Friday, November 2, 2012

Family Time Fun 

 

by Kathleen, 11/2/12



One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is spending time with my family, just lying around eating and of course, playing games and doing puzzles. We frequently do a Christmas puzzle over the Thanksgiving weekend to start getting us in the mood for the holiday, but we also always play lots of games. Some of my very best Thanksgiving memories are playing Trivial Pursuit with my Mom and Dad after an early dinner while football played on T.V. in the background. Sensory overload? Perhaps, but we always had a blast and laughed and talked, which didn't necessarily happen as much if we weren't playing a game. Making my family play a game was a great way for us to actually pay attention to one another. If we didn't play a board or card game after dinner, Mom got too busy with cleaning up dishes, Dad would start reading, and I would try to get out of helping clean up to go play on my fancy, new Apple IIe (o.k., so I'm old), and even though we may all have been in the same house, we weren't really spending quality time together.

Another thing those days taught me was that not all games are for all people. My Father hated Scrabble, which was always a favorite for my Mom and me. Usually I could always talk them into playing Trivial Pursuit, but I, being young, couldn't ever compete. There were other games over the years that my family loved, but it was challenging to find just the right game to make everyone happy. For that reason, I thought I'd share with you some of my family's current favorites. My husband is legally blind so it makes playing certain board games challenging for him. Here are some of the ones we play most often!

Wits & Wagers Family

Wits & Wagers is a well-loved and highly awarded series of trivia games, that make the genre fun even for non-trivia nuts by adding in a mechanic that lets you bet on other players answers. In this family-friendly version, the betting is simplified by giving each player a large meeple and a small meeple to divvy up among guesses they think are the best. Containing kid-friendly questions, dry-erase boards and markers, and wooden meeples, Wits & Wagers Family is an easily travelling version of the classic game, and great for all generations!

To me, this is a much more fun trivia game than Trivial Pursuit ever was. It gives kids a chance of possibly winning while maintaining the fun of trivia games. I would think kids of about 5 or 6 and up could play this. Even younger could play on a team. There is also a new version, Wits & Wagers party, which would be good with slightly older kids (maybe 10 and up).

Qwirkle 

A great abstract strategy game, Qwirkle uses wooden tiles with different colored shapes that players arrange in lines – either by shape, or by color. There are rules that make placement sometimes challenging, and the winning player is the one who can make the most scoring lines of tiles and keep the other opponents' scores low.

I love this game. It is like Scrabble with shapes and colors. We began playing this as a family when my son was about 4 years old, but it is still a regular for our family and on game night with friends. All ages and skill levels love this game and it can be easily adapted for younger children. It can also turn into a pretty strategic game when played by adults. It won the Spiel des Jahres last year (German Boardgame of the Year award - like the Oscars of boardgames), even though it was created by an American woman.

Tsuro

A beautiful, simple game of tile laying strategy, this game is especially easy to learn for new players. This game is fast and easy, with enough strategy thrown in to make it fun for even hard-core gamers. This is one of the favorites in Labyrinth's aftercare programs, and is regularly played and won by children as young as 1st grade! You are building a maze of paths and trying to remain the last person on the board. It plays in about 15 to 20 minutes, and can support 2 to 8 players which is one of the reasons it is a party favorite.

Ticket to Ride

In Ticket to Ride, players collect cards of various types of train cars that they then use to claim railway routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfill Destination Tickets – goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route.

Although this one is a little tough for my husband because he can't always see all the cities on the board, he still really likes it. This is one of the very best games to introduce friends and family to Euro-style board games. It is pretty quick, definitely less than an hour, and easy to learn. I would think that a child of about 7 or 8 who has experience with games could play this, but it does take a bit more concentration and may be better with slightlyolder kids or adults.


Rummikub

This is a classic that I learned from my grandmother. It was my favorite all through high school. It is kind of like the card game Rummy, but soooo much more fun with lots more perceptual reasoning. My husband and I are both pretty good at this game, somy child has had a hard time competing, but he is now starting to get it. We do have to help him. This is definitely the one that makes my husband and I the most competitive. It can get ugly!

Two by Two

The floodwaters are rising and the animals need to board the ark!

In this deceptively simple game, players move their boats around a steadily deteriorating landscape, matching pairs in order to rescue stranded animals.

Animals that are rare at the end of the game are worth more points than those that are common.

This is a new family favorite and we will probably play it this Thanksgiving. It is simple and the animals are cute. I love trying to get the super rare unicorns. We frequently read the Shel Silverstein poem, The Unicorn, before or after playing. It has always been one of my favorite poems.

I'm sure you can imagine, as the owner of a game store, my family and I play a lot of games, but these are some of the ones we return to again and again. My son and I have a lot of other favorites that we frequently play, but when my Mom heads to town we are more than likely to bring one of these out. If you'd like to have a new game for the holidays, stop by and talk to our knowledgeable staff. We can help you find a game that is just right for you and your family. We also have a huge selection of jigsaw puzzles and travel games.




Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Have a Pirate-themed Game Night!



Ahoy there, me mateys! Don't be a scurvy dog or blasted landlubber! Get ye to Labyrinth for some o' these beauties! They be the best pirate games ye treasure can buy!

NEWPirates of the Spanish Main - A fast, fun and family-friendly card game for 2 to 4 players. During play, you want to steer the captains that you sponsor and their ships to treasure, but you need to be discrete about who you sponsor. If another player guesses which ships are yours, he gets to plunder half your gold!

Pirate Fluxx - The classic "Talk Like A Pirate" game - there is even a card that gives you benefits for talking like a pirate. By local game designer, Andy Looney, this is a fun and crazy game perfect for adults and families! 

