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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many well-known games: Set Collection

Set collecting is such a ubiquitous feature in games, while a game may also have other mechanics, often set collecting is also incorporated.

In set collection players are gathering certain collections of a given item, often represented on cards. These collections have a designated value in the game or allow opportunity in the game.

Examples of set collection within a game.

In Sushi Go, which is primarily a Card Drafting game, certain cards score more points when collected in a set. For example, Sashimi cards score 10 points when a player has a set of three. Should a player only have one or two they score no points.

The game Mystic Market has players gathering different ingredients. When they collect a designated number of the same ingredient they can be sold. Players can also collect sets of ingredients to create potions.

Examples of Popular Games with Set Collection

  • Ticket to Ride
  • Splendor
  • Pandemic
  • Forbidden Island
  • Azul
  • Wingspan
  • Dragonwood

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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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!

The EFG Essentials

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A Nessie pokes their head above the water.. then another appears…and another…and another. See if your monster can dominate the loch in this family strategy game Block Ness. In this game you’re using three dimensional pieces to try to add on to your monster and create the longest monster.

Buy Block Ness on Amazon!

Game Overview

  • Age 8+
  • 2 to 4 Players
  • Playtime: 15 minutes

Game components

  • Game board (pegboard style)
  • 4 sets of 12 loch monster pieces

Game play

Players begin with only the head and tail of their monster in the water. On their turn players add one piece onto their monster, either at the head end or the tail end. Once you place the new monster segment, move the head or tail piece to indicate the end of the creature. Players must make sure that their new pieces their pieces are adjacent to one of the head or tails of their monster. The pieces must be placed horizontally or vertically. Players will need to cross over other pieces of competing monsters, but they must be a taller height than the piece they are going over.

A player is out when the they no longer can place a piece to the head or tail of their monster. This occurs when there are no more available pegs, or your monster is blocked by other monster pieces.

The size of the play space also scales based on the number of players. The shade of blue indicated the play space, so fewer players have a smaller space they are competing to take over.

One tip we found very helpful was to sort all the pieces by size. Sorting the pieces shortest to tallest it allows players monitor what pieces remain. This helps strategizing how to use those to best build their monster.

Family Game Assessments

Block Ness is a wonderful family game. The rules are easy to learn, but with a plethora of strategy incorporated into the game. We have played with a mix of adults and kids and everyone was able to pick it up quickly. It was so natural for the kids one of them actually won the game.

While there is player elimination, it occurs very late in the game. Typically there is only another turn or two before the game is over. Gameplay is fast and a whole game usually is 15 to 20 minutes.

This is a fun light game that is great for any collection.

Final Thoughts

If you want a light family strategy game, Block Ness fits that need. It is easy to play with a range of ages and skill levels within the same game.


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!

The EFG Essentials

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The Engaged Family Gaming team has the mission to provide information and support families who want to play board games with their kids (and video games too). We work hard to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about their children’s gaming. To facilitate this, we help parents who might not be “gamers” themselves learn to understand the games their children are playing and help them find great board games for their kids.

The “EFG Essentials” is a core collection of games we frequently recommend across different genres. The purpose of these essentials is to provide a starting point for families to engage with high-quality games. Below are our EFG Essential board games for kids.

Ticket to Ride 

  • Route Building and Set collection 
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Ticket to Ride on Amazon!

Ticket To Ride is the quintessential starting place for families looking for the next level in board games beyond Monopoly or Uno. This is the game that was the starting point for multiple members of the EFG team to become passionate about board games.

During gameplay, players collect and play matching train cards to claim railway routes connecting cities throughout the United States. Each player is working on completing their own secret routes. If another player claims a path they need, the player needs to try and find another path to complete their route, if possible. This also adds a potential “take that” element to the game.

On each turn you can only take one of 3 actions: draw Train Car Cards, claim a Route between two cities on the board, draw additional Destination Tickets. The object of the game is to score the highest number of total points. Points are earned from completing routes, and lost for incomplete route cards. Each round allows for players to plan, think strategically, and make tactical decisions.

Ticket to Ride has expansions for other geographical areas (EuropeAsiaIndia, etc), in addition to First Journey for younger players. We love the fact that this game has so many version and appeals to such a wide range of players.

  • See our review of Ticket to Ride here.
  • See our review of Ticket to Ride First Journey here.

Sushi Go

  • Card drafting 
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Sushi Go on Amazon!

Sushi-Go takes place in the fast-paced world of a sushi chef, you must be the most creative and the fastest of all to be the best! The game comes in a cute tin and plays two to five players.

Players start with cards in their hand based on the number of players, and select one card to play before passing the rest of their cards to the next player to choose from!  The game plays in 3 rounds, where all but dessert cards are cleared from the table and scored at the end.  The strategy of the game lies in making the most of the cards passed to you, while trying to stop opponents from making the combinations they need to maximize points. The most interesting dynamic of this game is the chopsticks.  They are played in one round, and used on a subsequent turn to play two cards at once from the current hand.  The chopsticks get passed on to be used by someone else.

