The Bark Side

Disclaimer: Please note that this is a kickstarter preview for which I was sent a copy of the prototype game for review purposes.  All views on the game are my own however.

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The Bark Side is a card game in which you are trying to keep your mischievous dogs from bringing home their messy dog friends. The player who has the least messy dogs in their home at the end of the game wins!  This game was designed by Kotaro Kanda and illustrated by Serene Wyatt.  The game will be coming to the crowd funding website Kickstarter at the start of April and will be published by Korea Board Games.  The Bark Side is for 3-5 players aged seven or over.

How to Play

The Bark Side is described as a climbing card game.  I’ll be honest here I didn’t know what that was until I did a bit of research!  So just in case you are like me, the definition of a climbing game is one where each player must play a card to beat the card of the previous player.  I would say for those who are still interested that this game feels more like a combination of this and a trick taking game.

The game comes with 50 cards, each of these has a strength value detailed in the top left corner of the card.  There are 5 of each strength of card in the game and each strength represents a different dog and has distinct artwork.

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Set up

Shuffle all the cards and then deal ten cards to each player.  The remaining cards are set aside.  All players then choose two cards from their hand and pass it face-down to the player on their right.  When all the cards have been passed all players take these new cards into their hand.

Gameplay

The starting player will on their turn choose to play either one card or a set of cards.  You can only play a set of cards if someone has performed a tail-tucking move on a previous trick, more on this later.  You also cannot play a set if that would cause you to empty your hand.

Playing One Card

The starting player can choose to play any card from their hand.  The remaining players however must then play a card of equal or higher value than the one played by the previous person.

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If you cannot or do not want to play such a card, you must play the lowest card you have in your hand, this is called the tail-tucking move.

Playing a set of cards

The starting player could also choose to play a set of cards with the same strength, for example two 4’s or three 5’s.  As mentioned previously this can only be done if someone performed a tail-tucking move on a previous trick.

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The first player leads with a pair of 5’s, the second player tail-tucks with a 1 & 2, then player 3 plays a pair of 6’s and lastly player 4 tail-tucks with a 2 &1.

Then as before players must play a set of the same number of cards of equal or higher strength.  If you cannot or do not want to play this set then you must play the same number of cards of the lowest strength from your hand.

Finishing the round

After all players have played a card or a set of cards, the last player who played the highest card or cards wins the trick and becomes the new starting player.  Game play continues until all players have only one card remaining in their hand, this triggers the final trick.

In this final trick all players in turn order from the starting player must play their remaining card. The winner of this trick actually loses the round and must take the highest card and the two lowest cards into their area.

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The third player wins this trick thereby losing the round, they must take their 4 and the 1 & 3 strength cards into their area.

At the end of the round all cards, except those in a players area, are shuffled and a new round is started.

Game ends

The game ends when either:

  • One player has seven cards of different strengths in their area, in which case that player has lost the game.

or

  • There are four or less cards to deal per player at the beginning of the round.  The loser of the game is the player with the most cards of different strengths in their area. In case of a tie this becomes the most cards in total in their area.

In either case the winner of the game is the player who has the least cards in their area!

Final Thoughts

Before I get into my final thoughts it is important that I mention that the game is still in prototype form so it is possible that things will change between now and the final version of the game.  I would think for example that there will be similar artwork on the strength 9 and 10 cards which you might have noticed are blank at the moment.  Whilst I don’t know if it is final artwork I do like the style, it has a fun silly charm to it.  It certainly was a hit with my children who enjoyed all of the dogs antics!  The theme here is very much pasted on but it definitely doesn’t detract from the gameplay and in fact i think it adds charm to the game.

I didn’t know what to expect when I received a copy of this game. I haven’t played an awful lot of this type of card game since I was a child.  This game invoked a lot of happy memories of playing trick taking games growing up.  I really liked how simple it was to learn and teach. My children who have just turned eight picked up not only the rules but also some tactics very quickly.

I really enjoyed how it provoked more tactical decisions than those card games I remembered. You have to really think about when you want to play those higher cards to win a trick and when you want to hold them back to prevent you being forced to discard your lowest cards.  There are also some interesting choices to make as to what cards to pass to your opponent at the start of the round.

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I wouldn’t say that this game is particularly difficult to play but that in turn makes it very well suited to play with children and people who don’t play games regularly.  For example I think it will be a great one to teach to my mum who taught me all those card games growing up. I think she will enjoy the familiarity of what she knows but with the addition of some more complexity.

