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Family Board Game Review: Tiny Ninjas

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

How Do You Play?

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

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

Components

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

The component list includes the following:

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

Is it a kid’s game?

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

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

Will kids want to play it?

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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Episode 163: Apex Legends Comes Out of Nowhere!

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

This is a cooperative venture with SuperParent.com!

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

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Check out this episode!

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Kickstarter Preview: Alliance The Card Game

Card battling games have been a popular genre for decades (arguably as long as playing cards have existed). We have seen countless variations on similar themes. A handful of those variations succeed and others have fallen short. Alliance The Card Game is one of the few that rise above the rest.




When I first started writing reviews I was taught to frame my review as a comparison of execution vs. expectations. This way I would avoid comparing a game to others in the genre. In essence, I am looking to compare the game to an idealized version of itself. (Please forgive the navel-gazing. I promise I’m getting to the point.) Alliance the Card game succeeds because it does exactly what it promises that it should do. It is a straight forward card game that is easy to set up and tear down. It is also, most importantly, a game that is so simple to learn that young kids can take it out and teach each other to play with no outside intervention.

That last point is super critical for me. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have been pulled away from another game, or from another activity to have to walk my younger kids through games or to help them teach their friends how to play. Alliance solves for that problem by being simple enough to be taught by a kindergartener.

This ease of use doesn’t come at the expense of quality either. Players are treated to an interesting battle game with some strategic decisions to be made. The cards feature amazing art in a new, but familiar, sword and sorcery setting.

It is worth mentioning that this Kickstarter is for a Starter Kit that will only feature two armies. The intention is to design and sell more cards and card sets is expansions that will help deepen the strategy of the game.

Alliance The Card Game plays with two players ages 6+. Each player plays with a 35 card deck that includes a Leader, generals, and various warriors. Play begins by placing the leaders in their respective places on the game board. Players then take turns taking cards from the top of their deck and placing them in one of five spaces towards the center of the board.

The real action takes place once the front rows of each side of the board have been filled. Players take turns activating two of their five active creatures to attack creatures on the other side of the board. Activation is straight forward; you choose a character and then roll a metal die. If the number that comes up matches an attack number on the card, then damage is dealt to the target.

When cards are defeated they are moved to the slain pile. Each player can only replace one card per turn so the goal is to put the pressure on and get ahead. Once all five spaces have been cleared you have a chance to attack the enemy leader.

Conclusion

If you back Alliance the Card Game at $39 on Kickstarter, then you will get the base game. There is a $44 pledge level that includes the designer’s autograph.

If you and your family are looking for a straight forward card battling game set in a sword and sorcery setting, then I think this will be a great addition to your collection.


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Animal Kingdoms a beautiful area control and hand management game. It is the first game from Galactic Raptor Games, which is the joint company of veteran game publishers Carla Kopp and Dan Letzring.   They applied their skills in game publishing to select Animal Kingdom by Steven Aramini as the first game.  This game has stunning art and is one to check out here on Kickstarter.  Their game is fully funded and you can get a copy for $29.

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

Animal Kingdoms is a hand-management and area control game for 1-5 players, ages 8+, playable in 45 minutes.

What is the elevator pitch?

In Animal Kingdoms, each player takes on the role of a house leader, battling to gain control of the five kingdoms. Cards in your hand represent noble beasts that have pledged their allegiance to you. Over the course of three ages, you must deploy your beasts to the various territories – making sure that you adhere to each kingdom’s decree – to try and improve your influential position in the kingdoms. The house that gains the most influence by the end of the third age is declared the one true leader of the realm.

When is your Kickstarter going live?

It went live January 8th and runs to February 1st.

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

We are very close to complete, it is basically done.

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

Ethnos, Worlds Fair

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

We saw potential during the pitching of this game for something that could connect with many levels of gamers, hardcore gamers, families, kids, adults, anyone. Games with a fresh gameplay style, simple rule set but depth of strategy are a must publish when you come across them!

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

It has a very simple core rule-set ensuring understanding for gamers of all skill levels but it also requires a lot of planning and in game strategy ensuring that everyone at the table can get out of the game what they put into it!

How long has this game been in development? 

1.5 years

What obstacles did you encounter making this game? 

Our biggest challenge was dealing with tie-breakers. We tried many different methods from placement tie-breakers, to war-style card playing, to friendly ties. This was probably our biggest hurdle in development.

What did your first prototype look like? 

It was pretty good actually. Steven Aramini is the designer and he works hard at making very playable and intuitive prototypes. He hand crafts quality components and makes sure to leave a lasting impression with his works.

