Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Games To Play When Camping

It's amazing how fast the summer has been going.  I just realized it has been several weeks since my last here is a multi-game entry for your reading pleasure.

My family likes to go camping.  Every trip, we end up playing some games, and we have found that some games work better than others.  Here is a list of our favorites to play in the great outdoors.


This irreverent and humorous card game takes place during the French Revolution. Players represent rival guillotine operators vying for the best collection of noble heads over 3 rounds.  Each round, 12 nobles are worth varying points, depending on their notoriety. During your turn, play action cards to change the order of the line so you can collect the best nobles.

This is a nice quick game and comes in a small box that makes it easy to throw in with the camping supplies.

Travel Blokus:

This is the 2-player version of the award-winning classic game Blokus.  Each player has a set of Tetris shaped plastic pieces that you must place on the game board.  Each piece placed must touch another one of your pieces, but only at a cannot place them in any other way.  Play continues until neither player can place any of their pieces.  Count the squares on your unplayed pieces and player with lowest score wins.

This is an addicting game...the loser almost always calls for a rematch.

Five Crowns:

Five Crowns is a card game for the whole family. It has original game play, but uses skills that you have obtained from playing your old favorites like hearts, spades and rummy. Because Five Crowns has five Royal Families - the Stars, the Clubs, the Hearts, the Spades and the Diamonds - yes, five suits in the old usage, it allows a more equal chance of making a book or a run, effectively giving each player more possibilities to readjust their hand so as to go out. Good players are able to take advantage of this and win more than an average number of games.
The play starts with three cards and 3s are wild; next hand has four cards and 4s are wild....working up to the last hand when Kings are wild. Each of the royal families is portrayed in original art and has its own colors. The Renaissance designs result in cards that are beautiful to hold in your hand and give a "collector" feel to the game. Five Crowns is a fast paced, ingenious new game in eleven rounds. 

This is a game we have played for years...I especially like it because it is one of the few games we have that I can regularly win against my wife...and that is a big deal. 


Quiddler, is a beautiful word game with naturally smooth game play that plays fast. These are essentials for a successful game that few word games have. Using special cards, Quiddler draws on one's ability to combine letters into words. Players must combine their entire hand into words trying to use the highest point value letters. Quiddler challenges you to do this first with three cards (round one), then with four, on up to ten cards in the last round. A bonus is given for both the longest word, and the most words made by a player in each round. The average game takes 20-40 minutes. 

The great thing about Quiddler is players of all skills and ages can play.  The bonus points given for either longest work or most words levels the playing field for the Scrabble-Gods and the younger players.  Love this game!!

Here is a pack with Quiddler, Five Crowns, SET, and Xactika all togtehr for a greta low price:

All of these games are compact enough to pack in the camping supplies.  The whole family can enjoy them...especially since they are all very easy to learn.

You can buy these games in our eBay store ( or Our Amazon Store or by contacting us directly.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review - Tsuro: The Game Of The Path

Players: 2-8
Playing Time: 10 - 20 Minutes
Age: 8+
Suggested Retail: $29.99

Create your own journey with Tsuro, the Game of the Path.  Prevent your opponents from steering you in the wrong direction—or off the board! Tsuro is the quick-playing game in which directions can change as easily as the game plays.

The rules are simple: You place your stones, select your tiles, and attempt to build a safe Path for your journey. The Paths of other players cross and connect, so the choices you make affect all the journeys across the board. Stay on the right Path -- your journey begins here.

The Goal:

Be the last player with a marker on the board.

The Setup:

Each player chooses a marker stone, shuffle the tiles, and deal three tiles to each player.  Place remaining tiles in a draw pile.

The Play:

The game board is made up of a 6x6 grid where the game tiles are played.

First, each player chooses a starting point along the outside of the playing area on the board.  Each turn involes three steps:

  1. Play A Tile - The player chooses a tile from his hand and plays it in the vacant space next to their marker
  2. Move Markers - All players whose marker touches the newly played tiles moves their marker along the new path segment.
  3. Draw a New Tile - Player draws a new tile from the draw pile.
As the game progresses the markers will move all over the board.  You are trying to place tiles that will force your opponent's markers off the board while keeping you marker on the board.  You are not allowed to play a tile that forces your own marker off the board, unless there is no other choice.

Game End:

When only one marker is left on the board, that player wins!


Tsuro is another fun, short game to play.  I think this is a very good filler game and I really like that it supports up to 8 players.  I tried a 2 player game and it went a little long before it got interesting towards the end of the game.  We also tried making the play area smaller (3x3 and 4x4) which was an interesting variation...the game is better with 4 or more players.

