Growing Up with Games: Years 4 - 7
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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I am creating this geek list to record the thoughts, feelings, expectations, and the evolution of gaming with my six year old son. I have read through other geek lists which cover the same topic and have found them to be incredibly helpful with selecting games to play with my son.

I want to record (for posterity?) my son's reaction to the games we play. It will be fun to look back on these times far into the future for me while also - hopefully - being a useful tool for you. We will play some games which have already been reviewed by a six year old. However, there will also be reviews/reactions to games not touched upon by others.


PonSquared: 39 years old. 1st grade teacher, likes board games, fantasy novels, audio books, anime/manga with good stories but no fan-service or moe, and RPG games in any medium be it pen&paper/board/card/video games.

Naito (Knight-toe): 7 years old. Likes playing soccer, board games, video games, and hot wheels.

Raishi (Ra-ē-she):5 years old. Likes going to Pre-K, running around, eating starchy things, and copying his older brother.


What I intend to do:

♣ Record how my boys feel about a game. Let them tell you what they think in their own words.

♠ Give my thoughts on playing the game with my boys and state how difficult it is to teach the game and if I had fun playing it with him or not, and why.

♦ The age of my boys when we played.

♥ How we rate the game.


Quote:
Review Queue Status (In no particular order...)


The Magic Labyrinth

Sorry Sliders

Pitchcar

Hoot Owl Hoot!

Hearts of Attraction

Apples to Apples Jr

Perplexus Rookie (broken)

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1. Board Game: Animal Upon Animal [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:839] [Average Rating:6.84 Unranked]
Board Game: Animal Upon Animal
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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09/25/14

Naito's Age: 6.0
Raishi's Age: 4.3

Number of times played:

Game Description:
Animal Upon Animal is a light dexterity game where players take turns stacking animals on the back of a crocodile. A die randomizes the player actions each turn. The winner is the player who stacks all of their animals first.

My Thoughts:
This is a really fun game to play with the boys. The pieces are large, interesting, and of high quality. Teaching the game is a snap with simple and well written rules. We can all have fun together at a competitive level.

As an adult, this game is pretty fun to play due to the dexterity elements and the fact that the boys can play at a high level. I do not always win, so that is a huge plus for the game. It takes seconds to setup, minutes to play, and goes back into the box in a jiffy. Our attention can be held through several game plays at a sitting.

Naito's Thoughts:
"I love this game! The pieces are different animals and shapes. It is fun to stack the animals and you can stack them upside-down. These is nothing I don't like about the game except giving other people my animals. I don't like to give people my things... except my friends."

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:


Bonus Raishi Review:

"I like it. It's great! Stacking the animals is fun. I do not like when the animals fall down."

Raishi's Rating:



10/19/14

Naito's Age: 6.1
Raishi's Age: 4.4

We all enjoyed it today as much as we did the first time a month ago. The boys are getting better at it, though Raishi still has trouble putting the pieces on correctly. No matter, smiles all around.


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2. Board Game: Qwirkle [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:752]
Board Game: Qwirkle
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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10/04/14

Naito's Age: 6.4

Number of times played:

Game Description:
In Qwirkle, players take turns trying to match the tiles in their hand to the ones on the board. Matches can be made by color, shape, or both. Points are given based on how many or how big the matches you make are. The winner is the player who has the most points at the end of the game.

My Thoughts:
Qwirkle is a fun game for adults to play. On an even playing field we can really challenge each other to a brain-bending battle of the wits. I enjoy it quite a bit even though I am the worst player at the table.

With Naito it is a bit of a different story. The game is easy to explain which is a plus and Naito had no problem understanding the basic concept of the rules. However, playing the game proved to be a challenge for him. What he struggled with is two fold.

First, he had a hard time placing pieces in legal places. For example, he would place a yellow circle in a yellow row that already contained a yellow circle. Or, he would place the yellow circle correctly in a yellow row but the yellow circle would be abut to a blue square. If it was once that would not be so bad but he continued to make the same mistakes over and over throughout the game.

Second, he had a hard time placing multiple pieces at once. He might place one piece correctly but the rest of the pieces would be placed incorrectly. Lets say he placed a yellow circle on the top of some yellow shapes. As he placed he yellow circle he would also place two circles of different colors in the row. I had to explain to him many times that he could place the yellow circle in the yellow row but the other circles had to be placed across the row, not in line with it. It was a concept he just could not wrap his brain around.

For our first game we did not play with points and played with our hands showing. He had a hard enough time with tile placement as it was; adding points to the game would have only confused him more. It was also interesting to see how hard it was for him to place a tile without knocking half the board out of line. Naito is mature for his age with his hand movements but he still struggled with putting the tiles in place gently.

Naito is either an incredibly resilient child, kid positive about everything, or he really enjoyed Qwirkle. I was surprised to hear how much he enjoyed the game even though he struggled to play it correctly at a base kid friendly level. He went so far as to ask if we culd play it again soon. The game is a feast of colors for a six year old. Perhaps too much as the board nears the end game. Nevertheless, he was smiling and having fun each time he made a correct match and every time he drew new tiles from the bag. Hopefully he will improve his Qwirkle skills with subsequent plays.

For me, our first game of Qwirkle was akin to a game of memory. We matched colors and shapes - or at least he tried to - but did not have a way to gauge a winner. Naito was fine with it but I was only okay with it. Did we play Qwirkle? That is a difficult question. We used the pieces and played by some of the rules but the heart of the game was missing. I see possibility, however. I do not think it will take him forever to learn the game. With no text and really only a few rules he should be able to play at a much higher level after a few tries.

I play this with my adult family and friends and it goes over great. As a purchase for a 6.0 year old child - even for one who is slightly ahead of the mental/dexterity curve such as Naito - I'd have to say Qwirkle is a very expensive matching game.

In the end, I will reserve final judgement on a six year old playing Qwirkle after at least five or so plays. Until then...

Naito's Thoughts:
Naito's Thoughts: "I like it. It is fun to put the colors together. I like to add my tiles to the stack (board.) I don't like it when I can't put the tiles where I want to put them (due to the placement being an illegal move.)

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:

My Rating:
Naito's Rating:


The board after our first game of Qwirkle.





01/26/15

Naito's Age: 6.5

It has been nearly half a year and I felt it was time to bring Qwirkle back out for another try. Naito seemed to like the game when we played it back in October but it was above him at the time so we both felt it best to put it away for a while and try again later. Did a few months make any difference?

I am glad to say it has. While Naito needed to be refreshed on some of the rules to be sure; He generally remembered how to play. He needed some reminders with where to place tiles for the first half of our first game. After that, though, he was on his way to becoming an old pro.

Best of all, as a parent, I was able to watch him grow in ability and skill. He got better as we played it more and more. In our last game, for example, he got pretty close to beating me. I love being able to play at my maximum ability while my son is breathing down my neck for a win. He even told me, when we talked about the game, that he thinks he can beat me! Could I live with losing to my six-year-old son in Qwirkle? Yes! It is my dream to have engaging battles against my children in a true tests of wits, strategy, and skill. Watching my son learn and grow is much more enjoyable than winning every time.

Qwirkle is a great kids game if it played with the right child of the right age. Now that Naito can grasp the rules he often asks to play it . He is very much looking forward to knocking me off my Qwirkle victory tower. I am very much looking forward to it, too.

