The Mind

The Mind   NSV |  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Wolfgang Warsch
Publisher: NSV, Pandasaurus
2-4 players 15 minutes ages 8+
MSRP $15

text-the concept

Have you ever been in The Zone? Maybe you found it playing music. Everyone in the orchestra playing in perfect time. That pure sweet sound is impossible to forget. Or you found it on the basketball court – each teammate anticipating the moves of the next – it’s like poetry – no one can stop you and no one can miss. It’s special, being in The Zone – a moment of perfect harmony – being totally in synch with everyone around you. Special because The Zone is so hard to find and special because it’s so hard to stay in The Zone once you do! If you get there even for a few fleeting seconds, it’s like magic. The Zone leaves its mark on you and you’ll strive to find it again and again.

The Mind is a cooperative card game that wants its players to find The Zone…and stay there as long as they can! Over the course of several rounds, your team must find a common wavelength to play numbered cards in order to a single stack hoping to reach your goal.

text-the components

The Mind has a deck of 100 cards numbered 1-100.

There are also 5 life cards and 3 throwing star cards.

text-the mechanics

The Mind is played over 8, 10, or 12 rounds, depending on the number of players. The goal for your team is to reach the end of the final round with at least one life remaining. If your team runs out of lives, you lose.

In round one, each player gets one card. Round two, two cards and so on. A round ends when all cards have been played.

One at a time, players will add a single card to a central stack, trying to play all cards in ascending numerical order a la Solitaire.

We’re in Round 2. My hand is 8, 22. Your hand is 15, 73. We want to the stack to go 8-15-22-73. If a card is played out of order, any cards skipped over are shown, discarded, and the team loses a life.

Beyond simple, right? And, yes, even now I can sense some eyes rolling.

But there’s one key element I have yet to mention and this is….

text-apart

While playing The Mind, you cannot communicate verbally with your teammates! You cannot indicate the numbers on your cards with gestures or sounds! You must communicate mentally with your teammates and find a way to play every card dealt out for the round in order to the stack.

It will seem crazy at first – perhaps to the point that you might question whether this is actually a game.

But then it will happen. Your team will find The Zone. Somehow, some way, your team will navigate through a minefield of consecutive cards. I play the 68, followed by 69 and 70 from the next two players and you’ll feel the magic. When, not if, this happens, there will be smiles and cheers all around.

How does this happen? What transforms The Mind from a game of Silent Solitaire to a game of telepathic synchronicity?

The Mind asks you to play based on reading your fellow players and not the cards.

While direct communication isn’t allowed, we all transmit a wealth of subtle social clues and cues. The closer we all pay attention to what is happening at the table, the more we are able to observe and interpret. It’s like a new language your team creates and learns as you play.

A subtle glance from the player to your left. A nuanced placement of cards from the player on your right. These things take on meaning and help your team connect and occasionally find The Zone. And when you do, win or lose, there are few feelings better to experience at the game table.

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The Mind is fueled by a powerful kind of playfulness – the joy of playing together in harmony, in synch. Each new game and each new team will present a new set of challenges, a new language to learn, a new opportunity to create those moments where everything lines up. And even when it all goes horribly wrong. No, especially because things often go horribly wrong, it makes those moments in The Zone ones you’ll remember long after you leave the table. Simple, ingenious, and consistently compelling, The Mind drills deep into the essence of Major Fun.

Special Note:

This review appears in the Fall 2018 issue of Casual Game Insider Magazine.

CGI publishes a wonderful selection of articles and reviews on a quarterly basis.  In 2019, a Major Fun review will be featured in the next several issues.

The Spiel, Major Fun and CGI share a common goal: opening doors to the wider world of play. We hope this cross promotion will invite more people into the game community.

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Decrypto

Release: 5/28/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 80 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Your team of spies intercepts a secret transmission… 3 words… a code tied to a sequence of numbers. There it is again! Another transmission, but this time with 3 new words.

Can you decipher these words into the proper sequence when the pressure is on? Remember, the other team is listening and trying to unravel your words and your seuqence at the same time!

Decrypto is a wonderful call-and-response party game where the challenge is to come up with clues that are just enough left of center to keep the other team from connecting the dots AND not so crazy that you fool your own team in the process.