Sushi Go! is a fun game to play with anyone, and it is a light streamlined game that is a perfect first card drafting game.

See our review here.

The Crew

  • Trick Taking, Cooperative Strategy
  • 3-5 players
  • Age 10+

Buy The Crew on Amazon!

Multiple award winner, the 2020 Kennerspiel Des Jahres and 2021 American Tabletop Casual Game, the Crew combines two unique gaming styles, cooperative game play and trick taking. Players take on the roll of a space crew trying to complete missions. The rule books tells the story of each mission as well as the conditions players need to follow to succeed. Once a mission is completes successfully players can move on to the next mission. The game has 50 mission, which increase in intensity both within the story and in the requirements needed to be successful.

The Crew does a great job of adding small elements to each mission to make the difficulty increase, but it is done in a gradual way that keeps the game approachable for families. For a small game, and modest number of components there is a lot of game packed into the small box.

Abandon All Artichokes

  • Deck Builder (Deck Deconstruction)
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 10+

Buy Abandon All Artichokes on Amazon!

Winner of the 2021 American Tabletop Early Gamers category, Abandon All Artichokes has you build your hand of garden vegetables by deconstructing your deck of artichokes. In Abandon All Artichokes, players start with a hand of all artichoke cards. The goal is to abandon their artichoke cards and create a hand with other vegetables from the garden.

This is a great deck builder game for players new to that style of game, and has been referred to as a “my first deck builder” While the game is rated for age 10 and up this is a game that can scale down to slightly younger players. The non-artichoke vegetable cards have text with the actions the card allows, so young players being able to read the cards is helpful.

Qwixx

  • Roll and Write
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Quixx on Amazon!

Qwixx is a simple roll and write where all players participate in every dice roll. However, you must be strategic about the numbers and colors you select each turn. Roll and write games have a set of dice and each player has a scoring sheet. The genre of roll and write games have become more popular in the last few years, and Qwixx is the perfect game to learn the genre.

To play, there are six dice, two white, one yellow, one red, one blue, and one green. On a turn, the active player rolls and announces the total of the two white dice. All players have the option to mark any color on their sheet with the corresponding number.  The active player only has the additional option to add one white die with any one of the red, yellow, blue, or green dice to select a number on their record sheet. The more numbers you can mark off the more points you score, but players must choose carefully once you cross off a number you can not go backwards.

Kingdomino

  • Tile Laying
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Kingdomino on Amazon!

Kingdomino, the 2017 winner of The Spiel Des Jahres (The Game of the Year), and combines the universal simplicity of dominoes with kingdom building. It is a tile drafting and placement game for two to four players.  The game is played in short rounds.

First, tiles are laid out in a field and players take turns drafting tiles based on the order of the previous round. Players draw domino shaped tiles and lay them out in their 5×5 block kingdom. only one side of their domino needs to match the land the connect to, but it can gain them more points if both sides match. The goal is to sort their kingdom so that they have large contiguous terrain (lakes, forests, etc) to earn points. Points are calculated by taking the number of continuous terrain times the number of crown icons found on any domino in that terrain. The gameplay is quick, easy to teach, and the game ages down very nicely.

See our Spiel Des Jahres 2017 article here.

Forbidden Island

  • Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 10+

Buy Forbidden Island on Amazon!

Forbidden Island puts players on an island that is slowly sinking into the ocean, and they need to work together to gather treasures then escape. Each turn is filled with tension as players flip over cards that indicate which tile will sink (and thus shrink the board). As the game progresses it really feels like the world is sinking.

The tiles are laid out in a set island pattern, and six cards are flipped from the Flood Deck. As cards are drawn from the Flood Deck, the corresponding tile on the board is flipped over to a blue tinted version of the same piece. This represents the location “flooding”. If a flooded location floods a second time (via the same flood card being drawn later in the game), that location is lost to the abyss and both the tile and the corresponding flood card are removed from the game. 

The randomness of the tile layout as the board leads to huge variety and replay value, as does the multiple combinations of adventurer play styles (especially in combination). The difficulty can be scaled to all abilities based on how high the water level starts the game, and even at the easy setting can provide a decent challenge for some of the most experienced gamers.

See our review here.

Pandemic

  • Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Pandemic on Amazon!

In Pandemic, two to four players take on one of several roles, such as Medic, Dispatcher, or Researcher, in their quest to cure 4 diseases before time runs out and humanity is wiped out.

Game play follows a standard turn-based approach. Each player starts their turn by drawing from an event deck to determine where the newest infections are.  Then, they use location cards to move around the globe, treating diseases to prevent outbreaks.  Finally, they draw more location cards to restock their hand.  If a player can get three location cards of a single color and can get to a lab, they can create a cure.  The cure that won’t immediately eradicate the disease. Rather, it will make the disease easier to treat.

There is one way to win (working together to cure all 4 diseases), and multiple ways to lose (running out of time, being overwhelmed by diseases, etc.)  Players can change the difficult by increasing the starting number of infections.