Naito's Understanding:

My Rating:
Naito's Rating:


Naito's Thoughts:
I like getting a Qwirkle and getting lots of points. I even got 16 points once. I think I will beat you (daddy) soon. Qwirkle is a good game is for a six-year old and it is fun. I want to play you three more times (tomorrow.)

Hrmmm... Where which one do I place next?

Hehehe! If I put 4 yellow tiles here, then I get 5 + 6 = 11!!

Our final score from a game.
Naito is starting to get qwirkles and ever closer to victory!

That was fun!



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3. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:786]
Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish!
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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10/18/12

Naito's Age: 6.1
Raishi's Age: 4.4

Number of times played:

Game Description:
Hay, that's my Fish! is a simple game of moving penguins across an ice flow to grab as many fish as you can before the ice melts. Players take turns moving their penguin in a straight lines across the ice to gobble up as many fish as possible. When you move your penguin, you remove the tile they started on from the board and add it to your supply. Players try to get tiles with the most fish on them while blocking (or being blocked by) other players from doing the same. The player with the most fish on their tiles at the end of the game wins.

My Thoughts:
Hay, that's my Fish is a real blast to play! It is simple in design and concept, light on rules, short time requirements, and is as easy to set-up as it is to take down. Everyone enjoyed playing it and we all agreed for a game costing less than $10, it was money very well spent.

The tiles are smaller than I thought they would be but they are big enough to serve their purpose. Larger and thicker tiles would have made the game more accessible to smaller hands. We found it was impossible for the boys to remove most of their tiles from the board on their own. We had to remove all of Raishi's tiles while Naito only needed help with the inner tiles. He could safely remove tiles on the edge of the board on his own after a few tries. The miniatures are fantastic in detail and feel and are of the expected quality of a Fantasy Flight game miniature.

When we play, we ask for the boys to pick up their penguin then put it down on the tile they want to move to. Keeping them from siding their penguin across the ice keeps the board from exploding. Both boys were able to follow this rule and at no time in our fist two games did we have to reassemble the board.

Both Naito and Raishi were able to play and have fun. For the first game, we spent a lot of time reminding the boys that they could only move in straight lines. By the second game, Naito was able to fully play by the rules without any help. Raishi, on the other hand, still needed reminders but did improve somewhat.

I think we will be playing this a lot. It was a huge hit for the whole family and even mom got in on the action and had fun.

Naito's Thoughts:
"I love this game. I like when you move your penguin and try to get more fish. You can get more and more points. It is not fun when you have no more penguins and you are out of the game."

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:


Bonus Raishi Review:

"It is fun to move your penguins. They can go in straight lines and get fish. It is no when you are out of the game."

Raishi's Rating:


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4. Board Game: Doodle Quest [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2613]
Board Game: Doodle Quest
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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10/19/12

Naito's Age: 6.1
Raishi's Age: 4.4

Number of times played:

Game Description:
In this game you draw lines. Players study quest cards then try to replicate the depicted path on their separate transparent doodle sheets. Once finished, players place their doodle sheets on top of the quest card to see whether the drawings line up. There are various ways for players to earn bonus and negative points.

My Thoughts:
This is an interesting game. Each player has their own transparent white board and dry erase marker. The group is given a quest card to look at and are asked to draw lines to achieve various objectives. Sometimes you have to go from one side of the board to the other without touching various objects. Other times you need to circle something without hitting sharks, fish, etc. There are 18 double sided quest cards in the game and each one is different from the others. Even when you have played each card, you will want to replay them again and again.
While my wife and I had no trouble gaining tons of points on each easy level quest, the boys found it near impossible to get any points. Oddly, it did not matter. They were having so much fun drawing lines on the whiteboards and checking them against the quest board that they didn't mind if they made mistakes. They found their mistakes to be ridiculously funny more then frustrating.

I feel like they understood how to play the game but were mentally/physically unable to successfully translate what they saw into what they needed to do. Did it matter? Hard to say. They had so much fun (which is the most important point in playing games with the boys,) I'd say score is not something we need to care about for a while. In the future, as they get older and better at the game, then perhaps we'll play for score. Maybe.

As for me, I had a lot of fun too. Playing against my wife was exciting (I lost by one point!) We both thought the game was a winner. If I played with just the boys and I would still have a good time even if I was not playing for the win. Its just fun to doodle and see how it goes.

Naito's Thoughts:
"This is my first drawing game. It is really fun. I like drawing in the game. I don't like losing."

Raishi's Thoughts:
"I like drawing the lines on the board. I do not like when I hit things."

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:
Raishi's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:
[b]Raishi's Rating:




12/14/14

Naito's Age: 6.3
Raishi's Age: 4.7

We played again but we used sequentially higher numbers (7-12.) The boys remembered how to play and had a lot of fun, but their scores were not high. They didn't really care, though. It was more fun to draw lines and laugh about what they did wrong (or right!) It is very hard for both of them to gauge where they needed to draw their various bubbles or lines, or fish. They would draw stuff all over the place and get zero points more often than not. Even so, they still enjoyed it. They told me that they didn't care about the points. Well, Naito did say he does not care about the points as long as they weren't too bad (translation: ...as long as I got more than my brother.)

They are not going to be good at this game for a long time but as they have so much fun playing it that I think that their view of the game is just fine.

"Draw 9 circles in the light colored area." Boys draw = circles everywhere!

What a 4 year old draws when given a fish stencil.

Final score (Not that it mattered to the boys...)




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5. Board Game: Click Clack Lumberjack [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1774]
Board Game: Click Clack Lumberjack
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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11/29/12

Naito's Age: 6.2
Raishi's Age: 4.5

Number of times played:

Game Description:
Tok Tok Woodman is a dexterity based game where players use an ax to knock bark off of a tree without knocking down the core off the tree. Sounds strange? Think of Jenga but with a stack of wood rounds and using an axe over using your fingers.

My Thoughts:
Before I begin discussing the game I would like to note something special about it. This was a game given to me by my BGG Secret Santa. A game I did not have on my wishlist but one my Santa thought would be a hit with me and my family.

Was it? Yes.

Clearly, Santa knows my family well. We love Tok Tok Woodman. It was an instant hit. Giving kids an ax and using it to simulate chopping wood (something that we the adults of this home do anyway for our wood burning stove) could not have gone over better. The game is simple to setup and just as easy to take down. Playing the game takes five minutes if that and win or lose everyone enjoys themselves.

Naito was fairly quick to pick up on how to swing the ax but he would still occasionally knock the whole tree down. He was even able to win a round which made him very happy. Raishi on the other hand had a hard time not knocking down the whole tree with each swing. Did it matter? No. We all had a big laugh and or cheer after each hit or knockdown.

This is a game I see my kids reaching for time and time again. Honestly, I hope the do. I want to play it as much as they do.

Naito's Thoughts:
"I love it. I like getting the bark pieces. Getting extra points is great! When Raishi knocks down the whole tree its funny. I dont like losing points."

Raishi's Thoughts:
"I like to swing the ax to knock down bark. I don't like knocking down the core pieces."

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:
Raishi's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:

Raishi's Rating:







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6. Board Game: Jenga [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:10969]
Board Game: Jenga
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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11/30/14

Naito's Age: 6.2

Number of times played:

Game Description:
Jenga is a tower building game. It is played with 54 flat rectangular wooden blocks. The blocks are stacked 3 blocks to a floor with each floor being placed across, not in-line, with the previous floor. There are 18 floors in a Jenga tower.