The more clues you give, the harder this becomes and the more laughs you’ll have. And that’s a sequence that spells Major Fun!

Listen in for a full review and discussion.

Decrypto

Iello  |  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Thomas Dagenais-Lespérance   

Artist: Fabien Fulchiron, NILS, Manuel Sanchez

Publisher: Iello

3-8 players  15-45 min   ages 12+   MSRP $20

For info on the Game Sommelier segment featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

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Music credits include:

I Spy Theme  by  Earle Hagen  |  the song  | the album 

Theme from The Man from UNCLE  by Hugo Montenegrothe song

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Linkee

Linkee      Official Site  |  BGG  |  Buy

Publisher: Dean Tempest, Tristan Hyatt-Williams, Ben Drummond
P: Big Potato, Bananagrams
2-200 players  30 min. ages 12+  MSRP $22.50

text-the concept

Let’s start with a couple questions.

1. Corn, flat and pita are types of… ?

2. The full name of this African country is the Democratic _____ of Congo?

Bread… republic….

What’s the link? Not sure? Ok, let’s keep going.

3. Complete the lyric “Row, row, row your ____, gently down the stream.”

4. In bowling, if only the 7 and 10 pins are left, this is called a….

Bread, republic, boat and split. Do you see the link now?

It’s bananas, of course!

Welcome to Linkee, a party game that asks each team to find an off-kilter link between four questions/clues. Each round, teams will hear four questions and the first to find the link between the four answers will win a letter card. The first team to spell Linkee wins the game!

text-the components

As with so many party games, the main component in Linkee is a big box of question cards.

Each card has four questions leading to a link at the bottom. There are over 1400 questions in total!

The back of each card has a single letter, these letters spell out the work LINKEE.

There are also small notepads and pencils included for each team to take notes.

To play, split up all players into two or more teams. Pick a person to start as the Question Master and you’re ready to go!

text-the mechanics

You already know the basics, let’s dig deeper to learn the full game.

The Question Master will select a card and start by reading Question 1.

Teams will confer with each other to come up with an answer to this question. Even when your team thinks it knows the answer, don’t say it out loud! Write it on the notepad provided.

On to Question 2 and 3 and 4. Same thing. Pause after each question and kibbitz with your team until you settle on an answer. You’ll end up with four answers to four questions.

These answers are clues. Clues to the real question…. How are the answers connected? What’s the link?

At any point that your team thinks it knows the connection between the answers (even early on after 1 or 2 questions) you can stop the game by shouting LINKEE and declare the link out loud.

Let’s try one!

What is the name for a double bottle of Champagne?
Who did Tom Cruise profess his love to jumping on Oprah’s couch? Katie ____?
Beginning with a C, what is the capital of Sri Lanka?
What is the past tense of the verb to draw?

Scroll down a bit for the answers…

Here we go….

Magnum
Holmes
Colombo
Drew

Now that you have the clues, what’s the link? Scroll down for the answer….

Ready?

They’re all detectives!

If you’re incorrect, your team is out for this round and the other teams keep going until all four questions have been asked.

If you are correct, your team wins the card. Each card you collect puts you one step closer to winning. Remember each card has a letter on it’s back. The goal of the game is to collect cards that spell LINKEE. One letter down, five to go!

If teams get stuck even after the four questions, there’s a bonus hint the QM can read to give one last nudge toward the link. As before, the first team to say the link out loud wins the card.

At this point, it’s lather, rinse, and repeat until one team wins.

text-apart

What I love most about Linkee is how each turn your team builds toward an answer. Knowing one tidbit of information isn’t enough. You have to connect the dots by finding two or three clues at least. The more clues you have, the clearer the link will become.

The temptation is there all along to jump the gun and blurt out a connection before hearing all four questions, but the cards are tricksy and what might seem like the obvious link between two clues can take a sudden turn into left field with the final questions.

Each turn is paved with little victories and defeats along the way – it’s a journey. And this trip you take, building toward your team’s answer, makes each turn it’s own little story. It’s own little game inside the game.

There’s more satisfaction and fun each round because you build it – one clue at a time.

Your final answer to the big puzzle is only right because you’ve solved smaller puzzles along the way. This incremental payoff also means even the teams that don’t win the card in a round get to experience the fun from these little victories for each question.