See our review here.

Tsuro

  • Tile Laying
  • 2-8 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Tsuro on Amazon!

Tsuro is a tile laying game for two to eight players with a beautiful Asian aesthetic. In this game you are a flying dragon. Your dragon is represented by a colored carved token. Tsuro consists of tiles with twisting lines on them, a 6×6 grid on which to lay these tiles and a token for each player.

Each player has a hand of tiles. On your turn you do two things: place a tile from your hand onto the board next to your token and move your token as far as it can go along the line it is currently on. You continue to move it until it is stopped by an empty space with no tile in (yet), the edge of the board, or if you collide with player’s token. If your dragon reaches the edge of the board or collides with another player’s token, you are out of the game.

The goal of the game is to be the last player left with a dragon on the board. The strategy, therefore, consists of trying to drive your opponents either into each other or off of the board while trying to extend your own route in directions that will make it difficult for your opponents to hinder your path.

See our review here.

Zombie Kids Evolution

  • Legacy/ Cooperative
  • For 2-4 Players
  • Ages 7+

Buy Zombie Kids Evolution on Amazon!

Your successes or failors affect the game in your future plays of the game, in Zombie Kidz Evolution. This is a perfect first step into Legacy games. Legacy games are played over a series of sessions and what occurrences in previous sessions permanently changes the game and can influence the next events in the game. In Zombie Kidz Evolution you are working together to protect yourselves and drive off the zombies in the school. All the staff at the school zombies. The rules start off very simply, and as the game progresses new rules and abilities are added.

Happy Salmon

  • Party Game
  • 3-8 players
  • Age 6+

Buy Happy Salmon on Amazon!

Happy Salmon is a great game for motivating your family to get up, laugh, and shout their way through a game. You can even buy two copies (there are two different color versions) so you can get up to 8 players. A hand of cards is dealt to the players who stand around a table.

Players draw a card from their deck and say the name of the action trying to find another player with a matching card. If no one has the same card they put it at the bottom of their deck, but if they find a match the two players perform the action and discard the card in front of them. The actions of Happy Salmon include: High Five, Fish Bump, Switch it up (where players switch places), and Happy Salmon (where players slap arms together) will leave players doubled over in laughter.  The first player to run out of cards wins.

Exploding Kittens

  • Player Elimination and Hand Management
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 7+

Buy Exploding Kittens on Amazon!

Exploding Kittens is one of the silliest games in our collection, and is a family favorite. There are fifty-six cards in the deck. The artwork is exactly what you may have come to expect from The Oatmeal. Characters such as Taco Cat and Beard Cat make an appearance alongside original artwork on each card. The game play is quite simple; the box claims it takes two minutes to learn. They weren’t kidding.

You can play as many cards as you like and you end your turn by drawing a card. If the card is an exploding kitten and you cannot defuse it you are out of the game. The last person standing wins. That’s it. The game really is that simple. The design is such that you never need to reshuffle the discard pile into the deck. There will always be a winner by the time the cards run out. 

This game is a lot more fun than one might think it would be. It plays very quickly and is very easy to learn.

Check out the review here.

Evolution: The Beginning

  • Engine Building
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Evolution: The Beginning on Amazon!

The Evolution Series by North Star Games has multiple games in this line. In the Evolution games you are evolving your creatures with various traits to help their survival. Each animal needs to have enough food or they die out and can go extinct. There is something for everyone in this series. For elementary age students you can start with Evolution: The Beginning. This is a simplified and streamlined version of the game good for ages eight and up. For older children: Evolution, Flight (which is an expansion), Climate, and Oceans.

The Evolution: The Beginnings the perfect lighter family game. It has streamlined the game elements of the Evolution series. For players new to engine building board games this gives a framework for that genre of game that is easy to understand. An engine building game is where the players are building something that will ultimately produce points for them in the game. The theme of Evolution is also very engaging to a wide range of players, and can be played with a wirde range of players.

Block Ness

  • Area Control/Basic Resource Management
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Block Ness on Amazon !

Loch Ness Monsters are taking over the Loch, in Block Ness by Blue Orange Games. Players are vying for the limited space and trying to make their monster the longest before running out of room. To keep space limited and challenging at all player counts the number of players impacts the size of the loch (play space).

Each player gets 12 segments of their color monster, including a head and tail. Each segment is slightly different, they vary both in length and height. As players add to their monster, they can place a new piece horizontally or vertically only. Monster pieces can also (and eventually will need to) go over other monster pieces. The must be taller than the existing piece to cross over.

Block Ness is a great family game, and it plays well multi generational. The rules are very easy to learn and only takes 15 minutes to play, making it a great addition to family game collections.

Splendor

  • Engine Building
  • 2-4
  • Age 10+

Buy Splendor on Amazon !

