Color Clash

Filed Under (Dexterity, Family Games, Kids Games, Party Games, Puzzles, Speed Game) by Bernie DeKoven on 28-05-2015

Color Clash
You are, of course, familiar with the Stroop Effect? As an avid follower of the work of the famous psychologist John Ridley Stroop, author of the oft-cited research paper “Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions,” you’ve doubtlessly spent many an indolent hour of pleasurable Strooping.

You haven’t? Or you may have, but didn’t know you were?

Well, dear fun-seeker, have we got a game for you! O, yes we have.

It’s called Color Clash.

You get 36 round “Color Clash tiles” and six larger, also round “Chameleon tiles.”  You only need the Chameleons in some of the games, but all of the games use the Color Clash tiles. You also get a well-illustrated instruction booklet describing eight (8) different games. Yes, 8 (eight) different games – some for three or more players, some for two or more, and the last two games both solitaires. Now, before we go on, I need must point out that the eight different games are not variations of each other, but each one a game in its own delightful rightMajor Fun Award – equally playable, equally fun-provoking. This, in itself, is a rare and most praiseworthy accomplishment.

As you may have noted from the illustration, each tile has three attributes: a written word naming a color, the color of that written word, and a colored image. As you, already being familiar with the joys of Strooping, so well know how the crux of the challenge lies in the fact that the words that name a particular color are most often themselves printed in a different color.

Let us, for the sake of brevity, examine only the first game, “Guess What I’m Thinking.” For this, and the next game, which we shall only name in passing (“Between Four”), requires three or more players. You lay out all 36 of the Clash Tiles, face-up (both yours and theirs). When it’s your turn to start, you select (mentally) any one tile and take note of the its three different attributes (the color described by the word in the outer ring, the color in which that word is printed, and the color of the image in the center of the tile) (you try to do this without staring too hard or too long at the tile you’ve chosen). You then announce all three colors, in any order your whim suggests, and all the other players conceptually scramble to be the first to cover that one particular tile with their hand. The first player to identify the correct tile wins that round, and that tile. We recommend that that player be the next tile-chooser (though the rules stipulate that some turn order be established aforehand). The game continues until only six tiles are left, the winner being the player who has collected the most tiles.

And that’s just the first game.

Easy to learn. Deeply challenging. Often laughter provoking. Major Fun.

Color Clash comes to you from the oft Major Fun awarded Blue Orange Games and is designed by FabienTaguy, illustrated by Stephane Escapa, for 1-8 non-color-blind players, ranging in age from 7-years-old to senior.

Stroop on!

Aztack

Filed Under (Family Games, Kids Games, Thinking Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 17-05-2015

aztack

It’ll take you maybe five minutes to learn how to play Aztack, and the average game lasts around fifteen minutes. It’s highly likely you’ll play several rounds of this not at all average strategy game.
There are 60 tiles – like dominoes – the kind of dominoes that slide sweetly when smushed around on the table, and clack comfortingly when stacked. The back of the tiles have two parallel ridges which play no small part in the clack comfort.

They’re not called tiles, though. They’re stones. Ah, yes, stones. The kind you use to build something like pyramids.

The first thing you do is take out all the stones, place them face dow on the table, and smush. We suggest collaborative smushing. Share the pleasure, don’t you know.

AztackThen you take 12 tiles, turn them over, and arrange them, face-up, in a rectangle of two rows of six tiles each. This forms the base of the pyramid. Now each player (2-4) selects 12 tiles, and puts them, face-up (that is, the tiles are face-up, not necessarily the player).

From then on, players take turns adding tiles to the stack. A tile has to: 1) lay across two tiles in the pyramid, and 2) match either the color or the design of the tiles upon which it has been laid. The game continues until neither player can make a legal move – the player with the fewest remaining tiles being the winner.

Easy to understand, yet challenging enough to make you look and think hard.

