. Players then take turns being the storyteller. The player whose turn it is to be storyteller looks at the six images in his or her hand. From one of these, he or she makes up a sentence or phrase that might describe it and says it out loud (without showing the card to the other players). Each other player then selects from among their own six cards the one that best matches the sentence given by the storyteller. Then, each player gives their selected card to the storyteller, without showing it to the others. The storyteller shuffles his or her chosen card with the cards received from the other players, and all cards are then dealt face up. The players (except for the storyteller) then secretly guess which picture was the storyteller’s, using numbered voting chips. If nobody or everybody finds the correct picture, the storyteller scores 0, and each of the other players scores 2. Otherwise the storyteller and all players who found the correct answer score 3. Players other than the storyteller score 1 point for each vote their own pictures receive. A large part of the skill of the game comes from being able, when acting as the storyteller, to offer a title which is neither too obscure (such that no other player can identify it) nor too obvious (such that every player is able to guess it). The game ends when a player reaches the end of the board (30 points). Much like Rory’s Story Cubes, this game helps children to learn storytelling skills, story sequencing, and helps broaden appreciation for art and gives players the ability to articulate thoughts concisely and to comprehend metaphor.

Tales and Games (Series) 7+ (Various)

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Iello games has produced a series of games based on classic children’s stories and fairy tales. The games are designed to 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. I’ve had to bring my children to the library to find their own copies of these tales to read. 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, and The Pied Piper. Interestingly, my middle child was reading some of these stories in his guided reading group, so these were a great tie in to encourage him to discuss the stories and enhance his reading comprehension.

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

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Overwatch is an upcoming multiplayer first-person shooter created by Blizzard Entertainment.  The game is scheduled to be released on May 24, 2016.  It will be available on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.  Blizzard has announced that they will be supporting the game post launch with additional characters as DLC at no additional cost.

Overwatch is designed to play as a squad with two opposing teams of six players each. Players choose one of several hero characters, each with their own unique abilities and role classes. The characters’ roles are iconic to this type of game. They are either offense characters, defense characters, support characters, or tank characters. Players also have the ability to change characters each time they die so it is very easy to experiment with different characters and strategies.

Overwatch can be played in any one of three game modes:

  • Point Capture: The attacking team has to capture two specific points on the map, while the defending team must stop them.
  • Escort: The attacking team must escort a vehicle to a certain delivery point before time runs out, while the defending team must stop them. The path is fixed.
  • Control: Each team tries to capture and maintain a control point until their capture percentage reaches 100%.

The premise of the game is set in the near-future Earth, years after the end of an A.I. robot uprising. At the end of this ‘Omnic Crisis’ an international task force called ‘Overwatch’ is formed by the United Nations to protect humanity, ending the Crisis.  After the Crisis, Overwatch remained in place as a organization to keep order. Eventually the inevitable rumors of corruption started and the members of Overwatch were reviled. Their organization was destroyed and some suspected it was by people who are wary of their power and caused chaos to stop their influence.

Blizzard Entertainment co-founder Michael Morhaime stated that Overwatch is intended to “create an awesome FPS experience that’s more accessible to a much wider audience while delivering the action and depth that shooter fans love.”  In keeping with this idea of reaching a broader audience, the game is animated in a Saturday morning cartoon style and was given a Teen rating from the ESRB.  The hero characters include males, females, and non-human characters such as robots and even a gorilla.  Unlike the costumes in some of Blizzard’s other iconic games, the female characters are well covered with very little skin exposed.  They are, however, wearing cat suits, but this is no different than your typical comic book based cartoon character.

In March 2016, Blizzard announced that that they will be releasing comics and animated shorts based on the Overwatch universe in 2016. It includes 6 digital comics, an animated short series, and a graphic novel called Overwatch: First Strike, which focuses on the story of several in-game characters.

The first animated short was released last week featuring the gorilla character named Winston. (You can watch it at the bottom of the article.)  It was really intriguing and entertaining to watch and my older boys were very excited about the game. Considering the game is a first person shooter, the violence level was not all that bad.  It certainly was not anything like the typical military style shooter that we are familiar with. It was more reminiscent of a Star Wars movie or an Avengers movie.  While not as tame as Splatoon, so far it seems like something I would allow my 8 and 10 year old to play.  There may be some blood, but I didn’t notice that in any trailer or preview that I’ve seen so far.

Overall, this is a game that my family is highly anticipating.  If the quality of the animated short is any indication of the game to come, and they keep up at this level, we will definitely own Overwatch. We will be keeping an eye on the violence level and update it if we see anything that becomes a concern.

