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2-6 Players
Ages 12+

The machine whirred loudly, a perfect musical backdrop to the ears of the factory employees.  As the harmonious percussion of gears and steam-powered whistles reach what should be the crescendo of engineering-melody the Gnomish mechanical symphony sputters with a discordant CLANG!  The Gnomes spring into action to repair the very machine that keeps them all employed and tinkering.  But who will manage to build the most interesting and complex fixes for the machine? What fun would it be if it wasn’t every Gnome for himself?


Cogs in a Machine is the fast paced game of invention, repair and and displaying your Gnomish chops as you race to be the best Gnome you can be.  There are six different Gnome roles you can play, all with different abilities and very appropriately themed skills.

The artwork is fantastically thematic and adds to the gameplay. CiaM is a competitive dice and resource management game played in turns and phases.  To start the game, players have 6 dice; characters start with the same five dice and one die unique to them. The board has an empty “machine”, three possible components to build and nine upgrade dice available for purchase.

Rolling your six dice is the first phase, each type of die has various possible outcomes. Build cog(s), build teeth, reroll (wrench), wild (star), auto-upgrade and blank-sides.   Phase two is the rerolling phase where you can reroll any wrenches (with another die) or stars (wilds) that you choose, and/or use a rerolling ability.  Next up, players get to supervise you! They can use an ability to affect your dice roll by spending a previous roll or resources you’ve gathered. After that, you get your parts, which consist of two resource types: cogs and teeth.  

Teeth are personal resources and are stored on your character card.  It takes more teeth to build components than cogs, and you can have a maximum of 10 of them at the end of your turn.  Cogs are what makes this game unique; a cog that is built goes into the “machine” and is now accessible by any player on their turn.  

Cogs and teeth can be spent them to build components in the following phase.  Components give special abilities (like upgrading dice, trading in teeth for cogs, etc.) and are used toward your final goal.  In the end phase, you trash excess resources and set up for the next turn.

The game ends when one Gnome builds five components, and lets everyone else have a chance to build one last time. Component points are counted up by their cost in cogs (like mechanical victory points) and the Gnome with the fanciest array of parts reigns supreme.

All in all, gameplay goes pretty quickly, and with symbol usage and rules cards, it’s relatively easy to follow for even a younger gamer.  Some reading is needed, but there aren’t enough cards to cause it to be cumbersome to explain to a smaller gamer, far younger than the suggested age of twelve. The game plays two to six, however one of my chief complaints is that there are in effect only five rules cards.

Let me explain.  The game plays up to six Gnomes, and there are six rules cards; unfortunately one of those cards is meant to be used as the machine. Normally, I wouldn’t be bothered by that, and would just use a table for a six player game, of course.  But the tokens for cogs and teeth are very thin card-stock and difficult to pick up if they aren’t on some sort of backing.

Component-wise, the cards are well made and descriptive with fantastic well-thought out artwork (though, adding a female Gnome or two would be nice).  The game comes with 20 dice with sticker sides including white starter dice, white upgrade dice, black general dice and a single colored die associated to the Gnome of that color.  As well there are the aforementioned component tokens, which could use some thickness.

Overall, this game is well thought out, the characters seem balanced in two to three player games, and I would assume the same for larger games. The theme is cute and it’s a quick game to learn, the shared/personal resource split is a fun strategy that helps younger kids grasp the basics of strategy.  Plus, it has Gnomes.

Cogs in the Machine is currently on Kickstarter ending 9/22/15.  You can get a copy of this game at the $45 backer level.

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The sound of hurried footfalls on pavement echoed through the alley way.  Three young girls stop fast, as they reach momentary safety, their eyes meet. With one decisive nod, three voices call out in harmonic unison.  As the words float through the air, perfectly cut crystals hung from cords around their necks radiate light. The surrounding atmosphere begins to crackle with pure energy, enshrouding the girls within it’s ribbon-like currents of translucent, opalescent color.  The winds die back down leaving three new girls, clothed in colorful and silken suits, brandishing impossible armaments standing in the spaces once occupied by the rushing girls.  Echos of boots on cobblestone ring in their well adorned ears, as their equally saccharin rivals flowing pink ribbons come into view.  Only one team can keep their transformation crystals. Who will win? Only magic… and maybe the moon… will tell!