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Linkee takes a playful attitude toward the typical party game by wrapping a game within a game. This format also encourages people to come up with their own cards and questions (submit yours at playlinkee.com). In fact, over a third of the question cards in early editions of the game were crowdsourced in this manner! Start with a link and work backward to questions and clues OR come up with four crazy clues and find a devilish connection. I don’t ordinarily play trivia based party games and feel motivated to write my own cards. With Linkee, once you get your mind in synch with the format, it’s honestly hard not to go down that path.

You might think collecting the exact right set of letters would make this game drag on since you might get stuck in a cycle where your team can only win Ks or Ls for some odd reason. Not to worry, there’s a simple trading system that allows a team to swap three extra letters for one the team needs. There are also rules for teams forcing another team to discard a letter, but in my experience this rule just makes the game longer, not better. My advice is to ignore this rule unless you’re playing with a group that really likes messing with each other. Better to play a rematch than make the game outstay its welcome.

Linkee is simple, addictive, collaborative fun that builds and builds as you play. It’s a game that will bring lots of laughs to any party – a game where it’s easy to lose yourself in the fun of playing, no matter who wins or loses. And that’s the measuring stick of any great party game that calls itself Major Fun.

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Word Slam

Release: 10/17/2017    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 50 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Word Slam is a team-based word guessing game.

One teammate provides clues in the form of word cards on a rack.

Can your team guess the target word first?

Now this might sound like many other party games BUT… Word Slam does something different. Something noteworthy. Something ridiculously simple and ridiculously fun.

Word Slam forces each team to use a fixed set of words as clues.

The challenge and the joy in the game comes from the very clever omissions from the decks of words you use as clues. The word you want is never there, so the game pushes you to be creative with the words provided. To find freedom inside the limitations imposed.

This simple twist – limiting the language you can use to communicate with your team makes Word Slam both frustrating and fun, because, in a very real way, the fun comes from the frustration.

Listen in to learn more about the game and why we think it is unequivocally Major Fun!

Word Slam

Thames & KOSMOS  |  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Inka & Markus Brand

Publisher: Thames & KOSMOS

3-99 players  45 min   ages 12+   MSRP $39.95

Music credits include:

Boy Meets Goy   by Benny Goodman   |   the song

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Fuji Flush

Release: 9/7/2017    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 34 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Fuji Flush is a wonderfully simple card game.

Your goal is to flush all the number cards from your hand, one card at a time. There are lots of low cards in the deck and fewer high cards.

The higher number you play, the more likely you are to flush it BUT here’s the twist. If two players play the same number, they are added together. This means low cards can often band together to beat high ones.

It’s a game about strength in numbers. And the more people you play with, the more fun the game becomes.

Fuji Flush

Stronghold Games  |  2F Spiele  |  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Friedemann Friese  Artist: Harald Lieske

Publisher: 2F Spiele, Stronghold Games

3-8 players  10-20 min   ages 7+   MSRP $14.95

Music credits include:

Free Fallin’       The Almost  |  the song

Farrah Fawcett Hair    Capital Cities  |  the song

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Twangled

Twangled    Mindware   |  Buy

Designer: uncredited   
Publisher: Mindware
4-8 players  5-15 min. ages 6+  MSRP $25

To those of us who like party games, especially party games that make people laugh, in particular party games like Knots, have we got a game for you!

It’s called Twangled. It would remind you mightily of the traditional, classic, puzzling, physical and often hilarious game Knots if it weren’t for: a set of eight elastic bands, in four different colors, with a loop at each end; and a spinner you kick. Which, aside from reading the rules and playing the game itself, is how you know that it’s not Knots. No. Not knots at all.I explicate by cleverly quoting the rules thus: “Players grab a colored band – making sure that at least one band of each color is taken before doubling up any colors. Players stand in a circle facing inward – making sure not to stand next to someone with the same band color. Place the kick spinner in the center of Get Twangled! Determine a player to go first. On your turn, kick the spinner and perform the action as indicated without letting go of the bands. For example, if a player spins ‘Under Green,; that player must move his or her entire body underneath a green band. The player may have to do other necessary moves to get under the green band, such as step over a yellow band. If using more than one of a band color, you must perform your action on the band furthest from you. Once a player has completed the action, play passes to the person on the left, who then kicks the spinner and performs his or her required action. Now it is time to get unTwangled. Without ever letting go of the bands, players work together to figure out how to return to the starting formation. Communication is key as players direct each other to move over and under bands.”