When the game is over, the thing you build together doesn’t look like your classic Egyptian pyramid, but it does look like something the Aztacks might have called a pyramid, if there were such people as Aztacks.

Here, courtesy of the BlueOrange ones, a brief, illustrative video:

Surprisingly engaging for such an easily-learned game. And it feels good, too. Well made. Carefully thought out. Kids enjoy it. Not kids enjoy playing it with the kids. The designs (“glyphs”) look like something an Aztack would make. And, o, the clacking and smushing.

Major Fun Award
Aztec is a strategy game for two to four players, ages 7 up. It is designed by Brad Ross and Jim Winslow, and comes to us from the oft-awarded Blue Orange Games.

Urban Fold

Filed Under (Creative, Family Games, Kids Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 10-05-2015

Tagged Under :

urban fold

Until now, we haven’t even considered giving a Major Fun award to a crafts kit. A product called Urban Fold made us reconsider our policy.

It is one of a series of products that come to us from a company called Paper Punk. Go to their site. It is well-worth the visit. For on it, you will see what amounts to a new, and very welcome approach to children’s craft kits.

Urban Fold comes in a reusable storage box that contains 48 punch-and-fold shapes (punch-and-fold, as you probably already surmised, refers to thin, cardboard shapes that you fold along scored lines, and then attempt to put many little tabs into their appropriate little slots – this is not necessarily without its challenges, and hence, though it is recommended for children 6 and up, we would add that children of that age who can actually get all those tabs with out bending the tabs or themselves out of shape are exceptional and should be treated with great respect and much hugging), 697 stickers (of the peel-off persuasion, easily peeled, I might add, and of sizes varying from large to meticulous), and 1 poster and planning mat (a large, two-sided sheet of paper – one side serving as a planning grid, the other as a guide to different kinds of buildings that can be created from the shapes and stickers).

The poster/planning mat shows you how seriously you can take the whole thing – which is always good to know. We, in our frivolously fun way, decided to ignore that side of things pretty much altogether – though, I’m sure, at one time or another, we’ll appreciate the depth of detail and probably regret our devil-may-care enthusiasm. On the other hand, we won’t regret the fun we had, not at all at all.

The die-cutting is sufficiently deep so that even the youngest and most whimsy-driven member of our family test-group (nine-years-old) could tear out any of the shapes without tearing the shapes themselves – which is no small feat. The peel-off stickers also peel off without undue damage to their integrity.

We all sat around the table, folding and slotting. It took the six of us about an hour to complete that part of the kit – a surprisingly pleasant, relaxed, and thoroughly constructive family-togetherness hour (which is in itself remarkable – we’re talking an entire hour here, together!). We had little time left, and spent that investigating stickers. The oldest amongst us was able, with great care and precision of stickage, to create something quite in keeping with the craft-aspect of it all. Doors, windows, all aligned with care and propriety. The youngest didn’t care about any of that. He just stuck things here and there, exercising his art in the fullest, making something closely approximating a graffiti wall, which turned out to be clearly the most fun for him and us.

And then, because we had to eat, we had the opportunity to be feel quite sanguine about how everything fit so neatly in the box, all the shapes maintaining themselves quite enduringly.

It’s this flexibility, this range of potential engagement that made it so clear that we had something unique here – a craft kit for all moods and purposes, something that could respond to the moment, could absorb a wide range of interests, skills, approaches, and constraints. The geometric shapes lend themselves to play – they can be assembled into almost anything we could imagine. The stickers, though detailed enough to be taken literally, could just as easily be collaged and montaged into multi-hued memorials to mayhem. All in all, Urban Fold turned out to be Major Fun.

family-kids-creative

Sock Puppet Charades

Filed Under (Creative, Family Games, Party Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 26-04-2015

sock puppet charades

Sock Puppet Charades is, basically, when it comes down to it, charades, with sock puppets. How potentially droll, you say to yourself. Good game, that charades. Victorian, so they say. A Parlour game of proven play value. But with sock puppets! Those clever little hand puppets devised, I believe, sometime during the early 20th century and of similarly proven play value. A folk toy, one must say. Oh, my, how foreseeably fun. A folk game that makes the use of a folk toy. How doubly droll!

