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Linda Wrobel

Engaged Family Gaming Holiday

So many great board games releases in 2019! It was a challenge to limit the list into a comprehensive collection of games for all types of games. To help your family find the best game we have broken the games into categories so you can see what may best suit your gift giving.

For the Youngest Gamers

Topper Takes a Trip

Topper Takes a Trip is a cooperative game for players ages two and up by Peaceable Kingdom. For the youngest players this is a great game to encourage discussion and vocabulary development. Players select a destination card and match the packing list for each destination as well. Players then gather the items on the packing list, and place them in the suitcase. Once all pieces are gathered players can pretend they are enjoying the activities of that destination. Topper travels to three places to complete the game. There are also suggestions for extending the play and enriching the experience to develop early skills. The skills include: gross motor, problem solving, color matching, spatial reasoning, and visual discrimination.

Guess It Get It Gumballs

Guess It Get It Gumballs is a cooperative memory game for two to four players ages four and up from Peaceable Kingdom. Players take turns picking up gumballs of the matching color from a spinner. They then guess the face on the reverse side by making that face into the mirror. The gumball is grabbed by using the suction cup on the reverse of the mirror. Players are trying to get a rainbow of gumballs before getting the stinkface. With the current awareness of Emotional Intelligence this game is great for helping young children recognize and identify feelings.

Small Games

Punto

Punto is a tiny tin box card laying game for two to four players ages eight and up from Gamewright. Players each have a pile of dot cards in one color. The cards are randomly shuffled within their pile. Cards are placed once player at a time either diagonally or orthogonally. The objective is to get five cards in a row at two player game or four cards in a three or four player game. Players need to keep the cards within a six by six grid. The game ends when one player has won two rounds. While the game is recommended for age eight and up, since there is no reading and the rules are not complicated this can scale down in age.

Tic Tac Surprise

Tic Tac Surprise is a two player game for ages five and up. This game by Peaceable Kingdom takes the classic game of Tic Tac Toe and adds a twist. The cards instead of X’s and O’s have two pictures. There are multiple versions of the game, so you can have dogs/cats, chocolate/vanilla donuts/ or fairies/unicorns. Within each picture type there are some special cards with an additional feature. For example on the donuts some of the donuts have sprinkles. These special cards allow players to place that card on top of an opponent’s card. Now a space is never truly unavailable.

Snowman Dice

Snowman Dice is a fun fast rolling, stacking, flicking, and pushing dice game for two to four players ages six and up from Brain Games. The photo above is of a prototype we previewed at New York Toyfair, and the finalize version in a snowball shaped bag. Additionally, the playtime and age recommendations have been changed since we saw the prototype. In Snowman Dice players are trying to roll the three pieces of their snowman and push the stack to the center marker, which is the North Pole. The dice also have an arrow, snowflake, which is a wild, and a snowball icon. The arrow is needed to push your snowman. With the snowball the player can flick the dice at an opponent’s snowman to try and knock it down and thwart their progress. Then winner is the first player to the North Pole.

Dirty Pig


Dirty Pig is a simple light card game from Happy Planet, a subdivision of North Star Games. In this game players are trying to be the first to make all of their pigs dirty. The game is for two to six players and is recommend for ages six and up. To play, all players begin with clean pigs. The number of pigs varies depending on the number of players. Each player draws three cards and can play one per turn, drawing a new card at their end of their turn. Cards include: Dirty Your Pig, Rain, Barn, Locked Barn Door, Lightning, Lightning Rod, and Clean That Pig. This is a light silly game good for multi-ages and can even scale younger since there is no reading involved.

Games for the Whole Family

Pyramid of Pengqueen

Pyramid of Pengqueen is a spin off theme from the Ice Cool games from Brain Games. The penguins have ventured in search of the mummy’s magical treasure. One playing takes on the roll of the mummy and the rests of the players are the adventures searching for the treasures. In the game there is a two sided vertical board with magnets. The players know were the mummy is but the mummy do not know where the penguins are. If the mummy finds a penguin it is sent to the mummy’s tomb. Players are trying to collect enough treasures before the mummy catches them too many times.