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Kids Table Board Gaming

Age Rating: 8+

Players: 2

Timeframe: 20 minutes

MSRP: $19US

Style: Battle Game

“Late at night, your kitchen comes alive in a food-flinging battle to rule the table top. The Meats march into battle against the Veggies, and food fly as the factions clash! Who will emerge as the top banana, the big cheese, the cream of the crop, the burger king? That all depends on YOU!” ~ Kids Table Board Gaming

food fighters

Introduction

Food Fighters is a 2 player game designed by Josh and Helaina Cappel. Josh is an experienced game designer (Wasabi, Bomb Squad Academy) and popular game artist (Belfort, Garden Dice, Scoville, Kings of Air & Steam, Pandemic, etc.). Helaina is an educator and founder of Kids Table Board Gaming. 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 official retail release date is March 7, 2016, but this game is already a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign.

Contents

● 18 cardboard Fighter tiles (9 Meats, 9 Veggies)
● 3 dice (2 regular, 1 bonus)
● 30 wooden Beans
● 2 wooden Pans
● 4 wooden Spoons
● 6 wooden Crackers
● 6 Power cards (3 for each faction)
● 1 Price card/Player Aid card
● 18 Thought Bubble Clings
● 1 Rule booklet

The components are very high quality. The tile drawings are fun and in keeping with the food theme. The hands on the characters are perfectly drawn to appear to hold the components and be ready for battle! The cards are good quality and the wooden tokens/weapons are cute, also in keeping with the theme, and great quality. The wooden tokens are appropriately sized for the age of the players of the game. Keep them away from children three and under,

Gameplay

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.

Rolling for Beans is self explanatory and simple. The active player rolls the dice and tallies the number of beans (you can re-roll any splats). You collect your beans which you can later use to buy a pantry item. Beans are the currency of the game.

Swapping is also very simple. Players can have any two Fighters (on their own side) switch places or have a Fighter move to an empty spot in the same row. Fighters bring along any items they have. Don’t forget- swapping gets you a free bean!

Attacking your opponent is slightly more complicated. Players attack their opponent by declaring which fighter is attacking which component and then rolling the normal dice for splats. Splats knock out the opponent and allow the player to claim the card for the defeated Fighter. There is an option to purchase a bonus die which can help your chances along the way. Don’t worry too much if your attack isn’t successful. You still get to keep the beams you rolled!

During the player’s buying action the player spends their beans to buy pantry items. Crackers let your Fighter take an extra hit, spoons let them hit targets further away (but still in a straight line) and pans let them attack any enemy that is in range. Players could also purchase and use one of the special power cards. Each card is unique and has its own price, abilities, and flavor. These purchases allow for some of the deeper strategy to come to the table.

Finally, the opponent must fill in any gaps in their play area by bringing a Fighter forward from the furthest bottommost row with Fighters left in it.

Fun times with a new game courtesy of @kidstablebg. Review to follow soon. #FoodFighters #snowday #familygamenight #EFG

A photo posted by Engaged Family Gaming (@engagedfamilygaming) on

Family Gaming Assessment

The entire concept of a food fight is inherently appealing to children and the myriad of choices and surprising complexity makes the game appealing to adults as well. Though the game is rated for 8 and up, the reading is minimal and the mechanics are clear enough that a player as young as six can join in the fun. We played this game with a variety of ages ranging from six to adult. Each game was different and the players got better at strategy each time they played. We LOVED the clings which allow you to add even more variety to the game without damaging the tiles. Our kids giggled constantly at the artwork while playing, and food puns flew across the table. We are also super excited about the Grains and S’Mores expansions which will allow for even more variety. Our only wish was that there were more Power Cards to draft. We think this would extend the length of the game along with adding more options and variety.

Conclusion

This is great strategy battle game that plays quickly and is easy to learn and explain to other players. We found this game to be very replayable without getting boring for ALL of the members of our family. This game has quickly become a new family favorite and we are thrilled to have it as part of our collection.

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

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Kosmos Games
Age Rating: 10 & Up
Players: 2- 4
Timeframe: 30 – 60 Minutes
MSRP: $39.99
Style: Adventure Strategy Game/Card Management

The research teams are outfitted and ready to embark on their adventures to find five forgotten cities. Who will lead the way to fantastic discoveries? Lead your team of explorers on up to five expeditions! Along the way, be sure to search for artifacts and interesting shortcuts. Be careful! If you take too long, your competition will discover the forgotten cities first!