In Japanese, the term Mahou Shojo means “Magical Girl”.  If you’re not sure what a magical girl is, you only need to look as far as Sailor Moon or RWBY to find one.  They are young women who have an innate (or given) power to become a more powerful version of themselves, basically a magically endowed superhero set to fight evil for her ultimate cause!

Mahou Shojo is a card game that pits two teams of magical girls against each other in an attempt to prevent the other team from transforming! There are two starter sets to begin, each with two decks of very different sets of girls.  Players begin the game by selecting three alter egos and then drawing four more cards.  The game starts with an alter ego phase, where players can play an alter ego card as well as a magical girl card face-down.  Since a magical girl never looks like her alter ego (secret identity and all), any magical girl can result from any alter ego.

Magical girls have three stats, Health (HP), Attack (ATK) and Magic (MGK), which add to the base stats of their Alter Egos (who only seem to have HP and ATK).  When the girls transform, the resulting cards form a plus sign to help remember that those cards stats and abilities stack.

Mahou Shojo Transformation


A turn consists of four Phases – Draw, Action, Attack, End. Actions are selected from the following list: Summon, Spell, Retreat. Summon either brings a familiar into play or transforms your alter ego into a magical girl. Spells consist of Special Events and Special Attacks, these cost magic and augment your abilities.  Special Events can be played during your turn, or they can be played to stop your opponents at any time.  During the Retreat phase you may summon a single face-down alter ego or bring a different transformed hero forward to the main position to relieve your current leader.

When a magical girl is defeated, she, and her alter ego retreat to an alternate dimension and are no longer able to be played, and her opponent gains her transformation crystal. If a magical girl uses all of her magical energy, she will revert back to her alter ego, if she is defeated in this form, her opponent receives half of her transformation crystal.

Mahou Shojo plays like a CCG (Collectible card game), but with pre-constructed decks, it bypasses the initial and on-going investment needed to play such games.

Game play is quick and relatively simple for an adult, though for younger children it might be a little complex.  The recommended age is eight, however there is a lot of text and a large number of differing mechanics that might make it more difficult to navigate.  This could have been simplified by using icons for the main stats and by clarifying some of the language on the cards.

The game is still in development, so much of my criticism has to do with how it is currently structured. However, the developers are very interested in play-testing and making changes to polish the game.  The rules are in need some cleaning up and finalizing, and the language needs to be made more consistent, however the concept is solid and has a lot of potential.

Artwork in this game is fantastic, the characters are super inclusive of all kinds of women from their varied skin tones to their body types.  There is better representation of females in this game than I’ve seen in any game before it. That in itself makes this a fantastic game to empower players to find their own representative character and to help every girl find her magic.

Mahou Shojo is currently on Kickstarter, with a starter set of two decks priced at $20.  The campaign ends April 8, 2015!

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Resistor_ is a two player card game with a theme that some of our readers might find questionable. In it, players find themselves taking on the role of a pair of supercomputers. Each computer is trying to hack its way into the other in an attempt to prevent “mutually assured” nuclear destruction.  In short: You are trying to make your nukes go off while the other guys nukes are left as duds.

Light stuff huh?

The reality is that the concept is abstracted enough by the card playing mechanic that if the theme is problematic for your family you could easily replace it or just not discuss it at all. The choice is yours.

All theme aside, Resistor_ is an amazing game that will challenge your mind and memory in ways few other cards games can. This is accomplished through a few different mechanics that all pile on top of each other and nicely squish your brain to mush (in a good way).

First, the play area is set up with a series of seven cards laying flat on a table between the two super computer cards. These cards are double sides and all of them are printed with red and blue wires that help build a path. The goal is to make a continuous connection of wires from your computer to theirs using the same color wire. At the end of a turn if that connection exists, then you earn a point (play goes to five points).

As you can see, the play area can be a bit of a mess.


Second, the cards are double sided and you cannot look at the backs of your cards (your opponent can though)! The backs of your opponents hand (and likewise for you) are playable cards throughout the game making disrupting your opponents strategy a regular part of each turn. 

Double Sided MAYHEM!!