Is this game going to appeal to everyone? I don’t think so but I think it’s a great game for introducing to your non gaming family and friends especially if they enjoy traditional card games.

My children enjoy this game even more than I do. It was simple enough for them to learn easily and they have really enjoying thinking about the best tactics to use.  I have also really enjoying listening to them discussing those tactics with each other which is something that doesn’t happen all the time.

Overall I think if you are looking for a light fun card game to play with family and friends this could be a great choice.

 

 

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Castles of Caladale

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In Castles of Caladale the players compete to gain castle tiles and then use them to build their own castle. The person who builds the best castle will win the game!  This game was designed by David Wilkinson, illustrated by Erin Koehler and published by Renegade Game Studios.  The game is for 1-4 players aged eight or over.

How to Play

This game can be played in a few different ways.  I’m going to talk about it’s standard gameplay but there are also two solo variants and a speed variant (for which a timer is enclosed).  You could also just play with the tiles trying to build the largest castle you can.

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Each player starts the game with one grass strip, 1 wild tile and a gate tile. The gate tiles are double sided and the side used changes depending on the number of players in the game.  The player count also determines the number of tiles which are used in the game.  The supply board is then filled with 9 tiles and placed in the middle of the table with the remaining tiles placed facedown in nearby stacks.

On a players turn you must draw one tile from either the supply board or one of the facedown stacks.  Then you must choose whether you are keeping the tile face up for using in your castle or turning it facedown for a bonus point.  Once this decision is made it cannot be changed.  A tile that is kept for the castle doesn’t have to be built in straightaway.  In fact you can choose to rebuild your castle at anytime during the game.

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There are three different themes on the castle tiles; the Wizard’s Stone Castle, the Gnomes’ Tudor Manor and the Fairies’ Tree.  When you add your tile to your castle you must match all the themes it touches, stone with stone for example.  There are some additional rules regarding where you are allowed to place tiles on the bottom of your castle which I won’t go into here.

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The game ends when all of the tiles have been taken.  Some time is allowed to complete your castle before scoring if necessary.  You can use the wild tile at the end of the game to complete an open edge of your castle it will however lose you a point.  The score track is on the reverse side of the supply board and it includes a description of how to score the finished castles.  You get two points for each tile in your castle (except wild tiles), an extra point for tower tops indicated by the + flags, one point for each facedown tile and an extra two points for a complete castle (sky all the way around).  You lose two points for each exposed castle edge and one point is lost for using the wild card in your castle.  The person with the most points wins the game!

Final Thoughts

This game has been beautifully produced, the artwork is really lovely and the components are great quality.  I particularly like the little wooden scoring pieces.  The rulebook is easy to use and I really like the addition of the different variants.  The game is easy to learn, teach and play which I think makes it a great family game.

Castles of Caladale has a wonderful visual appeal especially at the end when you get to admire your finished castle!  There are lots of lovely little details on the tiles such as sleeping dragons, gnomes and fairies to name a few.

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The game states that it is for children aged 8 and over but depending on the child I would say about 6 or 7.  The tricky element comes in deciding which piece to choose from the centre board.  I found that my children at first didn’t always think ahead to choose the best piece.  That said, the scores are usually very close.  I think that this is a game that will grow with them especially as they become more tactical in their choices.  The game also has a nice toy element to it as you could just use all the tiles to build the most elaborate castle if you wanted to play with younger children.

Overall this is a great family game with delightful artwork and I would definitely recommend it.  The gameplay is really fun, after all who wouldn’t want to build a fairy tale castle!

Christmas Kids Game Ideas!

As Christmas is approaching I thought I would put together a list of recommended children’s games.  I’ve restricted this list to games that are easily available at the moment.  The games are listed below in no particular order!

Outfoxed       icons8-children-505plus

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This is a delightful cooperative game where you are trying to work out which of the naughty foxes stole the pie.  On your turn you can either decide to reveal more suspects or search for clues.  Searching for clues enables you to identify what the naughty fox was wearing.  This information can then be used to eliminate suspects until you are confident as to which fox is guilty!  The fox gradually creeps towards his hole and if he gets there before you work out who he/she is then the players lose.  This is a game for children aged 5 and over.  I really enjoy playing this game with my children and if you would like to know more about it you can read my review here.

