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Silliness ensues as you pop, snatch and grab your way to victory in Over Under Ostrich by Dolphin Hat Games. This is a hilarious dexterity set collection game for two to eight players ages eight and up. The game is quick, one you get the technique, and games run about five minutes.

Game Components

  • Deck of 54 Ostrich cards containing 6 different ostriches
  • 8 Clipper Cards

Gameplay

Set up for Over Under Ostrich is quite easy, simply spread all the cards face down on a table. Making sure all players can reach the cards is the greatest challenge during set up all players. This gets more challenging with a large group. After the card setup is complete, each player creates their “ostrich head” using one hand and arm. The players bend their hand at the wrist and pinch their fingers together to create an ostrich head. With their body ready, players “pop and snatch”.

The game begins players simultaneously slide one card at a time to the edge of the table near them, then pop the card into the air with the back of their fingers, and snatch if from the air before it lands on the table. If the player does not successfully grab the card, even if it is not one that they need, they must continue to try to successfully pop and snatch this card. A card that is successfully snatched but not needed is tossed back onto the table face up.

The objective is to collect one of each hairstyle into your “Ostrich Sanctuary”, which is the area in front of you. Other players can try and thwart you by playing a Clipper card. If a player collects a Clipper card they can place it on one of the Ostriches in an opponents Ostrich Sanctuary. The forces the player to have to collect that card again.

The first player to collect all six ostriches in their Sanctuary yells “Heads Up!” to win!

Family Game Assessment

Over Under Ostrich is a silly game the whole family can enjoy. The recommendation is ages eight and up, but is simple enough that it can scale down to younger. That said, the dexterity portion might be challenging for children under eight. Some families my find it helpful to practice before beginning the game, and make modifications for players that struggle with the Pop and Snatch technique. We found there was a learning curve for the technique.

When we played it, even with the practice time, my eight year old was struggling to snatch. To address this challenges, we made a “house rule”, and he used two hands to snatch. That little accommodation made a world of difference in reducing his frustration and letting him jump right into the game.

Conclusion

Over Under Ostrich provides families with a quick, simple, silly family game that can be played by up to eight players. It is an inexpensive game, and one that fits in small places and containers making it portable and great for gifting.


FCC disclosure A copy if the game was provided for review.

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Humans, Cyborgs and Machines each have their own agendas in this social deduction game from Lay Waste Games. Human Era is for four to ten players, and also includes a solo variant. Players take on the role of crew members in the last time machine who need to save space and time from the chaos created by human time travel. However, there is a problem, some crew members are machines or cyborgs (half humans-half machines) who have their own agenda.

So What Exactly is a Social Deduction Game?

A social deduction game is a game where players have a hidden roll and/or objective. The other players try to deduce the roll of their opponents based in the choices and actions they take. These games often call for players to lie or be deceitful, which can be challenging for some, and especially for younger players.

Game Components

  • 1 pink die with the letters c, a, m, t, n, h
  • 66 Being Cards
  • 10 Identity Cards
  • 1 Score Tracker
  • Hex board (double sided)
  • Pilot tracker wrench
  • 1 score tracker nut

Gameplay

Goal/How to Win

During game set up, each player receives an Identity Card. They are either a Human, Cyborg, or Machine. A player’s goal and win condition depends on the role dealt.

Humans

Human’s objective is to correct the space-time continuum by getting all six eras correctly matched with the beings that belong there or 4 or more correct eras when the fuel runs out.

Cyborgs

Cyborgs’ object switches with split loyalties as half-human and half-machine. There are several win scenarios for the cyborgs.
1. For the first half of the game if there are zero correct eras at any point you win with the machines.
2. Cyborg Crisis: exactly three eras correct and three incorrect at the end of a round with five fuel tracker cards remaining.
3. When the fuel runs out if two eras are correct you share a win with the machines, three correct eras the cyborgs win, four correct eras share a win with the humans.

Machines

Machines’ objective is to deceived the humans and stop them from correcting the time-line. To win instantly have zero correct time-lines at the end of a round or two or fewer correct eras when fuel runs out.