Introduction

Lost Cities- The Board Game (please note that there is a 2 player card game version of this game) is a light & simple to understand family game designed by the famous game designer Reiner Knizia. It is based on the 2008 Spiel des Jahres winner Keltis. It’s pretty much the exact same game with a different skin. While Keltis had a traditional and very *green* celtic look and style, this has more of an Indiana Jones type of explorer theme.

lost cities  board image

Contents

  • 1 Game board
  • 110 Expedition cards (2 of each card in values from 0 to 10, in each of the 5 colors)
  • 25 Event tiles
  • 4 Sets of explorer pieces (4 Adventurers and 1 Researcher per color)
  • 64 Victory point tokens
  • 27 Artifact tokens
  • 1 Rule booklet

The components are very high quality. The board is bright and colorful and is in keeping with the adventure theme. The cards are good quality and the explorer meeples are cute and also great quality. Some of the tokens are kind of small, which may be troublesome to younger players.

Gameplay

The rules are very clear and well laid out. The game mechanics are quite simple and consist of basic counting, card management, and a bit of strategy and luck. Each lost city is found at the end of a path of 9 stepping stones. Players play a card numbered from 1-10 of the correct color to to move their explorers along the corresponding colored path to get to the city. It’s important to play lower numbered cards first because each subsequent card placed to move your explorer on the path must be equal or higher than the card facing up. As explorers move along the path, they can encounter events which add excitement and a bit of challenge to the game. The strategy and tactics involved come into play when choosing which cards to hold onto and which cards to discard. There is a bit of risk assessment involved. Do you select the specific cards you need to move forward? Do you hold on to cards that your opponent needs to move forward? The player who wins the game has the most victory points after three expeditions. Some of our adult players were frustrated because they weren’t able to keep track of scoring to see how well people were doing until the very end. That may or may not be a problem for your group, depending on the type of players you have.

Family Gaming Assessment

This game is very easy to grasp for younger players. There is no reading involved, so as long as your child recognizes numbers and can handle number sequencing well, then they should be able to play this game. We’ve played with our 7 year old and he did well, though we had to use the shorter variant in the rule book because he lost interest fairly quickly. The 10 & Up rating seems to be a bit of a stretch since a group of 8 and 9 year olds were able to play independently after the rules were explained. This might not hold the attention or be super replayable for older children, especially those well versed in Euro games.

Conclusion

If you are looking for light and casual game that is easy to learn and explain to other players, then this is a game for you. While replay value for older players only isn’t particularly high, this is a great go to game to play with your kids that doesn’t leave the adult players bored and frustrated. It’s a fun game to pull out on a rainy afternoon or a snow day that to whole family can enjoy together. Though the MSRP is a bit high ($39.99) it is in line with many other Euro games. It’s important to note that you can find the game at a much more reasonable price online.

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I’ve seen a few ads and reviews in tech magazines and on some popular websites, but didn’t really understand what Osmo was until we got our hands on it.  Osmo is an accessory for your iPad that comes with four gaming apps designed to get you and your family to interact with the iPad in a whole new way. It was designed to go beyond the screen and change the way you play.

Osmo is designed to work on the  iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPad Mini Retina and the iPad Air.  The Osmo starter kit comes with the Osmo Base & Reflector, Tangram game pieces, Words game pieces and all three original apps. There is also a new app that was just released, Masterpiece,  that adds yet another dimension to this system.

Osmo Play Beyond The Screen Setup

Setting the device up is incredibly easy.

Before I get into the details of each app and the toys that accompany the system, I’d like to discuss some basics of the design of the packaging and the system.  First, it is important to note that the Osmo game system was created by young parents with technology and engineering backgrounds.  Their goal is to utilize new technology to nurture positive play.  What could be better for your budding little geniuses?  Everything about the system reflects these goals.  The box is bright, colorful, and simple, yet it has some neat features such as magnetic boxes that help keep everything all neatly together.  The pieces that come with the game are sturdy enough for little hands, but not bulky enough to get in the way of a busy lifestyle.  In addition to providing information about Osmo for parents and educators, the Osmo website has great setup instructions and how-to-play videos for each app which makes it super easy for parents to start using the games right away.

The evening we retrieved the system, all three of our children were instantly intrigued.  It’s just cool.  It works with reflective artificial intelligence that basically brings real life toys into the digital realm.  And, with console video games like Disney Infinity and Skylanders being so hugely popular, we know that this is going to immediately entrance our children.  But, better yet, it also has the added benefit of entrancing educators and parents who want the children in their care to actively engage their brains while playing.