This Game Goes to Eleven

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

Bloom

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

Adventure book

Quirky Circuits



Price: $38.54
Was: $49.95

Quirky circuit is the next adventure book from Plaid Hat Games. This one features a automatic vacuum cleaner, similar to a Roomba, and you need to direct it to achieve certain goals. The challenge is that players please down their movement cars in secret from the other players to there are many challenges with getting the correct path to complete the objective. This game is for two to four players ages seven and up. The game contains 21 different scenarios within the adventure book.

Legacy

Zombie Kidz Evolution

Zombie Kidz Evolution is a perfect first legacy game for children. The game is for 2 to 4 players ages 7 and up and episodes take 5 to 15 minutes each approximately. The game takes place in the school and the player’s objective is to secure all the doors to keep the zombies out. As players move through the challenges they can open envelopes which adds new characters and makes changes to the board and to the rules.

If You Like. ..

Imhotep Duel


Imhotep Dual is a 2 player game that takes the strategy and gameplay of the original Imhotep and makes it a 2 player only game. The game is for ages ten and up and plays in about 30 minutes. Since it is only 2 players the premise is you are Nefertiti and Akhenaten, the famous Egyptian couple. Fans of the original will enjoy this 2 player version.

Sushi Roll

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

Forbidden Sky

Forbidden sky is the next adventure in the forbidden series from Gamewright. In this adventure players are now in the sky exploring a platform inside of a storm trying to launch a rocket. Game right for the very 1st time incorporates an electronic element and you need to complete the circuit and have the rocket light up and make sound to complete the game in succeed. One false move and you could be blown off the platform. The game is for ages 10 and up and plays 2 to 5 players.

Dragonrealms

Dragonrealm takes place in the same world as Dragonwood and moves it to the next adventure. This time instead of defeating creatures you are trying to look for treasure in different locations. As in Dragonwood you collect sets of cards that allow you to complete different actions. Adventure cards in a numerical row allow you to sneak. Cards all the same color allow you to search. Cards that are all the same color allow you to storm. The number of cards being played allows the player to have that many dice to roll to try to reach the required number on a location to complete the action. The total rolled by the days becomes their score and players discover if they have succeeded or failed. Once the dragon location is complete the game ends and players Pat up their coins. The player with the most coins wins

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know if you’re picking any of these games up!

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Kickstarter of the Week: Camp Pinetop

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

Camp Pinetop is a hand management, card drafting game for 1-5 players. It’s appropriate for players 8 and up, with play time around 60-75 minutes (although prior experience and smaller player counts will cut that down).

What is the elevator pitch?

You are the leader of a group of campers who are exploring the wilderness. Along the way, you will need to collect achievement patches, which will give your scouts special abilities and allow them to level up to the highest rank (Badger), which is how you ultimately win.

When is your Kickstarter going live?

Camp Pinetop went live Tuesday, September 24, 2019 and runs to October 18, 2019. Check out the Kickstarter here!

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

The base game is all done, and we are working some add-ons and a few extra fun things for the Kickstarter.

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

There are some parallels to other games, but I cannot say there’s a great, singular comparison to it.

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

I had to! The idea of collecting patches was too exciting of an idea for me to pass up. The theme is just something I’m personally invested in as well. I’ve been an avid hiker my whole life, love the outdoors, went to summer camps as a kid and worked at them as an adult.

What was your design process like?

I would try a few different things, move onto another design for a while, then come back to it. Since the theme came first, the mechanics tested out had to relate to some aspect of outdoor adventuring and stay interesting. For instance, I experimented with the idea that the more equipment you had while hiking adversely impacted the speed at which you could travel. That early idea did not made it into the final but was something I explored early on.

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

Camp Pinetop hits the sweet spot of being easily learned and understood, but contains lot of depth and options in what strategies can be pursue. You can play it as an opportunist, just earning the patches that are easiest for you to get based on your position and the cards you have – or you can pursue a strategy of getting all of your campers on the map fast and getting them in advantageous spots. Or you can stick with a single camper, focus on the patch abilities that let you be nimble and mobile.