Splendor

Blending a  balance of easy to learn rules and deeper strategy, Splendor is a fantastic game for older children and grown-ups alike. Splendor is a simple and elegant set collection game for two to four players. This is a game that is easy to teach, quick to learn, and will take a long time to master. The bottom line here; Asmodee has a huge hit on their hands as this has become one of our family’s favorite games.

In Splendor, players take on the role of Renaissance jewelers who are working to build their prestige and attract the attention of wealthy noble patrons. They do this by gathering resource tokens and spending them on development cards that represent new designs, tools, mining operations, and store fronts. The game is essentially a race to fifteen prestige points. Players acquire gems in order to buy mines, which in turn provide more gems (and ultimately points). While the gem-dealer theme may feel thin at times, the card drafting mechanic and  engine-building gameplay will quickly make this a family game night staple.

Check out our review! 

Skyjo

  • Set collection
  • 2-8 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Skyjo on Amazon!

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.

Players receive cards face down at the beginning of the round they reveal three 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 1 player has revealed all 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.

Check out our review here.

Drop It

  • Dexterity/ Abstract Strategy
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 8+

Buy Drop It on Amazon!

Some of the best family games are easy to learn, but hard to master. Drop It has very simple rules and can be taught in minutes, yet has enough strategy within the simple rules to keep it engaging for all members of the family. Do not be deceived by the bright primary colors of the game, Drop It is more than a kids game!

In Drop It, each player has a collection of shapes in one color, and players drop them down the vertical game board to try and score points. The challenge come in meeting the criteria to score points. Along the side and the bottom there are colors (or shapes depending on the set up you select) and if your piece touches the side of the same color it does not score any points. Pieces also may not land touching another piece of a matching shape or color. The player with the most points when they run out of shapes wins.

King of Tokyo

  • Push Your Luck 
  • 2-6 Players 
  • Age 8+

Buy King of Tokyo on Amazon!

Attacking Aliens, Rampaging Lizards, Giant Robots, Mutant Bugs, and Ferocious Gorillas: this game has them all! King of Tokyo is a game for two to six players that combines a board game, a dice game and a card game. You play as one monster whose main goals are to destroy Tokyo and battle other monsters in order to become the one and only King of Tokyo!

At the beginning of the turn, each player rolls six dice. The dice show the following symbols: numbers 1, 2, or 3 (representing Victory Points that can be earned), a lightning bolt (representing Energy that can be earned), a heart (representing Healing), and a claw (representing Attack). The player with the most Attack dice goes first (the fiercest). Each turn consists of 4 steps: rolling and re-rolling the dice, resolving the dice, buying cards and using their effects, and the end of turn decision.

The fiercest player will occupy Tokyo, and earn extra victory points, but that player can’t heal and must face all the other monsters alone! When you add in cards that can have a permanent or temporary effect, like growing a second head, body armor, nova death ray, etc., you get a VERY exciting game. In order to win the game, one must either destroy Tokyo by accumulating 20 victory points, or be the only surviving monster once the fighting has ended.

See our review here.

Fire Tower

  • Area Control and Hand Management
  • 2-4 Players
  • Age 14+

Buy Fire Tower on Amazon!

Most fire fighting games are cooperative, but in the game Fire Tower, you compete with other players to protect your fire tower from the fire and spread the fire to your opponent’s tower.

Players are working to defend their Fire Tower, the nine squares in the corner of the board, and to breach their opponents. In the Fire Tower squares fire can spread, but water and fire breaks can not be used. Players take  a range of actions depending on the card they play. There are Fire cards that spread the fire regardless of wind direction.  Water cards put out the fire in a small area. Fire Break cards create areas the fire is unable to burn, but may not be added to adjacent spots with a Fire Break. Once fire reaches the orange square in the corner that player is eliminated. The player with the last unburned tower wins.

See our preview from when this was on Kickstarter here.

Dragoon

  • Area Majority/Influence
  • 2-4
  • Age 13+

Buy Dragoon on Amazon!

Dragoon, by Lay Waste Games, is a game where players take on the role of mighty dragons that are competing to build their treasure hoards on a remote island. Dragoon is a game that squeezes a lot of strategy out of a very small rule set. The game board is a cloth map and the components can come as metal or plastic. the Metal pieces are stunning and give the game a unique elegance.

A game of Dragoon takes place over a series of rounds. Each of these rounds has three different phases: Populate, Action, and Tribute. The goal in Dragoon is to be the first player to accumulate more than 50 gold at the end of the turn. Players do this by moving around the gorgeous map and choosing to either claim or destroy the settlements that pop up across it. Claiming a settlement gives a chance for gold each turn based on a die roll. Destroying it grants an immediate gold increase.

See our review here.

For Young Gamers

Rhino Hero

  • Dexterity
  • 2-5 players
  • Age 5+

Buy Rhino Hero on Amazon!

Rhino Hero is a competitive  3-D stacking game where players are building a tower of cards and moving Rhino Hero up the tower.  This is a great games for younger players and involves no reading.