Rounds

Human Era plays in a series of rounds, and contain six steps per round. Those steps include;

  • Malfunction (except in the first round)
  • Era selection
  • Discussion/Discard and Draw/Nomination
  • Vote/Card Placement
  • Paradoxes
  • Ending the Round

1. Malfunction

All rounds except the first round have a malfunction. One player rolls the die to determine the era affected. The top card from the deck is placed in that era. Any resulting paradoxes need to be resolved. Details on resolving paradoxes are below.

2. Era Selection

Human Era includes six eras you are trying to correct, or sabotage depending on your identity. The six eras with their coordinating beings are:

  • The Beginning of Time (Amoeba)
  • The Age of Dinosaurs (T-rex)
  • The Rise of Civilization (Neanderthal)
  • The Discovery of Time Travel (Human)
  • The Fall of Civilization (Cyborg)The End of Time (Machine)
  • In this phase of the round the time machine defaults to the earliest era with no cards. If cards are in all eras the die is rolled to determine the era being traveled to.

3. Discussion/Discard and Draw/Nomination

Two steps happen in this phase. First all players have the option to discard one card and draw a new card. Second, the player with the Pilot Wrench is the pilot for the current round. The pilot nominates the players that will time travel. Either two or three players nominated depending on the number of players. Players are allowed to talk about what is in their hand and strategies. Because players cannot reveal their cards, this point of play allows for deception for the non-humans.

4. Vote/Card Placement

The remaining players vote to approve the crew with a thumbs up or down. If the vote fails, instead players draw the top card from the deck and placed in the Era selected at the beginning of the round. If the vote passes the crew each give one card face down to the pilot and an additional card drawn from the deck.

5. Resolving Paradoxes and Chain Reactions

Once placement of the cards completes, players examine the top card on each era to see if a paradox occurred. A paradox occurs when two of the same cards are in two different eras. For example if there is a T-Rex in two different Eras. If there is a paradox the newest card places is removed and placed in the discard pile. The new top card is revealed in that era, and treated as the newest card should another paradox occur.

6. Ending the Round

First, players adjust the score to reflect the number of correct eras. The score is determined by looking at the top card (active card) in each era and seeing how many have the correct.
Players then:
1. Draw a card if one was used this round
2. Discard one fuel tracker
3. Check if any win conditions have been met.
4. Move the pilot wrench to the next player clockwise.

Family Game Assessment

Human Era is a social deduction game with a theme the whole family can enjoy. The hidden roll design incorporates a simple captivating story, and is easy to understand for those new to the genre. While the game is for ages 8 and up, the hidden role is a challenging mechanism for gamers at the lower end of the age range.

If you need a gateway game for new players to the genre of social deduction, Human Era can be a great fit. A new or young player would benefit from a “partner” to coach them so they don’t inadvertently give away their roll. There are lots of details in the rules to learn, and it can seem a little overwhelming. The mechanics of the game, while they are detailed, flow nicely within a round. With only a few rounds of play, the steps within a round become intuitive. There are many steps within a round, the rounds themselves don’t take very long.

Confession time, I have a hard time being deceitful and lying even in a game setting. I needed to come up with a strategy that would allow me to play without having a “tell” to the other players. I used the strategy to be honest with the cards I had in my hand during the Discussion/Discard and Draw/Nomination. My deception would be to use a different card that the one discussed. This kind of strategy might be useful for players that have a “tell” when they lie or are trying to deceive their fellow players.

Conclusion

Human Era is a great game from Lay Waste Games with interesting mechanics and theme. It is streamline enough to work as a gateway into the social deduction genre of games, and is an asset to any game collection.



FCC Disclosure: A copy of Human Era was provided for review.

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Slap Down! is a light card collecting game where you are rolling dice to determine to pair to collect, but watch out, all the players are going for the same cards! This game can be played with two to eight players, the only limitation with a larger group is having a surface that allows all the players to reach the cards.

Components

  • 50 cards: 25 pairs of cards with 5 different colors and 5 different shapes in unique combinations
  • 2 Dice: One with the 5 shapes and a “wild” side, One with the 5 colors and a “wild” side.

Gameplay

Set up

To begin, shuffle and randomly spread out the 50 cards face up on the playing area in a grid pattern so they do not overlap. This area is the Slapping Field.