Honestly, when I set out to design Camp Pinetop, making a game for kids was not the focus. I prioritized making a game that I wanted to play. I also noticed it appealed to a wide age range. So I made sure to make it accessible to the people who kept coming by my table, whether they were in elementary school or retired.

How long has this game been in development?

The game in its current form has been in development for 3 years. But I have been playing around with the theme for probably 5 years now.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

What is clever and interesting mechanically vs. what is actually fun. I mentioned earlier the idea of travelling faster with less equipment vs travelling slower with more equipment. There was a pick-up-and-deliver aspect of the game very early on that I really liked. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fun when I tested it out, and so it had to be cut. I think a lot of designers struggle with this on a regular basis. But that’s a game that could be fun in another context, with that struggle at the center of it, just not in this one.

What did your first prototype look like?

I have a tupperware container of scraps of paper and wooden tokens of those early attempts, and I try very hard to not invest too much time in the final look in the early stages. Rather, just focusing on clear graphic design and maybe a fun table display for events. I do not always succeed in that restraint. At the midway point I started exploring different styles in the prototypes before settling on the final look.

Why did you get into making games?

I loved board games as a kid. My sister introduced me to a couple of more modern board games as an adult, and it sparked something in my brain. I started working up ideas for my own games immediately. The thought never really occurred to me before that, even though I’ve done a lot creatively up the that point. I’m very engaged by the balance of right-brain and left-brain tasks that are needed.

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

You can find more about me on my website stephenbdavies.com and get in touch with me through Twitter: @stephenbdavies

Talon Strikes Studios is the publisher that is helping me develop it and bring it to Kickstarter: TalonStrikes.com

You can find them on Twitter: @TalonStrikes

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Kickstarter of the Week: Big Easy Busking
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/weirdgiraffegames/big-easy-busking-0?ref=discovery&term=big%20easy%20busking

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

Big Easy Busking is an area control game for 1-5 players that plays in about 45 minutes for ages 8+

What is the elevator pitch? 

Big Easy Busking is an area control game for 1-5 players about being the best street musician in New Orleans. The game is played over three days, where players choose which locations to play their set of songs. It takes time to play a song, so players decide on their next turn whether they’re going to use all of their energy at the location or to only use some of it to save the rest for later songs. If a player matches the mood of the people with the song that they’re playing, they can get bonus tips!

Escalating Rounds: The game starts with three locations players can play at, but by the final round, there’s five locations so players have to choose where to play wisely! Engaging Gameplay: Players determine how much energy to allocate to each location after seeing how other players play, so players pay attention to what happens between their turns. Thematic Actions: Songs require differing amounts of energy from musicians and players are rewarded greatly for playing the songs that the crowd wants to hear.

When is your Kickstarter running until?

June 6th.

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

It is live on Kickstarter! Click here to check it out!

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

World’s Fair 1893

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

I’m the publisher, but I signed this game because it’s a really unique take on area control. In the game, you start playing your song at a crowd of your choice, but song playing takes time. So you don’t make a decision on how much energy you’re putting into the song until your next turn. This means that you have an idea of what your opponents are doing, but there’s always someone that surprises you. This makes the game so entertaining and replayable.

What was your design process like? 

I designed the solo portion of the game. My process for this always starts with trying to figure out the player interaction in the game and the different player types. Once I get an idea of the player types in the game, I try to create a different Robot that represents each player type.

I try to make the solo mode really easy to play, but still surprising. So I made the songs that Robot plays a deck of all the other player cards in the game. This created a lot of variety and it wouldn’t be known what the Robot would do, even though the Robot’s actions are easy to make happen. I then play the game over and over, to get the different difficulties right. Then I make sure that each Robot is different enough, easy to follow. Players can master each robot if you play enough and try enough different strategies.

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

Big Easy Busking is a truly unique and player friendly experience. With the wide player count and quick and intuitive gameplay, it should be a great fit for most families. Adding in the unique theme, friendly take on area control, and large amount of player interaction, it gets everyone engaged in what is happening, but not in the negative or attacking way, like a lot of games that have player interaction. 

How long has this game been in development?

Around 3 years.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game? 