This dexterity game directs players were the wall cards need to go on each turn.  Players have wall and ceiling tiles.  On their turn, the player first builds the wall in the place indicated on the ceiling tile and then place their ceiling tile.  Actions indicated on some of the ceiling tiles and those benefit the player, such as skipping the next player.  The game ends when the tower fall, a player places their last roof card, or all the walls are built. 

Animal Upon Animal

  • Dexterity
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 4+

Buy Animal Upon Animal on Amazon!

Animal Upon Animal is a dexterity game perfect for young games, where players are stacking wooden animal pieces.  On a turn, players roll a special die to determine what happens on their turn. If the player rolls one pip they add one animal, two pips the add two animals, the crocodile image has the player place one animal on the table touching one side of the base animals, therefore further expanding the base. The hand icon has the active player choose one of their animals and give it to another player who then has to add it to the stack. Finally the question mark icon has the other players determine which animal the active player has to add to the stack.

Should animals fall off while a player is trying to add one to the stack, the player who was placing the animals takes them if there are one or two that fall. Should more than two fall one two are kept and the rest returned to the box.The game ends when a player runs out of animals to stack, and the last player to place their piece can declare victory.

Hiss

  • Tile Laying
  • 2-5
  • Age 4+

Buy Hiss on Amazon!

Hiss is a competitive game perfect for very young gamers, where players draw tiles and try and build the longest snakes.  Each snake has different colors and players need to match the colors for adjacent snake pieces.  To build a complete snake they need to have a head, at least one middle body segment, and a tail. This is a game that easily scales down to the youngster players.

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel

  • Set Collection
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 3+

Buy Sneaky Snacky Squirrel on Amazon!

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game is where you are collecting acorns to feed your hungry squirrel.  At the beginning of each turn you spin the spinner and that dictated the color acorn you can take or if another event occurs.  If a player lands on a storm cloud their acorns get blown back onto the tree. A sad squirrel means you lose a turn.  The thieving squirrel picture allows the player to steal one acorn from another player. The first person to fill their log with acorns wins.

This is a great simple game for very young gamers.

Hoot Owl Hoot

  • Cooperative
  • 2-4 players
  • Age 4+

Buy Hoot Owl Hoot on Amazon!

Hoot Owl Hoot is a cooperative game where players work to bring the owls back to the nest.  The goal is to get all the owls back before the sun comes up.  Each player has three cards dealt in front of them.  Players choose a color card to play, and draws a card to refill at the end of their turn.  With a color card the player selects an owl and move it to the next corresponding space of that color. If a player has a sun card they must play it, and the sun moves one space on the tracker. The difficulty can be increased by adding more owls to put back in the nest.


The EFG Essentials are reviewed and updated every few months to make sure we have the most current information for our readers. Last updated 7/31/21.


The EFG Essential Guide Collections

Check out our other Essentials Guides for great collections of games!

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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The holidays are approaching quickly and some amazing new games have come out this year. There are so many more games than we can fit into one article, so if you need more ideas check out the links at the bottom to our Essential Board Games that may inspire your gift shopping.

Games for the Whole Family

These games are easy to learn, and perhaps hard to master games that can be enjoyed by a wide range of players. These games are great for multi age game play and a range of gaming experience.

Here to Slay

  • Age 10+
  • 2-6 Players
  • Playtime 30-60 Minutes

Table top roleplay game meets a simple and quick family card game. Players choose a champion at the beginning of the game and gather a party of heroes to defeat monsters. In this competitive game, you can also thwart your opponents by playing certain cards. To win, players need to gather a full party of six heroes, or defeat three monsters. For those who love Dungeons and Dragons or high fantasy, this gives you the flavor without the time investment.

Happy City

  • Age 10+
  • 2-5 Players
  • Playtime 30 Minutes

Happy City! is a building strategy city building card game. Players buy buildings so they can attract residents and earn income to expand. But watch out for the happiness of your residents, because that is what your final score is based on!

Super Mega Lucky Box

  • Age 8+
  • 1-6 Players
  • Playtime 20 Minutes

Super Mega Lucky Box takes some of the elements of Bingo and adds all kinds of twists and special powers. Players are trying to cross off the numbers on their boards each round and get bonuses. These are unlocked for completing row, and include moons, lightning bolts, stars, and numbers, each with a special ability After four rounds points are tallied to determine the winner.

Yokai- The Game of Mystical Spirits

  • Age 8+
  • 2-8 Players
  • Playtime 20 Minutes

Challenge your memory as you try to reunite the spirits. In Yokai- The Game of Mystical Spirits. Reunite the sprits correctly before the game ends, then reveal if you have succeeded or not!

BlockNess

  • Age 8+
  • 2-4 Players
  • Playtime 15 Minutes

The Loch is only so big and the monsters are battling for space. This strategy game from Blue Orange games players add to their monster segment by segment with the goal to add the most segments onto their monsters.