Why did you get into making games? 

To encourage family and friends to have face-to-face interaction at the table with games!
What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?
Although this is Galactic Raptor’s first game, the company is formed by Carla Kopp of Weird Giraffe and Dan Letzring of Letiman Games. Between us, we have already produced 12 games combined for our own companies.

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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Family Friendly Video Game Releases from November 18 -24 2018

Here are all the video games rated E-T that are being released the week of November 18-24, 2018.

Tuesday, November 20

Beat Saber- PS VR
Farming Simulator 19- Xbone
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Turf Wars DLC- PS4
Squishies- PS VR
Storm Boy- Switch
Wreckfest- PS4, Xbone, PC
Youtuber’s Life OMG Edition- Switch

Wednesday, November 21

Desktop Soccer- Switch

Thursday, November 22

ATV Drift & Tricks- Switch
Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: A Bleaker Predicklement- Switch
Battery Jam- Switch
Bibi & Tina: Adventures with Horses- Switch
Bibi Blocksburg: Big Broom Race 3- Switch
GEM Crash- Switch
Ms. Splosion Man- Switch
Nidhogg 2- Switch
Panda Hero- Switch
Please, Don’t Touch Anything- Switch
Steamburg- Switch
Zeus Quests Remastered- Switch

Friday, November 23

Forever Forest- Switch


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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Secret of Mana is being Remade with Modern Visuals and Sound!
Square Enix has announced a complete remake of the Secret of Mana. It is scheduled to be released on February 15, 2018 for the PlayStation 4, the PSVita, and PC. They aren’t kidding when they say it is a complete remake either. Square is giving the game an overhaul with 3D graphics, bright colors, and voice acting!
 
Secret of Mana is one of the most beloved RPGs of all time. Its claim to fame, at least in my heart, is being the first action RPG to include two player, simultaneous, cooperative play. It was one of the first opportunities my brother and I had to play a game like this together. It actually supported three players, but we were never able to make that happen. We will get that chance again when the remake comes out. 
 
Square Enix is giving Secret of Mana a full makeover. They are using a bright and colorful art style that will be a sight to behold. It’s interesting that Square Enix waited this long to remake this one, but I am hoping that this will become a trend. They have a huge catalog of games that are worthy of remakes like this.
I know that we’re picking this one up the minute it comes out. What about your family? Sound off in the comments!
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E3 Banner

E3 2017 has come and gone and our intrepid heroes have ventured forth into those hallowed halls in search of greatness. They played a LOT of games and each of them was tasked with declaring their favorite game to be their Game of the Show. Take a look below and see what they picked.

StephenSuper Mario Odyssey

Developer: Nintendo

System: Nintendo Switch

Release Date: October 27,2017

Super Mario Odyssey may be the obvious pick for me, but that doesn’t make it the wrong one. It’s the perfect follow up to the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

I only got to spend ten minutes with Odyssey and I already knew it was going to be one of my favorite games of the year. This game is going to make an very big splash for Nintendo this holiday.

JesseMoss

Developer – Polyarc Games

System:  PSVR

Release Date: Holiday 2017

 

 

My choice for E3 2017 game of show is Polyarc Games’ action adventure puzzle game Moss. What I saw of this game strikes a difficult balance between puzzle solving, light combat and utilizing the 3D virtual reality environment. Requiring you to be a part of solving the puzzles along with Quill makes you a part of the story as well.

JohnRiverbond

Developer:  Cococumber
System:  Xbone,PC
Release Date:  TBA

I chose this game as my “Game Of The Show” for E3 2017.  It hit all the marks for me.  Family friendly, easily accessible and endlessly playable in any environment.

 

ReginaNeed for Speed: Payback

Developer:  Ghost Games

System:  Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC via Origin.

Release Date: November 10, 2017

EA Access Play First Trial: November 2, 2017

 

Payback is my pick for best of show. Why? Because I hate racing games and yet I loved this game! It’s a driving game but you have a mission and a story to unlock. I won’t admit how much pleasure I took from running cars off the road. Loved it!

 

JamesBattlechasers: Night War

Developer:  Airship Syndicate

System:  Xbox One, PS4, PC, Switch

Release Date:  Oct. 3, 2017

Battle Chasers: Nightwar… a beautiful RPG developed by Airship Syndicate and Published by Nordic Games, and based on one of the most popular American Comic Series in the 90s, by Joe Madureira, who is the creative director on the game as well.  The beautiful artwork, the rich and immersive environments, and the strategic depth are all high points that I know will have me coming back for more and more this October when the world will be able to enter the arcane punk wonderland of Battle Chasers: Nightwar.