A Turn

The first player is the roller and they begin a turn by trolling the two dice to determine the color and shape. All players then scan the Slapping Field and try to find the matching pair that matches the dice. To claim the cards a player must be the first one to slap, or touch, both cards simultaneously. The player earning the card and places it in front of themself to create their collection. However, the cards collected must remain face up and visible, because they are still in play.

The Theft

As the game progresses a color and shape combination may come up which is no longer in the Slapping Field. When this occurs you can steal from an opponent. To steal, you need to slap the pair in front of your opponent which matches the dice. A player can protect their cards by slapping them first. A Theft cannot occur if there is an option in the Slapping Field.

The Penalty

Near the end of the game as things become more frantic it can be harder to protect your collection. Players may only protect the cards that match the die rolls. If they inadvertently slapped the wrong cards and another player catches them, they have to forfeit those cards to the player that caught them.

Ending the Game

The game ends once all pairs have been captured out of the Slapping Field. Should the game in a tie, 5 pairs placed back in the Slapping Field for a SlapOff. The first player to capture a pair wins the game.

One alternative to the win condition is to have the first player to capture five pairs wins the game.

Family Game Assessment

Slap Down can be a great family game for the right family. The rules are very straightforward, easy to understand , and the game can be learned in just a matter of minutes. That said, the game is very competitive and care must be taken to avoid injury. In the games that we played, even with extra care being taken there were a few scratched fingers as we both dove for the same cards. With the right group dynamic, this game involves lots of laughter and frantic silliness to make their pairs

Conclusion

If you are looking for a easy to learn fast and light family game Slap Down is a perfect fit for anyone looking for a frantic and fast game.

FCC disclosure: a copy of Slap Down! was provided for review.

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Journey through story local games to three regions of Africa in South of the Sahara by MathMinds Games. This is a cross-curricular game that weaves Math, Literacy, and Social Studies into the fabric of the game. The design for South of the Sahara has applications with students in a classroom, homeschooling, or families. There are three games within South of the Sahara with additional variants for each game. The games are for players ages seven and up. All the games combined supports two to eight players, and games are 10- 30 minutes. Gamplay is taught in a storybooks format. Chapter one and two teach a game play variants each, increasing in difficulty. The second chapter also introduces the math connection, while chapter three delves deeper into the math, and add some history or social studies connections too.

Achi:

Achi is a two player game that originated in Ghana. The game storybook connects the game to tic-tac-toe. Connections are made in the storybook to a turtle shell and the magic square originating in China.

Game Components

  • Double sided board
    • one side is a 9 dot grid
    • other side lines shift and there are numbers on all the spots
  • 4 red triangles
  • 4 blue squares

Gameplay

Chapter1: Players take turns placing their pieces with the objective to get three in a row. The game is basically tic-tac-toe, but there is one major difference, the game cannot end in a draw. Players only have 4 pieces each, so there is always a vacant space. If there is not three in a row, players then slide one piece on each move until there is a winner.

Chapter 2: On the game board side with numbers, there are still nine spaces numbered one to nine. The objective this time is to have three of your numbers add to 15. Once all pieces are on the board players may use their turn to slide a piece to try and reach the 15 total with three of their pieces.

Gulugufe

Gulugufe connects a discovery of butterflies in Mozambique and links it to pancakes to explain the mathematical concept of negation.

Game Components

  • Double sided game board, one side is for two player the reverse if for four player
  • Wooden cylinders with 1/-1 on each flat face
    • 9 each of four different colors ( Yellow, Green, Blue, Red)

Gameplay

Chapter1: This game is playable with two or four players by using the game board side with the side that matches the number of player Players are trying to remove the caterpillars of their opponents (represented by wooden cylinders). To remove a caterpillar you “crawl over” a piece that is next to yours. The piece must be in s straight line and have a vacant space on the opposite side. Players can knock off as many pieces as possible on their turn, and must make a move even if it leaves their piece in a vulnerable position.

