Tugie

tugie

Tugie looks like a stacking toy, but it’s really a pulling-off-the-stack toy. To be more specific, it’s a pulling-off-the-stack-without-causing-any-of-the-other-pieces-to-fall-off toy.

It’s made of wood (except for the metal pole that the Tugies fit onto and the Tugie tail strings). Ah, warm, wonderful wood. There are thirteen Tugies of five different colors. There’s also a wooden die. Which Tugie you have to pull off the Tugie pole depends on which color you roll. There are three Tugies of each of four Tugie colors, and the grey one. You roll the die and try to tug a Tugie of the chosen color off the pole without making any of the other Tugies fall off. If you succeed without making any other Tugie fall off, you put that Tugie back on to the top of the Tugie pole. Fallen Tugies, unfortunately, become yours. If you manage to collect six fallen Tugies, the game is over.

One side of the die is white. If you roll that, you have to pull TWO Tugies off the pole at the same time!

dexterity-kidsAt first, it’s pretty easy. But as the game goes on, the Tugies slide around just a tad, and with each tad become that much more likely to fall. So you have to look carefully, choose the one Tugie that looks like it will not disturb any of the others, and pull everso carefully (unless you are a Tugie yanker – there’s more than one way to tug a Tugie).

The grey Tugie is also known as the “Tugie Topper.” You’re only supposed to select from a Tugie that is below the Tugie Topper. If, however, the color you roll is not below the Tugie Topper, you get to tug any Tugie. If the Tugie Topper reaches the bottom of the Tugie stack, you must, obviously, tug the Tugie Topper and return it to its rightful position on top of the Tugie stack. It is intriguing to note that when the Tugie Topper does reach the bottom of the Tugie stack, there are all these delicately balanced Tugies above it. We’re just saying…

It’s a quick and sweet game. It takes only a few minutes to learn. Some games are very short. Most last around fifteen minutes. Easy, straightforward, major fun is what it is.

Tugie was eveloped by Robert Korzeniowski and Marbles: The Brain Store. It’s recommended for people at least 5-years-old, and available from Marbles the Brain Store

Push-a-Monster

push-a-monster
Just how good are you at herding monsters onto an increasingly crowded, irregularly-shaped “Monster Arena” without letting any of them fall off?

That’s the very question you’ll be asking yourself when you play Push a Monster.

You get 1 Monster Arena, 27 wooden monsters, 81 monster tokens, a sheet full of stickers to put on your wooden monster, two monster pushers and a die. There’s also a very clearly and colorfully illustrated set of well-written, easy-to-read rules on a large two-sided sheet of paper.

Aside from the monsters, the die, and the sheet of stickers, and the rules, everything else is made pleasingly thick, colorfully-illustrated, fun-to-punch-out cardboard.

You play with 2-4 players.

The first thing you do, after you’ve finished sticking the stickers, and punching out the tokens is put all the 81 monster tokens into stacks – one stack for each kind of monster. There are six kinds of monsters, and there are six tokens of the largest and fifteen each of the other five.

When it’s your turn to add a monster, you first roll the die to determine which monster you will be pushing on to the platform. One side of the die has a question mark. If you roll that, you must select a monster from one of the highest stacks. The larger the monster, the more difficult it will be to herd onto the Arena without pushing another monster (or two, or several) off. You then place that monster on the longer monster pusher, and use the smaller pusher to slide that monster until it is completely onto the Arena, with no part hanging off.

Major Fun AwardThe scoring system is particularly ingenious:Each kind of monster is a different size. Each kind of monster token is a different width – the smaller the monster, the narrower the token. When monsters fall off the Arena, every player (except for the player whose turn it was) gets a token of that monster type. The players then arrange their tokens in a line, and the player with the longest line at the end of the game wins.

Turns are relatively short. The whole game can be played in less than 30 minutes (even the excessively cautious will find their caution kept in check by the collective impatience of the other players). No reading is involved so younger players will be able to understand the game almost immediately. It does take a steady hand and some degree of reasoning to determine where is the most monster-accommodating place in the arena. But it’s a fun and funny game, and some success for each player is all but guaranteed.

Designed by Wolfgang Dirscherl and Manfried Reiendl, with art by Claus Stephan and Michael Hüter; is available from Queen Games, for children ages 5 to 85.

Color Clash

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!

Chopstick Dexterity Mega Challenge 3000

MDG-4314

It’s the future and a mysterious plague has eliminated all cutlery, except for the humble chopstick. Only those who are one with the chopstick will survive.