The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land

  • Age 8+
  • 1-4 Players
  • Playtime 20 Minutes

Lucky Llama Land Amusement park has been the victim of sabotage, but thankfully crisis was averted at the last minute. Now the saboteurs need to be found. Players need to examine the clues; such as witness statements, forensics, and investigation file to generate a number code and use the key to capture the saboteurs.

If You Like…

There are some old favorites that publishers re-imagine, add a new theme, or add a next chapter to the story. Many times these games can become our new favorites.

Kingdomino Origins

  • Age 8+
  • 2-4 Players
  • Playtime 25 Minutes

The award winning game Kingdomino has gone even further back in time to prehistoric days! Kingdomino Origins introduces new components and three game modes: fire and volcanoes, wooden resources, and cavemen. Points are earned by collecting resources, players earn additional points when they have the majority of a resources.

The Crew Mission Deep Sea

  • Age 10+
  • 2-5 Players
  • Playtime 20 Minutes (per mission)

Search for the lost city of Mu beneath the ocean depth with in this sequel to the award winning game. Using a unique, and easy to learn cooperative trick-taking gameplay the players take on different missions to tell the story. Completing each hand under certain conditions completes each mission and advances you through the story on your search for Mu.

Lost Cities Roll and Write

  • Age 8+
  • 2-5 Players
  • Playtime 30 Minutes

Journey on an expedition in this roll and write game, in the next chapter of Lost Cities. Each turn, roll the dice and decide if you are starting a new expedition or continuing one. Carful that your expedition does not get stuck or you will loose points.

Exploding Minions

  • Age 7
  • +2-5 Players
  • Playtime 15 Minutes

The silliness of Exploding Kittens, but only with Minions. Just like in Exploding Kittens, players keep drawing cards and get eliminated as the Exploding Minion is drawn. A new twist is added to this version with a Clone card.

Throw Throw Avocado

  • Age 7+
  • 2-5 Players
  • Playtime 15 Minutes

Dodgeball and card game are a combination we saw in Throw Throw Burrito. Now the nonsense ensues with avocados. Collect sets of card to score points, but watch out for flying avocados. Extra cards are included to combine this with Throw Throw Burrito.

Sticky Cthukhu

  • Age 6+
  • 2-6 Players
  • Playtime 15 Minutes

The crazy chaos of Sticky Chameleon gets a new theme with Sticky Chameleons. In this game players use a long sticky “tentacle” to grab creatures. A roll of the two dice determines the color and creature to capture. But beware the investigators! Gather the most Deep Ones tokens to win the game.

Games for Younger Gamers

Hedgehog Roll

  • Age 4+
  • 1-4 Players
  • Playtime 20 Minutes

Rolling hedgehogs elicit a cute factor beyond measure. In Hedgehog Roll players roll the fuzzy hedgehog ball to collect leaves, pinecones and flowers. They ten move the number of spaces on the board equal to the number of objects picked up. The game can be played cooperatively to outrun a fox or competitively to race each other.Play

Slappy Camper

  • Age 5+
  • 2-4 Players
  • Playtime 5-10 Minutes

Time to pack the camper. Flip the cards to see the next item to pack into your camper, and use the marshmallow stick to smack the right item. First to smack the item can pack it, but be careful smacking the wrong item can cause you to unpack. Win by being the first to fill the camper.

Paco’s Party

  • Age 5+
  • 2-6 Players
  • Playtime 5-15 Minutes

Paco’s birthday party was a blast and tons of pictures were taken, but not everyone was in each picture. Players call out the missing character in each picture to get rid of their cards. If all the characters are there call it out while dancing like Paco, but the last one to dance has to add all the played cards to their hand. First to get rid of their hand of cards wins.

Games for the Littlest Gamers

My Very First Games: Rhino Hero Jr.

  • Age 2+
  • 1-4 Players
  • Playtime 10-20 Minutes

Time for superhero training. In this beginner version of Rhino Hero Jr. children can practice the basic skills of fine motor, memory, and basic understanding of numbers and counting one to five with three mini games. Additional suggestions to support your child’s development of these concepts is included in the rulebook.

My Very First Games: Construction Site

  • Age 2+
  • 1-4 Players
  • Playtime 5-10 Minutes

Time to work together on the construction site. In this beginner game, players work together to build a house by flipping over cardboard chips to determine the next piece to move. The game comes with a Kullerbu-compatible truck players use to move the pieces. Additionally, a read aloud story is included to help support the idea of what they are building.

For More Gift Ideas


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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to board and card games: Godzilla the Board/Deck

Godzilla the Board/ Deck is a term used in board and card games to describe the action of knocking the items askew. If a player Godzillas the deck, they have knocked a pile or piles of cards over. To Godzilla the board is to knock over or displace tiles, meeples, cubes, or other game components.

When playing games with kids or clumsy adults (like me) having a player Godzilla the Board or Deck may be a common occurrence. The key feature differentiating a player Godzilla-ing the Board or Deck verses disrupting the game in anger is motivation. Godzilla-ing is an unintended action due to clumsiness, and emotion is not a factor.