On the other hand, you don’t really need to know the rules to figure out how to play. It’s just about intuitive. And the parts that aren’t don’t matter. And if you know how to play Knots, you already know more than enough to figure the rest out.

Much of the not-Knots quality of the game can be traced to the stretchiness of the bands, which can be compared to and contrasted with the unstretchiness of the human arm. And then there’s the spinner, which is not part of the traditional game of Knots and yet functions admirably well as a novel device for causing people to become Twangled, in deed. Speaking of whom, Twangle is designed to be played by four to eight players, ages six to decrepit.

Yet another surprising and oft-delightful differentiation caused by the stretchiness factor: the aftergame. So hilariously logical is this aftergame that I fear I would spoil it should I say more. I suppose, if you don’t discover the hilarious logic of the aftergame yourself, you could write and ask us. To give you fair warning, it’s an undocumented feature that apparently appears serendipitously. I shall say no more other than: Major Fun. In deed!

Picassimo

Release Date: 5/15/2017 Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Running Time: 43 min Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

There’s trouble brewing in the small town of Forgerville. The night before the new abstract art exhibition at the museum, all the paintings have gone missing! 

Luckily the museum employees have a plan. Overnight, they will paint furiously and replace the paintings with abstract works of their own.

Picassimo is a party game where players create, disassemble and reassemble works of art. You’ll use a 6 part canvas to create your drawing and then mix up some of the parts and present your masterpiece to the other players, your critics. They must then try to guess the subject of your artwork, even though the pieces are out of order, by mentally reassembling the parts.  

Best of all, you really don’t have to be an expert artist to do well at Picassimo. That’s because Picassimo allows you to look at each work of art and draw each work of art in a new way.

That’s what we call innovation. And it’s also what we call Major Fun!

Listen in to learn all about the game and discover whether Picassimo should be hanging in your gallery at home.

Picassimo

HABA  |  BGG  |  Amazon

Designer: Carlo Rossi   Publisher: HABA  |  HABA USA

3-6 players  30 min.  ages 8+  MSRP $45

Music credits include:

Theme from Picasso Summer  by Nelson Riddle  |  the song

Picasso’s Last Words   by Paul & Linda McCartney   |  the song

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Imagine

Imagine   Gamewright  |  BGG  |  Amazon

Designer: Shotaro Nakashima   Publisher: Gamewright, Cocktail, Moonster
3-8 players  20 min. ages 10+  MSRP $15.00

text-the concept

Imagine is a party game where players use the language of symbols to communicate. Dozens of transparent cards with simple icons will cover the table. You will select and combine these cards, hoping someone in the group can solve your enigma using the clues you provide. The key ingredient is, of course, imagination!

text-the components

Imagine comes with 65 double sided enigma cards. Each card has 8 different categories with typical party game tropes like people, places, objects, colors, phrases and so on.

There are also 35 tokens you’ll use to keep score.

Most important are the 61 transparent icon cards. Each card depicts a simple shape or icon in one of five colors.

Deal the transparent cards in a circle or spread them out on the table and you’re ready to play !

 

text-the mechanics

One player will be the clue-giver each round. This player will draw an enigma card and either choose a category or randomly determine a category for the round. Before starting, the clue-giver will announce the category.

When the round begins, the clue giver will select one or more transparent cards from the table and use them to try and get the other players to guess the word or phrase selected.

Up to this point, a game of Imagine might sounds like most every other party game you’ve played. The unexpected fun twist to the game is HOW you use these cards to give your clues and that is….

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Because the cards are transparent you can overlap the icons and symbols to create more complicated images or clues. A line and a rectangle and a musical note might become a makeshift guitar.

A zigzag line and a flame might become a lit fuse leading to a circle which could be a bomb.

The game wants you to see each card not only as the icon or symbol on the card BUT as building block, a part of a greater whole. It’s up to you and your imagination to see how you can combine and layer these basic parts to make more and more complex pictures.

