This is part of our 100 Things in 2015 challenge. Here’s the full list.
Becky doesn’t actually like boardgames. She understands all the things you get from playing them – taking turns, being a good sport when you lose, pattern recognition, fine motor skills, teamwork, strategy – but she doesn’t enjoy the playing of them. But since she’s a good sport (and a good parent), and because the rest of us love them, we decided to officially play and review twelve games in 2015.
(We’ll be including our own reviews of these, but if you want a professional’s view, we’ll include links to BoardGameGeek at the bottom.)
Becky: I get the concept behind the game, but it was somewhat disjointed. I discovered a hidden skill for building a copy of another’s structure in a remarkably short period of time. (I handily won that challenge each time it came around. Much to the others’ annoyance.)
Ben: The game isn’t terribly strategic. It reminded me of Cranium, where each time someone has a turn, there’s a “kooky” challenge that everyone needs to complete. Some of these are slightly unbalanced, so you can tell who will win before you start. We had some laughs, but it probably won’t come out many more times.
Lucy: It was pretty hard but fun.I liked that it was easy to put together, but it wasn’t easy to get to the finish line very fast. And I liked that there were different colors of blocks.
Will: It’s a pretty cool game. It has a lot of cool new challenges for the family. I liked how small the people [game pieces] are, and they had cool costumes.
2. Catan Junior
Becky: I didn’t find this game to be too onerous. I’d played the regular version several times and this kept the distinct flavor while still being easy enough for kids to enjoy. I would recommend to others.
Ben: Enough of the complexity of Settlers has been stripped away that a 6-year-old can play. But it seems like there’s enough depth here to amuse you until you’re 12, maybe. As a grownup who’s played the full version, this one seems kind of bland, but at least there are tons of pirate puns to be made.
Lucy: I thought it was pretty cool, and it was a good family game. I also thought that it was nice that you could buy three different things, and you didn’t have to buy like one thing and you didn’t get to choose what it was, or you having to trade with somebody else. It was cool that you could pick what color you wanted, and that you could trade in the market, and you could get parrot cards and move the pirate.
Will: It’s much different and less complicated than regular Settlers of Catan. It is much different, the board isn’t like puzzle pieces. I like the parrot cards that help you out, and I don’t like that it isn’t very complicated, I like complicated things. The pirate is pretty cool!
Becky: I really enjoyed hearing the kids giggle at this one. There’s really nothing to it, and I accidentally won, but the fast pace, the laughing, and the uniqueness of it made for a pretty fun gaming time.
Ben: This is more of a twitch reaction game, and your strategy is limited to just a couple of seconds in the future. We all got a good laugh from the little bug robot, which skitters around much like an actual insect. The turns go fast, and we had to devise rules about which direction you rolled the dice in. A great time was had, and we’ll be pulling this out again.
Lucy: I liked how the bug could crawl around by itself on its legs. And I liked that it actually looked like you were trying to trap the bug, it had pictures of food where you try and trap the bug. And I liked the background picture. I liked that you could take it apart and put it back together, and there were tokens so you could keep track of your points and not lose them.
Will: It’s awesome. Very interesting. I like that you don’t have to think very hard. It’s super easy. I’d rate it 5 stars, definitely. I liked that is has a mechanical “bug”.
4. Incan Gold
Becky: This game was okay. Much simpler than it was advertised to be.
Ben: The game is pretty simple, really. The kids were more enamored with the jewels and creepy zombie cards I think than the actual gameplay, but they certainly liked it enough. It’s pretty light
Lucy: I thought it was a good game. I also like that I chose it. I chose this game because I thought I would like it. If you wanted lots of people to play it, it said it was good for a party game. I liked that there were different kinds of treasure. Wouldn’t it be boring having only one kind of treasure in the game? I kind of didn’t like that you only had two chances, then you’d have to run away. I would have a tight grip on my gold and jewels, and not lose them.
Will: This was fun. Really realistic, and very surprising. The game is better than I thought it would be having read the box. I liked the pieces, how they were sculpted, and how realistic the cards are.
Becky: I really enjoyed this game and think it will be a great addition to our camping activity box!
Ben: We’ve played this informally before with post-it notes, but having an official set of dry-erase pads and rules gives it enough structure that the kids can enjoy it too. Many laughs were had, and the kids learned that this game is the most fun with wrong guesses.
Lucy: (thumbs up) That was super duper duper fun. It was super funny that I got from a crying baby to a little boy. It had a lot of laughs, and I got a little bit lucky because my card had one that said I could choose.
Will: Very funny, and exciting to learn and play. I really liked the drawing. It was really funny when something got mixed up, like a calculator to a marshmallow, or a marshmallow sandwich.
Becky: Similar to Apples to Apples in concept, but much grosser. Not a bad game overall.
Ben: We had fun with this one, especially the challenges where you get to make up your own “would you rather” questions. All of us got a tiny bit outside our comfort zones, in a good way.
Lucy: That one’s a really fun game. I like that you can learn new would-you-rather questions.