Lastly, during each turn players must take a series of actions in any order. They must flip one of the double sided cards. They must draw a new card from the deck and discard a card. They must also exchange a card from the lineup with a card in their hand.  These three actions keep both players engaged in the game. 

Many games allow you to shut off your brain during your opponents turn while you wait for their actions to resolve. You simply cannot do that in Resistor_. Failing to pay attention might mean missing out on knowing what is underneath a given card and cost you a point. You have to be sharp and stay that way.

I was lucky enough to play the game at PAX East 2015 with the developers. I have to admit that the crowded show floor was less than ideal for a game that requires a significant level of concentration. (Read: I got my butt kicked.) But, it was clearly a polished game experience. I cannot recommend this one enough for people who enjoy head to head competition.

You can head over here to Kickstarter and back it. They have already reached their goal, but they are climbing towards stretch goals quickly.



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Greater Than Games

Ages 13+

2-5 players

45-60 minutes


It was a quiet day in Megalopolis when, suddenly, all TV channels blared an ominous message: Baron Blade was threatening to pull the moon into the Earth!  The superheroes known as the Freedom Five assembled to fight Blade and his minions, hoping to save the planet!

Sentinels of The Multiverse allows players to immerse themselves in a comic book universe, taking on the roles of an assortment of heroes, banding together to face off against devious villains in a variety of environments.

The characters in the Multiverse echo heroes and villains familiar to many; Wraith is a billionaire-turned-vigilant, armed with a cape and a utility belt; Tachyon runs super-fast; Omnitron is a malicious, skeletal robot.  While there is plenty to learn about each character and location, they are similar enough to jump in with little prep work.

Players select a hero, a villain, and an environment, each represented by a specialized deck of cards.  The villain and the environment are functions of the game; no one plays as either of those roles.  Instead, when those two roles get their turns (before and after the players, respectively), the players draw the next card in the deck and perform the actions on the cards.  During their turns, players draw and play cards from their own decks, using their hero’s powers.

Accompanying the cards are a number of tokens to record the temporary effects, as well as tokens for the hit points of the heroes, villains, and minions.

The variety presented by the different combinations of hero-villain-environment, as well as the randomness presented by drawing the cards, lends to an immense amount of replayability.  Each game can go differently, as situations change and the heroes respond accordingly.

While the game says that it is for ages 13+, it can be played by younger players.  Heroes and villains are assigned a difficulty rating; with some guidance, younger players can learn a particular hero and become effective members of the team.

The game requires a number of skills – reading, problem solving, teamwork, and math.  Since it’s a cooperative game, there’s no reason to not play with “open hands”, so if there are players with weaker reading or strategic skills, they can easily get a boost from other players.

Sentinels of The Multiverse has had several expansions. Look for more info on each of them soon!

Want more cooperative games?  Check these reviews out!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Publisher: Gamewright
Genre: Trivia Party Game/Card
Players: 2 or more
Ages: 10 & Up
Time: 15 minutes
MSRP: $9.99

Over/Under – The Game of Guesstimates consists of a sturdy box holding 200 cards with 600 random trivia questions, and a rules pamphlet. Unlike most trivia games, this one is not about your ability to recall inconsequential facts. As the title suggests, it is about guessing! While playing the game a player may learn some random trivia, but the actual focus of the game is on teaching estimation.

Game play is extremely simple. The object is to collect the most cards by the time the stack is depleted. Play starts by taking a pile of 20-40 cards to start the game (choose shorter or longer stacks to adjust the length of the game). The person who last walked under a bridge becomes the first question master. The question master picks one of 3 questions on the first card and reads it aloud to the other players. The players confer and choose an answer. The question master then decides if the group’s answer is over(higher), under(lower), or spot on(exactly

correct) of the actual answer on the back of the card. If the question master is successful in their choice, they keep the card. Play passes to the left and continues until the stack of cards is depleted.

This game is a decent family game that can be played with a both a small group and a large group. It’s small and portable with no extraneous pieces that can be easily lost, which makes it a great waiting game to bring to restaurants and other appointments. The recommended age of 10 and up is fairly accurate because the game requires fluent reading skills and basic fact knowledge. We found that younger players gave some really absurd answers to the questions which added an element of silliness and humor to the game. The game has a unique social aspect that makes is more cooperative than a traditional trivia game, and really helps to give it the party game feel.