Considering this is the first published game from Calliope Games, it is a very pretty game.  I was surprised at the small touches that made opening the game fun.  The rules booklet is a tri-fold booklet that looks more like an invitation than a rules booklet. 

Overall, I give it a 8 out of will still be just a filler game, but it is a very good one.

You can buy Tsuro in our eBay store ( or Our Amazon Store or by contacting us directly.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Review - Zombie Dice


Players: 2+
Playing Time: 10 - 20 Minutes
Age: 10+
Suggested Retail: $13.13

Eat brains. Don't get shotgunned.

You are a zombie. You want braaains. More brains than any of your zombie buddies.

Zombie Dice is fast and easy for any zombie fan (or the whole zombie family). The 13 custom dice are your victims. Push your luck to eat their brains, but stop rolling before the shotgun blasts end your turn!

The Goal:

Eat more brains than your opponents!

The Setup:

Put the 13 dice in the cup and get paper to keep track of scores.

The Play:

The first player shakes the cup and then randomly takes 3 dice and rolls them.  Any die with a brain is kept to one side, shotgun blasts are kept to the other side.  If you decide to keep going, any die with footprints are keep to be rolled again.  When you decide to roll again, you randomly take more dice from the cup so you always roll 3 dice.  Once you take dice from the cup, you MUST roll them.

Brains are good, shotgun blasts are bad.  You want to get as many brains as you can while pressing your luck and avoid the shotgun blast...if you get 3 blasts, then your turn is over and you score NO points.  If you decide to stop, you score 1 point for each brain in front of you.

The dice come in 3 colors and they are not created equal.  Red dice are shotgun blast heavy...3 blasts, 2 footprints, and only 1 brain.  Yellow dice have 2 of each symbol.  Green dice are brain heavy...3 brains, 2 footprints, and only 1 blast.  But, remember you have to decide if you will press your luck before you know what dice you will have to roll.

Game End:

When 1 player has scored 13 or more brains, then the round is finished and the player with the most brains might not be the 1st one to 13 brains.


I like this game better than the Cthulhu Dice that I reviewed last time.  There is a bit of strategy needed for the press your luck aspect of the game.  I played with 3 players and the games took 10 minutes.

One negative, the dice cup is a cardboard tube with a label stuck on it and plastic end stuck in the tube.  If you have a vigorous shaker, the bottom will fall out.  Easily fixed with some glue.  The label also takes a beating fairly quickly.

Overall, it was quite fun, but it is still just a filler game...which is really what it is intended to be.  Overall, I give it a 7 out of 10. 

You can buy Zombie Dice in our eBay store ( or in our Amazon Store or by contacting us directly.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review - Cthulhu Dice


Players: 2 - 6
Playing Time: 5 - 10 Minutes
Age: 8+
Suggested Retail: $4.99

Serving Cthulhu is fun . . . except for all those other cultists out to get you. So get them first!
Cthulhu Dice lets you drive your rivals mad . . . very, very quickly. Players take turns rolling the big, beautiful, custom 12-sided die, embossed with tentacles, Elder Signs, and more. Destroy your opponents' sanity! Better yet, steal it. But watch out for Cthulhu – when he comes up, he takes sanity from everyone! 18 glass Sanity marbles are included. Lose all your marbles and you're mad. 

The last sane cultist wins . . . unless everyone goes mad together. Then Cthulhu wins!

The Goal:

Be the only play that has not lost their marbles!

The Setup:

Give each cultist (player) 3 of the sanity marbles.

The Play:

The first player chooses a target player and rolls the die.  The proper action is taken.  The targeted player gets to roll a counter attack and the proper action is taken.  The player to the attacker's left goes next and chooses a target

Based on the symbol rolled, these are the possible actions:
  • Yellow Sign (squiggly symbol) - Target loses 1 Sanity to Cthulhu (put a marble in the center of the table)
  • Tentacle - Target Loses 1 sanity to attacking player...whether or not the attacker or the target is rolling.  The tentacle is bad for the target ALWAYS.
  • Elder Sign (The Star) - Take 1 sanity from Cthulhu, if one is available (take a marble from the center of the table)
  • Cthulhu - Everyone loses a sanity marble to Cthulhu
  • Eye - Roller chooses which action to take.
If you lose all your sanity marbles, you go mad...but you are not out of the game.  You cannot be attacked, but you can attack.  You might get lucky and roll the Elder Sign and get sanity back from Cthulhu, but you cannot get sanity back from another player by rolling a Tentacle...that sanity goes to Cthulhu instead.