Well, my friend, until you play it, you can scarcely conjecture how beyond droll this little game of Sock Puppet Charades turns out to be. Scarcely. Because, you see, it’s far more than the sum of its play-tested parts. It’s a unique, entertaining and thoroughly enchanting game. Challenging (like charades). Tension-producing (there’s a sand-timer don’t you know). And yet, fundamentally funny (with sock puppets).

Take another look at the two sock puppets that come with the game.

sock puppet
They absolutely defy you to take anything seriously. Not when someone’s pinky and thumb are sticking out of the puppets pretending to be arms.

Now, imagine trying to use one or both of these sock puppets, without talking, with the aid only of the sock puppets, your vocabulary of vocal sound effects, and a small collection of props, to get someone to say the word “yoga.” Imagine trying to make yoga pose with your hand in a sock, you downward-facing dog, you.

The game itself is designed so that everybody is continually involved. One player dons the socks, selects the props, and then a charade card upon which are written 3 different words: an action, a person, and a thing. She now has exactly one minute to get the rest of the players to say all three words. The puppeteer gets one point for each person who correctly identifies the word. And the player who is first to guess correctly also gets a point. Then the next player dons the socks of puppeteerness. Depending on how many players there are (as few as three, as many as six) the game continues for four, three or two complete rounds before the final scores are calculated.

On the other hand, as it were, by the end of the game you have probably laughed so hard, so often, that the whole idea of keeping score kind of loses its point, so to speak.

Everything about the game is well-made. The box it comes in is sturdy enough to last a generation or two. You don’t have to worry about remembering the rules, or losing them, because they’re written right on the inside of the cover. The sock puppets are made of long-lasting knit polyester with embroidered faces. And the props, though the small collection truly demonstrates the play value of having them as part of the game, can be expanded upon indefinitely.

Brilliantly designed by Jack Degnan, diligently produced by the enticingly-named Marbles the Brain Store; Sock Puppet Charades, should you need to ask, is Major Fun!

party-family-creative

Coconuts “Crazy Monkey Game”

Filed Under (Dexterity, Family Games, Party Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 22-04-2015

Coconuts "Crazy Monkey" Game
So, let’s say you just bought your very own copy of the Coconuts “Crazy Monkey Game”. And you just opened the box.

There are monkeys in the box. Four of them. They all look the same and they all do the same thing. Their arms are stretched out, palms together. They’re spring-loaded. So if you press down on their arms, they go down, and if you let go, they spring up. So, what does that make you want to do with them? Put something in their palms, no? And press down maybe all the way, maybe only part of the way. And let their arms go. And watch the thing fly. Oh, yes!

If you rummage around a bit, you’ll notice a bag full of little brown rubbery things, about the size of Raisinets – you know, chocolate-covered raisins. If I were you and had the time, as soon as I got my Coconuts Crazy Monkey Game, I’d run over to the supermarket and buy a few boxes of those candies, or M&Ms maybe, because those little brown rubbery things they call coconuts look too delicious not to be edible, which, alas, they are not.

There are also cups in the box. Twelve of them. Four red, the rest yellow.

That, in fact, is all you actually and in truth need to know to have significant, genuine, generation-spanning, party-like fun with your Coconuts “Crazy Monkey Game”. And that, in truth, is what makes the Coconuts “Crazy Monkey Game” as major fun as it turns out being. You don’t really need to know how to play it. You can make up your own game. A truly fun, delicious game – party-worthy, for the whole family, even without the kids. Especially if you remembered to get the Raisinets. Though the little rubbery things do have an undeniable bounce to them, which adds that certain bounce to the gameplay of it all. But then you can’t eat your winnings.