Chapter 2: Opposite Sides of the Branch incorporates the idea of negative and positive numbers . Negative represents the caterpillar bring under the branch and positive 1 represents being on top of the branch and -1 under the branch. Players can only know off a caterpillar that is on the same side of the branch as they are. Players can also take their turn to flip over one of there pieces or one of their opponents pieces.

Fanorona

Fanorona takes place on the island of Madagascar and incorporates the national animal; the lemur. In this game the lemurs are pushing or tripping their opponents. The last player with a piece on the board wins.

Components

  • Two sets of 22 hexagonal wooden pieces with the numbered 1-22, one yellow set and one purple set
  • Double sided board (square grid and rectangular grid)

Gameplay

Chapter One: Falling Lemurs, uses the blank side of the game pieces General game play takes on the idea that lemurs are unstable when they stand on two feet. So, players “push” or “trip” their opponents to remove them from the board. To push move forward into an empty space in front of your opponent. All opposing pieces in a straight line are removed from the board. This represents the lemurs falling over. The falling lemurs line stops when there is a space or the other players token in the way.

To trip, players can envision a tail sweep. To execute this move in the game, players begin directly in front of their opponent’s piece, and move backwards on space. Just like with the push any opposing pieces in a straight line are removed.

Chapter 2: Lemur Ages adds in the numbers on the game tokens. To knock over Lemurs the player must decide what group of lemurs they are knocking over. Players need to decide if they want to make younger, older or same age fall over compared to their piece. This gameplay decision incorporates the mathematical concept of greater than, less than, and equal to.

Family Game Assessment

South of the Sahara is a cute series of mini games, and a good fit for families with early elementary children. The games are quick and easy to learn. Most are two player and are simple enough that two children can play independently together. When playing some of these games, it surprised me how engaging the gameplay was. While simple there was more strategy than I first anticipated.

Educational Assessment

In an early elementary classroom or homeschool setting, specifically in first and second grade, these games are a great way to reinforce mathematical skills as well as turn taking and good sportsmanship. Per the MathMinds website, the game stories are a 3rd grade reading level and are available in English and Spanish. The Achi skills of the magic square and adding to 15 hits multiple stands of the Operations and Algebraic Thinking (OA) in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Negation, introduced in Gulugufe, does not typically get introduced formally until the upper elementary grade. However it is easily understandable by primary students especially with the below the branch visual. The skills of greater than, less than, equal introduced in Fanorona align with first grade skills (CCSS NBT B3).

These games are well suited for small group at a teacher station to learn and then to be available as center. The stories engaging children and remain simple enough for whole or small group read alouds. The cross curricular nature of South of the Sahara optimizes the instructional time in already packed school schedule.

Final Thoughts

The game play and math skills infused in South of the Sahara make it a useful tool in both a home and school environment. The gameplay is engaging that it can be played multi age. For gamification of some primary math skills infused with story and multicultural learning, this is cute and entertaining.

FCC Disclosure: A copy of South of the Sahara was provided for review.

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From the quiet librarian to the rock star. This Game Goes to Eleven is a light card game with an equally light rock theme. It is for two to six players ages eight and up, and takes approximately 20 minutes.

Components


• 72 cards
• Guitar pick


Gameplay

In This Game Goes to Eleven, each player is dealt a hand of 3 cards. Players take turns putting down one card with the goal of getting all the cards in the pile to reach a total of eleven. When you play your card, if the total is less than eleven, play moves to the next player. Should you put down a total equaling exactly eleven you give the pile of cards to the player of your choice. However, if your card makes the pile total over 11 you must take the entire pile of cards.


There are two special cards in the deck. The first is the number eleven, and his card instantly brings the pile to eleven. You then give it to the player of your choice. The other is the Librarian which is zero. This card does 1 of 2 things 1 way to use this card is to place it on top of the pile and reset the pile to 0. The other way to do it is to counteract a 11 card and the person who played the 11 now must take the pile. The goal of the game is to have the fewest number of cards at the end. The values on the cards are irrelevant to the score.

Variant

The variant incorporates the included guitar pick. The guitar pick designates which player gets the pile instead of the player deciding. Once the pile equals eleven, the pick holder must collect the pile. The pick then passes to the next player. This changes the dynamic of selecting who receives the pile versus having it in turn, and is a helpful variant with children so they feel the pile collection is more equitable.