Game End:

When only 1 player has sanity marbles left, the game is over and that player wins...unless all players have gone mad, then Cthulhu wins!


This is not a deep is COMPLETELY luck based.  I played it with 2 players, which was not much fun...there was too much thinking about what kind of roll is being taken.  "This is my counter attack to your attack"  then "Now I am attacking".  We did however, try the Rival Cults varient where each of us played 3 Cultists.  That was a much more interesting game...seems like more players is better.

There are several color options for the die, which makes it collectable if you are into collecting dice.  The components are nice an compact, they give you a plastic Ziploc bag to keep everything together.

Overall, it was fun, but I don't think this will ever be more than a filler game...which is really what it is intended to be.  It is a good way to spend some time if you are waiting for a spot to open at a gaming table.  Overall, I would give Cthulhu Dice a 6 out of 10.

You can buy Cthulhu Dice in our eBay store ( or in our Amazon Store or by contacting us directly.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review - Blink - The World's Fastest Card Game

Players: 2
Playing Time: Less than 2 minutes
Age: 7+
Suggested Retail: $5.99

In this lightning-quick game, two players use sharp eyes and fast hands to match the shape, count, or color of their cards. The first player out of cards wins the game!

The Goal:

Be the first player to play all your cards.

The Setup:

Shuffle the cards and deal 30 cards face-down to each player. Each player takes the top card from their stack and places it face-down in the play area.  Each player then draws the top three cards to form their hand.

The Play:

At the same time, the players flip over their card in the play area and the game begins...

Players are allowed to play a card from their hand on either pile.  The card they play MUST match one of the attributes on the card: Shape, Color, or Count.  For example, an card with three red stars can be played on a card with stars on it, or a card with any red shape on it, or a card with any three symbols on it.  You can see some examples of this in the picture above.

Once a card has been played, the player draws another card from their draw deck to bring their hand back to three cards.

If neither player can play a card from their hand, then they each flip over the next card in their draw pile and play continues.

Game End:

First person to play all the cards in their draw deck is the winner!


Blink is one of my favorite fast play games....if you like War, you'll love Blink.  Blink is truly as fast as a game can personal best is 27 seconds to get through the deck...can you beat it?

When I was A Boy Scout Leader, the scouts LOVED to play this fact, I've yet to meet a kid (and most adults) who don't love this game.

I do have one minor gripe about Blink.  It was originally published by Out Of The Box Games and it came in a neat tin box, perfect for throwing in your travel bag or 72-hour kit.  The latest version from Mattel comes in a regular, plain, boring cardboard box...a step in the wrong direction in my opinion.  Even so, Blink gets a 9 out of 10 rating from me.

You can buy Blink in our eBay store ( or in our Amazon Store or by contacting us directly.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review - S'Quarrels - A Game Of Absolute Nuts!

Players: 2-6
Playing Time: 20+ Minutes
Age: 7+
Suggested Retail: $12.95

Under a nearby oak tree, embark upon the rigorous task of collecting and storing acorns efore winter sets in.  Your opponents are trying to take them all before you do.  Whirlwinds, Ambushing, Quarreling, and Hoarding are all part of the fun.  Get the coveted Golden Acorn, but watch out for the dreaded Rotten Acorn.  The more Acorns you get, the better chance you have of surviving Winter!  The player to store the most Acorns before Winter arrives WINS! 

I was introduced to S'Quarrels shortly before Christmas and I also got a chance to play S'Quarrels at the recent SaltCON game convention.  We had 6 players, including the game inventor. After a brief introduction to the game, we got to playing.

The Goal:

To Store the most Acorns before WINTER hits. Players select a predetermined score (such as 50) to play to. After playing multiple rounds, the first player to reach the determined number wins the game!

The Setup:

Shuffle the cards and deal 7 cards to each player.  Each player discards any Action cards and draws cards to get their hand back to 7 other words, your hand starts with NO action cards.

The Play:

The play is easy...draw, store, discard.

Draw - The player MUST draw at least one card and can choose to draw as many cards as they need to get to a maximum of 7 cards in their hand.  If an action card is drawn, it must be resolved immediately...the different action cards are:

    ALL players select a card from their hand, and at the same time turn their cards over. The highest card wins all the cards. 
    All other players race to smack the ‘Hoard Pile.’ First one to have their hand on top of the deck wins! The WINNER takes the entire hoard pile and play continues from the winner immediately. 
    Player randomly takes one card from each player’s hand then stores and discards.\
    Collect ALL players hands, shuffle them together, and then deal the cards out to everyone starting with the player that drew this card and going clockwise. 
    This card ends the round...time to count up your points.