Once the tower is built players take turns moving blocks from the middle of the tower to the top of it. Only one hand at a time may be used to remove a block. Your turn ends when the next person to move touches the tower.

The game ends when the tower falls. The loser is the person who made the tower fall (i.e. whose turn it was when the tower fell). Everyone else is the winner.

My Thoughts:
Jenga is a classic game that I used to play when I was a kid. It was pretty cool back in the day. A game people of most ages and abilities could play and enjoy. A crossover game good for gamers and non-gamers alike.

When my son asked if we could play Jenga this morning I was happy to oblige him. He heard about the game from someone, he said, and wanted to play it. Good enough reason for me.

It only took him a few turns to learn the rules, such as they are. He was able to understand the, "Grab from the middle and plop on top mechanic," easily enough. He was so good at this we were able to build the tower pretty high before he caused its inevitable collapse and destruction.

What was a little hard for him was the rule that says you may only use one hand at a time. It took him two games to really be able to use only one hand. Even as the second game ended, he still would try to use his offhand to steady the tower while his main hand would grab the piece. I think with his rate of progress he'll be able to play the game completely by the rules after another few games.

I will also mention how happy Naito was when I caused the tower to fall at the end of the second game. I really thought that piece would come out just fine! As often happens, things didn't exactly go as planned - much to my sons' delight.


Naito's Thoughts:
"I like it because it is my first stacking game. It is fun to take the pieces out and stack them on top. It is really funny when someone knocks the tower down."

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:



My first move!

Oh, this one can be pulled out.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

That was fun!

Is this the best part of Jenga?



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7. Board Game: FITS [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1494]
Board Game: FITS
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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12/13/14

Naito's Age: 6.3
Raishi's Age: 4.7

Number of times played:

Game Description:
FITS is essentially a multi-player Tetris clone. Each player has an inclined board on which they place different shapes. Cards are drawn from a pile to tell the players which piece to take. The pieces may be rotated and reversed before they slide down the inclined area to dock to other gaming pieces. Unlike Tetris, pieces cannot be rotated once dropped. Scoring depends on the rules of each board.

My Thoughts:
I got FITS as a game to play with my wife and friends. My wife has always been a fan of Tetris so I knew FITS would be a perfect fit for us. What never crossed my mind was that FITS was also a game the boys would not only enjoy but also one they could play well.

One game night we got FITS to the table as the first game of the evening. Naito was getting ready for bed at the time and happened to wander past as a few of us were playing. As he watched us finish out game he asked if he could play int he next one. As we only had three players at the time and mommy was busy with Raishi I passed him the last board, explained the rules one time, and away he went.

Naito is able to play FITS at a reasonably competent level. On board one he can put up some good scores. With several games under his belt he has consistently cleared 5 - 7 rows per game. He is largely able to play by the rules and is able to find the required piece quickly. During the game you do need to keep your eye on him as he has a tendency to move a previously placed piece to better fit a new piece. If you remind him that the rules forbid moving previously placed pieces he will return the piece back to where it was and place the new piece legally.

Raishi, on the other hand, played his first few games of FITS on a team with mommy. He needed her gentle hand to guide him and keep his moves legal. As he has through several games he has been able to do more on his own with ever less assistance from mommy. After he asked to play on his own today we decided he was ready and to give him his own board for the first time.

I am happy to say that Raishi was able to complete his board in both of the games we played today. While he did not post good scores, not that we were playing for score, he did have a great time and was able to follow most of the rules. There were only two real things that hindered him: His age and hopping over pieces.

He is a four year old so he does not yet have the mental facility to place the pieces in the the best possible alignment. While I would not say he places the pieces in a completely random manner, he does put things in odd positions that block out large sections of his board. Thankfully Raishi is playing to play, not playing to win. He does not care about the efficiency of his placements or if he got the most rows. All he wants to do is to place the pieces on the board and count however many rows he managed to eek out at the end of the game.

For Raishi, any large area of dots in the middle or bottom of his tower is a great place to put his next piece. We explained how you need to slide a piece down from the top and that it can not go over/through pieces already there - and that helped a little. He will slide his piece down but when he gets it to the top of his tower, if he sees he can place it in a blocked off open area down below, he will pick it up and try to put it into that space. It got a little frustrating having to remind him again and again that you are not allowed to go through pieces already on the board in this game. While it was frustrating, we understood that we are playing to have fun and are not at the FITS World Championship so we never got upset or annoyed.

It is important to note that all of the games we played were on board one. When you add in the numbered dots (+/-) and when uncovered dots become negative points; the game gets way too hard for the boys. Stick to board one for the little kids and use boards two - four for the spouse and at game night.

FITS is a great game for the whole family. There is really something for all of us all to enjoy. My wife, friends, and I can play competitively at a high level. Naito can make a lot of rows and have a great time doing it while Raishi can play with the funny shapes and make a row or two in the process.

Naito's Thoughts:
"I like sliding the pieces down to make rows. The pieces are funny shapes. I like to make a lot of rows. I don't like leaving a lot of dots."

Raishi's Thoughts:
"I like it when I get (to cover) the dots. The pieces are funny shapes and I like to put them together. Getting all the dots is hard. I do not like when I leave some dots."

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:
Naito's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:
Raishi's Rating:



Everyone plays FITS!

At the end of our second game of the night:
Dad (39) - Green
Naito (6) - Blue
Raishi (4) - Red

- Somehow Raishi managed to not use one of his pieces during the game! We all had a big laugh about it.



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8. Board Game: Zombie Dice [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:1949]
Board Game: Zombie Dice
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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12/28/14

Naito's Age: 6.3
Raishi's Age: 4.6

Number of times played:

Game Description:
In Zombie Dice you are the zombie and you want to eat lots of braaains. The game comes with 13 custom dice that represent your victims. Each turn, you take three dice from the can and roll them. A brain symbol is worth one point , while footsteps allow you to reroll that particular die. Shotgun blasts on the other hand are bad. If you collect three shotgun blasts during your turn then you have been killed and you get no points. After rolling three dice, if you have not yet been killed, then you may score your current brain points or if you want to push your luck, grab new dice and roll again.

Push your luck to eat brains, but stop rolling before three shotgun blasts end your turn! Whoever collects 13 brains first is the winner.


My Thoughts:
Zombie Dice (ZD) is an interesting game for me to review. It is not a game I am truly fond of (I rate it a 6 in my profile.) ZD is just a simple press your luck game. It doesn't really have much to it. You roll dice, get brains or shotguns, either stop and score or not, and then maybe roll again. That's really all there is too it... Which is exactly the reason why, when I saw it on deep discount Amazon, I decided to pick it up and try it with Naito.

I am glad I did.

Boy, does Naito love ZD! Watching him play the game as he laughs, uses his body to attack people like a zombie (see picture below), or bemoan being shot - all while laughing or howling as the other players roll - is very much worth the price of entry. Perhaps he likes ZD due to his love of Minecraft? Or, maybe he likes zombies in general? I don't know. What I do know is Naito always wants to play ZD and I always want to play it with him.

Naito had no trouble understanding the basic rules of ZD when I first explained them to him. He understood the different die colors and how they effect you, walking die need to be re-rolled, and you must always roll three dice. What he did not have a clear grasp of at the beginning was the press your luck aspect (when to stop rolling.) His first few throws were rolling dice till he died. We explained how the mechanic worked several times and, not surprisingly, he got it.