Will: Weird. Very weird. It has a lot of funny stuff, and it’s recommended to kids of all ages. I really liked it.
The game was released in 2000, so there’s no website, but it’s essentially Spoons.
Becky: This is exactly the game “spoons” that I used to play with my extended family, but they’ve made it into a board game. Simple, fast-paced, fun. (Found at Goodwill for $5)
Ben: Pretty fun, but frustrating for those of us who get too focused. Also, beware having a big differential in skill level; the only handicap available is to move the weaker players closer to the sneakers, which adds lots of tension, and may not help frustration levels very much.
Lucy: This one’s super funny, when you’re taking a card out you should look at the sneaks to see if they’re gone, and if one of them was taken, you have to take one! It was a little frustrating, because I was always the one who didn’t get a sneak, but I still think it was a little bit fun.
Will: Fun game of fast grabbing.
Becky: I think I surprised the kids with just how much of a physical comedian I can be. (The wine helped.) Simple game, really could be played with just the cards, the board and pieces were unneeded. (Found at Goodwill for 99 cents.)
Ben: This is obviously designed for a younger crowd. Many of the prompts are simplistic, or hard to make a joke out of. We had to allow a lot of latitude. Not so much a game as a bunch of joke/gag ideas.
Lucy: I liked it, and I think it was nice that it made you laugh, it was a really funny game. But one thing, Lololand is a good place to be, because then you can be ahead of everyone, or behind everyone. I don’t like that you can win so soon. The jokes were pretty funny, and some of them were pretty hard to do.
Will: Funny game, makes everybody laugh. Easy to play. I liked acting out the cards, because it’s fun and I like making people laugh.
Becky: I quite enjoyed this (I also love Cards Against Humanity). We played on a camping trip and it was simple, entertaining, and we all had a lot of laughs.
Ben: This is the third variation on this theme that I’ve played, and the formula works very well. There’s very little equipment, and everybody learns how to play to a crowd (even a crowd of one).
Lucy: I liked the game, that it had like funny words in it for the cards. I like that it can have a lot of people to play if they wanted to. One thing I didn’t like is that 2 players can’t play together. You should be able to do 3.
Will: Fun game, really cool. It’s very funny. I really liked it. The cards were nice and stiff, not super flimsy. I recommend it to people over 8, because Lucy was having kind of a hard time, and she’s just 7.
Becky: Despite this being the kind of game I really dislike, I put on a brave face for the good of the family. And then accidentally won the game. The rest of the gang had played before, I was the newcomer.
Ben: Will’s getting pretty good at games like this, so he wanted to skip some of the steps, including the things that make this game fun. So we slowed it down, emphasized the story-telling aspects, and it turned into a new game. Pretty sure we actually had fun, even though Becky doesn’t enjoy this kind of game.
Lucy: It’s a good game, I like that it has lots of funny treasures and monster cards. It was fun playing, even though I lost, because it was fun getting help and stuff.
Will: Fun. Funny. Exciting. It made me feel like I wanted to win. I like the game, and I wanted to win. At least I didn’t get last. We’ve played this a lot, so it wasn’t as exciting as when it was new. Kind of frustrating how slow we had to play since there was a newcomer.
11. Sushi Go
Becky: Fairly entertaining and deceptively simple. I’d play this again.
Ben: I loved the variety of scoring rules in play, plus the fact that you pass your whole hand to your neighbor. There are a lot of strategies to pursue, which means it’s a game you can actually get better at, which is a refreshing change from things like Candy Land. It was fun, and I liked it.
Lucy: I liked the game because there were these cartoon foods, and they’re super cute. And I liked it because you could get the good cards, like chopsticks and wasabi, and that they would help you. There weren’t any parts I didn’t like. I like the pudding card the most, because it’s super cute and I love eating dessert.
Will: I liked it. It’s complicated when you’re just starting, then it gets easier. It’s supposed to be fast, but it starts slow. I would like to play it more, it’s a fun game.
(Based on playing through a third of a game together; we had a christmas party to get to!)
Becky: This is interesting and is worth another play-through. It’s got several layers to learn.
Ben: This game is gorgeous. The visual style is amazing, and it evokes a mythical feudal Japan in a really engaging way. This is the most complicated game we’ve tried with the kids, but they both seem intrigued, and they handled it okay. We’ll be trying again at some point.
Lucy: My least favorite part was that if you were ahead of all the people, you would lose those turns. If someone got ahead, they’d have to wait while all the other people took their turns. One of my favorite parts was that you can get lots and lots and lots of points, and those would all add up to your points and you would win. I liked that the travelers all had interesting names that we don’t know. I liked the game. Three stars.
Will: I liked how, I’m not sure how to explain it, the whole combines like it’s one big thing, I don’t know how to explain that. Everything connects into something bigger than a village. It fits together really well. I like that I got to pick a card every time i got to a hotel. Almost everything was completely different than other games, it isn’t like and it isn’t built the same way. Completely different than any game I’ve played so far.