Store - The player may store any Acorn Cards in their hand, but they must be stored in groups of three...for example, there must be 3 cards showing 1 Acorn.  Once a player starts storing, they CANNOT draw any more cards.

Discard - After they are done storing Acorn Cards, they MUST discard an Acorn Card face-down to the Hoard Pile.

Round End and Scoring:

When the Winter Card is drawn, the round ends and each player counts up their score.  Each set of three cards count for their face value...for example, 3 Acorn Cards with 4 acorns on each counts as 4 points.  There are also 2 special Acorn Cards, The Golden Acorn and The Rotten Acorn.  If you end up with the Golden Acorn, you score +5 points.  If you end up with the Rotten Acorn, your score -5 points.

Keep track of the points scored and play as many rounds as it takes to get to the goal score.


S'Quarrels is a fun and very simple card game.  It is easy to understand and easy to teach to new players.  I really like the randomness of the end of the round...after all, you never really know when Winter is going to hit.  The theme is fun and kids seems to love it.  It is a great game for younger kids, but older kids will enjoy it as well...overall, it is a great game for the whole family!  I give S'Quarrels an 8 out of 10.

You can buy S'Quarrles in our eBay store ( or in our Amazon Store or by contacting me directly.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review - Spies & Spooks: Cold War Edition

Players: 2-6
Playing Time: 10 - 25 Minutes
Age: 10+
Suggested Retail: $24.95

Set in the early 1980’s, Spies&Spooks™ is a deliberately paced, conversational role-playing card game of international strategy and intrigue. The colorful cards bring to life the players, the methods, the dangers and the madness associated with spy craft… involving you in the Great Game.

As a player you assume one of eight Secret Identities, moving in a world of unknown opponents. Your Secret Mission, decoded before your eyes, is to obtain and smuggle assigned Secrets out of each round.

Here is your chance to experience the life of a Secret Agent! With a bit of luck, a well-laid plan and some clever deception you may even survive to win the game by being the first spy to complete his Secret Mission. Never the same twice Spies&Spooks is a game that you’ll want to play over and over again.

I got a chance to play Spies And Spooks at the recent SaltCON game convention.  We had 6 players, including the game inventor and illustrator. After a brief introduction to the game, we got to playing.

The Goal:

Earn the most money by completing spy missions.

The Setup:

Each player is given a secret spy identity and a secret mission. The mission cards are "encoded" with red and blue text, so you have to put them in your passport that has a blue filter on it so you mission is revealed.

The Play:

Missions are completed by smuggling out "Secret" cards (i.e. Trade Secret, Political Secret, Computer Secret, etc). Each mission is also worth a dollar amount...the harder the mission, the more it is worth. You smuggle a Secret by playing it in front of you with some form of Smuggle Card (Dead Drop, Transmission, Diplomatic Pouch). When you complete a mission, you turn in the completed mission and your identity for new ones.

There are cards that allow your opponents to steals cards from your hand or from your smuggled secrets. This can help you thwart opponents from completing their mission.

There are also a few ways to kill an opponent...daggers and bombs. Daggers are a direct attack that requires 2 daggers for male spies and one dagger for female spies. Bombs are more sneaky, you can hide them under smuggle cards waiting to be stolen by an unlucky player or players can draw them out of your hand...either way, they are blown up. When a player dies, they hand over their cards to the assassin who gets to pick what cards they want to keep. The eliminated player will get a new identity and mission at the beginning of their next turn.

Game End and Scoring:

The game continues until 3 missions have been completed. The player with the most $ earned wins.


Overall, it is a fun game. It definitely has expansion opportunities with new missions and spy identities being able to be fact, the designer is already working some out. Our game lasted longer than most, about 60 minutes. We had a bit of a cut-throat group, so killing happened more frequently than completing missions. The designer told us that a game would normally last 30 minutes.  I give Spies & Spooks an 8 out of 10.

You can buy Spies & Spooks in our eBay store ( or in our Amazon Store or by contacting me directly.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review - Qwirkle Cubes

Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 30 - 60 Minutes
Age: 6+
Suggested Retail: $24.99

The follow-up to one of the most awarded games of all time! Qwirkle Cubes plays much like the original Qwirkle game--create rows and columns of matching colors or shapes to score the most points--but adds to the strategy because you can roll your cubes for more chances to play the exact shapes you want! Also, because everyone plays open-handed, you can analyze your opponents' future moves

The Goal:

Score more points than your opponent by making lines of cubes that all all the same color, but different shapes or all the same shape, but different colors.