Now, Naito rolls with the best of us and he can honestly beat us as often as not.

ZD is a simple, fun, and fair game for all of us to enjoy. A game where our six year old has an equal chance of winning. A game so fun, Naito will play it solitaire (incredible!) If you are not afraid to expose your child to zombies or guns, I could not recommend this enough for a six-plus year old.

Oh, and brrrrrraaiiinsssss...


Naito's Thoughts:
This is the best game I have ever played! When you get 13 brains you win. It's fun to roll the dice and get brains. I like being a zombie and love it when other people get shotguns. I do not like getting shotguns.

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:


Everyone is having a good time.

Look, a red brain!!

I need to eat your brrraaaaaaaaiiinssss...





12/31/14

Grandma and Grandpa came over for our New Years Eve party and Naito taught them how to play. I had to fill in some of the rules a bit but it was truly his show.

"Grandpa, you have to roll the feet again... No, you don't re-roll brains or shotguns."

Ultra Zombie Fighter IV
Grandma vs Naito!
Round 1
- FIGHT! -
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9. Board Game: Chicken Cha Cha Cha [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1620]
Board Game: Chicken Cha Cha Cha
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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01/17/15

Naito's Age: 6.4
Raishi's Age: 4.8

Number of times played:

Game Description:


In Chicken Cha Cha Cha (CCCC), the goal is to to "cha cha" your chicken past every other player's chicken, stealing each of their tail feathers as you go by them. The first player to collect all of the tail feathers wins.

To play you place all of the egg tiles face up in a circle. It is a good idea to shuffle the tiles and make sure no two of the same images are next to each other. You then shuffle and place the hexagonal tiles in the center of the circle, spreading them out slightly. Once the game is ready, each player takes a chicken, places its corresponding tail feather into its backside and places it on one of the egg tiles. After all players place their chickens evenly spaced out across the circle game play may begin.

On your turn you will check the next egg tile in front of your chicken (going clockwise) and then try to guess where its matching hexagonal tile is. If the player selects correctly, then his or her chicken advances and he or she may check the next picture and try to guess correctly again. That player may then continue advancing around the board until he or she guesses incorrectly. When a player flips a hexagonal tile they must then place it back, face down, in the place it originally was thus maintaining the pattern of hexagonal tiles in the center of the circle.

Should a player hop over another players' chicken he or she takes all the tail feathers out of the chicken he just hopped. If a player collects all of the available feathers in the game then the game ends and that player is the winner.

My Thoughts:

A chicken dancing memory game for fun and feathers? Where do I sign up?!

Chicken Cha Cha Cha is a lot of fun to play for both children and adults. In CCCC, there is little chance a child is going to beat an adult (unless the adult has a terrible memory,) everyone will have a great time nonetheless. While the boys could remember the location of a few tiles at a time, the adults would eventually remember where all of the tiles were and could then run the board and win. It is hard to purposefully lose in CCCC. You can offer the kids some help to get them a victory but otherwise all you can do is guess incorrectly on purpose to give them a chance.

*PRO TIP: Throwing a game with your child is perfectly okay thing to do! You do not want to crush your children's spirits too much or they'll hate playing games and it'll be everyone's loss,)

Is Chicken Cha Cha Cha...

...fun play with the kids? thumbsup
...fun for the adults to play on their own? thumbsup
...fun for the kids to play on their own? thumbsup
...fun to play by yourself? thumbsup

CCCC is really a well designed game. Not only can it be played by adults with kids or adults on their own, but it can also be played by the kids on their own or with only a single player.

When we played it the first time we all enjoyed the experience. We must have played three or four times before the adults got tired and wanted to move on to something else. The kids did not share our desire to move on, however. Naito and Raishi told us they wanted to play it without us and that they knew how to set the game up and play it without us. My wife and I agreed and got to enjoy watching the boys play CCCC without any adult assistance. The boys had a blast playing on their own and we had a blast watching them.

When the boys play alone, we have a house rule where the kids only have eight hexagonal tiles and 16 egg tiles instead of the standard number. This makes the game a little easier on them and makes the it go a bit faster. They like playing with all the hexagonal tiles/egg tiles when we play as a family but prefer the easier version when playing alone.

Chicken Cha Cha Cha is a fun game that teaches children how to use their memory, pattern recognition, and decision making skills. For adults the game is easy to explain, super simple to setup, fun, challenging, and a snap to put away. While all that is important, the best part of all is that we all loved the game and we all look forward to playing it some more

I also think it is worth mentioning how wonderful the game's presentation is. The art on the box and tiles is colorful and whimsical, the wooden chickens are huge, well painted, and feel great in the hand and the tail feathers are cute and easy to insert/remove in the chicken's tails.

Naito's Thoughts:
Chicken Cha Cha Cha is a fun matching game where you have to match pictures to the tile and then you get to go again and again. I like getting the feathers. The chickens are just the right size to pickup. The game has beautiful art. I don't like it when someone else gets all the feathers. It is hard to match the cards but it is fun.

Raishi's Thoughts:
I like it when you get all the feathers and win the game. This is an awesome game! I like when you get a picture right and you get to move the chicken again and again. I don't like to mix up the pictures or eggs.

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:
Raishi's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:
Raishi's Rating:



The boys are playing BY THEMSELVES and loving it!


Naito: "This is it!"
Raishi: "Hrmmmm...."


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10. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:881]
Board Game: Tsuro
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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01/30/15

Naito's Age: 6.4
Raishi's Age: 4.8

Number of times played:

Game Description:

In Tsuro, you and the other players are selecting path tiles to advance your dragons around the board. The most skilled player who has luck on their side will reign supreme when they have the last dragon standing on the board.

On your turn you select a tile from your hand, place it in front of your dragon, and advance it to the end of the path you have just created. This is easy to do unless your path connects to another player's dragon. Then, they will decide where your next path will take you. More often than not, the other player will swiftly path you off the board and into the land of defeat.

My Thoughts:

A few years ago when I was getting back into gaming I was introduced to Tsuro. It may have been my first board game I played since the late 90s. It was a game my friend owned so I never felt the need to purchase it. We played it a few times and then moved on to more complicated games. At the time it never occurred to me how great of a game Tsuro would be with kids. This held true up until the Amazon Lightning Deal I came across last December offering a hefty discount on it. I had no choice but to purchase it and try it out with the boys.

We have played a lot of Tsuro. It is constantly on the table with paths and dragons flying everywhere. One of the reasons it is so popular at my home is because the game is just so incredibly easy to get out of the box and start playing. All you have are dragons to select, tiles to lightly shuffle, and the board to unfold. Best of all, if you are playing a four player game and it takes you more than 10 minutes to finish - even with little ones in the game - then you are doing something wrong. It is so easy for an hour of Tsuro to blow by with four or sometimes five games played.

Another advantage for Tsuro is its player count. The game works with 2 - 8 players much as the box says. After many plays with player counts from 2 - 6, I have to say a two player game is a lonely game with little player interaction. Three players will have two players in a tense battle while the third player wanders around on their own waiting for one or both of the other players to get knocked out. Four plus players is where the game truly shines. With four of more there is chaos at every turn with dragons flying all over the place on who knows what path. In short, the less players the more strategic (and serious) the game gets while the more players you have the more chaotic (and fun/funny!) the game gets.