Games with more pieces, small pieces or pieces/cards which need to be placed on top of one another are more susceptible to be Godzilla-ed. Tile laying games are also easily to Godzilla the board as players place a tile and knock a bunch out of place.

Strategies to minimize Godzilla-ing the board/deck

  • Keep the pieces and cards within easy reach of players
  • If motor skills are a challenge for one or more players, minimize the number of pieces that they need to interact with
  • Space out components as much as possible.
  • If possible, avoid players having to reach across the board, and instead have the player(s) get up and move around the table.

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You can also look at our other board game definitions from previous weeks here!

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Quest and Cannons:The Risen Islands takes place in a fanciful world where the characters from one of three nations: Dwunny (Dwarf-bunny), Porcs (Pig-Orcs), or Delves (Duck-Elves) battle for resources. The nations have three characters , each with special traits. Players move their characters around a hexagonal map exploring, collecting, completing quests and battling other nations. Ultimately the goal is to gain Prosperity points. This is the first game from Short Hop Games.

  • Age: 14+
  • Play Time: 20-120 minutes (20 minutes/player)
  • Plays 1-6 players
  • Gameplay mechanics: Pick up and Deliver, variable player powers, hand management

Quests and Cannons has multiple modes of play giving players many options. The game can be played in solo mode, with up to six players in a free for all, as a 2 verses 2 or 3 verses 3. There are also guidelines for map setup, but even within the guidelines there is a significant amount of variability. With so many choices on game play and board set up this game will feel fresh and exciting with each new play.

Quests and Cannons is coming to Kickstarter on September 21, 2021. Click the link to check it out!

Components

  • 6 player ship dashboards
  • 18 sail tokens
  • 6 wooden player ships
  • 50 Resource tokens (10 of each kind)
  • 24 Cannon tokens
  • 6 Traveler’s Dice
  • 24 Cargo slot covers
  • 54 Ammo dice
  • 30 Hull damage tokens
  • 9 Character stands
  • 3 Dwunny Champion Tiles
  • 3 Porc Champion Tiles
  • 3 Delf Champion Tiles
  • 21 Tri-hex Terrain Tiles
  • 15 Single-hex Terrain Tiles
  • 3 Trading post Tiles
  • 3 Starting Kingdom Tiles
  • 3 Outpost Tiles
  • 18 Island Feature Tokens
  • 6 Score trackers
  • 39 Coins
  • 45 Quest cards
  • 18 Map clues cards
  • 45 Loot Cards

Game Play Overview

There are quite a few different elements to game play, actions players can take and choices to consider for players. Without getting into every choice, there are some key features of the game to know. Players are working to gain Prosperity Points to win, and Prosperity Points are earned by completing Quests, following Map Clues, and attacking other ships.

Resources found on the island

Types of Spaces

There are eight different types of spaces you may encounter, different seas affect you movement.

  • Calm sea: one movement  points space
  • Stormy Seas: Two movement points space
  • Treacherous Sea: must roll die, with a roll on 1,2,3 your ship takes hull damage.
  • Impassable Terrain: can not be moved through

Other Spaces include:

  • Outposts: upgrade their ships, or deliver resources for a quest, repair their ship, buy ammo, sell resources
  • Trading Post: trade or sell resources
  • Starting Spaces: return completed map clues, repair their ship, buy ammo, sell resources
  • Islands: explore: gather resources, gain Quest Cards
Sails add one movement

Turns

A player’s turns consists of using three action points. There are different combinations of actions players can take, which give lots of options within three simple choices. On a player’s turn they can:

  • Move one space in any direction (sails add one additional movement per sail), different terrain (noted above) costs different movement points
  • Gather resources from an island
  • Attack, fire your cannons at an enemy player

Free Actions

In addition there are free actions as well. These give players even more options on their turns, though there are limitations since these are dependent on being at certain locations.

  • At a Trading Post players are able to exchange resources for others resources they need or to sell resources for coins.
  • At Outposts players can spend resources and coin to upgrade their ship. Outposts are also a location for players to complete Quests by delivering the resources.
  • Starting spaces are where players can return their Map Clues, and most importantly gain a Prosperity Point when they do so.
  • Both the Outposts are Starting Spaces allow you to also repair your ship, buy ammo, and sell resources, Loot cards, or Map Clues
Player Board keeps everything organized!

Family Game Assessment

Quests and Cannons is a more complicated game both in components to manage and choices per turn, than I am used to playing. Even thought the set up takes some time, and there are quite a lot of components to manage it was totally worth the time at the front end once we began playing. The set up did become easier and a little faster once you know the game. As play begins the turns are easy and move quickly, keeping my whole family engaged. There are quite a few elements to keep tabs on, and the ship dashboard organize many of those elements so well.

Quests and Cannons is recommended for ages 14 and up, but with support, scales down a bit. My boys, ages nine and thirteen were able to play, with support. An experienced gamer as young as 9 or 10 and have success playing, especially with a veteran gamer to guide them. Based on how my children took to the mechanics, this could be used as a “gateway game” into a more complex series of mechanics and managing components.