I think the biggest obstacle I encountered while making this game was trying to find an artist. I really wanted to find an artist from New Orleans and I asked around and did a lot of searching, and ended up finding an artist living in New Orleans that I really liked! She agreed to do the artwork, but then had some sickness in the family that came up and wasn’t able to work on the project. I finally found an artist that I liked. Unfortunately, it was after months of searching and required going outside the New Orleans region. The final artwork seems to be really representative of the area, though, which I’m very happy about.

What did your first prototype look like? 

Cardstock and numbers! I tend to print out my prototypes, as my hand writing is terrible and even I can’t read it sometimes.

Why did you get into making games? 

I first got into games as a creative outlet, but I was hooked once I made my first prototype and saw how much fun the people that played the game had. I love being able to be part of the reason that people have more fun and I like to think I’m improving people’s lives this way.

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

Follow Weird Giraffe Games on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Board Game Geek or visit our website

We also have a Facebook Group called the Weird Giraffe Games Insiders where you can learn all the new things about Weird Giraffe Games, participate in contests, and earn prizes! 

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Kickstarter of the Week: Crumbs

I got a first look at Crumbs at the Boston Festival of Independent Games where it won Best In Show. There was always a crowd at the table to play and near the end of the day I was able to squeeze in and see it. It was worth the wait to see this cute park themed game. Crumbs is live on Kickstarter and will run until April 21st. Check out the Kickstarter here.

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

Crumbs is an area control/take-that game that takes 30-60 minutes to play. It is recommended for ages 10 and up.

What is the elevator pitch?

Those looking to crush their friends in a winner-takes-all battle for superiority and control will be delighted to find themselves duking it out in a fresh new setting: your ordinary city park. Players take on the role of either the ducks, pigeons, squirrels, or chipmunks. Each group of animals provides its own special abilities while players scuffle over the spaces in the park. Players try to gain the best position before the big crumb drop in which 20 crumbs are dropped onto the board, spreading out at random and turning the tides of power for better, or for worse.

When is your Kickstarter going live?

Tuesday March 26th

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

Complete! Of course, there’s the never ending stream of minor tweaks here and there when striving for perfection. But the game is in a really great place and is ready for production.

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

I want to say Crumbs is one-of-a-kind (and I truly believe it is!)

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

Well one day my friend was just like “I like pigeons. I want to make a game about pigeons.” You see, pigeons are a truly underrated animal, they’re always getting the short end of the stick. Everyone is always dismissing them as dirty sky-rats, which may have some truth to it (perhaps rats are a bit underrated as well, ey?). Well we came up with a basic concept for how the game would work, and Crumbs quickly became all about delivering a ferocious battling game in the cute unassuming guise of everyday park animals. The juxtaposition has really spoken to a lot of people.

What was your design process like?

It started with a simple concept: city park, paved paths separating the territories, crumbs dropping onto the board and animals fighting over the territories to get them. That was it! It just took a lot of trial and error and a lot of iterations and rule changes to get the game juuuuust right.

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

It’s FUN. You can set it up quickly, play in under an hour, and have blast demolishing your friends and family as a cute little chipmunk.

How long has this game been in development?

About 3 whole years!

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

So many. In game design, every time you change one little thing, the effect ripples through every aspect of it.

What did your first prototype look like?

It looked like the game Dominant Species because most of the pieces (including the box!) were from Dominant Species (fitting name, huh?). We utilized it’s wooden pieces and little wooden cubes, and drew our map directly onto the inside of the game cover with pencil. Back then there was no plastic fence pieces to keep the crumbs inside the game board, rather, we had the game board sitting inside of the bottom lid of a game box. It was so hard to see inside though! One 3D printer and many iterations later and I had a prototype as near to the real thing as could be!

Why did you get into making games?

I love playing games. What better way to spend my time than creating something I love! I want to make a variety of games that appeal to everyone. Ideas are constantly flowing and being bounced around for new and exciting projects.

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

To follow the progression of the game you can sign up for their email list at /https://www.tidbitgames.com/

Tidbit Games website: https://www.tidbitgames.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tidbitgamesllc/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tidbit.games/


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gamewright logo

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

Sushi Roll

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

Rat-a-Tat Roll

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

This Game Goes to Eleven

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

Bloom

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

Whozit?