Now this layering element on its own would be enough to give Imagine plenty of merit for consideration as a Major Fun game. But Imagine raises the bar even higher by allowing the clue giver to ANIMATE the cards to help the other players guess the right answer.

This means you can use the cards to create mini stories or scenes that don’t just illustrate the clue, the cards can demonstrate it!

You could use a pink spiral card and spin this card over a card depicting a person to demonstrate confusion. You could make the person card stagger and stumble. Suddenly you’ve gone from confusion to drunk. You could even use a makeshift bow launch an arrow. Here’s a video showing how you could animate some of the examples I mention above!

Put simply, being able to manipulate and move the cards to create clues gives Imagine an entirely different feel than almost any other party game of its ilk !

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Imagine owes a debt to its predecessor Concept, a party game that is built around, well, the same concept. (Check out our review of Concept here)

Each game requires its players to use the language of symbols to communicate but each game accomplishes this in vastly different ways. In Concept, players use a massive game board filled with dozens of icons grouped by category. By placing cubes on various icons, players must try and connect the dots between the symbols to arrive at the right clue.

In Imagine, the clue giver connects the symbols and cards literally and can even animate the cards to show motion or interaction with others. The cards, the icons, the symbols are building blocks, instruments, tools to fuel the clue giver’s imagination.

The free form nature of this process gives any player a lot of freedom to explore the game. The limits of the game are not, in fact, the rules but rather your own creativity and imagination.

Concept should be applauded as an innovative achievement in party games, a genre where there have been precious few innovations in the past several decades. That said, the game is so different it can be a challenge to teach and learn.

Imagine is less encumbered with rules and allows players greater freedom to play and create on their own terms. This makes Imagine a go-to game for even the most casual game player. And once you have absorbed the basics of Imagine, it’s an easy step up to Concept if you love this style of game.

Play enough party games and there’s at least one basic idea you’ll come to understand : Party games are never really about who wins or loses. They are about the lasting memories that are born from the laughter and creative energy invested by players at the table.

Play one round of Imagine and you’ll see that the game is a wonderful fun-filled engine for these kinds of moments. And that makes it Major Fun !

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Junk Art

Junk Art   Pretzel Games  |  BGG  |  Amazon

Designer: Jay Cormier & Sen-Foong Lim   Publisher: Pretzel Games 
2-6 players  30 min. ages 8+  MSRP $70.00

text-the concept

Art doesn’t have to hang on a wall or come in a gold frame. You can take random objects and build them into beautiful structures. Individually some people might see these pieces as junk but together, because of the WAY you put them together, your “junk” is ART !

You and your fellow artists are about to embark on a world tour to showcase your talent and skill and put them to the test, building new beautiful structures in each city you visit. And each city you visit will present new challenges to your creative energies. The player who is able to gather the largest group of fans will walk away known as the best junk artist of his or her time.

text-the components

Junk Art comes with a big ol’ box of junk in the form of weird and wonderfully shaped wooden pieces. There are 60 pieces in total, 15 different shapes in four different colors. There are thin pieces, chunky pieces, pieces with holes or slots, round pieces, flat pieces – a veritable banquet of found objects for your creations.


Each player gets a wooden base on which you will build your art.

There are cards for the cities you will visit

and there are cards representing each wooden piece in the game.

There are tokens representing the fans you gain as you play. Fans = points in the game.

There’s also a mini tape measure you may need to decide whose sculpture is the tallest.

To begin the game, arrange the entire pile of wooden pieces on the table so everyone can reach them. Each player gets a base. Last of all, select three of the city cards for your tour. From there, you’re ready to play !

text-the mechanics

Junk Art is a dexterity/stacking game. Each round you’ll create a work of art using cards to determine which pieces you use to create your artwork. Each city card provides a goal and rules for the round.

There are some basic stacking rules that always apply. Each piece must be placed on your base and cannot touch the table. You can use two hands to place it. You cant touch the structure itself BUT you can steady the base with one hand and stack with the other. You can nudge pieces around . And if you drop the piece you’re working on, you can try again as long as the whole structure didn’t fall. Any other pieces that fall off during construction, you’ll set aside in a personal pile. Sometimes these pieces may count against you.

