Top Ten for Eleven

Filed Under (Tops for 2011) by Bernie DeKoven on 18-12-2011

Turns out to have been another great year for great games. Here’s our favorites:

Reverse Charades plays like the traditional game of charades but instead of one person acting and the rest of the team guessing, one person is guessing while the rest of the team is performing. That’s it. Team act. Individual guess. Reverse Charades.  In Reverse Charades, no one is embarrassed, because everyone is acting silly together. And yes, there isa certain chaos. And yes, it’s the very kind of chaos [that] makes the fun major.


Party Gras is loud and fast and frustrating and MAJOR FUN!! Everyone is talking at the same time. You never know if you are being tricked into something or asked a legitimate question. You can’t lie (otherwise Talk it Out doesn’t work) and you can’t refuse to do an action but refusing to do silly things in a party game means that someone is unclear on the concept of a party game!!

Trigger is Major Fun in a tiny round can. The referee asks a question. The other players race to slap the target with the correct hand. In order to answer these outrageously obtuse questions, players race to be the first to slap a foam target (think of a round drink coaster) with their left or right hand. Left hand for False and right hand for True. Right is right. Left is false. How hard can it be? Trouble is, when everyone is watching everyone else, it is really easy to mimic what someone else is about to do.

Befuzzled gleefully directs players to perform the silliest actions in a split second. Your adrenaline is pumping, the decibels of laughter are crowding out all rational thought, and when the card is flipped, you know that you are supposed to flap your arms like a chicken but instead you moo like a cow and make binoculars with your fingers.

Shake-n-Take you have a card with 70 aliens. You must be the first to circle them all. You roll a die to find out which shape to circle and all the while your neighbor is frantically shaking another die until an alien head pops up. When the alien appears, your neighbor snatches the marker from your hand without so much as a “Thanks for the probe!” and starts to circle his or her aliens. For all the adrenaline junkies in my social cadre, there is no better fix than a game that boils down to circling pictures on a dry-erase board.


Anomia is a game. According to Medicine.net, anomia is “a problem with word finding. Impaired recall of words with no impairment of comprehension or the capacity to repeat the words.” After 20 minutes of playing the game, I can personally confirm both definitions. It happened to me, my actual self.  There came a time when all I had to do was name a guitarist. Any guitarist. Before another player was able to name a fashion designer. Spurred, thus, by spirit of competition, I said, with seemingly total assurance, “Jose Guitaro.” That’s what I said. Honestly. Jose Guitaro. Struck down by anomia while in the prime of playfulness.

Ligretto and Dutch Blitz are both variations of Spit, and/or Speed, and perhaps even of Nertz, and in both cases the dedicated decks of cards make for an evening of deep, multi-player engagement. You place 4 cards in a row, face-up, next to the stack. The rest of your cards remain in your hand. If any of the cards in your row is a One, you can immediately play it to the table, and use one card from your stock to replace it. If any player has already played a One, and you have a Two of the same suit, you can play your two onto that player’s One. And so on, and so on, with evermore passionate intensity, until someone, having exhausted all her stock, screams “Ligretto” (best when the “r” of Ligrrrretto is rolled victoriously) or “Blitz” (with a blitzfully Germanic emphasis).

Dragon Face is an elegant, robust strategy game, and although it is not laugh-a-nano-second fun like many of our Major Fun party games, it is deeply engaging in the way that only the best strategy games can be. This is fun for the chess set, and for those of you who have not succumbed to that particular addiction, Dragon Face may be your gateway drug.

Pajaggle – is a precision made, laser-cut, acrylic puzzle/game. The pieces look a little like gears – very fine-toothed gears, some round-toothed, some very, very pointy. Some larger, some smaller, some with other pieces inside. There are a total of 61 pieces, no two of which are alike. The challenge – fit the pieces into their corresponding sockets. Which reminds you, correctly but vaguely, of that round-peg, square-hole thing.


Fastrack looks as attractive as it plays. The race-flag checkerboard and red colors accentuate the experience of speed. The elastic bands have enough elasticity so that you can shoot your disks with significant twang, and, if you shoot a disk just right, it can bounce back and forth across the board several many, delightworthy times. The board and disks are scaled perfectly so that you get the same delightful action you might get from a larger version, yet the game itself is just the right size to carry with you effortlessly everywhere. The twang often leads to many satisfying bangs as the disks carom off the wooden divider and the wooden sides of the wooden board. It is a skill game. And you can get better. And that’s all you need to know.

Reverse Charades is a Keeper!

Filed Under (Keeper, Tops for 2011) by Will Bain on 20-11-2011

Small variations can have big, and often unexpected, consequences. Some patterns, when repeated across various scales and intervals, produce surprising results. Seemingly simple equations can produce strange and unpredictable fractal images as results are graphed onto two and three dimensions. This is one of the central tenants of chaos theory, that branch of mathematics that brought us the globular Mandelbrot Set. It’s also an idea that is warmly embraced by Major Fun.

And Reverse Charades.