My First Stone Age        icons8-children-504

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This is a competitive game where you are trying to be the first person to build all three huts in your village.  In this game you travel around the board collecting resources (berries, pots etc.) which you use to purchase your huts.  The game incorporates some elements of memory as you have to remember where the movement tokens are.  I really like the way this game gives children some great choices to make.  It makes them think about what resources they need to build the huts and also plan where they want to go to get them.  The game is beautifully made and the components have a nice chunky feel to them.  My First Stone Age is aimed at children aged 5 and over however I think you could play this with 4 years olds.  Please note there is also a card game version of this game. I haven’t played this yet so I can’t comment on what it is like.

Tsuro    icons8-family-505plus

In Tsuro you are trying to be the last player on the board.  You play tiles which create a path for your piece to follow. As the board fills up it becomes harder to choose a safe path for your piece and other player’s tiles may send you somewhere you’d rather not go.  If two pieces collide or your piece goes off the board you lose.  The last player standing wins!  This is a great family game which you can play with children as young as 5 or 6.  You can also play it with as few as 2 players all the way up to 8 players.  This is a very attractive abstract game and it really works well with family members of all ages.

Forbidden Island     icons8-family-506plus

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This is a wonderful cooperative family game where you are trying to rescue relics from a sinking island.  Players work together to collect the relics, shore up the island and ultimately try to escape with the relics before the island is completely under water.  This game is a challenge for adults and children alike as you really do need to work together to win.  It has great quality pieces and lovely artwork on the tiles.  The game says that it is suitable for ages 10 and over but I’ve played this with my children since they were about 6.  It’s also worth having a look at Forbidden Desert, which is the sequel, as this adds a few more layers of complexity.

Carcassonne Amazonas or Carcassonne  icons8-family-507plus

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Some of you may have heard of Carcassonne already which is a tile placement game. Tile placement is where you take a tile and then have to choose where to place it to meet certain rules. In the original Carcassonne you must match roads, cities and grassland. In Carcassonne Amazonas you are matching Jungle, Tributaries, Villages and the Amazon river itself.  Once you have placed a tile you can choose whether to claim something on the tile for example a village by placing a meeple. These enable you to gain points when they are completed or at the end of the game.  The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.  In Carcassonne Amazonas you also have the addition of a boat racing element.  My children are big fans of both the original Carcassonne and Carcassonne Amazonas.  This game states it’s for ages 8 and over, my children who are seven can play this game really well. We use a slightly easier variant in the original game which is detailed in the rules but we play the main rules of Carcassonne Amazonas.  There are many versions of this game and expansions for the original game.  If you have younger children there is another version of the game called My first Carcassonne which is aimed at children aged 4 and over.

5-Minute Dungeon     icons8-family-506plus

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In this game you are racing through a dungeon battling monsters, dodging obstacles and other things that get in your way before finally defeating the monster at the end.  The whole dungeon is represented by a deck of cards.  Each player also has a deck of cards with symbols on them, everyone plays cards simultaneously to match the symbols on the monster card (or obstacle etc.).  When all the symbols are matched you discard that card and start on the next one.  You only have 5 minutes to complete all the cards and finish the dungeon.  The game comes with an app for your phone or tablet which basically acts as a timer.  It’s very frenetic and an awful lot of fun.  This game states it is for ages 8 and over but again depending on the child I would say about 6 or 7 would be about right.

Kingdomino     icons8-family-506plus

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In Kingdomino you are trying to build yourself the best kingdom out of domino like pieces that you can.  Your kingdom cannot be bigger than a 5×5 square grid.  You can only place a piece in your kingdom if the land matches on one end, just like dominoes.  On your turn the first player (determined in the first round by a random draw) can choose between four tiles but which piece they choose also determines turn order. For example choosing the best piece for your kingdom might mean that you are then last to choose in the next round.  You are aiming to collect pieces with crowns on them and join them to other land of the same type.  You win the game by having the most points at the end when all tiles have been placed.  This game is really simple to learn and play, has lovely artwork and good quality pieces.  The game states it is for ages 8 and over but again I would say that 6 or 7 years old children could play this.

Barenpark    icons8-family-507plus

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In this game you are building a bear park.  Whilst this game might look daunting it’s very simple to play.  You take pieces from the centre board and place them onto your park board. As you place them on your board you cover up symbols which in turn tell you what pieces you can choose to take next. The aim of the game is to fill in all your park and get the most points. Some pieces are worth more than others and you can get more points by being the first to complete the whole of one of your park boards.  This game has a very Tetris like feeling and the artwork on the tiles is really lovely.  This game also comes with a more advanced variant which you can include as people become more familiar with the game or as the child gets older.  Again this is very much a family game that you would be happy to play with or without the children!  This game is aimed at children aged about 7 or 8 years old.