 

 

 

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Family Video Game Review: Graceful Explosion Machine

Sometimes a game just sneaks up on you and gives you everything that you wanted. Graceful Explosion Machines was that game for me this year. It came out right around the launch of the Nintendo Switch right in between two mammoth Nintendo franchises (The Legend of Zelda and Mario Kart). Just about any other game would have been forgotten amidst that kind of competition, but Graceful Explosion Machine was a neon pink sign that helped me find my way.

(Editor’s Note: The pink hat reference is perfect for ME, but definitely needs context. Back in the before times, when I was much younger, my family went to Disney World. My mother, in an effort to protect us, bought us these obnoxious, neon hats. This helped her easily pick us out of the crowd and find us as we pushed through the crowds.)

Graceful Explosion Machines is a classic space “shmup” (Shoot ’em Up) that is currently exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. It is also a spectacular video game.

Anyone who has ever played any sort of arcade game will recognize the gameplay loop immediately. Players pilot a ship around various colorful levels. The goal is to eliminate all of the enemies in each level as quickly as possible and without getting hit.

Eliminating those enemies requires careful use of the four different weapons at your disposal. Each of those weapons is assigned to one of the four face buttons. You have a standard blaster (that will overheat if you shoot too fast), a long range sniper blast that delivers continuous damage, a sword that swings around your ship, and a set of heat seeking missiles. The latter three of those weapons all share an energy bar. You cant just use those powers wildly.

This careful use of all of your different weapons while flying through the various levels pushes you into an almost meditative state as you play. It’s easy to get lost in the game during those brief moments. The longer you are able to play in that meditative state (without failing a mission) the more joyful that state it. This makes Graceful Explosion Machine one of those games where it actually feels better to play as you grow in skill. That is so rare in today’s market that some kids have probably never experienced it at all.

Fix that problem and buy this game for them. Trust me. It will be worth it.

Is it a kid’s game?

Graceful Explosion Machine is an arcade style game that is all simple shapes and bright colors. There is almost nothing to be concerned about with this game.

There is no narrative that expressed mature themes. The game does involve a spaceship blasting other enemy spacecraft, but all them are such simple designs that the inherent violence is very abstracted. This is a modern equivalent to Space Invaders.

Can a kid play it?

There is no doubt that GEM is a challenging game. But, it is still a very inviting experience. Failing at a level is painless and restarting is very fast.

The game does make use of all of the different face buttons on the controller and the should buttons as well so kids who aren’t used to that will have some difficulty.

Conclusion

This is currently the best game available for the Nintendo Switch not called Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Play this game.

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Welcome to the EFG Kids’ Corner! This is a series of articles written by gamer kids all over the country! If you are a gamer kid (or know one) send me your best stuff in an email at editor@engagedfamilygaming.com! You just might see it here!

Without further adieu… here we go!


Hi It’s time for part two of my Yu-Gi-Oh assignment. I was asked to talk about how I got into the game and maybe even a little about how the game is played. So here we go.

I originally got into the game because I watched the show.  When I found out about the card game I went for it almost right away. I saved up and bought the Elemental Hero themed Starter Deck.

Pretty soon after that I went to a sleepaway, week-long, summer camp at Camp Mystic Lake at (no surprise) Lake Mystic. I don’t know why but I brought my deck with me. We had a free hour after lunch to roam wherever we wanted, go to the archery range, swim in the lake, take a jog in the forest paths, or whatever. On the first day I went right outside the dining hall near gaga ball and carpet ball and played with the one friend I had that played Yu-Gi-Oh, too. But, after one game we went off to play some other games. So he left for gaga and I went over to play some carpet ball.

But, on the way there I was stopped by a kid from the Ottawa cabin, which is the only other boys tween cabin. He asked me what I was playing so I told him and he wanted to know how to play.  I taught him and we got about halfway through a game before free period ended. We agreed to meet there the next day. The same day, right after free period we had a time of rest to do something quiet in our cabin, so I thought I would try to teach some of my cabin mates how to play. So I did, and each free period and time of rest I taught one more person how to play. Eventually I had about ten people I’d taught to play the game.

What I’m trying to say with this is that it’s not to hard to get people to play the game with. Just get some decks and teach your friends!

Well thanks for reading and I hope you’ll check in next time for me to wrap up this Yu-Gi-Oh trilogy by talking about my experiences at my first tournament.

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