At the end of each round, fan tokens will be awarded based on the goals provided by the city. At the end of three rounds, the player with the most fans wins.

text-apart

Junk Art is NOT your typical stacking game because Junk Art is really a dozen different games in one box.

Each time you play you will be playing 3 of the games included. Each city card in the game provides its own set of rules and guidelines that will dictate how you play. You will proceed from city to city to city from left to right, playing and scoring by each city’s rules

Here’s a sample of a few different cities and the challenges you could face:

In Tokyo, each player starts with 10 piece cards. You select one card from these 10 put it on top of the deck and then hand it to the next player. That player flips over the card and must place the piece shown in their work of art. Play continues until all cards are played. The goal is to build the tallest work of art.

In Indianapolis, each player gets 10 piece cards. When someone says go, flip over the top card and add that piece to your artwork. Try to get all the pieces on the cards played to your art as fast as you can. The player with the most pieces added to their artwork scores the most fans

In Paris, players build a common artwork on a single base. Each player has 3 piece cards and chooses one to play, adding that piece to the artwork. Play continues with players drawing and placing pieces until junk starts to fall. The minute you knock off three or more pieces, you’re out for the round. The goal is to not get eliminated.

In New York, you select a piece card from one of three face up cards and place that piece on your base. If the piece you play touches a matching shape or color piece, you have to pick another card and place another piece. When you reach the star cards in the deck, the round ends. The goal is to build the tallest work.

There are cities where you play cards like a mini trick taking game to decide who gets what piece. There are cities where you place all the pieces of a single color. There are cities where you must collaborate on a common work.

As you can see, there is an immense variety in gameplay within even a single game of Junk Art.

Each individual city card, complete with rules and goals could have been packaged as a solo game. In addition, the designers provide three blank cards for players to create their own cities and rules to add to the fun.

The variety and replayability of Junk Art sets it apart from every other dexterity/stacking game on the market by a wide margin !

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It is worth noting that Junk Art is a beautiful game. The pieces individually are interesting and pleasing to touch and behold. As you build, the odd shapes provide lots of inspiration for new and different combinations. If you’re going to make a game about creating art, the game itself must embrace a certain artfulness and allow the players to find ways to express it. Pretzel Games deserves very high marks for clearly making this a priority in the production and design of the game’s physical components.

At $70, the game isn’t cheap. Given the quality and number of components I think the game provides good value for the price but this price has the potential to be a real barrier to entry. The game is definitely more fun with more players but I am left to wonder if the game might have been better served as a 4 player game simply to reduce the number of components and the price. Junk Art is worth the investment, don’t get me wrong. The game is ridiculously fun ! My only fear is that it may not be able to reach a wider audience due to the higher pricetag.

Junk Art defied my expectations in the best possible way. I sat down thinking I knew what I was in for…. another stacking game with some small tweak. There are classics like JengaSuper RhinoBausack and Bamboleo but most others in this category are pale imitiations of these classics. It was a wonderful surprise to discover how designers Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim were able to add such a fresh and different voice to the stacking genre by mixing in tried and true game mechanics popular in less action based games. Card drafting, trick taking, even semi-cooperative play make Junk Art special but still super easy to teach and play.

Junk Art as an actual art form is all about remixing found objects to make new and beautiful statements and this game puts that lovely idea into practice. Give Junk Art a try at a party or with your family and you’ll see what I mean. And you’ll know why it is most certainly Major Fun.

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Anaxi

Anaxi   Funnybone Toys  |  BGG  |  Amazon

Designer: ??   Publisher: Funnybone Toys  2-6 players  20 min. ages 8+  MSRP $21.99

text-the concept

Anaxi is a party game. Anaxi is a word game. In fact, it’s both. Because Anaxi lives in the overlapping area between these two types of games.