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

Port-A-Party

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

Punto

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

Guju Guju

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

Quixx Deluxe

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

Twin It!

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

Dragon Realms

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

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

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

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

Follow us on Facebook!

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Top Ten Games from New York Toy Fair 2019

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

Bunny Kingdom in the Sky

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

Dragon Realm

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

Jedi Academy

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

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

Quirky Circuits

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

Snowman Dice

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

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

SkyMagic

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

Tic Tac Surprise

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

Dirty Pig

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

Zombi Kidz Evolution


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

Sushi Roll

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


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

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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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Coder Mindz is the latest programming game from the maker of Coder Bunnyz, nine year old Samaira Mehta along with her brother Aadit.  In Coder Mindz, you are a programmer of a bot in the year 2045.  Players create code and train their robot to “identify” images and collect data, using tokens represent the images and date.

Game Components

  • Code Cards
    • Basic Code Cards
      • Move  Forward, Move Right, Move Left, Move Any, Move Any 2
      • Zap
    • Advanced Code Cards
      • Conditional
      • Loop
      • Function
  • Tokens
  • Game Board
  • 6 Sided die with numbers 1-3
  • 4 Wooden Bots

 

Levels of Play

Coder Mindz has multiple levels of play which increase in complexity as you move through the levels.  Each level adds additional coding skills and strategies.

  1. Training
    • 1.1 Basic
    • 1.2 Advanced
  2. Image Recognition
    • 2.1 Inference
    • 2.2 Adaptive Learning
  3. Autonomous
    • 3.1 Basic
    • 3.2 Advanced

Gameplay

Overview

Like its predecessor, Coder Mindz has you using cards to program the motion of your Bot to land of their end point. There are multiple variants which increase in difficulty as you gain skills in the game.  Zap cards are also incorporated in multiple variants.  Zap cards send an opponent back to their starting space.

To play

  1. Players start their turn by rolling a sisix-sidedie which has the numbers one, two, and three on it. Then they draw the number of cards indicated by their roll.
  2. The active player determines the order they wish to use their cards, discarding any that are unplayable. A player may also play a Zap card during their turn at any point their Bot in a position allowing the use of a Zap.  However, a Zap card may only be used once per player per game.
  3. The player moves their Bot based on their program cards.
  4. The first player to get to their end point wins. The remaining players can continue playing to determine the second, third and fourth place.

Levels of Play Variations

In the Training mode, players start by becoming familiar with the Code Cards and how they can plan bot movement with basic Code Cards.  Advanced Code Cards are introduced only one per turn in Advanced Training.

Image Recognition incorporates one image token which is split into two pieces.  Players place the two pieces strategically on the board.  Before the bot reaches their endpoint they need to collect both image pieces. Players can scale the level of difficulty by adding or omitting advance function cards as well as Zap cards.

Autonomous mode of play has players plan their whole code before moving their Bot. Players then execute the code they developed correctly.  Players place the image tokens on the board.  They take turns rolling the die to determine how many cards to draw each turn.  Once determining the next steps of their code the cards are placed face down, so the players have to remember where it would put them on the board. Once a player thinks they have “programmed” their bot to collect the image tokens and arrive at their endpoint they announce that their code is complete.  The player then flips their cards over an follows the code to move their Bot.  If the code is successful the player wins, if not they have a chance to debug their code, but can not win the game.

Family Game Assessment

Coder Mindz presents the concepts of coding in an accessible format for a young player, but it is also engaging for older players.  Having three modes of play with two levels of difficulty at each level makes the game easy to scale based on the age of the players as well as the experience they have with creating code.

I introduced Coder Mindz to two 6-year-olds at a family gathering, and both kids picked up the basic game within minutes.  They were so engaged and excited by the game they wanted to play again as soon as our robots got to their endpoints.

Of the coding games I have had the opportunity to play, Coder Mindz is the most streamlined and easy to learn.  The limited number of variants keep it from being overwhelming, and the components are easy to manage for younger players.