In short: Reverse Charades plays like the traditional game of charades but instead of one person acting and the rest of the team guessing, one person is guessing while the rest of the team is performing. That’s it. Team act. Individual guess. Reverse Charades.

Let’s flash back to the words of General Fun (ret.):

Reverse Charades demonstrates the kind of reversal that we most like to see in games. In your traditional, non-reverse charades, one player has to do all the performing, all alone. This puts anyone even remotely shy or self-conscious in a potentially embarrassing position, and, sadly, some people find that person’s discomfort emblematic of the fun of non-reverse charades.  In Reverse Charades, no one is embarrassed, because everyone is acting silly together. And yes, there is a certain chaos. And yes, it’s the very kind of chaos [that] makes the fun major.

And once people start playing charades in this manner, they don’t tend to go back. The team aspect of the game pulls almost everyone in. And there is little if any dead time. In traditional charades a single actor could get stuck if he or she is unfamiliar with the topic. This leads to that awkward exchange in which the actor shrugs and giggles while the team of guessers stares blankly as they wait for some kind of clue. With a team of actors, SOMEONE has an idea and once that person gets going, everyone else can find something to add.

It also becomes obvious that the laughs generated by charades are multiplied in Reverse Charades. You think one person acting out “banana split” is funny in charades? Watch 4 or 5 or 6 people do it here. My favorite one, hands down, the one that still makes me chuckle right now (months after the fact) is “urinal.” One person acting it out is funny but 5 people acting out a men’s room complete with dividers is forever seared into my ventromedial frontal lobe.

That’s the brain’s humor center. Never mind…

Reverse Charades has achieved Keeper! status not just because it is a clever twist on an already popular party game. It is clever. It is also elegantly and beautifully packaged. It comes supported by a great website AND there are handy apps for your mobile devices that let you take the joy of Reverse Charades anywhere those ubiquitous little devices can go. But more than anything, you’ll just want this game to go with you. It’s Major Fun and once you have it, you won’t willingly give it up. Your friends can play at your house or they can ask you nicely to bring it over, but it’s not leaving your sight.

6 or more players of any age. Seriously. Any age. If they can’t talk, then you can use them as a prop.

Game design by Bryce and Scott Porter, with artistic design by Dave Regnier. The most recent edition of Reverse Charades comes with 360 double-sided word cards,  a 60-second sand timer, and very simple, inviting instructions. © 2010 RETROPlay.

Shake ‘n Take is a Keeper!!

Filed Under (Keeper, Tops for 2011) by Will Bain on 06-10-2011

There are some games that redefine the way a family or social group gather and interact. A great game like Shake ‘n Take, introduced at the right time, will (pardon the pun) shake things up. After we played this game the first time, there has rarely been a gathering that goes by in which someone does not ask if we have time for Shake ‘n Take. For all the adrenaline junkies in my social cadre, there is no better fix than a game that boils down to circling pictures on a dry-erase board.

To recap: you have a card with 70 aliens. You must be the first to circle them all. You roll a die to find out which shape to circle and all the while your neighbor is frantically shaking another die until an alien head pops up. When the alien appears, your neighbor snatches the marker from your hand without so much as a “Thanks for the probe!” and starts to circle his or her aliens.

With all the rattling, rolling, circling, and snatching the game produces a truly disorienting level of chaos. Fun chaos. Any game in which someone can fall off their chair trying to hold on to their pen in order to circle one more alien is a game worth keeping. Especially when there is no time to do anything more but get back up, choke back the gales of laughter, and scream at the person with the alien shaker to “Hurry UP!! I need the pen!!”

Sure, there’s a lot of luck that directs the flow of the game, but pattern recognition is important as is a clear strategy for keeping track of the alien shapes. There is enough skill that when you have the pen, you can make the most out of your time, even if you don’t know how long it will be.

What also impresses me about the game is how engaging it is even for the players who do not have anything to do. Shake ‘n Take excels where so many other games get bogged down because the players who are not actively shaking or circling are gripped with such a fierce anticipation. You never know when it will be your turn, and you have to be constantly vigilant. Constantly ready. Shake ‘n Take maintains a high level of urgency for everyone, and as everyone gets down to those last few aliens, the stakes (and the noise) increase.

I might not be able to keep the alien-shaped pen in my hand for very long, but this is one game that I will keep no matter where I get beamed.

Shake ‘n Take concept by Keith Meyers. Illustration and graphics by John Kovalic and Cathleen Quinn-Kinney. © 2010 Out of the Box Publishing.

Dragon Face is a Keeper!!

Filed Under (Keeper, Tops for 2011) by Will Bain on 02-10-2011

When it comes to Dragon Face, I don’t think there is much praise that can top the fact that over the past several months the nuances of this game have yet to get old. If anything, they continue to multiply. There are no sure-fire strategies. This means that there are multiple levels of play. There are subtleties that you can explore over multiple games. There are layers of choices that you will need to navigate with each new opponent.