Look a little further into the box and you’ll come up with four boards. This will change your perception of the game a bit, because it will make you wonder what to do with them. And, with a little more rummaging, you’ll find a deck of twelve “special magic cards.” And a set of, gasp, rules even.

So, you set the game up according to the instructions, until the whole thing looks something like this:

cocunut game
And no, I’m not going to tell you what the rules are, because: A) I don’t want to spoil the fun of your making up your own rules, and 2) the rules are pretty easy to understand. Especially if you watch this video:

YouTube Preview Image

And yes, yes, the game can be even more fun for a longer time (didn’t think it would be possible, did you?) with the board and the cards. All of which is to say, Major Fun? O, yes!

dexterity-family-kids-party

The Coconuts “Crazy Monkey Game” was designed by Walter Schneider and is brought to us by the compassionately playful folk of Mayday Games.

Red7

Filed Under (Family Games) by Marc Gilutin on 21-04-2015

As the Major knows, I’m frequently interested in the opportunity to mess with the rules (see Anti-Qwirkle)

I once asked game designer Dirk Henn about a house rule I’d come up with for his (classic!) game, Alhambra.

He said he liked the rule and went out of his way to tell me that any change to any game of his was fine as long as we were having fun. What more could a gamer ask for?

Love that guy!

red7

RED7 is a game for 2-4 fun people of, as the publisher suggests, age 9 and higher. YMMV. I think a lot of  8 yr olds will do fine. It was designed by Carl Chudyk and Chris Cieslik, with art by Alanna Cervenak and is made available by Asmadi Games.

The essence of the game is to be the last one standing.

In the very short version of the game, the winner is decided after one hand. 5-10 minutes. “That’s it. You win. Whadya wanna play now?”

We usually play what (LINK) Asmadi (LINK) calls the  “advanced rules”. But I promise you. None of the advanced rules are all that advanced. If you have the time, you should try them. ‘Cause more fun is better than less fun.

We usually choose the shorter version only if we’re using the game as a “summoner.”

Summoner? When two or more of us are here waiting for one or more of the others to arrive, we choose a game like Red7 to play and, as soon as more players arrive, we finish the hand we’re on and play something with the whole group.

(The thinking is that our starting a game without them magically “summons” them to show up already!)

Surprising how often this works.

Red7 is a game of cards, 1-7 of each of 7 colors. Suits if you will.

There are also personal cards to help each other to remember stuff.

red7-ontable

Game play

Seven cards are dealt to each player. Then one additional face up card in front of each to start their “Palette”.

The “Canvas” (In many card games, called  Discard) pile is then started with the special red card that says, “YOU ARE CURRENTLY PLAYING RED. HIGHEST CARD WINS”

Following that rule, the person to the left of the highest Palette card, goes first.

When it’s your turn, you have 4 choices

  1. Play a card to your “Palette” (As in painting, a “palette” is a place where the artist mixes her colors. How clever!)
  2. Play a card to the “Canvas” pile (Another artistic reference.)
    The top card on this pile always indicates what the current rule is.
  3. Do both 1 and 2. (The Palette card MUST be played first)
  4. Do nothing. And lose!! We all know what that means and like it much less than the alternative. Included in this rule is if you begin a round with no cards in your hand. If you can’t play, you lose.

The rest is simple. SO simple.

If, after you’ve played your card or cards, you’re winning, using the top discard as the rule, you continue.

If it’s Not, you throw all your cards in and “kibbitz” (special gaming term).

So what are these rules he’s been talking about?

There are 7 colors of cards. Each color presents a different rule, when played to the discard pile.