Overall this is a decent party game, but their are better party games to add to your game closet that may be more exciting than this one.

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

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

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This year at the NY Toy Fair there will be a lot to see. Manufacturers showing off the newest innovations in toys and games… We’re excited to see what they have to show us, and one of our favorite publishers, Gamewright, has given a sneak peek!

Check out the new cover art!
Turns out in addition to the publication of Farm Fresh Games’ Super Tooth which we announced earlier, there are some other amazing things coming our way.

First off, Sleeping Queens will be getting a brand new 10th Anniversary Edition! This new edition will come in a tin (like Sushi Go!) and will be complete with never-before-seen queens and kings and exclusive stickers! So, if you are like me and your child has managed to bend every card as the Rose Queen and the Star Queen talk over an imaginary picnic lunch, this is a great way to upgrade.

Rory’s Story Cubes is getting another release of it’s popular Mix expansions which were released around Christmas. So, as you roll your story, you can search your house for clues, or take a stegosaurus on a boat, or have Batman meet his fairy godmother! I’m pretty excited to check out Enchantment, Clues and Prehistoria for myself!

To give you a background, Gamewright is known for its commitment to surprisingly fun family games. We don’t have to suffer through Candy Land and Cootie for the 10,000 time. They take concepts that are fun for children and they mix them with strategy and gameplay that even boring, old adults can be entertained by. So, needless to say, while we’re excited about the games we’ve played before getting some new life, we’re REALLY excited about the new games they have coming out!

Sneaky Cards - Play it Forward
Have you ever thought about doing something silly, like taking a picture with someone you’ve never met, or dancing where EVERYONE can see? Well, Sneaky Cards – Play it forward, is a game that lets you do just that. It’s a scavenger hunt where you pass an activity on to the next person… playing it forward. It’s a very interesting concept game where every move is a social experiment!

Outfoxed! A Cooperative Whodunit Game
So, one thing we know Gamewright excels at is cooperative games, with titles like Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Island it’s almost a given that we’d be interested in Outfoxed! Outfoxed! is a cooperative game for players ages 5+ where the players are… chickens. Chickens chasing clues to catch a fox that has absconded with a prized pot pie (let’s hope it’s vegan), what family can resist working together to solve such a heinous crime? I know mine can’t!

Go Nuts! The Completely Cracked-Up Dice Game
The only thing that can follow a game full of poultry intrigue, is one about squirrels. Go Nuts! is a dice game where you want to collect as many nuts as you can, while dodging cars, and before your opponents can send the dogs after you! It almost sounds like Zombie Dice for fans of the fluffier game protagonists.

Flashlights & Fireflies - A Game of Shine and Seek
We don’t know too much about Flashlights and Fireflies. According to Gamewright: “Get ready for a backyard dash-through-the-dark in this game of firefly-powered flashlight freeze tag! First, catch fireflies to power up your flashlight. Then shine it on other players before they sneak back to home base. All along, watch out for bats, raccoons, and other nighttime critters that are out to trip up your tracks. Be the first to reach home and you’ve outshined the competition!” I would guess that it is a board game, but I’m not sure – I guess we’ll need to find out once we see it!

Dragonwood - A Game of Dice and Daring
Now here is where I get really excited. Dragonwood is a game that promises to be reminiscent of all of my fantasy-based tabletop roleplaying games. Building a hand of adventurers while fighting goblins and orcs and dragons (Oh my!) with a constantly changing strategy? This game could be amazing! And knowing Gamewright‘s dedication to making games that encourage the whole family to play, I have to say I’m excited to play a roleplaying-like game and to NOT have to be the Dungeon Master!

So, that’s Gamewright‘s line-up for 2015! I’m looking forward to most of these titles from what I’ve learned so far, I can’t wait to get a chance to actually play!

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

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Super Tooth

In September, backers of the Super Tooth Kickstarter received their games and began playing in the prehistoric world of the dinosaurs.   As backers we were SUPER excited to get to play! Who wouldn’t love to play a game matching cartoon dinosaurs?