Castles of Caladale    icons8-family-506plus

In Castles of Caladale you are simply competing to build the best castle!  The gameplay is fairly simple you choose a tile from the central board and add it to your castle. There are three different themes on the castle tiles Stone, Tudor and Trees.  When you add your tile to your castle you must match all the themes it touches, stone with stone for example.  You can choose to rebuild your castle at anytime during the game. You win the game by getting the most points at the end.  Points are gained by adding special tiles and also by completing your castle this means you have sky all the way around the outside.  This game is simple to learn and play.  It has a great visual appeal especially at the end when you get to admire your castle!  It has lots of lovely little details on the cards, sleeping dragons, gnomes and fairies to name a few.  This game states it is for children aged 8 and over but again depending on the child I would say about 6 or 7.  Possibly younger if they just wanted to enjoy building castles with the tiles!

Go Go Gelato  icons8-children-506plus / Dr Eureka icons8-family-507plus

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These games are very similar to one another which is why I have put them together.  In these games you are racing to be the first one to complete a challenge card.  See the photos above for some examples of those cards.  You complete the cards by moving the balls, without touching them, from cone to cone or tube to tube as fast as possible. These are a lovely mix of dexterity and logic.  I think Go Go Gelato is the easier dexterity wise of the two but Dr Eureka might appeal more to older children. Go Go Gelato is aimed at children of around 6 and Dr Eureka at children of around 8 years old.  You can read more about Dr Eureka in my review.

City of Zombies    icons8-children-506plus

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In this game you battle zombies with maths!  It is a lovely fun themed cooperative game when you are trying to defeat the zombies and survive until your rescue plane arrives.  Every Zombie has a target number to defeat it.  On each players turn they will roll three dice and they must use all of those numbers to defeat as many zombies as possible. You are allowed to add, subtract, multiply and power up/down (squaring) the numbers.  The game also has special characters with different special abilities to play and can also be played on many different difficultly levels.  My children really enjoy playing this game and because it’s collaborative you can easily help them a little with the maths if they are stuck.  This game is aimed at children of around 6 and over.

Karuba     icons8-family-506plus

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Karuba is a competitive game where you are trying to build pathways through the jungle for your explorers to reach hidden temples.  This is done by placing path tiles on your board to create paths along which you can then move your explorers.  All the players have the same numbered path tiles and one player draws at random the number to be placed.  You win the game by having the most points, you can gain these by collecting gems on the paths or by the relevant coloured explorer reaching its matching temple.  The faster you can reach a temple the more points you can claim.  This is another game that is just as enjoyable for the adults as the children.  The game has really well made components and lovely artwork.  The box says it is for ages 8 and over but again depending on the child I would say 6 and over would be about right.

Oceanos    icons8-family-506plus

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This is a competitive card game where you are the captain of a submarine.  In this game you are trying to collect different animal species, discover the biggest coral reefs and gather lost treasures!  As you play the game you can also upgrade your submarine.  The game is played over 3 rounds which represent how deep you are in the ocean, each of these rounds have 5 turns. On your turn all the players bar the current expedition captain are dealt cards determined by the level of their periscope (this is one of the submarine upgrades) from these they choose which ones they wish to play in front of them and which ones they will pass to the expedition captain.  Each player will be building a section of ocean in front of them with the cards.  The choice of cards will determine the amount of points at the end of the round and also any submarine upgrades.  Total points are resolved at the end of the game and the person with the most wins.  This is a fantastic family game, there are so many different ways to get points which gives lots of things to think about.  This game states it is for ages 8 and over but again depending on the child I would say about 6 or 7 years old.

Ice Cool     icons8-family-506plus

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Ice Cool is a really fun game which involves flicking penguins.  In this game you’re all penguins sneaking out of class to grab fish snacks.  The game is played over a maximum of four rounds where you each take it in turns to be the hall monitor.  The hall monitor is trying to catch the other penguins (by knocking into them) whilst the other penguins are trying to collect all the snacks.  The round ends when someone has got all their snacks or the hall monitor has caught everyone.  You gain points per snack you collect or penguin you catch and the player with the most points at the end wins!  The game board is very cleverly made from the box which has several pieces stacked inside itself.  This is a very fun silly game which again has been beautifully made.  This game is aimed at children aged 6 and over.