Red: High card wins. The highest card in each players “palette” is compared to the other players’ highest card. In the case of a tie, it’s broken by color in this order, from highest to lowest:

Ranking of colors is: Red, Orange, Yellow Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet

RedGameplay

  • Orange: Most of one number Wins. Current player looks for her strongest combo. If she has three of a kind, she looks around the table to see if anyone has more or a higher set of trips.
  • Yellow: Most of One Color Wins
  • Green Most “Even” Cards Wins
  • Blue: Most Different Colors Wins
  • Indigo: Most Cards in a Row Wins
  • Violet: Most Cards Below 4 Wins

Tie Breakers are very important in this game, since you’re always comparing your hand to the other players’.

“Tie Breaker” is a very popular term in board games.

For example, a game ends in which  both you and I have met the requirements to win. But who wins? You? Me? Both of us??? (Some games actually suggest a shared victory, which is SO in the Major Fun Wheelhouse!!

But, most of the time, they’re looking for one winner and one or more tiebreakers are used to determine that luckiest of sons of guns.

Red7 actually has many tiebreakers built right into the game.

The first one is highest card. Then colors. Each player is given a card that shows the various card colors from the mighty RED (as in the title) to the lowly violet (Poor thing!)

So, if the “rule” is most of one color and you and I each have three of one color, we look for the highest card among the cards we’re comparing. High card wins. If we both have a 7, for instance, we use the color rule for breaking ties.

In Red7, a big part of the rules is “change the rules”. As you’ll see in a moment.

Every turn….or at least most of them…you may want to change a rule to better suit the cards  in your hand. Or to even have a legal play to make.}

I know you’ve been wondering about the “Advanced Rules”.

As I said, they’re not at all difficult.

Look here:

  • Major Fun awardOn the turns where you play a card to the Canvas pile, if the number on that card is greater than the number OF cards in your Palette, you get to pick an extra card from the deck. An extra card means more options when it’s your turn.
  • Keeping score.  In the advanced game, you’re playing more than one hand. when you win a hand, take all the cards in your Palette that helped you win (like a 4,5,6,7 when the rule was Indigo: Most cards in a row) and place them face down under your reference card. The face value of those cards represents your score for that hand.
  • When someone reaches 40 points in a 2-player game, or 35 in a 3, or 30 in a 4, the game’s over
  • Then everyone turns over their buried cards and totals them High total wins.

I TOLD you it was easy!!

And Fun!

Easy Fun!!

MAJOR FUN!!

Diamonds

Filed Under (Family Games, Thinking Games) by Will Bain on 14-04-2015

Tagged Under : , , ,

diamondsA good deal of my down time in college was spent playing card games. At lunch we would play Hearts and Euchre. After dinner we played Spades and Bridge. And during [Post-Colonial Comparative Ontological Super-Symmetry] lectures we played a raucous home-brewed game that combined the best elements of Speed, Pit, and what we called “Go Fish Yourself.” We never actually went to class so please feel free to insert any course title inside the brackets.

Had Diamonds existed 25 years ago, I feel confident in saying that we would have welcomed it into our busy schedule of card games, role-playing games, board games, and video games. Even now, when I find myself a putative adult with parenting and career responsibilities, I would gladly make time for a game or two of Diamonds. It has nice strategic depth like Spades and just a little meanness like Hearts.

In short, Diamonds is a trick-taking card game. The deck consists of 60 cards divided into the four traditional suits: Clubs, Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds. One player leads a card and the others follow suit if they can. The highest value card of the lead suit wins the trick. There is no trump suit.

The game comes with a big mound of plastic gems that are piled in the center of the table (called “The Supply”). Players earn diamond tokens each trick and these diamonds determine the player’s score at the end of the hand. Diamonds can be stored in one of two places: behind a small screen called “The Vault” or in front of the screen called “The Showroom.” At the end of the hand, gems in the Showroom are worth 1 point each and gems in the Vault are worth 2 points apiece. How you earn the gems and how they come to be in your Showroom or Vault is the clever aspect of this game.

