Category Archives: Games

Games of the Month 1


Star Wars: Epic Duels. This game needs a reprint with the new movie. Great to mix and match character vs character.


Coloretto. Friendly family card game that soon turns into a cutthroat bar fight of a card game. That’s why I like it.


Bohnanza. Aka The Bean Game. Classic that never fails. And as Mare puts it, a realistic simulation of bean farming.


Quelf. Barely a game. More organized goofiness. Needs people willing to have fun being ridiculous. We had em.


Aquadukt. Press your luck, screw your neighbor, and build a nice Mediterranean village. Pretty, simple, and mean. Like me.

Good Cop Bad Cop

I have another review over at Wink Fun.  Here it is. But if you’d like more (and higher quality photos) of the game, plus a lot more reviews of fun things, you really should visit the Wink Fun home page.


There’s corruption in the police department. One of the officers is actually the crime kingpin. Some of the cops are working for the kingpin. But there are also good cops on the force, led by the powerful agent.

In Good Cop Bad Cop players are randomly dealt those rolls–good cop, bad cop, kingpin, and agent. Three integrity cards face down in front of them determine their roll. At the beginning of the game, no one knows who anyone else is. Armed with only their wits, items found around the station, and when things get hairy, a gun, players must suss out who is working for what side, and take necessary action.

On their turn, a player may take one of four actions. They may investigate–peek at one card of another player–this will be the most common action early in the game. They may take an equipment card–this requires them to turn up one of their integrity cards, revealing valuable information about who they are working for. They may draw and aim the gun–this also requires them to turn up one of their integrity cards. Finally, if they have previously acquired a gun, they may fire it. Shot players reveal their identity, and are out if the game unless they are the kingpin or agent, then they are wounded and can take one more shot before being killed and ending the game. If the kingpin is killed, all good cops win. If the agent is killed, all bad cops win.

It’s a pretty simple game and plays in under 20 minutes. The fun comes from not knowing who can be trusted, from gathering intel and knowing what must be done, but not exactly when, and from playing an equipment card at the perfect moment to really mess things up. In a 4 or 5 player game who is who is sussed out fairly quickly before the bullets start flying, but it’s still fun. I’ve never played fewer than three games in a sitting as it’s one of those “One more time!” games. I’m looking forward to playing with a full compliment of eight.


Actually I recently had two reviews published at Wink FunThis one is can be found here if you look for this picture.  Of course you’ll find lots of other fun things there as well.



Publisher: Baxbo Games

Tummple! has been described as reverse Jenga. That seems pretty accurate. Both games share a similar wooden-block aesthetic, and in both games the object is to keep things from falling. The key difference is that in tummple! you are building.

The game goes like this. A small wooden base is laid out. All subsequent builds are placed on the base or on other pieces. Players take turns rolling a nice big twelve-sided die that will give the rolling player one of five options. The first three involve placing one of the blocks. The block is to be placed on the wide side, the narrow edge, or the end. The other two options are what add a bit of strategy and meanness tummple! Players may be required to place a tump. Tumps are little plastic half marbles. The white ones act as blockers. They cannot be touched by any pieces played subsequently. The yellow tumps are even tougher. They render the entire surface area on which they’ve been placed untouchable.

Blocks must be placed flat. And when the player releases the piece, their turn is over. Anytime someone causes pieces to fall, they keep all those pieces as points against them.  When all the blocks in the box have been played, the game is over.  Add up the blocks you’ve collected. Player with the fewest, wins.

The box says 2-4 players, but you can play as many people as you can fit around the table. With more people you’re likely to have ties as some people will cause no collapses during their turns.  But it’s still fun. While taking photos for this review, I discovered there’s also something to be said for solitaire play. We have had a good time with this one. It’s good for all ages. And you have a pretty cool little abstract sculpture when you’re all done.

Da Cau

I got another review published over at Wink Fun. Here’s the review and one photo. There are more photos at the Wink Fun site. There’s no direct link to the review, but you can find it here if you look for this picture. Plus you’ll find a link to buy one of these, and lot of other cool things. I believe they publish a new review every day.


This summer our family got to take a dream vacation to Vietnam. While my wife sets up the slide projector and screen, let me tell you about this thing I bought during a stroll through one of Saigon’s beautiful parks. A number of young adults were kicking around this thing that’s sort of a hacky sack with feathers. And what they were doing with this thing was amazing.  They were kicking this thing back and forth, 30 feet between them, often kicking it forward over their shoulder with bottom of their foot.

As I watched in amazement, a street vendor approached me with the product in hand. I said no thank you and kept walking. I didn’t need anymore stuff. By the time I got to the next group of folks playing with one of these, the 10-year-old inside me had won. Clearly, if I had one if these things, I would be able to perform these amazing kicks just like these kids (never mind that I’m no kid anymore). I spotted a vendor, our eyes locked, and she reeled me in. After very little haggling, I purchased a large and small version for about three dollars, if I did my conversion correctly.

When I got home last week I did a little internet research and learned that I had bought a da cau. One online encyclopedia tells me that the da cau is the national sport of Vietnam. There are a variety of versions with different names that are played across Asia, but Vietnam is where it all started 25-hundred years ago.