Beasts of Balance    icons8-family-506plus

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This cooperative game is an unusual mix of a dexterity game and an app.  In this game you are adding creatures to a strange world, cross breeding them to create fantastical creatures and trying not to cause the volcano to erupt.  The game comes with lovely pieces which you scan on a podium linked to the app, once scanned you must balance them on top and then that animal is added into the world on the app.  As you balance more and more pieces on the podium you of course run the risk of it falling, this causes the volcano to erupt (unless you can rebuild very fast!) and the game to be lost.  As a family you are trying to best your last high score!  The charm of this game I think is in the strange and unusual animals that you can create which are all saved to a bestiary on the app itself. This game states it is for ages 7 and over but I think you could definitely play this one with much younger children as it’s cooperative.

Flash Point Fire Rescue    icons8-family-506plus

This is a fantastic cooperative game in which you play fireman battling to rescue people from a burning building.  It comes with many different special characters you can play and it has different levels of rules complexity depending on age or ability. On your turn you have a variety of actions you can choose for example moving, opening doors, smashing down walls, putting out fires and rescuing people.  You have to be careful about flashovers, explosions and in the worse case the building collapsing.  You have to work together to rescue as many people as you can before the building collapses.  My children love this game and again the component quality is very good.  The board has two sides so you have some variability and the addition of more complicated rules means the game will grow with the children!  This game also has many expansions some of which add new buildings (including ones which are ships, submarines & airplanes), new risks and new characters.  The box states it is for children aged 10 and over but because this is a cooperative game you can easily play with children as young as 6 when using the easier rules.

Mysterium    icons8-family-507plus

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This is a lovely cooperative family game in which one player is playing a ghost and the other players are psychics.  The psychics are trying to establish who killed the ghost, where and with what item.  The ghost however can only communicate by giving the psychics visions to try and steer them towards the truth.  These visions come in the form of beautiful yet cryptic art on cards.  I really like the way this game encourages my children to use their imagination and think creatively.  The game also has the most stunning artwork on its cards!  Again the box states it is for ages 10 and over but depending on the child I would say 7 and over would be about right.  Although I would add that it can be tricky to understand their clues when they play the ghost!

Bugs in the Kitchen    icons8-children-504

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This is probably the simplest game on my list but my children really like it.  In it you are trying to steer a hexbug, a small tiny robotic bug, into your trap.  You steer it by turning different utensils to open and close pathways through a maze of sorts.  Which utensils you are able to turn is determined by a dice roll.  This is definitely a game for kids rather than for adults but it’s also simple enough that they can just play it on their own.  This game states it is for ages 6 and over but I would say as long as they understand how to roll a dice and use the result they could play.

Honourable Mentions

Topito   icons8-children-507plus

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This game looks like a simple balancing game but it really is more than that.  In this game you will move blocks between stacks in order to match the criteria on one of your four cards.  The cards give different combinations of blocks for example one might specify that a block must be the fourth one in a stack and another might state that three blocks can be anywhere in a stack on a specific colour plinth. This is a game that I have reviewed previously, you can find that review here.  The game is aimed at children aged 7 and over.  The only reason this game isn’t on my main list is because I think it’s quite hard to get hold of at the moment.  It has only just been released and it will probably take a little while for it to become more widely available.

Stuffed Fables    icons8-family-507plus

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A few caveats here as I haven’t actually played this game yet but this is the game that I will be trying to get hold of for my children for Christmas.  You can read a little about how it works in my interview with the designer, Jerry Hawthorne, here.

 

I hope you found my list helpful and I would love to hear what you would recommend!

An Interview with Jerry Hawthorne

One of the things my children love most about board games are the stories they tell and one of the games that they really love excels at this, Mice & Mystics.  I am delighted that the designer of that game Jerry Hawthorne has agreed to answer some questions and to tell us about his new game, Stuffed Fables, which will be out in time for Christmas!

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Hello Jerry, thanks for agreeing to answer some of my questions today.  My first encounter with one of your games was sitting down to play Mice & Mystics with my family. From the moment we opened the box and saw those little mice characters my children, and me to be honest, were hooked!  How did the game come about?

Thank you for the kind words! If I could be known for just one thing, it’s that I helped grow our hobby by inspiring a passion for board games in young and new players.

Mice and Mystics developed from my desire to help my daughter learn to read. She was young then, and really struggling with reading. I decided I would create a game using her favorite animal, a mouse. I wanted to create a story that would teach her how to connect her imagination to reading, so I added bits of story to the game play. The end result is Mice & Mystics. It’s like a bedtime story you can play.

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That’s such a wonderful reason to create a game!  Are there any plans to return to the world of Mice & Mystics again?

Yes I have plans. I hope I get to tell the rest of the story.