Scallywags - A recent edition to our children's games section and a new favorite in our aftercare program. It is a light-hearted game in which players are swashbuckling pirates divvying up their booty. This can be played by pretty young players, probably 5 or 6 and up.

Loot - We love this pirate themed card game from Gamewright, great for kids aged 8 and up.

Merchants & Marauders - A gorgeous, somewhat complicated board game (best for adults and maybe some older advanced gamer kids) that is best for 4 players, but can be played with 2 to 4. In this game, you live the life of an influential merchant or a dreaded pirate in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. Seek your fortune through trade, rumor hunting, missions, and of course, plundering. The game features a unique trade system and a thematic combat system, allowing for critical decisions and intense excitement. Modify your ship, buy impressive vessels, load deadly special ammunition, and hire specialist crew members. Will your captain gain eternal glory and immense wealth - or find his wet grave under the stormy surface of the Caribbean Sea?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

50 Secret Codes Activity Cards by Usborne Publishing

Labyrinth Kids: Game Reviews by our Younger Customers

by S., 8 years old

S.'s Rating: Four out of Five Stars

These cards are fun to play especially on long trips.  Say you are driving to New York and you have the spy cards in the back seat.  You could play with them and they would keep you absorbed for a long time.  They include directions on how to do the codes on some of the cards.  And some of the cards are mystery cards.  They include a brief paragraph and a picture on one side of the card and the secret code under the paragraph.  If they are a code card that gives directions on how to do a code, there is no paragraph long mystery about the code.  You just learn how to do that type of code.  I liked this game, but personally I couldn't solve any of the codes!!  I had fun trying, though. 

Store Notes:

This is one of a many new Activity Card sets that we have recently begun selling. We have found that there is a range of difficulty levels for the cards contained in each set. Here's is a brief description of the 50 Secret Codes from the manufacturer.

"A wonderful set of wipe-clean activity cards for aspiring code-breakers!
  • Includes Semaphore and Morse code, "Grid code" used in the American Civil War, Egyptian hieroglyphics and traditional number replacement and alphabet switching codes.
  • Each card contains information about the code, an explanation of how it works and fun coding activities.
  • Includes a special pen to write on the cards."

If your child is a Labyrinth customer and would like to review a game to be featured on our blog, please contact us.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tell Tale


Labyrinth Kids: Game Reviews by our Younger Customers


Patrick's
Rating:
This is a great game.
You should own it!
(see below for explanation)
by Patrick, 6 1/2 years old


How many times have you played it?
I don’t know. Twenty or thirty, maybe?

Who do you play it with?
My mom and my grandma, and my brother, kind of. Sometimes we play a round of Parcheesi instead.

What ages do you think would most enjoy the game?
Six, Five, Seven... Well, someone who’s about my age, something about six-and-a half. You know, about my age.

Do you think grown-ups would like it?
Yes! Because me and my mom, we’re playin’ it, PLAYIN IT!

Is it like any other game you’ve played?  
No. It doesn’t have a board game, and there’s no fighting, and no one wins or loses. It’s just a game where you can make up stories and more and more and more.

What kind of pieces does the game have? Cards, dice, tiles? 
Just cards and pictures on the cards.

How do you play it?
Well, you have to have any [number of] person you want, except one thousand. But you can have as many people as you like, unless it’s a bigger number.  You just pick a random card from the center, and start telling a story and basically you tell a funny story.

What is your favorite part of the game?  
I like that you get to make a silly story. You get to laugh and laugh and it gets weirder and weirder. And sometimes, you can get a girlfriend (in the story) while you’re playing it. And sometimes, she can be surfing on a wave. And sometimes, your friends can be shouting at each other. And sometimes you end up in jail. You can end up in a laboratory or in a haunted house.

What didn’t you like about the game? 
Nothing. I like it all. There’s no bothers about it: it’s just telling a silly story.

Anything else you’d like to say about this game? 
Go buy it!

Rating System
6 – You MUST play this game!
5 – This is a great game. You should own it.
4 – It’s a good game. I’d like to play it again.
3– This is an alright game. I liked it, but not everyone will.
2– It’s an o.k. game, but I don’t really want to play it again.
1 – I would not recommend this game.

If your child is a Labyrinth customer and would like to review a game, please contact us at kathleen@labyrinthgameshop.com

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Quarriors!

Labyrinth Kids: Game Reviews by our Younger Customers



David's Rating:
You MUST play this game!
(see below for explanation)
by David, almost 8 years old  



How many times have you played this game?
About 15 times

Who usually plays it with you?
My Mom and her friends

What ages do you think would most enjoy the game?
7 years old to 50 years old

Do you think grown-ups would like it?
Yes

What is the game about?
It is a dice game about monsters.

How do you play?
You roll dice. If you roll monsters, you can put them out. If they live, you get points. The first one to 20 points wins.

What is your favorite thing about the game?
Beating my Mom!

What is your least favorite thing about the game?
Nothing

What kind of person do you think would like this game?
Boys

Anything else you'd like to tell us?
It has lots of dice. No children under 3 should get near it. The game is a little hard to learn for 7 year olds.

Store notes:
Quarriors! is a game of Uber Strategic Hexadedron Monster Combat Mayhem! It comes with 130 custom dice. During the game you build a dice pool, and attack other players with your monsters. Games usually last about 30 minutes. "Officially" recommended for ages 14+. 2 to 4 players

Rating System

6 – You MUST play this game!
5 – This is a great game. You should own it.
4 – It’s a good game. I’d like to play it again.
3– This is an alright game. I liked it, but not everyone will.
2– It’s an o.k. game, but I don’t really want to play it again.
1 – I would not recommend this game.

If your child is a Labyrinth customer and would like to review a game, please contact us at kathleen@labyrinthgameshop.com.