Family Game Assessment

This Game Goes to Eleven is a perfect light family game. While recommended for ages eight and up, the game scales down for younger children that can do simple computation up to eleven. The game is extremely easy to teach at has very few rules. Players on their turn merely have to select one of the three cards in their hand to play and try to strategize with those limited choices. This is a good fit for young gamers or non gamers since the rules are simple and streamline. The limited choice in what to do on your turn and limited strategy also keeps turns simple.. There is an element of luck in the game with what numbers you pick up when you draw at the end of your turn. However, having three card does allow a bit of strategy into the game to keep it interesting.

This is also a game that would work multi generational since there is limited skill and strategy incorporated.

Final Thoughts

For a light family game that can include multi ages or generations This Game Goes to Eleven is a great addition to a family collection. You can crank this game up to an eleven and enjoy laughs around the table.

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

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With beautiful artwork of Beth Soble and theme of the Alexandria Library, Fire in the Library is all about being the most successful librarian saving the books and the knowledge they contain. Fire in the Library is a push your luck game for one to six players it plays in 15 to 30 minutes and his rated for ages 8 and up.

Components

  • 26 library cards
  • 39 tool cards
  • 6 turn on or cards
  • 8 reference cards
  • 22 book tokens
  • 4 purple
  • 6 yellow
  • 5 black and
  • 7 white
  • 17 fire tokens read one library bag 1 scoring track 6 librarian figures

Set Up

To set up again you take out the four quadrants of the library representing the different sections. The cards stack into piles with the most damage on the bottom. That places the highest value card on the bottom and lowest volume on top.

Players add 22 book tokens and 7 of the fire tokens to the library bag. The remaining 10 fire tokens are added as sections of the library burn or books are burned. To set up the tool cards players reveal a field of three cards. There is a quick setup guide on the back of the rule book to streamline game setup, which we found very helpful.

Gameplay

Rounds

Each round consists of 3 steps. The first step is selecting turn order. The beginning round of the game, the turn order cards are randomly passed out. In future rounds, the player with the lowest score has the first choice of turn order. From there turn order selection follows based on score, lowest to highest. Turn order cards each have different number of safe spaces, bravery points, and risky spots.

Step two of the round has players saving books. The first portion of this step they draw tokens from the bag. The player draws one token at a time and places it on their turn order card. If the token is a book they may continue saving books. However, if they draw a fire token and placed on a risky spot on the turn order card or it is the second fire token drawn by that player the books they save burn. At the end of their turn one of two things happens. The players scores based on knowledge saved, or the fire spreads depending on the tokens they draw.

At step 3 the round ends. At this point, one section of the library burns. Players discard the card with the lowest burn index. The turn order cards are collected, and play begins at the top of the round again.

Fire Spreading

On their turn if a player pulls too many fire tokens or puts one on a risky spot it triggers fire spreading. This utilizes an interesting mechanic in the game to represent the library burning. The books they have collected “burn”, which means the player must remove the top card from each section of the library that matches the book’s color. Each quadrant of the library has a different color book on it representing the section of the library. A fire token is also added to the library bag for every card with a fire icon.

Ending the Game

The game ends immediately if a section of the library reveals a value of 10. This represents the section of the library collapsing. The player with the highest score wins.

Variants

Beyond the base rules for the game there are six variants that players can enjoy. There is iconography on the cards that comes into play with the robot variants.

  • Solo Variants: Solo Robot Variant and Lone Librarian Variant
  • Multiplayer with Robot Variant: This is usable with less than six players
  • No Tool Variant: Tool cards are eliminated and is perfect for younger players.
  • Wild Fire Variant: This variant speed up the game with two sections of the library burning each round.
  • Inferno Variant: The Wild Fire Variant plus turn order cards dealt randomly.

Family Game Assessment

Fire in the library has an engaging theme for those that are bookish. While the theme might not be for everyone the push your luck element holds the attention of all players. The anticipation builds to see how each librarian does saving the books and if they catch too many embers. There are multiple choices for players to make each round and the tension escalates as more sections of the library burn at each round. The game also accelerates as the ratio of fire tokens increases in the draw bag. There are many nuances to the game, and the rules took us a few turns to fully grasp. Despite that, once the rules are understood, Fire in the Library is relatively streamline.