Educational Applications

This is a great tool for teaching code at any age.  The Bots are adorable and engaging for players of all ages.  The Autonomous Mode is challenging and demonstrates the accuracy and precision needed in writing code.

Conclusion

Coder Mindz is a great introduction to coding by using cards to program motion.  Of the coding games in my library this is my favorite.

FCC Disclosure: A copy of Coder Mindz was provided for review.

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Tournament of Towers is a dexterity game from Iron Hippo Games where players try to draft the best pieces using cards to create the highest scoring tower.  Players have the role to build the greatest monument for the kingdom of Geometria. This game was originally funded on Kickstarter and is now available for retail. The game is for players age five and up and can play two to four players.

Game Components

  • 4 Foundation Pieces
  • 4 Architect Figures
  • 40 Stone Pieces
  • 20 Gold Pieces
  • 60 Building Material Cards
  • 1 Event Die

Gameplay

Tournament of Towers incorporates a drafting component into the dexterity and strategy of building your tower.  Additionally, there are multiple rule variants.

Standard Rules

The game plays in two rounds.   The game begins by distributing a foundation piece and Architect figure to each player.

In each round, you start by shuffling the building material cards and dealing seven cards to each player.  Players then draft the cards.  To do this each player chooses one card from their hand and places it face-down in front of them.  Then they pass their remaining hand to the person on their left. Again, they choose a card from their new hand and pass the remaining cards to the left.  Drafting continues until all cards have been used.  Next, each player designates their building order. This is done by placing their cards in a row, and the building order is read left to right.  Then, there is the option to roll an event.  Depending on the round different events occur such as changing the order of your Building material cards or moving a piece from the player to your right and add it to your tower.

Once all players finalize their building material cards, they gather the pieces shown on their cards and build their towers in the order of the building cards. Players have the option to add their Architect figure to the top of their tower to gain an additional point. Players call out “Done” when their tower is complete. Which ends the round for them.  If the tower falls between rounds it is considered a Mulligan and can be rebuilt.

A Mulligan is where a player is permitted to fix their tower by placing the pieces in approximately the same places they were before it falls.

Rule Variants

Simplifying

To scale down the challenge level deal out fewer cards which result in placing fewer pieces.  The recommendation is to only deal four or five cards and add an extra mulligan.

Family Style

Family Style tower building becomes a cooperative game.  Players construct until the collectively decide the tower is complete and a masterpiece worthy of the King and Queen of Geometria or until the tower falls.  Players begin by shuffling the whole deck.  On their turn, a player draws to cards and decides which one to play. The piece placed corresponds to that card.  The selected card is placed in the discard pile and the unused card is placed at the bottom of the deck.

Ultimate Tower

Using a single foundation piece the player or players are challenged to create a tower using all the pieces of the game.

Apprentice Rule

In this variant, players may use one Mulligan per round to fix their tower if a piece falls.

Competitive play

Players place each piece of their tower one at a time in turn.  For example, each player individually places their third piece, and unlike in other modes of play, the turns are not done simultaneously.

Family Gaming Assessment

The beauty of Tournament of Towers as a family game is its flexibility and how easy it is to learn. It took the family only a few minutes to learn the game and start playing. The ease of learning makes is a game that is perfect for a family party.  The rules can be scaled to the skill level of the players. The rules recommend that that novice players use fewer cards per round and add Mulligans.

Children as young as 5 can certainly access and enjoy this game, but the children I played with struggled to complete a tower after the first round when we played standard rules. Later we played by the simplified rules by playing fewer cards per round. The game became much more accessible and less frustrating for the kids.  As we were getting to know the balance features of each of the pieces there were also unlimited Mulligans.

For anyone looking for some STEM activities for their children Tournament of Towers incorporates engineering.   The Ultimate Tower challenge is a perfect example of a STEM task when there is an end goal and components and the player problem solve and work through how to balance all the pieces.

Conclusion

Price: $59.99
Was: $79.99

Tournament of Towers is a unique game with wonderful components.  The pieces of this game provide such a range of open ended opportunities. It is accessible for a huge range of players. The rules are so simple and the gamplay so quick making it a great fit to family gatherings and game nights.