When I introduced Tsuro to the boys I explained the rules, showed them some examples, and started play. In our first games we kept our hands to one tile to make the game as simple as possible. It might have taken Naito three tiles before he could play the game on his own. Raishi may have taken a full game before he understood how the game worked. By the second game we were zooming down our paths towards our inevitable destinies. After about 10 games we switched to a three tile hand. The boys were both okay with it with the older liking it more and the younger liking it a bit less.

Not all is perfect in the land of dragons, however. For one, the boys struggle with placing their tiles correctly on the grid. The designers went with style over practicality here. The board features a beautiful image of a phoenix with the grid faded out into the background. For adults there is never a problem with where to place a tile. For the little ones it can be a challenge early in the game. Naito has improved with his placements but Raishi, even after 15+ games, still wants to place tiles in odd ways at the early stages of a game.

Their other problem is following long paths. When the boys place a tile and their path is only that one tile long then they can follow it without issue. However, should their tile connect them to an established path, especially one with a lot of twists or loops, they often windup on the wrong path or even backtracking down their own path to their start point. My wife and I noticed early on that the boys always lifted their dragons six or more inches off the board as they move down a path. Once we noticed this, we had them bring their dragons to an inch or so above the board as they move it. Naito has gotten a lot better at moving his dragon while Raishi still struggles with long paths if we do not assist him with it.

Tsuro is not a game we would let the boys play on their own. If left on their own with a copy of Tsuro close at hand the following things would happen: Dragons would be repeatedly slammed on the table and off onto the floor, tiles would be flung like ninja stars, and dents dings and bruises would appear on every piece of the game. If you are looking for a game the wee ones can play on their own then I would suggest most strongly to look elsewhere. Tsuro is a game to play with the family, not a game for the kids to play alone in their room. At least not at four to six years old.

Tsuro is one of those games that works for everyone of any age or skill level. You can be a four or ninety and be able to enjoy the simplicity of Tsuro. You could have never seen a board game before in your life or be the world board game champion and still be able to kick back with it for a relaxing game of paths and dragons. It has just the right balance of easiness, decision making, and take that to appeal to everyone at the table.


Naito's Thoughts:
Tsuro is a very fun game. It is a game where you have to stay on the path and not go off the edge and not hit into other people. If everyone else goes off the edge then you win.

There are a lot of different shaped paths. The path tiles are cool looking. The board art is beautiful. The game is best with three tiles in your hand so you can pick wherever you want to go.

Lots of times other people make you go on their tiles and then you have to go off the board.

Raishi's Thoughts:
Tsuro is so good! I think it is funny when you lose with one tile. It is funny to go in a circle. it is hard to win but if everyone else dies then it is easy to win. I like when people bump into each other and both of them die. Tsuro is more fun with one tile in your hand cause you always get a new tile.

Is it easy to teach?:
Naito's Understanding:
Raishi's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:
Raishi's Rating:



I have no idea what is about to happen if I put this here...
...but I think it is going to be awseome!

Momma Dragon wins!

Raishi, "I'm dead! Hahahaha!"
Dadda, "Sweety, but you just lost..."
Raishi, "I know! Hahahaha!"







Tsuro is a great game for making memories. Here are a few of our Tsuro stories we wanted to share.


So this happened: During one game Raishi placed his 4th tile of the match in such a way that the path it created took him off the edge of the board and out of the game. We tried to tell him he could place the tile in a different way to keep him in the game but he was having none of it! He thrust his hand out and demanded we let him follow his original path. We relented and let him have his way. He grabbed his piece, moved it along the path till it was off the edge of the map, and then knocked it over off the side of the board. Once out of the game he sat back in his chair and basked in triumphant... defeat...? As soon as the basking ended, he hopped off his chair and hopped on to my lap. He spent the rest of that match smiling and laughing as if he had done the most wonderful thing in the world - to which we all agreed.


This was hilarious for all of us, Naito included. It was also why we decided it was time to move from one tile in our hands to three.

Turn 1... Out!?
Naito, "That was funny! I'm out the first turn. Wait, I'm out...? Eehhh?"



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11. Board Game: My First Carcassonne [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1382]
Board Game: My First Carcassonne
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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02/13/15

Naito's Age: 6.5
Raishi's Age: 4.8

Number of times played:

Game Description:
In My First Carcassonne players use road tiles to build and close roads. Once a road has an end point on both sides of it, it is considered closed. Next players count how many characters of their color are on the closed road and place one of their meeples on each one. The player who is able to place all of their meeples onto the board first is the winner.


My Thoughts:
Carcassonne for kids. A great game scaled down for little hands. Is the fun scaled down as well? Lets find out.

My First Carcassonne was the first kids game I ever bought for my boys. It looked simple enough for them to play and interesting enough for me to enjoy. More than that, I hoped it was a big step up from roll-and-move games such as Candy Land or Shoots & Ladders.

I had done extensive research on kids games on the BGG forums, from GeekLists like mine, and on from the internet at large. What I found was that kids can deal with simple game mechanics while making interesting choices without hand-holding from adults. Good kids games feature compelling game play with interesting decision making. "Should I put this here or there? What do I remember about what just happened? How hard should I hit it? Where should I hit it?" It was this search that led me to My First kids board game Carcassonne. A light version of a great game where players had to make choices, all be it simple ones, to help themselves move closer to victory.

When we played My First Carcassonne the first thing we noticed was how easy it is it setup. We passed out some meeples, shuffled a few tiles, and then get down to road building. Putting it away was just as easy with the box insert accommodating the tiles and meeples perfectly. Even storing it vertically was no problem with everything staying snug in its slot.

Next we were delighted by the wonderful and unique art on each of the thick tiles. Each tile has one or more of the four characters walking down the road, feeding sheep, or getting involved in other assorted mischief. The tiles also offer cute scenes of various castles, houses, rivers, bridges, and animals. With no two tiles boasting the same images the game as interesting to look at as it is to play.

When my boys got their hands on the over-sized meeples (pictured above) they were thrilled. They enjoyed stacking them, lining them up, and playing with them in whatever why they could think up. More than one of them found their way to the floor and under the table. When we were using them for their intended purpose, the boys had no problem picking them up and placing them on the character of their color on the map. When we compared the My First Carcassonne meeple to a normal meeple we noticed that the My First meeples were thicker, larger by half, and sported giant rounded heads. The designer made the right choice here to go with the more kid friendly meeple and we all appreciated it.

Once the game started we found the game played simply and quickly. A game turn consisted of two parts: Drawing and placing a tile and then, if a road is closed, placing appropriate meeples on the map. Tile placement came down to a few simple choices depending on what is on the tile. We could end a road or make an existing one longer. Things got a little complicated when we had to decide if ending a road with someone else characters on it was advantageous or not. I found this to be the only real strategy in the game. The boys on the other hand looked for one of their characters on a road they end and then closed it, regardless of what other characters were on the road.

After a few games Naito got better at closing roads with more of his characters on it than another players and soon was consistently beating me. Raishi, on the other hand, still looks for any road with a characters of his on it to end. As for me, I find the game to be lacking of any interesting adult minded choices. Of course I have a hundred places to put a tile but one of them is clearly the best place to put it. So, while the game offers choices, much more than a roll-and-move ever could, they are empty choices.

With always knowing exactly where to put my tiles it would make sense if I were to say that I almost always won, right? I don't. The game usually comes down to what character is drawn the most. If most of the tiles contain a blue character, then odds are the blue character usually wins. If mostly green characters come up then green usually wins. This rule is fairly consistent among players who understand the game. Only when Raishi's characters come up the most will another player often win.