While recommended for age eight and up, with the level of complexity in the game it does not readily age down well. The No Tool Variant is an option for players on the younger side or less experienced players. As a push your luck game the rules are simple enough that it would be a good introduction for all ages within the suggested age range to that gaming mechanic.

Final Thoughts

When I first saw the Kickstarter of Fire In The Library, I was intrigued. The theme, art, and gameplay resonated with me before I even sat down with a physical copy. I felt compelled to back this game and am thrilled it is in my collection. For someone who loves books and libraries it strikes a unique cord.


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It is a perpetual challenge to find a game that can be played with a small or large player count. Skyjo fits the niche of being played with up to eight players without being a party game. It is the first game from Magilano.

Skyjo is a set collection card game for two to eight players were your goal is to get the least amount of points per around.   The recommended age is for eight and up. The game does scale down especially once children can understand the negative cards by relating them to take away. Unknown cards in front of each player and fifteen different cards that can be revealed, gives Skyjo just enough suspense to provide just a bit of tension in the game.

Game Components

  • 150 Playing Cards
  • Score pad

Gameplay

Players receive twelve cards face down at the beginning of the round they reveal two cards. On their turn a player can either draw a revealed card from the discard pile, or they can take a card from the draw pile. If a player selects a revealed card from the discard pile, they must use it either for one of their face up cards or flip over a card and use it there. Should they choose an unknown card from the draw pile, then players can either substituted for a visible card or flip a card as well.

The round ends when one player has revealed all twelve of their cards. One final turn occurs for the remaining players. Finally, players reveal their remaining cards and calculate points. There is a risk to ending the round, because that player must have the lowest score or their points are doubled.

Additional rounds are played until one player meets or exceeds 100 points. The player with the lowest score wins the game. There is one special condition in the game. If a player has three cards in a row a vertical row that are the same number they may remove the entire column.

Family Game Assessment

Skyjo is a great addition to any game collection. It supports of wide range of players and scales well at all player counts. Being able to support up to eight players is a huge asset. It is challenging to find a game, which is not a party game, that supports such a high player count. Skyjo’s rules are simple and easy to learn. It fits a casual gaming and multi generational gaming setting.
  Once they are familiar with the gameplay, young gamers could play independently.  Skyjo comes in a small box that is easily packable and portable, and can be brought pretty much anywhere. Players need a larger play space because each player has a three by four grid of cards in front of them. So it doesn’t make a good restaurant game or small space game.

Final Thoughts

Skyjo is a must for a family game collection. It is small, inexpensive, simple and easy.  As a bonus it also supports a wide range of player counts, making  perfect for family gatherings.


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An alien has crash landed in Blackwood Grove. A boy on a bicycle must try to pass through the force field to help the alien before the Agents do!  Visitor in Blackwood Grove has the quintessential 80’s theme, and is a unique asymmetrical reasoning game for players age 8 and up.  It is published by Resonym, with quick games only taking 5-15 minutes
for three to six players.

Game Components

  • Force Field Board
  • Object Deck (142 cards)
  • Visitor Shield
  • Trust Board
  • Trust Token
  • Role Cards (Alien, Kid, 4 Agents)
  • 13 Example Pass Rule Cards
  • 5 Card Markers (Kid and agents)
  • 4 Guess Tokens
  • Cloth bag
  • Rule booklet

Gameplay

Being an asymmetrical game, the different characters in the game have different roles and a variety of win conditions.  If the Kid figures out the pass rule first, the Visitor and Kid win. Should one Agent figure out the pass rule first, they win.  The Agents are from competing government agencies and do not share information. Finally, if the Visitor has no cards at the start of a turn all the Agents win.

Turn Options

The Visitor creates the rule for what can pass through the force field. These rules must be general enough to make it challenging for the agents but not so hard the kid cannot figure it out. The game provides thirteen rules as examples. Some pass rules include: things containing metal, things in this room,  and things with strings.