Each suit allows you to take an action that will help you accumulate diamonds. The diamond suit allows you to take one gem from the supply and put it in your Vault. Hearts allow you to take one from the supply and put it in your Showroom. Spades allow you to move a gem from your Showroom to your Vault. Clubs allow you to steal a gem from another player’s Showroom and place it in your Showroom.

You get to use these actions in several situations. If you win the trick (you have the highest card of the lead suit) you get to take the action. If you do not have the lead suit and must play something else then you also get to take that card action. For example, if I lead Hearts and you don’t have one, you can play a Diamond and then take a gem from the supply (putting it in your Vault). At the end of the hand, players count up how many cards they have of each suit. The player with the highest in each suit also gets to take that action. Finally, if you take no cards (no tricks) the entire hand, you may take 2 gems from the Supply and put them in your Vault. You can earn a lot of points this way.

01 AwardOne of the things we really like about the game Diamonds is that you almost always score something during a hand. Heck, several players can score in the same trick. It is very difficult to play a hand and score nothing. As a way of keeping players involved and invested, this is brilliant. There is also a great tension that builds through the game because you might not know how many gems a player has behind the screen.

As is suggested by the name, the suit of diamonds is the best suit as it allows you to put gems directly in your vault; however, the other suits are effective and fun and make for exciting gameplay. In a four-player game, only 40 cards are dealt so it is possible that there might not be many diamond cards in circulation. If that’s the case, hearts and clubs are the only way to earn gems and you need spades to get them safely into your Vault. And because we at Major Fun have mean little hearts, there was a good deal of glee had when we could use clubs to steal diamonds from each other.

Diamonds is a Major Fun twist on standard card games. It is certainly the safest way to be a diamond thief.

2 – 6 players. Ages 8+

Diamonds was designed by Mike Fitzgerald and is © 2014 by Stronghold Games LLC.

Jenga® Giant™

Filed Under (Dexterity, Family Games, Party Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 13-04-2015

Jenga Giant
Jenga® Giant™ is, as you might conclude, a giant version of Jenga. You play it just like you’d play Jenga®. Everything you know about Jenga® makes this game as fun as it is. Only with Jenga Giant the fun is, shall we say, even more major.

Why even more major? Because when those blocks come a-tumblin’ down, man, do they come a-tumblin’! We’re talking loud. We’re talking spectacularly loud. By the second or third time you play, and you know full well how much of a spectacle it is, and how loud it is, the tension is even greater, the game even that much more exciting, and attractive, which makes it especially good for parties.

It is made of “54 precision crafted polished Jenga® Giant™ Premium Hardwood Blocks each 6″x2″x1″” (premium hardwood, but not from endangered rain forest, jungle, or similar areas). This “precision crafted polished” feature of the game is what makes it work so well, and why you could very well drive yourself beyond the limits of the home craftperson should you try to make your own. Blocks that can slide without making the whole thing fall are blocks that slide the way only a precision crafted polished block could slide – smoothly, smugly, validating your Jenga-like acumen.

There is nothing cheap about Jenga Giant. Nothing. But after you play it at one or several of your parties, you’ll have no trouble at all justifying the expense. And neither will your guests.

To further the party-like aspect of Jenga Giant, and for a relatively minuscule investment, consider purchasing a ChalkInk marker so that you can write messages, erasably, in a subtle but clearly legible white, right upon your beautiful Jenga blocks, added rules and other hilarity-provoking things. We take, for example, from The Big List of Drinking Jenga Tiles (not that drinking is necessary or even essential for the majority of the added fun):

  • The next person must take their turn sitting on your lap.
  • You must play the rest of the game wearing no shoes or socks.
  • You must keep physical contact with the person to your right for the remainder of the game.
  • Any time you sing the Jeopardy theme song, the person taking their turn must complete their turn before you finish the song.

(Fortunately, the Jenga Giant blocks are giant enough for just about any message you can think of.)