I am sure I am not alone in saying we hope so too!  How did you get into game design?

Quite by accident. I was searching the Internet for games to buy my 3 nephews, when I stumbled across a preview of a Hasbro game called Heroscape. I joined a fan group that was tangentially connected to the designers of the game, and when I played it for the first time, I wrote a detailed account of our experiences. The lead designer of the game invited me to become an official Hasbro playtester, and I said yes to every opportunity I came upon after that.

What is the hardest part about designing a game for you?

The hardest part is crafting a story that must fit in the required restrictions put forth by the game. Not only am I limited by word count, I’m also forced to always write something that compels the game play. If that wasn’t hard enough, the overarching story, must fit the project and tell a complete tale.

If you could co-design a game with any current designers who would you choose and why?

I would choose Ryan Laukat. His games really strum all my strings. His art style is so captivating. His design style is fascinating to me.

I get the impression that the story a game tells is the most important thing for you. Would you agree with that?

Yes, for me it is an important part of the immersion. Games that lack in theme and story are about as memorable as a sudoku puzzle. An enjoyable, yet totally forgettable experience. I want my games to be like books or movies, and leave an indelible memory people can look back on.

Talking of memories what was the first game you remember playing as a child and did you have a favourite game growing up?

I think the first game I can remember was Toss Across, a dexterity tic-tac-toe game using beanbags. My favorite game growing up was Dark Tower. My mum got it for me for Christmas and I just loved that game.

It’s funny how those early game memories stay with you. I used to love playing The Sorcerer’s Cave with my brother building these huge cave systems across the floor! Can you remember what it was about Dark Tower that you loved so much?

Oh I too absolutely loved Sorcerer’s Cave. Dark Tower was so cool because it had this cool electronic tower, and an interesting fantasy theme supported by really great art and figures.

If you could only play one game for the rest of your life what would you choose?

I would pick HeroQuest by Milton Bradley. To this day, it is still one of my most prized possessions.

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Could you tell us a little about why you chose this game?

HeroQuest is an attempt by Milton Bradley to create a boardgame for younger players that mimicked the experience of playing an rpg. I love it because the rules are easy to learn and remember so it is a true gateway game in that sense. The components are some of the best game components ever. I have many many memories of playing this with friends when I was in my early twenties.

I have to say that your new game Stuffed Fables is probably one of my most eagerly anticipated game ever. There is something wonderfully charming about the art and characters. What was the inspiration for this game and could you tell us a little about the story!

Thank you for the kind words. Stuffed Fables came out of my love for a very special movie called Inside Out by Pixar. In the movie, you have a young girl experiencing a traumatic change in her life. The viewer experiences the events through the girl’s emotions, each represented by a color coded individual character that has limited control over the girl’s behavior.

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My desire to gamify this movie lead me to create a color coded dice system where each die would be linked to a character by color and theme. Because I wanted to tell an original story, I spent months playing with various story ideas.

Then one day I thought how interesting it is that stuffed animals, are really for parents in the sense that you give your child something to snuggle, so you can get a good night sleep. The idea then, that stuffed animals protect our sleep, grew into Stuffed Fables, and each of the girl’s stuffed animals represents a different aspect of the girl’s personality.

In Stuffed Fables, each player plays the part of a stuffed animal that comes to life at night to protect their girl from the monsters that come from under the bed. Their first night on the job is the girl’s first night in her new big girl bed. Without the magical crib for protection, it falls on the stuffies to make sure she gets a good night sleep.

But a series of mishaps on their first night causes them to accidentally get sucked into the portal under the bed. They find themselves in the world where the monsters come from. It’s a world ruled by the king of nightmares, and populated by countless lost and broken toys who need your help.

But as soon as the nightmare king finds out you’ve been meddling in his world, he comes after your girl, leading to a series of adventures as you straddle both worlds trying to find a solution to your situation.

Where did the idea for this game came from?

I covered some of this in the above question, but I also want to point out that the events in the story are based upon my own personal experiences as a parent. Each time you play Stuffed Fables, you are playing just one milestone night in a little girl’s life. These are nights where a parent might expect their child to have trouble sleeping, like the first night in her big kid bed, or the night before the first day of kindergarten.

Could you tell us a little about how the game plays?

Stuffed Fables, is a purely cooperative family game. Nobody plays the bad guys, they are controlled by the book. You literally play the game right inside a big 104 page book. The left hand page shows the environment your characters are traveling in, and the right hand page has the story, plus any additional rules that are needed for that location.