In a world where the fork is king, one hero dares to rise against the tyranny of the tines. That hero may be you…
After the machines took over, humans were gathered to entertain the mechanical overlords in a series of increasingly bizarre gladiatorial spectacles. On this, the final day of games, the weapon of choice is the chopstick.

Whatever story you choose to believe, Mayday’s Chopstick Dexterity Mega Challenge 3000 (to be referred to hereafter as CDMC 3000) is a fast, noisy, sloppy game in which opponents try to be the first to gather colored wood shapes from a central wok using (wait for it) only (wait for it) chopsticks (gasp!!).

IMG_5136There are 25 wooden pieces: five shapes (shrimp, tentacle, nigiri, onigiri, sushi roll) in five colors (purple, red, yellow, blue, and green). These are placed in a large central wok. Each competitor gets a set of chopsticks and a smaller dish. The game also comes with 40 tokens that tell contestants the target shapes. When a token is revealed the opponents race to see who can collect the most wooden pieces that match the revealed token. There are 25 standard tokens. These match the shapes and colors of the wooden pieces. In addition there are 15 wild or special tokens that force competitors to fight over different numbers or combinations of pieces.

There are many competitions included with CDMC 3000, but the most basic involves using the 25 standard tokens. When one is revealed, the opponents race to gather pieces that match either the color or the shape of the revealed token. It’s good to start simple because once two or three sets of chopsticks are clattering about the central wok, things get messy.

Familiarity with chopstick use is a definite plus but some of the pieces are very tricky even without someone else stabbing at the bowl like a ravenous seagull. Moving the bowl is legal. Hitting someone else’s chopsticks is legal until that person has lifted a piece from the bowl.

Time-outs are frequent because the central wok capsizes or pieces get scattered in the melee. Once the table has been reset, the match resumes.

Oh the humanity!

Never have so many been reduced to tears by so few!

dexterity-party

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all are equal before the great wok of CDMC 3000 and that they shall be thus endowed with Major Fun.

Although the game pronounces that it is designed for 1 – 3 players (solo play is accomplished with a timer) it can easily be adapted to larger numbers. Players can form teams and compete in rounds or (and this is only for those who have a pathological desire to be the object of blame and humiliation) they can compete with a partner—each holding ONE chopstick. I’m not saying you should play this way. I’m just saying.

CDMC 3000 is slappy, stabby, table-smashy Major Fun.

1 – 3 players. Ages 8+

Chopstick Dexterity Mega Challenge 3000 was designed by Greg Lam and is © 2014 by Mayday Games.

Coconuts “Crazy Monkey Game”

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.

Jenga® Giant™

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

Chickyboom

ChickyBoom

The game’s called “Chickyboom.” It’s called “Chickyboom” because that’s what happens when Chicky slides off the balance bar: Chicky goes “boom.” Well, not exactly “boom.” But boom enough to make you laugh.  So, you might have, well, lost, but never you mind, little chicky, it’s hard to take the game seriously, especially when you’re playing with such funny-looking chickies.

ChickyBoom
There’s a lot about Chickyboom that makes it an exceptional invitation to play. You probably won’t be able to tell until you’re able to accept that invitation. It’s not just that the game is made of finger-pleasing wood. Or that the point value (if you’re playing for score) is so clearly indicated on each point-worthy piece. Or that everything is painted so brightly. Or even that the Chickies are so darn cute, and it’s fun to pick them up by the little felt “feather” that sticks up from their heads: it’s the elegance of the way everything works.

The roof (well, it looks rooflike) of the base (which could easily be imagined to be a chicken coop or hen house or something chickeny) is gently curved, so that it’s relatively easy to build the “rocking perch” (the see-saw-like board which is balanced on top of the chicken-coop-like thing). There are small legs on the bottom of the balance board which make it a wee bit more forgiving when it comes to balancing it. As does the gentleness of the curve of the coop roof.

And then there are the one-point wagon wheels, which, though not as heavy as the three-point hay bales, and less than half as thick, are wider and more accommodating (for, perhaps two chickies or a chicky and a bale. And as for the chickens, there are two kinds: the fatter three-pointers and the smaller two-pointers. With all these variables, and the effect of where they are placed on the balance board, combined with what other pieces are also on the board, and where they are placed, and how those pieces are stacked, and what happens when the balance board starts a-rockin’… all adds up to a game that’s worthy of hours and hours of serious contemplation and just as many hours of much hilarity.

The stacking part of the game is at as much fun as the unstacking. And what if you can remove two pieces at a time, or just one? Or have to use chopsticks?! Or play cooperatively, using only one finger per player.

And if the stacking part gets too challenging, you could, conceivably, turn the balance board over, using the two red rods on the underside (now topside) as stops to prevent pieces from falling off too easily.