Each Agent on their turn has two options; they can Test an Object or Prove the Pass Rule.  To test and object an Agent hands a card to the Visitor without showing it to any other players. The Visitor then places the card face down either inside the forcefield or outside to prove that Agent additional information about the Pass Rule. Only the Agent that played that card can go back and look at their face down cards. An Agent successfully proves the pass rule to win the game (described below).

The Kid has two options on their turn; they can Predict an Item or Prove the Pass Rule. To Predict Objects, the Kids shows a card from their hand. The Visitor states “admitted” or “repelled”. The kid may make up to three predictions, one card at a time. If the card is repelled the Kid’s turn is over and they gain no trust. If all the cards are correct, the Trust Token moves up the Trust Board. The Kids and Visitor benefit as trust develops. The Kid gaining Trust unlocks powers and rewards for the Kid and the Visitor.

Winning The Game

The key to winning is to Prove the Pass Rule. For either the Kid or the Agents the player draws four cards from the deck. The player aligns the cards they think will be admitted forward. While, the cards they think are repelled back. Meanwhile, The Visitor, behind a screen, indicates which cards pass through or get repelled using tokens. The visitor pushes them forward or back to correspond with the cards. If the tokens reveal the cards are all correct that player is the winner. Should any cards be incorrect their turn is over. If an Agent guesses and they are wrong, the Kid also gains two trust.

Family Game Assessment

Overall

For being a quick game Visitor in Blackwood Grove has quite a few rules, and some complexities. As an asymmetrical game there are rules for the different roles within the game. The first time bringing it to the table, we found that we needed to referred back to the rule book with each turn to make sure we understood what to do. The game was quick taking about ten minutes. We play again right away, switching roles, and one the second play the game flowed much better. This game might seem overwhelming to a novice gamer initially, but with one gameplay is easy to understand.

A non reader could play this game, with the limited reading required. With that said, the age of eight and up is a good fit for most players. The asymmetrical roles, and different decisions on each turn, would be challenging for younger players.

Card Interpretation: Benefits and Perils

While we played we encountered some interpretation in the cards. There was a picture of a wooden ladder and the Pass Rule was things that contain metal. As the Visitor, I was unsure of whether to admit or repel the ladder. The picture did not show visible metal on the ladder. However, wooden ladders could have only wood pegs or have metal nails. I made the decision to assume it was build with metal nails and admit the ladder.

Having interpretation in the cards that other players might disagreed with is embedded in the components of the game. That disagreement might be a point of contention for players. You need to consider if disagreement in the interpretation of the cards is going to be problematic.

On the flip side, with children, or even with adults, it is interesting to learn how they interpreted the card in a different way. At teachable moment might be available to provide another perspective. Exploring the concept of different interpretations is a valuable experience for young players.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a game that taps your 80’s nostalgia, Visitor in Blackwood Grove is a great one to bring to the table. The quick games and different roles give this game a lot of replay-ability. This can also be played by a range of ages and skills making it a great one for family gatherings.

If this sounds good to you, then you can purchase a copy of the game here on Amazon. (And if you do, then we get a percentage to help keep the lights on!)

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

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As a Storm Trooper you tremble at the sight of the Millennium Falcon. It bobs and weaves above your head as you try and dodge out of the way. In Loopin’ Chewie, You are trying to defend you are storm troopers from Chewbacca in the millennium Falcon. To defend your storm troopers you have a paddle to knock the Millennium Falcon away. Your goal is to be the last person to still have storm troopers in play. Loopin’ Chewie is a game by Hasbro that supports two to three players ages four and up.

Game Components

  • Millennium Falcon
  • Base unit
  • 3 paddle arms
  • 3 paddle units
  • 1 flight arm on center cone
  • 9 tokens (Storm Troopers)

Gameplay

To begin the Millennium Falcon starts pointing straight up to the ceiling on it’s swiveling arm. One player turns on the motor and releases the Millennium Falcon to spin around. Players use their pad to tap the Millennium Falcon up and over their storm troopers. However, players need to be careful not to use too much force which can shake their own storm troopers out of play.