On your turn, you start by drawing 5 dice from a bag of 35 different colored Dice. The Dice you draw basically tells you what you can and can’t do on your turn. You can share Dice with fellow players and cooperate to use the Dice you draw in the most efficient way to accomplish the story goals at the moment.

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What was your favourite part about designing this game?

My favorite part of designing Stuffed Fables was creating the different characters.

I think that really comes across as the characters look amazing!  My children are particularly drawn to Lumpy but do you have a favourite character?

I do have a favorite. I like Piggle. She’s a cheerful optimist like myself, and she brings good luck to the group.

Could you tell us a little about some of the other characters in the game?

Sure! We have Theadora Stuffins, the teddy bear leader, she’s special because she is the one the girl chooses to snuggle at night.

We have Flops the bunny with long ears. She is the sassy wisecrack of the group.

There’s Stitch, who is an heirloomer, a hand-made rag doll that has been passed down through generations and functions as the group’s mentor.

We also have Lumpy the elephant, who is the one the girl turns to when she’s sad or troubled. He carries a heavy burden, and is sensitive because of it, but he’s the tank of the group.

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And finally we have Lionel the stuffed lion who represents the girl’s fierceness and self confidence.

Well I didn’t think it was possible but I might now be even more excited about this game! Could you let us all know how we might get hold of a copy of this game!

Yes, Stuffed Fables will be available during early December, it retails for $59.95 US dollars. You can buy it online, preorder it from us, or ask your local retailer.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading some of Jerry’s answers today. If you have any comments I’d love to hear from you!

Yummy Yummy Pancake

Disclaimer: Please note that I was sent a copy of this game for review purposes.  All views on the game are my own however.

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Yummy Yummy Pancake is a memory game in which you are tossing pancakes in a small pan and trying to identify different kinds of pancakes.  This game was designed by Yohan Goh, illustrated by Kyounghee Lee and published by Korea Boardgames. The game is for 2-4 players aged 6 or over.

How to Play

To set up the game you place all the pancakes face down on the table and mix them.  You choose a starting player who receives the frying pan and becomes the chef.

At the start of your turn you take 8 pancakes and place them face-up in the frying pan or if there are some remaining from the previous turn you top-up the number until you have 8 pancakes.  You must then show all the players the pancakes that are in your pan.  There are 5 different types of pancakes; Strawberry, Kiwi, Banana, Blueberry and Chocolate.  The other players must try and remember the combination of pancakes in your pan.

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Once everyone has studied the pancakes you try to flip them, it is important to try and keep them inside the pan! If any fall out these must be returned to the pan face up.  You need to flip a minimum of two pancakes if not you must continue flipping until you have. Once you have flipped two pancakes you must stop.  If you manage to flip 5 or more pancakes then you automatically get to keep one as a bonus.

Once you have a minimum of two facedown pancakes you choose one of them.  You can then secretly check the pancakes topping and ask a player of your choice ‘What is the topping?’  If the chosen player guesses correctly then they get to keep the pancake however if they are wrong then the chef gets to keep it.  The chef must ask at least one player but after that they can choose to continue sharing pancakes or can end their turn.

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The game ends when one player has 12 pancakes or there are not enough pancakes to fill the pan.  The winner is simply the player with the most pancakes.

Final Thoughts

At first glance I thought this would be a simple dexterity game about tossing pancakes however I was wrong.  This game is very much a memory game where you need to remember the different types of pancakes.  The rules of the game are very easy to understand but there are some choices to be made which is good.  You do need to think for example about who you question depending on how many pancakes they have might have already won.  In addition you might want to think about how far you want to push your luck with the questions for example if all your hidden pancakes have the same topping it makes it much easier for the other players to guess what they are and therefore you might want to stop.

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I’m not really sure that my children understood the tactical elements of this game but they absolutely loved using the pan to toss the pancakes.  They managed to mostly keep the pancakes in the pan and the simple rule of just placing them back stopped them getting frustrated if they didn’t.

The component quality of this game is really good. The pan looks just like the real thing but thankfully lighter!  The pancakes aren’t just cardboard tokens but are instead made of sturdy plastic.  The rulebook is also well laid out and easy to understand.

Overall we really enjoyed playing this game.  The novelty of tossing the pancakes in the pan was definitely a hit with the kids but I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy that too! It isn’t all about the novelty however there is also a fun game to be had.

Topito

Disclaimer: Please note that I was sent a copy of this game for review purposes.  All views on the game are my own however.