For a family looking to add a game with more complexity to expand their collection Quests and Cannons is an excellent choice. The complex components and mechanics are organizing them in a way to streamline the gameplay making it a great fit for a range of gaming skills.


A prototype of Quests and Cannons was provided for review, so final production may have some changes.


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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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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to video games: MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena)

MOBA is a strategy game where teams battle in a predetermined lane or area with heroes/allies. Their ultimate goal is to destroy the other team’s structure/tower

League of Legends

This genre that features short, team based, multiplayer matches with computer controlled allies and enemies. Players create teams from a selection of playable characters, with mechanics and character abilities encouraging a balance of playstyles and teamwork. Character abilities and maps are public knowledge, and computer controlled elements operate in a repeated, predictable fashion. With that public knowledge, strategy and optimization are considered an additional layer of play that carries over between the individual fast paced encounters.

Examples:

Skytear
  • League of Legends
  • DOTA (Defense of the Ancients)

The MOBA style exists in a board game

Example:

  • Skytear: A Card driven board game


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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to both video games and board games: Casual Game

Casual Game: A game designed to be played with little to no game skill or knowledge ahead of time. Qualities of a casual game include a wide range of playability by age, an intuitive and recognizable game play experience, and a steady and slow rate of increasing complexity as the game progresses. Casual games will often develop advanced styles and methods of play among more experienced players, but these developments never impact the initial, approachable game experience.

Casual board games have very few simple rules and are easy to pick up and play. Often party style games are casual games too, since their rules are streamlined.

Examples of Casual Video Games

  • Tetras
  • Mario Cart 8 Deluxe
  • Many mobile games, such as Candy Crush

Examples of Casual Board Games

  • Codenames
  • What Do You Meme, Family Edition
  • Cinco Linko (formerly known as OK Play)

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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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Blokk! is a dexterity game coming to Kickstarter in October 2021. The word Blokk is the Norwegian words for Block. In Blokk! you take on the role as the Architect trying to create a perfect cube. Click here to follow their Kickstarter page.

Components

  • 1: 4×4 stencil
  • 1: 5×5 Rotating stand (360 Degree rotation)
  • 33 Blocks
  • 3 Gold Achievement pieces
  • 1 set of 36 playing cards
  • 1 multi-color dice
  • 1 scoring sheet

Blokk! gives players many options for modes of play. They also have the option of which size cube to build. Players can build a 4×4 cube or a 5×5 cube. The game also offers three options for modes of play and three options for construction modes

Modes of play:

  • I, Blokk!: This is a solo mode. The player (Architect) tries to construct their cube with minimal imperfections
  • Blokk! Party: This mode is for two to four players (Architects), players work cooperatively to adding one block per turn to construct a cube
  • Blokk! Off: This mode is for two to four players (Architects), players work competitively by taking turns constructing their cube. Once all architects have completed their Cube and each has been scored the player with the highest score wins.

Construction modes

  • Free Blokk!: (easy) In this mode, the Architect(s) choose one available block on their turn and adds it to the Cube under construction.
  • Dice Blokk!: (intermediate) In this mode, the Architect rolls the six sided color die which determines the color piece they must add to the Cube being constructed. They may choose any one piece in that color on their turn.
  • Card Blokk!: (advanced) In this mode the card deck is used and the Architect must draw one card per turn to determine the block they are to use on that turn.

Gold Blokk! Challenge

The game includes special Gold Blocks, and these unlock as players complete challenges. The prototype has 21 challenges listed in increasing difficulty. Completing three challenged unlocks the first Gold Block. Six challenged unlocks the second. Ten challenges completed unlocks the third Gold Block. Once unlocked these are optional for the player to use in all game modes.

Scoring

The scoring is very straight forward and easy to understand, and uses the same guidelines regardless of the mode or play or the construction mode. The Architect(s) start with 100 points. One point is lost for any imperfections which is a void or space outside the perfect Cube. Five points are lost of a block falls at any point. If three or more blocks fall the game is over and the player must restart.

Family Game Assessment

Blokk! is an easy to learn, easy to play, and hard to master game. The rules are simple and easy to learn in just a matter of minutes. Adults and kids enjoy the challenge of trying to make a perfect cube. The concept is easy and because there is no reading, so the recommended age of five and up is a good fit. This also has the advantage of supporting fine motor development in younger players. The different modes of play allow families to customize the game play to best suit the dynamic of the players.

Blokk! is a huge hit with the family. The Blokk! party mode has been the most popular game mode with my family. They like all the different Construction modes, but Free Blokk! is their favorite. One fun detail we learned was that if you turned the base too quickly, the blocks just perched on top were likely to fall off. It was a great example of centripetal force!

Final Thoughts

We played a protype of Blokk! and once our time was up it needed to be sent along to the next reviewer. Our family was sad to see it go, and are eager for the Kickstarter to launch in October. We would love to get this game as part of our board game collection!


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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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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