The Setup:

Each player draws 6 Qwirkle Cubes from the draw bag and rolls the cubes.  Each cube has 1 color and 6 different shapes.  The player that can play the most cubes (to make the longest line) goes first.  The starting player then draws enough cubes to bring his hand up to 6 cubes.  The player on their left goes next.

The Play:

On their turn, each player has the option of re-rolling any (or none) of their cubes.  They then decide which cubes to add to the game area.  Any cubes added must be added in a single line, so they must share either color or shape.  For example, if there is a line on the table with a blue diamond, blue clover, and blue square, then the player can add a blue circle to the line.  Alternatively, they could also start a new line by playing a green diamond and a red diamond on the blue diamond.  It is also possible to create a new line by playing a blue circle, green circle, and purple circle to the line.  This sounds a LOT more complicated than it really is...

Turn End and Scoring:

Scoring is straight forward.  Simply count how many cubes are in any lines changed by the new cubes being placed.  If you happen to get a line that has 6 cubes in in (all one color and six different shapes or all one shape and six different shapes), you have created a Qwirkle!  You score the normal six points for the line, plus a bonus of six points.

Once the player has played and scored their cubes, they draw enough cubes to get the hand back to 6.  They roll the new cubes before adding them to their hand.  As a result, opponents can see what cubes all players might have to play on their next turn...this is a major difference from the original Qwirkle game.

The game continues until a player plays their last cube.  That player gets a six point bonus.  The player with the most points wins.


Qwirkle cubes has quickly become a favorite at our house.  We have played it with 2, 3 and even 5 (more than were it was designed for).  All group sizes played well...a definite plus for the game.  This is an easy game to learn, after a couple rounds new players will have the game-play down.  I give Qwirkle Cubes a 8 out of 10.

You can buy Qwirkle Cubes (and the original Qwirkle)  in our eBay store ( or in our Amazon Store or by contacting me directly.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review - Nay Jay!

Players: 1-3 (base game) and add expansions to have up to 6 players
Playing Time: 20 Minutes
Age: 8+ (younger players are possible...fairly easy concept to grasp)
Suggested Retail: $19.99 for base game and $9.99 for expansion

Nay Jay! is a new card game from a new game company located in my hometown of Springville, Utah - Brand New Games.  Nay Jay! is a FAST card game that combines elements of Nertz, Speed, and Ligretto (aka Dutch Blitz).  I recently had the opportunity to play Nay Jay! at SaltCON, a small gaming convention in Salt Lake City.

The Goal:

Play more cards than any other player.

The Setup:

Each player has a deck of 63 cards, numbered 1 to 10, each with a different color back.  Start the game by shuffling your deck and dealing 20 cards face down in a pile.  Flip 1 more card face up on top of this pile.  This pile becomes your draw pile.  Then deal 4 more cards face up in a row so you have 5 cards face up.  The remaining cards are your flip pile.

The Play:

The game starts any 1 cards that are visible get moved to the center of the table.  Any time you remove one of the face up cards in the row in front of you, take the top card from the draw pile to replace it and flip over the top card on the draw pile to replace it. You then play cards on any pile that is one higher or one lower than the card that is currently showing on the pile...but it MUST be the same color  For example, if a yellow 2 is showing on a pile, y ou can play a yellow one or yellow 3 on it.  If you cannot play from the row of cards in front of you, then start flipping cards from your flip pile one at a time, playing any card that is on digging through your flip pile.

Round End and Scoring:

When a player plays all 21 cards from their draw pile, the round ends.  All players sort through the cards played in the center of the table and counts how many cards of their color were played.  Cards played score 1 point each and any cards left in your draw pile scores -2 points each.  Play 6 rounds and person with highest score wins!


I really enjoy fast card games - Blink, Qwitch, Speed, etc.  I really like this game.  I have not played Ligretto yet, so I cannot compare the two.  It is not a deep game, but it is easy to play and teach.  There were a couple of kids that stayed at the table all appeared to be their favorite.  I give this one 7 out of 10.  I liked enough to place an order on the spot for my eBay store.

You can buy Nay Jay! in my eBay store ( or in our Amazon Store or by contacting me directly.

Got Game?

We love games at our house.  We play games, we share games, we even sell games.  One thing we have found is there are a lot of people who like games, but don't realize there is a whole world of games beyond those found in the big box stores...Monopoly is not the best game out there.

 As I discover new games, we will post reviews here.  Hopefully, you will find a new favorite in the coming weeks and months.  And  then you can spread the word about the games you discover.