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

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

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Blurble is a game all about racing and talking.  So many of us love to talk and this gives us the chance to put that talking to good use. In Blurble, players race to say a word first that starts with the same letter as the picture on the card. North Star Games published Blurble, which takes about 15 minutes to play, is recommended for ages 8 and up and plays 4-8 players

Game Components

Blurble contains 348 colorful cards with a wide range of pictures. An Exercises booklet included gives many ideas for other ways to use the cards beyond the game.

Gameplay

To begin a round, players select one player as the Blurber.  This person puts the deck between them and the player to their left.  First, the top card is flipped over, and then two players then go head to head racing to first shout out a legal word starting with the same letter as the picture. The other players act as referees. They determine who said their word first and if it meets the criteria to be a legal word. The card goes to the winner, and the card scores a point. The Blurber then moves to next player clockwise around the table until that Burbler has raced every player.

The next round begins by moving the roll of Blurber to the left.  Play continues until all players have been the Blurber twice in a 4-6 player game or once in a 7 and 8 player game. The player with the most points wins.  The rules also state that in the case of a tie the youngest player wins.

The criteria that qualifies what is a legal word in this game is very straight forward.  First the word must start with the same letter as the picture. Secondly, the word must be in English. Finally, each word is only playable once per game.  Additionally for the restrictions the word cannot be; a proper noun, a number, an acronym, or have any part of the name or the card or answer overlap (for example rain and rainbow).

Rule Variants

The rules also offer multiple rules variants. There are two  variants for playing with younger children against an older player.  The first suggestions are that the younger player does not have the same restrictions on their words, just that it begins with the same letter.  The second variant has the younger player following the standard word rules, but the older player has additional restrictions, such as it must be a noun.

Game play variants can add some different flavor to the game.  The variants include; King of the Hill, The Thief, and The Brainiac. 

  • King of the Hill: Each race winner becomes the Blurber. The game plays to 10 points.  
  • The Thief:  All players may jump in when an illegal word is used and try and steal the card by providing a legal.
  • The Brainiac: Players further limit the criteria on what makes a legal word for all players.

Family Gaming Assessment

Blurble allows play with multiple ages and skills by adjusting the criteria of a legal word, and the recommended ages 8 and up and without any changes that age works well.  In playing with a kindergartener (age 5), he could not come up with a word quickly so for children who are pre-readers or beginning readers this may require some customization of the rule to best use the game. Blurble takes minutes to teach and can play up to 8 players making it great for a gathering of family or friends.  Scaling criteria of a legal word accommodate multiple skill levels within the same game.

I think it is an asset of the game that the rules can be so adapted and flexible.  The one rule I encountered, which I questioned is the rule in the event of a tie. The rules state that in that instance the youngest player would win.  In this case I disagree with that default. I would much prefer a final head to head between the two players to determine a winner. Choosing the youngest player to win is arbitrary. The rule could just as easily said the player with the longest hair wins in the event of a tie.   

Educational Exercises

Blurble contains a booklet labeled Educational Exercises. Within it explains other uses of the cards in Blurble as an educational tool for parents and teachers.  Activities are categorized by type, and then further broken down by age.  As a primary teacher, I found these great ideas to utilize the cards in a range of other activities. The activities include Object Identification/Vocabulary, Spelling, Storytelling, Identifying Characteristics, Information Retrieval, and Group games. These activities range for ages 2 (with object identification) to age 11 with storytelling. The activities suggested could be helpful for Home School lessons, centers in a classroom, or skill reinforcement at home.

The educational opportunities are quite extensive with the range of quality pictures on the cards.  There are additional possibilities for educational activities using the Blurble cards beyond the Educational Exercise suggestions.  Some possibilities include sorts, phonic feature identifications, and story starters.

Conclusion

Blurble tailors to accommodate multiple skills and ages within the same game and provides a great deal of flexibility on how to play. This is a good party game with the ease of learning, and the player count up to 8.  The additional educational activities available utilizing the game cards exponentially adds the opportunities to interact with the components of the game.

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