The only reason we don’t recommend Jenga Giant for kids? Kids might get a bit too carried away to remember not to play near fragile things like on your beautiful dining room table or too close to the proverbial china closet. O, they will have fun. Big fun. But there are times when one must ask: what price fun?

dexterity-party

Rory’s Story Cubes – Mix and Max

Filed Under (Cooperation, Creative, Family Games, Keeper, Word Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 27-03-2015

story cubes enchanted

As you no doubt know, Rory’s Story Cubes® has achieved that most coveted of all Major Fun awards, the Major Fun Keeper! In their ceaseless attempts to make a good thing better, Gamewright has recently introduced what they are calling the Story Cubes Mix: small sets of three cubes each, each with their own theme. Currently, there are: Clues (mystery detective images), Prehistoria (dinosaurs and their ilk), and Enchanted (fairy tale). Each box and set of cubes is a different color – making it easier to sort one set out from the other, when so moved. Though, in truth, mixing them together stimulates even more creativity. It is my great pleasure to inform you that each of these has received a Major Fun award.

They are each very affordable, each wealthy enough with iconic imagery to engage the story-telling heart and direct it towards a different world. And, when used to supplement any of the existing Story Cube sets, each takes the story a different way, each serving to add yet more to the mix of inspiration for aspiring story-makers.

And for those who have not yet purchased the basic Story Cube set, try using a Mix to supplement your next story-reading. Take any book that you and your kids like to read together, and, at mutually agreed upon moments, roll a cube or two or three, interpret the symbols, and add them to the story. It’s a whole new way to read together.

story cubes maxAnd then there’s Rory’s Story Cubes® Max, the original Story Cubes made larger. Mixing a Mix with the Max (excuse me, I couldn’t help myself) makes a mix even that much easier to unmix – should the need arise.

Major Fun Keeper AwardEach of the various instantiations of Rory’s Story Cubes complement and extend the value of the others. The Max set invites those of us who don’t see as clearly as we think. It’s size and heft is even more inviting – especially for adult and group play.

The invitation to creative, story-telling fun just keeps getting majorer and majorer.

Rush Hour Shift

Filed Under (Family Games, Kids Games, Thinking Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 25-03-2015

Rush Hour Shift
Rush Hour Shift is a strategy game based on ThinkFun‘s popular Rush Hour puzzle series. )If your not familiar with charm of these puzzles, you can play with the basic concept of this intriguing little puzzle online.)

Major Fun AwardThe game board is in three parts, loosely connected so that you can shift (hence, the name of the game) either end of the board up or down. There are 12 “blocking vehicles” of three different lengths, and ten different ways to arrange the vehicles on the board. These vehicles can be moved, they just can’t be moved sideways, nor can they move over each other (which explains why they are called “blocking” vehicles). There’s also a deck of 32 movement cards which determine how far you can move your “hero car” and/or whether you get to shift one of the two ends of the game board.

After the game is set up (according to any one of the ten arrangements shown in the rule book), each player gets four cards. From then on, players alternate turns, selecting one of their cards, discarding the card face-up, following the movement rules (how far you can move, whether or not you can shift the board end), and then taking another card from the draw pile. The game ends as soon as one player has managed to maneuver his or her hero car off the board.

It’s a quick game, success depending on chance, logic, and being strategic enough to make the correct decision between preventing your opponent from winning or creating your own path to victory. There’s one additional strategic deliciousness – if a vehicle is positioned so that it bridges between a shifting end and the non-shiftable center board, that end is locked, and remains unshiftable until the blocking vehicle is moved.

All in all, Rush Hour Shift proves to be a unique and remarkably engaging combination of strategy game for two people as young as eight or as old as you. Everything works to keep you engaged – the elegant design of the board, the different lengths of the vehicles, the variety of starting positions, the luck of the draw. Kids may be attracted by the toy-like appearance of the game (and so might you), but it turns out to provide a significant challenge worthy even of someone of your esteemed logical prowess.

YouTube Preview Image