Decision making?  

Better than a roll-and-move?  

Great times for kids and adults?  

Great for a group of adults without kids?  


My First Carcassonne is not a game a group of adults are going to want to sit down to play at game night. There is not enough game here to keep the adults entertained without the kids. I am not suggesting that this is a bad game - not by far - but where some games translate to great times for adults at game night (Toc Toc Woodman/Doodle Quest/Hay, that's my Fish!/etc.) My First Carcassonne is a game that is only ever going to be played with the kids. Let me make it clear: My First Carcassonne is a great game to play with the kids.

There were a lot of great moments I got to enjoy while playing this with the boys. I got to watch my boys cleverly add their characters to my unfinished road keeping me from running away with the game. Or, groan when they placed a tile with my characters on it way away from everything else on the map. I even got to taste the thrill of victory as I was one meeple away from winning only to have it morph into the agony of defeat when Naito closed a road with four meeples on it and won the game. It was fun to watch them make ever better choices while they began to actively conspire against me.

Naito was able to pickup the game quickly. His first game or so he would place tiles in odd places or was not mindful of if he was helping another player or not. It didn't take him long before he was wise to where he placed his tiles. He went from finishing a game with three meeples left to beating me with regularity. Now, after many games, I would say he beats me more often than I beat him. Part of this is the games natural ability to give the player with the most characters on the board an advantage and part of was he got pretty good at seeing his best play.

Raishi struggles a little with My First Carcassonne. At the beginning he would place a tile anywhere he fancied. It took him several games before he understood that where he put his tile mattered. While he gets the basic rules of the game and how to win, he does not yet have the ability to find his best play. Now, after many games played, when he draws a tile he will place it on a road that is either close to him or one that has one of his characters on it. This would be fine if there was not a road across the map that has three of his characters on it and is already closed on one side.

Raishi loves the game and always wants to play it. Unfortunately for him, and largely due to his age, he is not very good at it and almost never wins. In fact, he usually has more than half his meeples off the map when the game ends putting him squarely in last place. While he likes to add to map and place meeples when he can, I think his love of the game comes from trying to beat daddy by helping his older brother.

When the thee of us play, Raishi will try his best to win but when he knows he will not he starts to help his brother instead. He will start to help Naito close roads or add characters to Naito's roads. I have talked to them both about fair play, and admittedly Naito really wants to win on his own; but, when Raishi begins to help Naito responds with giggles and thanks not shock and condemnation. I won't deny that it is funny to watch them work together even if it means another loss for me. Well, it does annoy me, sometimes....

My First Carcassonne is a simple game of tile placement. It is cute, fun, and easy for a six year old to understand and possibly master. Even a four-year-old can get in on the action but do not expect him or her to challenge you for victory for a long time.


Naito's Thoughts:
(My First) Carcassonne is a road game that you can play with four players. It is really fun. You get to build roads so you can put your meeples on them. To win, you have to close roads by putting tiles with end pieces on both sides of the road. If you have any people on the road then you can put your meeple on it.

I like the meeples and the road tiles. The meeples are the perfect size for little hands. All of the tiles have funny shaped roads on them. The tiles feel good in my hand and it is easy to put them down and move them around. The art on the tiles is beautiful and the meeples are cool.

My First Carcassonne is not boring. We have played it a lot and I still have fun playing it. I want to play it a lot more.

Kids my age should play it.

Raishi's Thoughts:
I like this game. It is fun when I end a road. I like to put my meeples down. I do not like when I loose if I have a lot of meeples left.


Is it easy to teach?:
Naito's Understanding:
Raishi's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:
Raishi's Rating:


"I'll put this here and place one... two... three meeples on this road!
I'm going to beat you, Daddy!"
(And he did...)

Let's have fun together.

Broke my leg last night in a horrific ski accident?!
Time for My First Carcassonne!

This game is fun.


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12. Board Game: Spot it! [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1020] [Average Rating:6.65 Unranked]
Board Game: Spot it!
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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Designers: Denis Blanchot, Guillaume Gille-Naves, Igor Polouchine

Artists: Peyo, Igor Polouchine

Publisher: Blue Orange Games

Year Published: 2009

# of Players: 2 − 8

User Suggested # of Players: Best 4 - 5, Recommended 2 - 8

Mfg Suggested Ages: 7+

User Suggested Ages: 4+

Playing Time: 15 minutes





08/25/15

Naito's Age: 6.8
Raishi's Age: 5.1

Number of times played:

Game Description:
Spot it! is a simple matching game in which players try to find the same image shown on two cards. Players may choose one of five mini-games to play, or play any combination of them over several rounds. Depending on the rules of the mini-game you play, the winner is the player with the most, or least, number of cards at the end.

My Thoughts:
About six months ago my uncle bought I Spy Eagle Eye (5.0/10) for the boys. In the game, each player picks a board with an assortment of objects on it. Then, in turns, players flip cards containing a set of objects on it. The first player to find the an object on their board that is listed on the card gets a point. When a certain number of points are earned, a player is crowned the winner.

After playing I Spy for a while you will begin to memorize where all of the objects listed on the cards are. While each board contains a lot of extra objects not found on cards, and cards contain a few objects each; there are only so many boards and cards. The more you play I Spy the easier the game gets while at the same time becoming less and less fun.


The boys liked I Spy first but things quickly went down hill. They began to fight over what they determined to be the best board. We tried to play with random boards but they whined until we relented or we put the game away. When we could get a game started, after a few plays, they would memorize where many of the items on their boards were. While this was an impressive feat, it changed the game from a find an object hidden in a picture game into a game of who could memorize their favorite board better. It got so bad, with their constant fighting and memorizing where the items were, that we decided to put the game away and move on.

The boys were not happy with us not wanting to play I Spy anymore. My wife and I, thoroughly finished with the game, would not relent. Thankfully a child's memory is short and I Spy was soon forgotten as the boys moved on to the next new shiny thing. I, on the other hand, still wanted to play a great matching game with the boys. Something more random and less prone to fighting. I did a few quick searches of BGG's database and found something promising. I hopped over to Amazon to place an order and waited patiently for the game to arrive. Would Spot It!, the new challenger, be the matching game our family was looking for? A game we could play in peace, harmony and happiness? Lets find out.

Spot it!, unlike I Spy, is a versatile game with many different ways to play. The instructions include five mini-game variants with the internet at large offering a few more. In this review I am going to touch on all five of the mini-games (The Tower, The Well, Hot Potato, The Poisoned Gift, and Triplet) which are included in the manual.


Spot It! comes in a rounded metal tin which is something of a theme for Blue Orange Games, the game's publisher. Included in the tin are 55 cards and a rule book. Each card contains an assortment of eight objects on it. While no two cards are exactly the same, each card contains exactly one matching object with every other card in the game.

There are only sixteen objects between any two cards and one object on the the first card will match one of the objects on the second card. If this was all Spot It! had to offer then it would be an easy game to play. However, objects are different sizes on different cards and their orientation and placement vary as well. A big pencil on the right of card one is easy to spot. Unfortunately, on card two it is tiny, left of center, and upside-down. If you are able weed out the 14 extraneous objects and find the match you will either gain or lose a card depending on the mini-game you are playing. If course, while you are looking for that one perfect match, every other player in the game is also looking for a match as well. This pressure to be first is where the real fun of Spot It! lies.

