PDQ earns KEEPER award

Filed Under (Family Games, Keeper, Kids Games, Party Games, Thinking Games, Tops for 2007, Word Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 19-04-2009

Every now and a Major Fun game proves to be the kind of game we want to keep in our permanent collection – something exemplary. PDQ is one of those games. Originally reviewed here, PDQ has proven itself to be just that kind of game: fun, flexible, easy to learn and teach, one of those games you just wouldn’t want to be without. Here is the review again:

PDQ is a sweet little word game – easy to learn, quick (Pretty Darn Quick) as a matter of fact – a game you can play by yourself or with maybe one, or several or even many other people?

You get a deck of 78 letter cards – nice looking, good stock, big, easy-to-read letter cards. You deal out three at a time, face-up. And then you see who can make a word first, or, in case of a tie, who can come up with a longer word. TLP, for example. Tulip. Sure. Or perhaps Platitude. Platitude. Of course. Longer than Tulip. (Did I mention that you can use the letters backwards or forwards?) (Did I also mention that you can use any number of letters before, between or after the three letters that you draw?) (And, of course, the letters have to be in the same order?)

Designed by Jay Thompson to be played by kids as well as adults (kids use just two cards at a time, word game experts can try playing with four), PDQ is pretty darn close to everything you would want in a word game – 5-30 minutes of engaging, challenging, and frequently laugh-producing fun.

What’s Yours Like?

Filed Under (Family Games, Party Games, Tops for 2007) by Bernie DeKoven on 18-07-2007

Today’s conceptual gift is a remarkably simple, and deeply fun party game from Patch Products called “What’s Yours Like?“.

Pick a card. The card has a word on it. Show the card to everyone except the person guessing, who asks: “what’s yours like.” Take turns answering the question, being sure to be accurate, and subtle. Too clear a clue, and it will be guessed immediately. Too subtle, and, well, it’s just not fair.

For example, suppose the card reads “washing machine.” Legitimate answers to such an innocuous “what’s yours like” question might be: “mine is white,” “mine has a lot of knobs,” “mine is noisy,” etc. However, given the age and nature of the people playing, the answers could just as easily become rife with double meaning, and I mean rife, like, for example: “mine makes my underwear wet.”

For us, that was really the charm of the game – how much of it was really up to us – to our collective cleverness and naughty nuanciness. Which means that the game will be different, depending on who’s playing with whom. Different when playing with family than when playing with friends, different with teen-agers than with seniors. Which makes the game even that much more successful, and fascinating, and Major FUN-worthy.

There are 188 two-sided cards “guess word” cards. One side is recommended for older players because they might include things that kids don’t have (in-laws, ulcers, jobs). There are two wipe-off clue boards with markers. The player in the “Hot Seat” uses one, writing down each clue as it is given (the fewer clues, the better the score). There are 95 Challenge cards. These cards allow the Hot Seated player to share the Hot Seat, as it were. That’s when the other clue-writing board comes into play. Now the two players with the Hot Seats compete with each other, the first to guess the word correctly gets to take two points (points are bad) off her score.

What’s Yours Like is a game for 4 or more players. With 4 players, it takes maybe 15 minutes for a round. Figure 3 rounds per game. The art of giving just the right response, of being clever, yet accurate, actually outweighs the accomplishment of guessing what was on the card. It’s a game that will make you laugh, a lot, even without keeping score. Like I said, it’s Major FUN.

Twisted Pairs

Filed Under (Party Games, Tops for 2007) by Bernie DeKoven on 28-05-2007

Twisted Pairs is a party game, indeed it is. You need at least 4 players. But it is clearly of the more-the-merrier type.

No, it’s not charades. I can see why you’d think it’s like charades – you’re trying to get people to guess something that you know (hopefully). And you’re performing, more or less. Except it’s not acting. It’s spelling. I mean, what you’re doing is spelling out a word or several words. Not with words, naturally. But with your bodies. Did I say “bodies”? As in more than one body? Indeed I did. As in two bodies. So, to make, for example, the letter “H,” you and your partner might be standing facing each other, holding your arms down at your sides, but bending your elbows and holding hands, like the cross-bar of the “H” – know what I mean?

Which, of course, is the big question for everyone else – that is, do they know what letter you mean. Because as soon as someone does know that letter, or thinks she knows that letter, or thinks she wants everyone else to think she knows that letter, she simply says something like “got it.” And then the two letter-makers go on to make the next letter. Got it? And on and on until someone guesses correctly, getting, so to speak, the point. As for those who didn’t “get it,” well, they’re still very much in the game, guessing away at the next and the next letters, hoping to fill in the blanks, in retrospect. And when someone correctly yells out the entire phrase, then there’s the race to be first to shout out the bonus answer and get a richly deserved for bonus point. And so can the spellers.

No, of course not, it’s definitely not Twister, though you and your partner are twisting around each other’s bodies in some bizarre, Twister-like ways. And it clearly has nothing to do with Trivial Pursuit either, unless the spinner happens to land on the Trivia Question. We’ll talk about that later. But there’s no Pursuit going on. Unless you count the pursuit of laughterness, which is just about what this game is all about.