Loopin’ Chewie has a player elimination style with a bit of a twist. Once all 3 storm troopers are knocked below a player is no longer eligible to win the game. They may however continued to play and try to knock the millennium Falcon into the storm troopers of their opponents. The last player with with Storm Troopers at the end wins the game.

Games are played very quickly with a simple reset. This lends the game to be played multiple times in a row.

Family Game Assessment

Loopin’ Chewie is quintessential family game. With it simple set up, simple gameplay, and fast play it encourages multiple plays in one setting. The format allows for multi age and multi generation play, by being so simple and requiring little skill or strategy.

The Star Wars theme is engaging across the ages too. It is not the most portable game, being a medium size box. However the pieces do disassemble easily to fit back in the box, which is convenient for storage. For a quick light game Loopin’ Chewie is a great game in a family collection.

Final Thoughts

For any young Star Wars fan Loopin’ Chewy is a great addition to a family game collection. It is a good quick game that takes moments to set up and play.

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Poison brewing? Stubborn donkey pushing? Table flipping? Let the Orclympics begin!

Brain Games

Get ready for a menagerie of different creatures battling head to head to win Orc-lympics events. Orc-lympics is a card game were you are drafting your team of Orclympians to compete in various events. You then need to manage the roster as your Orclympians compete. The game is for two to five players ages eight and up and plays in 10 to 20 minutes.

Components

  • 12 event cards
  • 42 Orc-lympics cards: Humans, Goblins, Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, Halflings, and Djinns
  • Gold and silver trophies

Gameplay

Orc-lympics plays in three phases: Reveal Competitions, Build Team, Compete.

Reveal Competitions

At the beginning of the game, to reveal the competitions, player set up the deck by shuffling the 12 event cards. There are three main event cards as well, which are set aside initially. Players deal the 12 event cards face up and six face down into two parallel rows. The face up cards have different scores and an illustration of the competition. Players sort cards least to greatest. The Main Event cards is randomly selected at the end, and is worth 7 points. The remaining 6 event cards which are face down are worth two points each. A main event card is placed at the end face down and is worth four points.

Build Team

To build teams, shuffle the 42 Orc-lympians cards and eight cards, and deal to each player. Players then draft their cards. To do this each player selects one card from their hand simultaneously and places it face down on the table in front of them. Players then take the remaining cards and pass them to the player on their left. Players continue to pick and pass cards until all eight cards have been selected. Next, players edit their team. They must limit their team of players to any three races, discarding any cards exceeded that criteria.

On each Orclympian card there are scores for three attributes; Speed, Cunning, and Strength. These scores are essential for competing in the competitions.

Compete

To Compete, players go around and can play any number of cards. However, the attribute listed on their Orclympian myst be one or greater in the skill of the competition. When a player becomes the highest scoring player they take the gold trophy,and second place player takes silver. Play may continue to go around with players adding cards if they wish, though one a player passes they can not add more players to the competition. Once all players have passed for that competition, it ends.
The player in first place takes the face up competition card and earns the points listed. The second place player takes the face down competition card under it and earns two points for regular competitions and four points for the main event. For the first and second place they also discard a cards used in the competition. The remaining players may take one card back and must discard the rest. Play continues until all seven competitions conculde. Each player is not required to compete in each competition.

Is this a Family Game?

Orc-lympics is a great gateway to more complex game mechanics. It incorporates drafting and resource management in a simple and accessible way. Players draft their “Orclympians,” edit their teams, and manage their players. It is nearly impossible to compete in every event so players need to prioritize how they will utilize their competitors to try and earn the most points.

There is quite a bit if strategy both with drafting and managing the resources of the Orc-lympians. There are several different layers of strategy, so you’ll need to coach younger players. Our youngest player was six years old and he needed a lot of support. He has learned some of the strategy needed after several games, but still benefits from coaching to keep the frustration at bay. With that said, the recommendation of age eight and up seems a good fit.

Final Thoughts

The Orc-lympic theme is light hearted and ties nicely into sports competitions and creating teams. As a stepping stone into card drafting and light resource management Orc-lympics is a good fit. At first glance the game seems complicated, but the steps are easy to understand and the game plays quickly so different strategies can be tried in rapid succession.


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

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