Setup is simple.  You simply download all four apps from the app store, you remove any protective case you have on your iPad, you place the iPad in the white Osmo base, and you clip on the red Reflector.  (You might have to adjust the base for an iPad mini, but simple instructions are included). And that’s it, you’re ready to play.

 

 

The Games

Tangram

 

osmo tangrams

Osmo Tangrams in action!

My middle child is 6 years old and one of those children that can play with blocks, puzzles, and building toys for hours.  But, if you ask him to sit in a chair and read or do schoolwork, he buzzes around like a bumblebee. His bottom rarely touches a chair.  However, as soon as he saw the wooden tangram pieces that came with the system, he was hooked.  He sat at the dining room table and played for a solid hour before we cut off his screen time.

Osmo Tangram is a puzzle game played with colorful wooden pieces. The goal of the game is to create the picture displayed on the iPad screen with the wooden pieces on the table in front of you.  The pieces light up as you put them together in the correct place.  Completing puzzles unlocks new puzzles at the same level.  And yes, there are hints.  You earn more hints by completing puzzles.  The puzzles come in four basic levels.  Simple, Easy, Medium, and Difficult.  The levels are color coded to make it easier for children to follow.  The game is designed for ages six and over which seemed like a fairly accurate age rating.  We think a younger child would be able to play with a parent, but would get easily frustrated on their own. Our toddler was intrigued by the pretty colors and shapes and was happy to sit on our lap and try to help.  She loved identifying the animal or shape that the completed puzzle would become.  From an educational standpoint, there are so many things that your children can learn from this game. Tangram reinforces creative thinking, shapes, geometry, spatial recognition, fine motor skills, and more.  Because you can unlock up to 400 puzzles, this game seems to be have a fairly decent replay value.  My son went back to puzzles that he already completed in an attempt to finish them more quickly.

 

Words

 

osmo words

Osmo words in action!

My oldest child is a reader at heart.  Spelling and writing come as naturally to him as breathing.  He loves making up rhymes, playing word games and coming up with pun-ny grammar jokes.  Being a nine year old boy, he is also obsessed with video games.  At first, he was less than interested in playing an educational game.  But, he started playing Words against his Mom, and as soon as he started getting rewarded for scoring points, he was hooked.

Words comes with two sets of cardboard alphabet tiles.  One set is red, the other is blue.  All of the letters are uppercase to avoid confusion.  The tiles are typical of standard board game tiles, and replacement tiles are available. The goal of the game is to guess the correct word before you use up all of your available guesses.  It’s kind of a mash-up of I Spy and Hangman.  Players are shown an image on the screen and toss letters down onto the playing field to guess the word.  There are small yellow circles at the bottom of the screen to show you how many letters the word has. Players can work together and play cooperatively with just one colored set, or they can play against each other  in versus mode using both sets.  Words has two different leveled games built in.  It has a Junior version for preschool aged children and very early readers.  It also has a Classic version for older players.  The word puzzles ramp up as you go, so harder puzzles can even be a challenge for adults.  One of the neat features of versus mode, is that all players score points based on the number of letters they get correct.  The points do not simply go to the player who solved the puzzle.  Another great feature is that you can create your own puzzles on MyOsmo.com.  This is an excellent element for homeschool parents and educators, as they can create puzzles to go along with topics that their students are studying.  The educational aspects of this game are fairly obvious.  They include creative thinking, letter recognition, reading reinforcement, and social learning.  My oldest son found the competitive race to complete words super fun, and since you can create your own puzzles, the replay value of this game is endless.

 

Newton

 

osmo newton

Osmo Newton in action!

My husband loves traditional early arcade style games, games like Pong, Breakout, and Arkanoid.  They were the very first ball drop and basic physics games.  Newton takes these games to the next level.  The game is  very similar to a PC game titled Crayon Physics Deluxe but with a unique Osmo twist.  My husband found himself playing this game much longer than he anticipated when he first looked at it.  It seemed very simplistic, but the challenges become more difficult as you reach each goal.