Everyone in the game is racing like a crazy person to find a match first. When someone does find a match they call it out, take or discard a card, and play continues. With everyone playing from the same pool of cards the game does not end until all of the cards are depleted, or claimed, by the players. It is this frenetic non-stop scramble for matches that makes Spot It! so much fun. There is no breaktime, no downtime, no resting the brain. You find a match or you do not. Then you do it again, and again, and again another 45 or so odd times.

If you are lucky a card will be flipped and the matching pair of objects jumps out at you. More often then not though matches are hard to find. So much is the pressure to find a match first that matches become seemingly impossible to find. No matter how much time you have before someone else finds a match - you - just - can - not - find - one! It is not unheard of for a player to stop the game to check if their card really does have a match with the card that was just lost. It goes something like this,

"There is a blue pencil on my card but not on the other card. No green slime (or buggers as the boys like to call it) either. No "ART". No bomb. No skull... AHH! THERE IS A SKULL! HOW DID I NOT SEE IT SOONER!?"

Spot It! is simple enough that the boys can play at a fairly competitive level. Naito is fast enough to always be in the hunt for a win while Raishi usually comes in last but he is still right there with the rest of us. We have played in every possible combination between two and five players and the boys always have a great time.

I really like Spot It!. So much so we have purchased a second version of it: Spot It! Gone Camping to play on our camping trips we often take. Fun, portable, versatile, inexpensive, simple enough for the boys to understand and challenging enough to keep the adults happy. Spot It! is absolutely a must own game for every family. I can not recommend it highly enough.


The Spot It! Mini-Games

The Tower
In this mini-game players must be the first to match their card to the top card in the tower. The first player to do so gains the card and places it on the top of their pile. The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins.

The boys like this version of the game. Raishi has trouble with it and will gripe that the game is too fast for him. Naito can be frustratingly fast at gaining cards and has a very good chance of winning.

The Well
Opposite of the tower; Players have an equal number of cards in their stacks and race to get rid of them by matching them to the top card in the center pile. The first player to get rid of all of their cards wins.

This is, perhaps, the boys favorite way to play. Both Naito and Raishi can challenge for first place here. Odd that this really is just The Tower in reverse but Raishi does so well in it. In the end it matters not as we all have a blast when we play.

Hot Potato
In Hot Potato players place cards on their hand trying to match their card with another players card. When a player finds a match they give all the cards in their hand to the player they made a match with and draw a new card. At the end of the game the player with the least cards in their hand wins.

This is too hard for Raishi. He really does not understand the rules and cant keep the card on his hand in such a way that the other players can see it. Perhaps playing with the cards on the table would make it easier...? He does not like this way of playing so we don't play it.

The Poisoned Gift
Here you have to use the center pile to find matches with the other players. When you find a match between the center card and another player you give them the center card. At the end of the game the player with the least cards in their pile wins.

The boys and I really like the way of playing. The boys always yell, "Lets beat-up on daddy!" and work in concert to defeat me. Luckily, I seem to be pretty good at finding matches and can usually prevail. This is our second favorite way of playing.

Triplet
In this mini-game you need to make a match across three cards upon a grid of nine cards. This is above the level of the boys currently so we do not yet play it. The boys made lots of matches but no triple matches.


Naito's Thoughts:
I really like Spot It! It is fun to spot matches. I like all the different games with the different rules. I love being the first to get a match. Beating daddy is the best! I love every part of Spot It! Every time we play I laugh and giggle a lot.

Raishi's Thoughts:
I love Spot It! I want to give it 10 stars. Making a match is fun. I like to give my cards to other people. I don't like how fast the game is.


Is it easy to teach?:
Naito's Understanding:
Raishi's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:
Raishi's Rating:


Everyone is having fun.

"I got it!"

"It's MINE!"




The World of Spot It!


As of this review there are something like 30 different versions of Spot it! I can almost guarantee you will find a version the kids (or you) will enjoy. For instance, you could try:

- Spot It!


- Gone Camping

- Alphabet

- Basic English/French/Spanish

- Freeze

- Holiday

- NHL

- Numbers & Shapes

- Animals

- Shalom

- Splash

- Doc McStuffins

- Frozen

- Jake and the Never Land Pirates

- Disney Planes

- Pixar

- Halloween

- San Francisco

... and more!
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13. Board Game: Skippity [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:9084]
Board Game: Skippity
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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Designer: Susan McKinley Ross

Publisher: MindWare

Year Published: 2010

# of Players: 2 − 4

User Suggested # of Players: Best with 2, Recommended with 2 - 4

Mfg Suggested Ages: 5+

User Suggested Ages: 5+

Playing Time: 30 minutes





NOTE: A copy of Skippity was generously provided for us to review by Christopher Ross (Unco). Christopher's wife, Susan McKinley Ross (Idea Duck), designed Skippity as well as a number of other popular games. Many of her games can be found on IdeaDuck.com, her BGG profile, Amazon, CoolStuffInc, or even on the shelves of Target stores nationwide.





9/15

Naito's Age: 6.12
Raishi's Age: 5.4

Times played prior to review: 25+

Game Description:
On a blazingly colored 10x10 game board, players randomly lay out one hundred tokens in five colors, then remove the tokens from the four central squares. On a turn, a player takes a single token and jumps orthogonally over an adjacent token to an empty space, capturing the token jumped. Multiple jumps are possible, with the player capturing each token jumped.

The game ends when no more jumps are possible. Players then compare their stacks of tokens, with each set of five differently-colored tokens counting as a set. The player with the most sets wins, with the tiebreaker being the number of tokens captured but not in sets.

My Thoughts:



Skippity?

After playing this game more than twenty-five times over the past few months the boys and I can honestly say that the name does the game justice. Not only will you be skipping skippers (more on that later) the whole time but you'll also have a lot of fun doing it. While individual mileage may very, I feel pretty confident that when you play this game you'll feel pretty skippity too. Skippity is more than just a name however. It is also a great example of how you can improve a classic game (checkers) by changing a few rules, adding some colors, and improving the victory conditions. While not without a flaw or two, Skippity an a lot of fun for the whole family. It is simple to learn, setup, and plays quickly. Everyone 5 - 100 can find something to enjoy here. Let me tell you why...

When we first opened the box we found what looked like a checkerboard that had survived a paint factory explosion with checkers, or skippers, to match. This game is powerfully colorful. When you take it out the
Setup scramble.
box the kids will be drawn to it like an ice cream truck in the park. I can say with confidence that your younger children you react this way because it happened to me when I first showed the game to the boys. After taking the board and skippers out of the box my boys were packed full of Wows! and Cools! and an overpowering desire to touch and play with the components. On first sight they really liked how Skippity looked like a game of checkers but a whole lot more colorful. After playing it for the first time, they liked it even more.

While on the subject of colors I need mention how Skippity is not the most colorblind friendly game in the world. The board and skippers do not contain any iconography to differentiate the colors from each other. As such, if your child is colorblind I would think hard before picking it up. It might be frustrating for them with all the gray and washed out colors they'd have to sort through. If there is ever a second edition of Skippity I hope this issue will be revisited and a solution found to make it more accessible to the colorblind.

Once your eyes adjust to the colors of the board and skippers you'll want to read the rules before your first play. It shouldn't take you more than a few minuets as the instruction manual for Skippity is a four page pamphlet. The instructions are clear and to the point and you'll be setting up withing five minuets of cracking open the box.