In practice, Anaxi celebrates the venerable Venn diagram by making the diagrams into engines for fun. Using circular see-through word cards, players construct a mini-Venn diagram and then each player races to write down words that fit within each overlapping area of the cards. The player with the highest score after five rounds wins the game.

text-the components

Anaxi is a card game but the cards are not typical in any way. There are 75 word cards in the deck. They are circular (3.5” in diameter), made of flexible plastic and half of each card is transparent. The deck is split into three colors: 25 blue, 25 red and 25 orange cards.

anaxi-decks-2

Within the colored section of each card is a single word – an adjective. These adjectives run the gamut from square to spicy or fluffy to damp.

anaxi-cards

There are also two base cards (an extra in case you lose one). You’ll build the Venn diagram on top of this base card when each game round begins.

anaxi-base

There’s a 1-minute sand timer included and an answer pad.

anaxi-pad

Setup for the game is really simple. Separate the deck into three 25 card decks by color. Place the base card centrally located where everyone can see it and make sure everyone has a sheet from the answer pad and a pen or pencil. Now you’re ready to play Anaxi!

anaxi-setup-2

text-the mechanics

There are five rounds in the game. Each round a dealer selects one card from each of the three decks and places them around the base card. The base card has colored and numbered areas so you can see how and where to line up the three cards. The basic idea is that the see through area of the card will face inward toward the base card, allowing players to see how the three word cards overlap. There are four overlapping areas. One area between each word and one combined area where all three words overlap together in the middle.

Here’s an example layout: Round – Cold – Sweet

anaxi-example

Once the cards are in place, the dealer will turn over the sand timer and the round begins!

Each player looks at the four overlapping areas on the base card. Can you think of something that is round and sweet? Then write those words in column 3 on your sheet. Can you think of things that are cold and round? Write those in column 1. How about cold sweet? Column 2 for those. Last of all, what about things that are all three: round, cold and sweet? All those answers go in column 4.

Once the timer runs out, players score points for each answer on their sheets that is unique and fits the words. Columns 1-3 score 1 point for each unique answer. Column 4, the answer that combines all three word, scores 3 points per unique answer.

After round one, it’s lather, rinse and repeat. Three new words, flip the timer and go! The player with the highest score after five rounds wins the game.

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Sometimes games that rely on creativity can fall flat because they don’t offer enough inspiration or choices. Especially when placed under time pressure, players can freeze up or just give up because they feel frustrated.

That’s pretty much the opposite of fun.

Not so with Anaxi. There are four different ways you can see the words each round and that means you have lots of fuel for inspiration and imagination each round.

The timer does go fast, so you shouldn’t expect to write a novel’s worth of answers under each column but you’ll be surprised how some words connect immediately and others leave you scratching your head. Try it. Set a timer and give the three words from the example above a go. Don’t peek below at my answers! (listed at the bottom of the review)

How did you do?

Anaxi also encourages and awards creativity and imaginative answers. You are not limited to one word or simple answers to fit the words. For Column 4 in the earlier example (things that are cold, round and sweet) I could have written: a frozen ice cream cake for my cat’s 9th birthday. Major Fun games can and should put you in this playful mindset and Anaxi excels in this regard.

Major Fun games are also flexible enough to allow variants or adjustments. We found it fun to let the dealer select the word cards rather than from a random draw from each deck. Chance can produce some fun results, but it was equally fun to see what crazy combinations each player came up with.

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Even though Anaxi is a light hearted game suitable for parties and word-nerds alike, the inspiration for the game comes from several philosophers.

The most obvious is John Venn whose diagrams gave visual form to overlapping ideas.

The less obvious connection reaches back to ancient Greece. Anaxi owes its name to the Greek philosopher Anaximander, the father of Cosmology. He wrote about the boundless material of the universe being transformed into all the aspects of the world around us and then returning to this primordial form. How does this relate? Each round, players take basic words and combine them into new forms. The cards return to the decks and can take totally new definitions each round of the game.

You certainly don’t need to know any of these details to have fun with Anaxi but I am glad they took the time to include it.

My one and only quibble with the game is the lack of credit for the game design. Every game has a designer even if the game was developed in-house by the fine folks at Funnybone Toys. Credit should be given where it is due and it is a shame this information is still not standard among all publishers.

But let’s not stray too far from the mark here.

Anaxi is a fast fun mash-up of word and party game genres. It’s enjoyable by players young and old and certainly overlaps with the two words that matter most to us: Major Fun.

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Here’s what I came up with for the example listed above:

Column 1 (round & cold): curling stone, hailstone, snowball, snow tire

Column 2: (cold & sweet): ice cream, frozen yogurt

Column 3: (round & sweet): gumball, bon bon, mint, hard candy

Column 4: (round, sweet, and cold): a single scoop of ice cream

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