Unlike Osmo’s Tangram and Word games, this game has no special pieces.  All you need is the app, the base, a piece of paper and some markers. And, by the name of the game, you can probably figure out that it is a physics based game.  A ball drops out of the top of the screen and you draw lines, buckets, and shapes on the paper to direct the ball to hit certain targets. You can even place household objects on the paper in front of you and the camera will translate the object onto the screen.  The game automatically pauses and the lines turn red when you are drawing.  It resumes and the lines turn back to blue as your hand is moved away from the play area.  You can turn this feature off to make the game more of a challenge.  As with all of the previous Osmo apps, this game has a plethora of educational values.  The game is engaging and accessible to learners six and older.  It teaches early physics  and math concepts, enhances problem solving skills and encourages creative solutions to puzzles.  Since there are no correct ways to reach the target and myriad possibilities, the replay value on this game is also very high. Why not try something new each time?  While it doesn’t introduce as many specific physics concepts as Crayon Physics Deluxe, as part of the overall Osmo package, this is a terrific addition.

 

Masterpiece

Masterpiece_iconI was incredibly excited to see the initial information on Masterpiece.  I love to doodle and draw, and sometimes my pictures come out decent, and sometimes they are absolutely terrible.  I’ve always wanted to effortlessly draw a perfect picture.  Masterpiece allows me to give that a try.

Masterpiece is the newest app released that works with the Osmo system.  This is a unique app that fits in perfectly with the previous games because it encourages an entirely new area of learning.  If the name of the app wasn’t enough of a clue, the app focuses on artistic learning.  With Masterpiece, you can use an image on the iPad and transpose it directly onto a piece of paper.  You can create your own special art pieces.  Masterpiece comes with a full set of pre-drawn images like a coloring book, but you can also take photos of anything you want and put them on the screen.  Once the image is in Masterpiece, you get a marker (Markers are easier to see to start. As you get better, you can use other tools) and some paper and start tracing the lines you see on the iPad onto the paper.  This is a little tricky.  You are tempted to look down at the paper as you go, but you need to keep your eyes on the iPad.  The first couple of tries will come out shaky, but you will get better.  We’ve created some amazing drawings after about 15 minutes of practice.  Keep in mind that images you take on your own must be of the right quality to translate into the app. Images come out better if the lighting is correct and they are taken on a plain background. My son insisted we take a picture of his stuffed monkey, and it only worked when we laid it down on a plain white towel to take the picture.  There are features within the app that allow you to adjust the number of lines and the details in your image.  You can change the size of your image and its position as well.  This game really encourages your child to work on their fine motor skills and is not as intuitive or simple to play as the other games in the Osmo system. However, it is a great way for you or your child to create something truly unique and all their own.

 

Conclusion

There are other drag and drop iPad apps that do similar things and teach similar concepts as some of these Osmo games.  But, the biggest draw to this package is the tangible, physical pieces and real life interaction that this set brings to the table.  At an MSRP of $79.99,  the four games, the Osmo Base, and the Reflector are an exceptional value.  Your family will get plenty of playtime out of this set, and the price point is only slightly higher than a single traditional console game.  Osmo would be a great system to introduce to classrooms, libraries, homeschool settings, and childcare settings.

A review copy of this product was provided by Tangible Play, Inc.

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Publisher: Gamewright
Genre: Card Game
Players: 2-6
Ages: 6 & Up
Time: 20 minutes
MSRP: $10.99
COMPETITIVE

Too Many Monkeys: A Totally Bananas Card Game consists of 55 cards, a rules pamphlet, and a sturdy cardboard box. This playful, lively game is designed to appeal to young gamers and parents alike. It is a fast paced, simple game that subtly reinforces math concepts such as number sequencing and probability while still allowing kids to be silly and have fun.

The premise of the game is that Primo, the Monkey is trying to get a good night’s sleep but his friends keep knocking on his bedroom door in an attempt to have a noisy slumber party. Your goal is to get Primo back to sleep by flipping and swapping cards over a number of rounds to end up with just one face up card. Of course, there are some troublesome critters who cause ridiculous problems along the way.

Gameplay 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 you drew. The winner of the first round gets dealt one less card at the start of the next round. All other players get dealt 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!

We purchased this game for our monkey-obsessed six year old son expecting it to be cute but a bit of a drag. We were pleasantly surprised after our first play-through. The artwork is funny, the special cards add an interesting dynamic, and the fast pace makes it bearable. We have played through this game numerous times with kids alone and mixes of kids and adults. The first challenge we encountered was that while the game pace is fairly quick, playing through the rounds can sometimes drag on. Your littlest players may lose interest before they get to the single face up card. We found a way to modify this by removing all of the 6 and 5 cards and dealing each players 4 cards instead of 6 to shorten the game. The game is designed for ages 6 and up, but as long as your child can count and understand number order, they should be able to play fairly well. Older players (8 and up) found the concept simplistic, but thought the special cards added to the fun of the game. Younger players enjoyed the game as is. Our favorite feature is that this game can be played unsupervised by children with no parental assistance, but parents can join in to have some fun, too.