Setup goes something like this: First you'll need to place the board on the center of the table. Then you'll want to dump the skippers onto the board and get one into each square leaving only the four center squares empty. When you are done you will have four skippers left over with no squares for them to go in. Our first time setting up the game up we were left scratching our heads as to why there were four extra skippers. Did the skippers have to go in the center four spaces of the board? No, that wouldn't make sense. How cold we skip anything if every square was filled? Maybe we had to align the skippers to their colors on the board? No, the rules didn't say anything about doing that eaither. Perhaps we were accidentally given four extra pieces? Unfortunately, no, we did not receive any extra pieces. As it turns out the extra skippers are a way to slightly randomize each game.

Does this really make the game more random? Perhaps, but only just a little. The fact that you dump your skippers onto the board and then push them into any open square available does a pretty fantastic job of ransoming where the different colored skippers wind in each game. Seriously though, who am I to complain that the designer added a second way to ensure each game is randomized and new? Kudos should be given to Ms. McKinley Ross for caring enough to add this little extra mechanism into the game to prolong the fun.

On your turn you will pick up any skipper on the board and then have it jump over any other skipper in a square next to it so long as you follow two simple rules. First, you can only jump a skipper if there is an empty space behind it. Secondly, as there is no directionality in Skippity, you are free to jump in any direction as long as you are jumping orthogonally. Additionally, you may jump as many skippers as possible with a single skipper so long as they are orthogonally adjacent to the skipper you are holding and there is a space to jump to between them. This way, with luck and skill, you can jump multiple skippers on a single turn. Double and triple jumps are quite common in the games we've played. Jumping four skippers on a turn can happen a few times per game. Even jumping an amazing five skippers in a single turn may happen once every few games as well. In the twenty-five or so games we have played we have yet to see six or more skippers captured on a single turn but I am sure if we play enough it is bound to happen eventually.

Doing well in Skippity requires you to do more than collect as many randomly colored skippers as possible. You will all need to be on the hunt or the the right colored skippers as well. To score a point in Skippity you have to collect a set consisting of one of each of the five colored skippers (blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.) Each set you collect is worth one point the end of the game. The player with the most points is declared the winner. In the event of a tie captured skippers not in completed sets are counted and the player with the most is then declared a winner. If there is still a tie then the game ends in a draw.

End.
On first glance there does not seem to be a lot of strategy behind the game. Skip, collect, make sets, declare a winner. I thought the same until I got into my second or third game. I soon came to realize that there are very meaningful choices you will need to make. For instance, would you jump four reds and a green on your next turn? Or, will you go for the orange and yellow double jump that will help you complete a set? A five skipper jump or a double with colors you need? What would you do?

As with any game where choices matter analysis paralysis can rear its ugly head. While this is possible with the adults I am glad to say it has never been an issue when kids. The boys happily but impatiently wait for their turns (Or repeatedly skip our turns to go sooner.) Then, when we say it's their turn, they grab a skipper and hop it around the board with lightning fast speed. Once their move is over they snap up any spoils they have earned and grin as they stack their newly captured skippers in piles on their side of the board.

For the adults analysis paralysis is possible but usually short lived. In the games we have played there has rarely been a turn that has dragged out longer than fifteen or twenty seconds. I suppose if four super hardcore gamers are playing in a tight battle for supremacy with life on the line then analysis paralysis might drag the game out a bit. Short of that, if Skippity is taking you longer than 30 minuets to setup, play, and put away then something strange is going on.

All the games we have played have ended in roughly the same way. We got to a point where there were only a few skippers spread out across the board leaving us with no legal skips possible. At this point the game would end and we would go on to determine a winner. Hard as we've tried we have not gotten a game to end with only a single final skipper left on the board.

While I believe it is technically possible to clear the entire board minus one piece I think it would be an exceedingly difficult feat to accomplish. Perhaps this would make a good solo variant of Skippity. Something akin to the peg game at Cracker Barrel. I have only beaten that game once or twice in my life and it only contains 14 pegs. The Skippity version with its 99 skippers would be more than my brain could handle but I bet someone out there is up for the challenge. And hey, should anyone try this and conquer it then please let me know. I'd love to hear about how you did it.

When it comes down to it Skippity is a really fun game. Something that my boys reach for again and again. Even though it does not have amazing graphic design (its colored checkers and squares), advanced modes, tournaments and leagues, or even a thousand page rule book - it is pure and simple fun everyone will enjoy. Best of all, even after twenty-five games I am just as excited to play game twenty-six as I was to play game one. Skippity proves that sometimes simple truly can be best. I highly recommend this game to anyone with kids. I hope you'll enjoy the time you spend with your little ones while playing Skippity as I have with mine.

Skippity?

Absolutely.

Naito's Thoughts:
I love Skippity. It has a nice cover and the game is really colorful. You get to jump skippers a lot when you play. You can get triples and four skippers at a time. It is fun to play and not that hard to learn. I like going up levels and getting a lot of sets.

Skippity is like checkers. Except it has a lot of colors and the board is different. In Skippity you can go in any direction but in checkers you can only go back and forth. Also, in checkers you can only be one color but in Skippity you get to jump lots of colors and you can take them. You can't jump pieces if there is no space to jump.

I don't like losing.

Raishi's Thoughts:
Skippity is fun. I like getting a lot of checkers. I can make piles of them on my board. I get all the colors. I don't like losing.

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:
Raishi's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:
Raishi's Rating:


Naito: Hrmm... dad is winning again.
Raishi: Hrmm... whats Naito thinking about?

Grandpa, let me teach you how to play Skippity.
First you get a piece and put it in the color circle.
Then you have to make sets of...

Boy these are hard to stack straight... Actually,
it's fun to have them fall down and make a crazy pile!

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14. Board Game: Hoot Owl Hoot! [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:4723]
Board Game: Hoot Owl Hoot!
Brian Geringer
United States
Forestburgh
New York
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Work In Progress


Designer: Susan McKinley Ross

Artist: Betsy Snyder

Publisher: Peaceable Kingdom

Year Published: 2011

# of Players: 2 − 4

User Suggested # of Players: Recommended with 2+

Mfg Suggested Ages: 4+

User Suggested Ages: 3+

Playing Time: 15 minutes





NOTE: A copy of Hoot Owl Hoot! was generously provided for us to review by Christopher Ross (Unco). Christopher's wife, Susan McKinley Ross (Idea Duck), designed Hoot Owl Hoot! as well as a number of other popular games. Many of her games can be found on IdeaDuck.com or on her BGG profile.




04/xx/15

Naito's Age: X.x
Raishi's Age: X.x

Number of times played: X+
Game Description:


My Thoughts:
This is one of Raishi's favorite games. He loves playing Hoot Owl Hoot and has a blast playing it. His favorite part of the game is when we inventively loose when playing on super impossible difficulty. His face filled with unbridled joy when we flip the last sun card is a sight to behold. Stubborn as he is, he simply refuses to play any other way no matter how many times we explain that since we already know we're going to lose before we even start playing, we should play on a less difficult setting. Nope! Six owls or he won't play. For the rest of the sane world, Hoot Owl Hoot is a super cute, simple to play, relaxing family style game. Let me tell you more about it.

Naito's Thoughts:


Raishi's Thoughts:

Ease of Teaching:
Naito's Understanding:
Raishi's Understanding:

Dad's Rating:
Naito's Rating:
Raishi's Rating:
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