Of course, if you weren’t among the 239 backers for this project, you’d have to know someone who was to play.  Sadly, if you didn’t know a backer you’d never know the joy of protecting your pair of Apatosaurs by feeding a Parasaurolophus to an errant Spinosaurus.  Upset?  I know I would be.

BUT there is a light at the end of the tunnel (and it isn’t an asteroid), Farm Fresh Games has announced that Gamewright  has picked up Super Tooth  for publication and distribution in 2015!  The new printing  will be premiered at the New York Toy Fair and will be available in stores that sell Gamewright games shortly after that!

Wondering what all the hype is about?  Check out our review of Super Tooth here!


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


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Ages: 6+ 2-6 Players 15+ minutes COMPETITIVE

Like Snow White and Aurora who came before, they slumber forever, until the curse breaks.

Twelve beauties, twelve sleeping ladies rest evermore, Dragons, and knights, wands and potions raise the stakes,

Can the Kings wake them like the stories of lore?

To save them they will do whatever it takes,

For the wonderful, beautiful queens that snore

Will it be you who wakes the Queen of Pancakes?The Sleeping Queens must stir, need I tell you more?

Hurry Up! Or, for someone else, the Rose Queen wakes!

Sleeping Queens is a card game where each player competes to wake four to five of the twelve silly queens “sleeping” on the board. Players may wake a queen by using a king card, with a lucky draw using a jester card, or they can steal someone else’s queen with their own errant knight.

Knights are not invincible, though, if the opposing player you wish to capture a queen from has a dragon, they protect their queen! If you think your opponents are getting too far ahead of you, you can use a sleeping potion to put a queen to sleep…that is ONLY if they don’t have a magic wand to stop you!

On your turn you can take two possible actions, play a picture card (Jester, King, Knight, Sleeping Potion), or discard to draw. You have three discard options, a single card to draw one, a matching pair of cards to draw two, or an addition equation to draw three or more cards. So, If you had a 2, 2, 2, 1, 7 you could discard your entire hand and draw 5 — since 2+2+2+1 = 7. You MUST announce this when it is played in equation form! This can give a really fantastic introduction to pair recognition and simple equations to younger children, and help to enforce the skills in slightly older kids. What’s cool with this setup, is that this could be a VERY easy mechanic to change for other skill development. Subtraction equations, low level multiplication and division – you could even have 5 card sets where both sides have the same value!

Imagine a hand with 2, 3, 6, 1, 5 → 1+5 = 6 = 2 x 3! There are so many possibilities on making modifications to help cement fundamental math skills! Also, this game is very easy for younger children to grasp, though expect the equation piece to be quite lightly used until they have observed you doing it regularly and have picked up on those patterns! You could also disable that mechanic if you feel your child isn’t quite there yet!

Each queen has a point value ranging from 5 – 20 and in order to win you need a reach a certain number of points (40 or 50 depending on players) or a certain number of queens (4 or 5). Which can be tricky when every other player is vying for the same 12 queens! The first player to reach this goal wins!

This game is a fantastic time as it is simple, easy to learn, graphically beautiful and has a large amount of replayability (even with a group of adults). The one issue is that there is no text or indicator for queens with alternate abilities. The Rose Queen awakens another queen with her, the Cat and Dog Queens fight and cannot be held by the same player; however those changes to play are only noted in the instructions and not on the cards themselves.

Rose Queen, Cat Queen, Dragons and wands? Was this game designed by a six-year-old or something? Actually, YES! Sleeping Queens was created by 6-year-old Miranda Everts who enlisted the help of her sister to create this game after she had trouble sleeping one night!

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

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Genius Games, the company that brought us Linkage: A DNA Card Game , has announced a new game destined for Kickstarter!  Peptide: A Protein Building Game is in the end phases leading up to it’s own crowd-funding run!
Unlike Linkage , which uses a draw-then-play mechanic, Peptide is a drafting game. Where Linkage teaches you the process of DNA transcription this game has you make a peptide chain through the process of RNA translation.   Wondering about the difference between transcription and translation? Check out Peptide when it hits Kickstarter and you’ll never be confused again!
Peptide debuts on Kickstarter October 15, 2014!
Too excited to wait? The full instructions are here.
Want to know more about Linkage? Check out our review here.
Card artwork by Amanda Walker 
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