And then there’s the “you don’t really need to keep score” rule: “the last player to collect a piece from the perch without making it topple wins the game!”

Chickyboom was intelligently designed by Thiery Denoual and is available from Blue Orange games.

Major Fun Award

Fastrack – NHL Edition

NHL FastrackFastrack by Blue Orange Games is Major Fun. It is a Keeper.

Thanks to a partnership with CSE Games (a Major Fun winner in their own right) Fastrack now comes in an NHL edition.

The game remains the same: try to get all of the discs to the other side of the board. To do this you must fling them with an elastic band through a narrow slot in the board. Your opponent is trying to do the same thing. Through the same narrow slot.

Madness ensues!

01 AwardThe game is brilliant. Fast paced and nerve jangling. What has been added in this edition is NHL themed artwork. The board is designed like a hockey rink. The discs are hockey pucks. NHL logos adorn the edges. It’s a nice touch.

2 players. Ages 5+

Fastrack was designed by Jean-Marie Albert and is the NHL edition is © 2014 by Blue Orange Games.

Keva Brain Builders

Keva Brain BuilderIf you missed my earlier post about Keva planks and the fun of destruction, you can check it out here.

Keva planks are precision cut wooden building blocks. They measure about a quarter of an inch thick and the proportion of their dimensions is 1:3:15 (1 unit thick, 3 units wide, and 15 units long). The uniformity and quality of the Keva plank construction makes them ideal for building very complex and very stable structures.

Turns out, they also make for an interesting brain-teaser.

In essence, Keva Brain Builders is an exercise in architectural design and perspective drawing. The game comes with 20 planks and 30 puzzle cards. The cards are double sided. On the puzzle side is shown a diagram of something the player needs to build. The diagram shows the figure in top view, side view, and front view. The planks are color coded to indicate which side you are looking at in each view.

Your challenge is to build the structure so that it matches the picture on the solution side of the card.

The cards come in three difficulty levels. The easy ones are very simple both in the structure’s complexity and in the amount of balance it takes to create the structure. As the puzzles get harder, the diagrams become somewhat more difficult to suss out, but the manual dexterity to build the solutions becomes much more challenging.

01 AwardKeva Brain Builders lends itself to free play. Although many of us at Major Fun liked playing with the challenge cards, just as many liked building our own structures. I imagine that there will be many kids who will be perfectly happy to take the planks and make their own designs. I had fun trying to come up with complicated designs that I would then draw in all three perspectives.

Ultimately, this is a great introduction into Keva planks, it’s a nice small building set, and the puzzle challenges are a clever way to improve spatial awareness. It comes in a compact, zippered pouch; although if your household is anything like mine, that will get stuffed with dolls and the Keva planks will be incorporated into some other Frankenstein structure of train tracks, Lego, and toilet paper rolls.

Solo play. Ages 7+

Keva Brain Builders is © 2014 by MindWare.

Staxis

MindWare’s Staxis is like playing a game of pick-up-sticks in reverse. And I don’t mean that way you start the game by dropping a handful of long toothpicks in a pile, but rather imagine having to carefully place each stick so that they stand on end or balance against each other without touching the table.

The game comes with a base structure that looks like a Soviet era satellite has come to rest in your home. Once you have Sputnik assembled on your playing surface, players divide the 50 long stacking sticks between them. The first player to get rid of all their sticks is the winner.

Before you balance one of your sticks on the Epcot Spaceship Earth you have to roll a die. This tells you how many points of contact your stick must have with any wooden part of the structure. A single point basically means that you have to balance your stick horizontally across another stick. A double point means that your stick must touch two other sticks.

Although the two-point option seems easier and more stable, it proves very tricky as the game proceeds. Sticks balanced on two points generally form angles that make the single-point rolls even more challenging. The double-point sticks also seem to cause the weight to shift in unexpected ways.

A player must successfully balance one stick on his or her turn, but any sticks that fall off are collected by that player. This encourages players to take chances in order to leave their opponents with increasingly unstable configurations.

awardStaxis takes a steady hand and a keen eye. The tension builds steadily which lends itself to a lot of good natured trash talking and goading. The rules are barely necessary and that’s only for the first time you build the base Tesla Tower. The game is well constructed although you should be careful with the wooden stacking sticks. They do lend themselves to splinters.

Our kids had a blast with Staxis and it made for a great game with mixed ages. Major Fun game for dexterity, balance, and show-boating.

2-6 players. Ages 6+

Staxis was designed by Paul Wickens and is © 2013 by MindWare.

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