Overall, if your kid likes monkeys, likes being silly, and could you some subtle reinforcement of math skills, then this is a great addition to your family’s game collection. We think this is a logical step up from the early childhood classics such as Candy LandHi Ho Cherry-O, and Chutes and Ladders.

 

Wondering about other Gamewright games? Check our our reviews here!

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Publisher: Gamewright
Genre: Dice Game
Players: 2-6
Ages: 8 & Up
Time: 15 minutes
MSRP: $10.99

 

Dodge Dice consists of 10 dice (1 penalty, 1 action, 8 dodge), 18 purple skip chips, and a rules

pamphlet. This fast moving, highly competitive, push your luck dice game is a great ice breaker

or starter game for your family game night. Dodge Dice teaches probability, the principles of

risk, and basic math concepts in an exciting dice rolling format.

 

The goal of the game is to dodge penalty points and end up with the lowest score at the end of

a series of rounds.

 

Gameplay is played in a series of rounds. The player who last played dodge ball goes first.

After the first roll, the penalty die is found placed to the side. This shows the penalty for the

round. The action die is then found and determines what happens next in the game. The active

player looks at all of the dodge dice and places any whose face up side matches the penalty die

to the side. Any remaining dice get passed to the left along with the action die. The number of

dice decreases as the round is played. Play continues in each round until a player rolls a stop

on the action die or all of the dice match the penalty die. These end the round and the active

player collects the points on the penalty die. Players complete rounds until one person reaches

100 points. The game ends and the person with the lowest score wins. To make the game

more strategic, the rules include skip chips. Skip chips allow the player to skip their turn or

ignore the result of a roll to avoid collecting points. Skip chips are limited, so it is important to

use them wisely.

 

We have played through this game numerous times with players 12 and older and mixes of

younger kids and adults. The recommended age for the game seems to be spot on. At first

glance, it seems that younger players might be able to play because there is no reading and

only fairly simplistic math involved. This assumption, however, would be incorrect. Much of the

strategy was lost when we attempted this game with younger players. Skip chips were spent

too quickly and the escalating probability of gaining points as the round went on was completely

missed.

 

While there’s nothing epic about this game, it’s an enjoyable, quick game that can be used in a

variety of ways. We’ve used it as a spark to get people organized around the table to play a

more advanced game. We’ve used it as a study break for our children to keep their minds

active while giving them a bit of kinesthetic relief. Dodge Dice‘s compact size makes it a great

portable game that can be brought along on outings to restaurants and other places where you

might need an activity while you sit and wait.

Wondering about other Gamewright games? Check our our reviews here!

 

Disclosure: A review copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

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Publisher: ThinkFun
Genre: Card Based Word Game/Party Game
Players: 2 or more
Ages: 8 to Adult
Time: 5 minutes
MSRP: $12.99

Last Letter consists of a sturdy box holding 61 uniquely illustrated cards and a rules booklet.

The game will reinforce quick thinking, visual discrimination, imagination, and creativity.

Gameplay is very straightforward. The object is to be the first player to empty your hand. Each player is dealt 5 face down cards and one card goes face up in the center of the play area. The remaining cards are set aside. The dealer looks at the face up card and calls out a word for something on the card. All players the look at their 5 cards and race to find something pictured on them that begins with the last letter of the word called out. Once a player finds an acceptable word on one of their cards, they call it out and place it on the center pile. Players then rush to find cards that start with the new last letter. Ties are resolved by who physically got their card on the pile first. Gameplay continues until one player discards his last card.

Last Letter is an image based word game that is really quick and fun to play. The images and style of these over-sized cards was vaguely reminiscent of DixIt Adults can play through a hand at lightning speed, often leaving competitors completely speechless. Children play a little slower, but their take on the images is often surprising and insightful. The variations on this game are endless. Players can choose to eliminate certain categories of words to make the game more challenging. This game can also be a great vocabulary builder for foreign languages (what a great way to help your children practice their foreign language words) and we’ve also played with the cards as story starters and writing prompts similar to Rory’s Story Cubes.

Conclusion

Overall, we highly recommend Last Letter as an addition to your board game collection. The base game is fun as a stand alone game, but the versatility makes this worth every penny of the MSRP.

Disclosure: A review copy of this game was provided gratis from ThinkFun.

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