So the family took our new toy to the back yard. We soon learned that the traditional hacky sack circle was too small for the da cau. I don’t know if the da cau is heavier or more aerodynamic than the hacky sack, but a nice kick sends it farther, and with a bit more practice, I suspect the feathers will aid in accuracy. Also, the stack of curved disks at the bottom of the da cau acts as a spring, and delivers a satisfying pop when you connect solidly. I haven’t mastered the over the shoulder heel kick yet. But our new da cau has been a great reason for our family to stand around the backyard after dinner to play and laugh and visit. And that’s certainly worth three dollars.

Summoner Wars


Mark’s #27 game is Summoner Wars.  I wrote a bit about this one previously. Since then I’ve played a few games via the iPad with Mark and have been soundly thumped. Well, there may have been a close game or two, but he’s beaten me every time, once on his first turn.

As I said before, there’s a lot of game here in just a half hour of play. The Master Set comes with 6 different factions– different armies really– different types of elves and dwarves and undead and such. And because new decks are relatively cheap, I picked up a few more just for fun. The game pits one faction against the other in a pretty straightforward draw cards, play cards, move, attack with dice, strengthen your ability to play cards next turn. Each army has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, and part of the game is learning how the different decks work. This I’m still learning, and is one of the reasons Mark keeps beating me. That and my poor tactical skills.

summoner war

Maly and I, on the other hand, are pretty evenly matched. We are currently playing through a bracket using each of our factions. In theory we’ll know the strongest faction and the strongest player when we’re done. But mostly it’s just fun. That’s the thing about this game. Even when you lose, even consistently, because of an inspired play by your opponent, or a couple bad rolls of the dice, or just bad play on your own part, it’s still fun. It’s interesting to see how the different factions interact. It’s nice to pull off an amazing play, and if you’re a good sport, watch your opponent surprise you. Each game, each war, results in a story. And that’s one of the reasons I play games.

summoner wars

Wink Fun

I recently got a review published on the new website Wink Fun.  Wink Fun is a spinoff of Wink Books.  Wink Books provides short reviews of “remarkable books that belong on paper.” I have purchased a half dozen of these books for myself based on their reviews.  Wink Fun does for cool toys and games what Wink books does for cool books.

You can find my review of Ca$h ‘n Guns on page 2 of the site or on the Board Game page. Look for this picture.


Hopefully this won’t be my last review to show up there as I like writing about cool toys and games.  And now that I see they are carrying reviews of magic tricks . . . sweet!

So head over there to read what I say about Ca$h ‘n Guns, one of my family’s favorite games. And stick around to read about all the other cool things there.  It’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping.

Catan Card Game

Number 44 on Mark’s top 100 games list is Rival’s for Catan.  A game I haven’t played.  But I have played its predecessor, Catan Card Game.  Before I say what I’m going to say below, I should say that in Mark’s article he stresses that the improvements made to this game in it’s most recent incarnation make it a *much* better game.  So that’s not really the game I’m talking about here.

catan card game

This is one that I’ve had for a while, the original English version and some expansions. My daughter and I are the only ones who have played it, and there for a while we played it quite a bit. We mostly played without the expansions, and there are some expansions that we have never used.  But it’s been a while since it’s seen the light of day.  I think this may be because it’s been replaced by Summoner Wars.

summoner wars

I know they’re not the same. Catan Card Game is about building a little community, one of my favorite themes. This dates back to Private Property I think, one of my favorite games as a kid.  Some decisions to be made, granted, not a lot, but some. And it’s a game with great pieces. And you get to turn an old dump into a high-class tourist wonderland.  Develop, develop, develop!

prize property

And Summoner Wars is a war, a magical skirmish. And it’s a great game. (I don’t want to say too much about it as I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t show up later on Mark’s list.) So thematically the games are different. But when my daughter and I want a medium weight card game, Summoner Wars gives us the same fun in half the time, with a lot more player interaction. Heck, Prize Property probably offers more player interaction. Catan Card Game just seems a bit long and repetitive for what it is.


Lost Cities

lost cities

Mark’s #47 is Lost Cities. Lost cities has probably been in our collection as long as any, 15 years? It’s a two player card game that Mare and I have just about worn out. We spent a lot of time together before kids, and after the kids had gone to bed, back when the kids would go to bed early enough for us to have a little evening to ourselves, sitting at the dinning room table playing lost cities. It’s one of those games that hits the sweet spot of making you think and make decisions, but allowing room for conversation as well. That’s the nice thing about a two player game. When two people are visiting, there’s not another wanting them to hurry up and take a turn. And it’s a deck of cards and a little board, so set up is shuffle the cards, and clean up is put the cards back in the box. Recently our daughter has taken to playing it as well. I’m sure it will still be around for another 15.

Midnight Party


Mark’s #48 is Midnight Party.  Midnight Party is the game that answers the question, what happens when the ghost everyone is running from in the scary movies finally catches you. This may be my favorite kids game. I’m sure I’ve played it more with adults than kids. It’s fun the amount of tension this game creates. As you roll the die and move the little plastic pieces around the board, it really feels like you’re running down the hall with a bunch of people, looking desperately for a room to dive into so the ghost doesn’t get you. It felt like this so much to the kids one day that we had to turn the light back on and then they still weren’t sure they wanted to play. (The ghost in this game is glow-in-the-dark; it’s not like we were trying to be cruel to our kids.  And it wasn’t that dark.)  Its still one we enjoy in both the light and the dark.