The stuff of the game includes a box of cards. There are two sets of cards – one for questions relating to Pre-1990, the other, Post- (a thoughtful distinction for the younger player, as well as for those with short attention spans). Each card contains one of 5 different categories, 4 of which result in a word or phrase that the Spellers attempt to convey, bodily, letter-by-letter. The categories (“famous character,” “famous quote,” “song title,” “song lyric”) help the rest of the party figure out what the spellers are spelling. The fifth category is the Trivia Question. Here, the spellers are given only the question, and must rely on their collective wit to spell out the correct answer (written on the back of the card). And, should their wit be not well informed, well, at least it was fun watching them try.

All of which to say there are many levels of mental and physical calisthenics, combined with ongoingly merry mayhem resulting in an experience that is clearly Major FUN. Everyone involved, everyone thinking hard, everyone challenged at almost every level, and, surprisingly often, everyone laughing. Do you still need to know why we recommend this game with such enthusiasm? As the designers so pithily inquire: “do we have to spell it out for you?”

Cineplexity

Filed Under (Party Games, Tops for 2007) by Bernie DeKoven on 06-04-2007

What’s the name of that movie? The one with a Native American, or maybe a Hawaiian. By a river, I think, or a lake or a stream of some sort? Oh, you know what I mean. Yeah, that’s it, Blue Crush. Wait, there’s another movie, also with a river or lake or stream, and there was a wheelchair, I think, or was it a crutch, no, a cane. Wait, could that be Cane River?

Is part or all of this conversation at all familiar? Have you now or ever engaged someone in a similar movie-related dialogue? Well, then, Cineplexity is, without doubt, the very game you should be playing at this very moment, verily.

We were actually amazed at how fun this game turned out to be. Sure, it reminded us of the oft-touted, trend-setting, Major FUN-award-winning, Out of the Box Publishing easy-to-learn party game Apples to Apples. As well it might, considering that it is published by the aforementioned themselves. But, you see, it looks so Apples-to-Apples-like with its many cards and simple rules and calling out for 4 to 10 players and stuff, that you’d assume it’s pretty much another of those many Apples to Apples variants, only about movies. But you’d be wrong. It’s a different game. Completely. Sure, there’s a judge (cleverly called the “director”). And the Director doesn’t actually play, because s/he has to do the, um, judging. But that’s it, Apples-to-Apples-similarity-wise.

In Apples to Apples everything is relative, the actual degree of relativity determined by the judge. In Cineplexity, you have to come up with a “real” answer – a verifiable, actual movie including, beyond doubt, the actual scene or props, or belonging to the specified genre, whose characters have the certifiable characteristics depicted by two, or perhaps three, of 504 the randomly drawn Cineplexity cards. And, amazingly, there seems always to be at least one movie that usually at least one person knows that matches precisely.

Oh, the intensity. And oh, oh, the brain-wracking. And, ah hah hah, the laughter.

Cineplexity. Surprisingly different. Not so surprisingly fun.

PDQ – a game for all reasons

Filed Under (Family Games, Kids Games, Party Games, Thinking Games, Tops for 2007, Word Games) by Bernie DeKoven on 29-01-2007

PDQ is a sweet little word game – easy to learn, quick (Pretty Darn Quick) as a matter of fact – a game you can play by yourself or with maybe one, or several or even many other people?

You get a deck of 78 letter cards – nice looking, good stock, big, easy-to-read letter cards. You deal out three at a time, face-up. And then you see who can make a word first, or, in case of a tie, who can come up with a longer word. TLP, for example. Tulip. Sure. Or perhaps Platitude. Platitude. Of course. Longer than Tulip. (Did I mention that you can use the letters backwards or forwards?) (Did I also mention that you can use any number of letters before, between or after the three letters that you draw?) (And, of course, the letters have to be in the same order?)

Designed by Jay Thompson to be played by kids as well as adults (kids use just two cards at a time, word game experts can try playing with four), PDQ is pretty darn close to everything you would want in a word game – 5-30 minutes of engaging, challenging, and frequently laugh-producing fun.

ShakeDown

Filed Under (Dexterity, Party Games, Tops for 2007) by Bernie DeKoven on 23-01-2007

Shakedown is a dexterity game of clearly Major FUN proportions. Basically, you’re balancing playing-like cards on top of a narrow platform, adding new cards with every turn. But that’s only basically.

Let’s start at the bottom. The bottom of the “tower” upon which the cards are balanced. The same bottom where all the cards are stored, and from which all the cards are drawn during play. Let’s also take a moment to look at the tower itself, how it twists, as if to make it even more challenging to figure out exactly where the actual center of gravity might be. A lovely thing, actually. Colorful. Self-storing enough that you could throw the box away and take the game with you to every party and family gathering within which you find yourself and others. Note, further, that the cards, which are drawn one at a time from the base of the tower, are drawn from the base of the tower. The base. Whereupon the tower stands. Imagine therefore the increasingly precarious conundrum thereby imposed every time you attempt to extricate a card from the aforementioned – having to perhaps lift the tower upon whose top all those other cards are so cunningly balanced so that you can get your card and take your turn.

Let’s continue to the deck itself. Some cards have different values. Other cards ask you to perform acts of evermore significant challenge, like “play cards with non-dominant hand” or “hold tower and spin around” or perhaps “previous player – blow once from 5 feet.” And now, at last, to the top, considerably smaller than the base, and yet whereupon the cards are to be placed (two corners of each card not touching any other card).

All in all, an elegant, almost self-explanatory, somewhat Jenga-like game, requiring steady-hands, a willingness to fail, and just enough luck to keep you from taking it seriously.