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Topito is a circus themed game with a lovely mix of dexterity and pattern building.  In this game you are trying to move wooden character blocks to achieve the correct configuration on your card. This game was designed by Marco Teubner, illustrated by Marie Cardouat and published by Korea Boardgames.  The game is for 2-4 players aged seven or over.

How to Play

To set up the game you place the three podium tiles in the centre of the table and place the character blocks in easy reach.  Shuffle the cards and deal four cards to each player.

On your turn you can either:

  1. Choose a character block not currently in play and place it on an empty podium or on top of another existing block.
  2. Move one character block or a stack of blocks onto another existing character block or an empty podium.

It is important to note that when moving a stack of blocks you can only hold it by the bottom block, this rule does not apply to children however.  All blocks must also be placed the correct way up.  In addition you are not allowed to reverse the action the previous player has just taken.

There are four different types of objectives found on the cards, the pictures below show examples of these.

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If a stack of character blocks meets the objective on your card you say ‘photo time’.  You can do this at any time even on another players turn.  Once confirmed this card is placed face up in front of you and you draw back up to four cards.  It is also possible to play more than one card at once and even complete a card immediately after it was drawn.

If you drop or knock the blocks then your turn immediately ends and you must discard one of your played cards.

The winner is the first person to play 7 cards!

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Final Thoughts

This game was an immediate success with my family, we all really enjoyed playing it.

I really enjoyed trying to puzzle out where I needed to move the blocks to in order to match my cards.  You’d get everything lined up and then they would all be moved by the other players!  Sometimes however you would get lucky and someone would accidently complete your card when they moved a block.  The fact that you are trying to balance odd shaped blocks is really good because it prevents you from just moving a large number of blocks to complete a card.

I really liked having multiple objective cards as it gives you a lot of potential moves to consider.  I could really see my children thinking about all of the different moves they could make on their turns.

I would say that there is an element of luck when it comes to which cards you draw, as some types of cards are slightly easier to complete than others.   We haven’t had any issue with this so far however and every game we’ve played has been fairly well balanced.

I am very impressed with the component quality of this game.  The wooden blocks are really lovely, lots of different shapes and very well made.  The cardboard plinths are made of nice thick cardboard and the cardstock is good.  In addition I absolutely love the artwork it’s really fun and captivating!

Overall this is a really fun family game which I would definitely recommend!

Dr Eureka

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Dr Eureka is a game of coordination and logic. The game was designed by Roberto Fraga, Stéphane Escapa was the artist and it was published by Blue Orange Games.  In this game you are trying to be the first player to have the correct combination of molecules (balls) in the test tubes matching the current challenge card.  You will need to carefully pour the molecules from tube to tube until you can match the image on the card.

How to Play

Setting up the game is very easy each player receives 3 plastic test tubes and two molecules of each colour (Green, Purple & Red).  The player places the different coloured balls in separate test tubes.  The challenge cards are then shuffled and placed facedown in a pile.

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When all players are ready to start you turn over the top challenge card. All players then race to match the image on the card. To do this you must pour the molecules from one tube to another without touching them with your hands or letting them fall out of the tubes.

You can complete the card with the test tubes either way up, in other words you are allowed to turn your test tube upside down to achieve the right positions. You must also have the molecules and the test tubes in the correct order e.g. from left to right as well as top to bottom.

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The first person to complete the card calls out “Eureka!” and if it is correct they gain that card.  If you incorrectly say you have finished, you touch or drop a molecule then you are eliminated from the rest of that round.

Players leave the molecules where they are at the end of that round and turn another challenge card and continue.  The first player who reaches 5 cards (points) wins the game.

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Final Thoughts

I’m finding this game a hard one to comment on, as whilst I really enjoyed the game my children were not very keen.  This is because they just don’t have the coordination to pour one ball at a time. Nearly every time they tried to transfer a ball they either poured more than one or dropped them which they found very frustrating.  I recognise that this is something that will improve as they play but they haven’t been overly keen to play it again.

I really enjoyed the game however there is something inherently fun about trying to carefully pour balls from one test tube to another.  I played this over and over again one afternoon with a friend and we had an awful lot of laughs as we raced to complete the challenges.

The component quality of this game is wonderful, the test tubes are made of a really sturdy plastic and the balls are such vibrant colours.  The cards are also good quality and are easy to see at a glance.   The box also comes with a great insert which keeps all the components in place.

Overall I think that we will definitely be keeping this game in our collection as I think the children will enjoy it more as their coordination gets better with age.  Please let me know what you think of this game in the comments below!