Dragon Face is an elegant, robust strategy game, and although it is not laugh-a-nano-second fun like many of our Major Fun party games, it is deeply engaging in the way that only the best strategy games can be. This is fun for the chess set, and for those of you who have not succumbed to that particular addiction, Dragon Face may be your gateway drug.

The game is arranged on a grid that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has ever played checkers or chess. The pieces are double sided discs that resemble checker pieces but with three distinct designs. Each player has seven governors, six ambassadors, and one emperor. Governors move and attack like pawns in chess, governors move like queens, and the emperor moves like the chess king. Unlike chess, captured opponents are not removed from the board. When you capture an opponent’s piece, you jump over it (like in checkers), and that piece is flipped over to become one of your pieces. There is a ring of spaces around the playing field called the “sacrifice zone.” You may jump into this space to capture an opponent’s piece BUT your piece is stuck in the sacrifice zone. Sacrificed ambassadors can be freed if you advance a governor to the opposite end of the board.

The mechanics of flipping and sacrificing make for nerve-wracking games. A single capture can swing the momentum of a game because you can gain pieces that your opponent had not considered in a defense strategy. The sacrifice zone also makes the “edge” of the board dangerous. There are few safe zones; over-extending is a grave error.

If you are going to receive this game from me it will be as a shrink-wrapped gift, fresh from some retail establishment OR you are the one lucky person to whom I bequeathed my copy upon my death. There will be no lending of this keeper, and theft will unleash the hounds of hell.

2 players. Ages 8+

Dragon Face designed by Thierry Denoul. © 2011 by Blue Orange Games.

Party Gras

Filed Under (Party Games, Tops for 2011) by Will Bain on 28-08-2011

Who dat?I think that it is fitting that my first review as Major Fun should be Zobmondo!!’s frantic party game Party Gras. While it is true that my Hoosier roots run almost 40 years deep, I have a special connection to and fondness for the Crescent City. I started my MFA with the University of New Orleans in the fall of 2007—just in time for Hurricane Katrina to crash the party and unmask some of the uglier faces of the body politic. Despite the devastation (both social and physical) New Orleans prevails and a healthy dose of that contagious, joyful spirit made its way into Party Gras.

The game consists of a big deck of cards and a whole mess’a beads in a colorful plastic case. Divide the beads evenly among all players. Look at those beads. Covet those beads. The winner of Party Gras is the player who has the most beads at the end of the round.

Like any great parade, Party Gras requires a Grand Marshall. This person determines how long the round will last (10 – 15 minutes is good). The Grand Marshall begins the party, plays like everyone else, but is also tasked with settling any disputes. The Grand Marshall shuffles the cards, deals two to each player, and makes a pile of the rest. The party is about to begin. Look at your cards. Choose your mission…

Find someone who does not have fun. I dare you...There are six kinds of missions—six ways to take beads from another player. In brief the missions are:

  • Mind Control: make another player do the action on the card.
  • Caught in the Act: Catch another player doing the listed action.
  • Talk it Out: Find one player who matches the description on the card. You will need to talk to them and ask questions.
  • Fashion Police: Find a player wearing the listed item.
  • Go Crazy: Perform a crazy stunt and get rewarded.
  • Challenge: Challenge another player to a crazy stunt.

Each card has three missions from which you may choose one. Most missions earn you one string of beads, but some earn you two. When you complete a mission, discard the card and pick another. You will always have 2 cards for a total of six possible choices. If the Grand Marshall thinks too many people are stuck, maybe you can draw a third. Or a fourth! Or trade ‘em all in keep playing. The Grand Marshall is in charge and better keep the party moving!!

The missions are a blast. Stuff like: “Make someone apologize for insulting you” and “Make someone refuse to kiss you” and “Find someone who likes tea better than coffee.” Everyone is talking at the same time. You never know if you are being tricked into something or asked a legitimate question. You can’t lie (otherwise Talk it Out doesn’t work) and you can’t refuse to do an action but refusing to do silly things in a party game means that someone is unclear on the concept of a party game!!

Party Gras is loud and fast and frustrating and MAJOR FUN!! There are plenty of Major Fun party games out there, but Party Gras brings the joy and releases it to the world in gales of laughter and ridiculous antics. All for a handful of beads.

Major Fun fo’ tru…

Party Gras is recommended for 4-12 players over the age of 13. It was designed by Greg Zima and is published under license by Zobmondo!! Entertainment LLC.

Trigger

Filed Under (Family Games, Kids Games, Party Games, Tops for 2011) by Will Bain on 12-07-2011

The fun of Trigger, the element that made us laugh every time we played, is in the revelation that our left hands and right hands are stupid. I mean bag of hammers, running-with-scissors, couple-shoes-short-of-a-pair stoopid. This is, after all, a game that presents true or false statements like: “You are related to at least one person at this table” and “You are married.”

In order to answer these outrageously obtuse questions, players race to be the first to slap a foam target (think of a round drink coaster) with their left or right hand. Left hand for False and right hand for True. Right is right. Left is false. How hard can it be?

Trouble is, when everyone is watching everyone else, it is really easy to mimic what someone else is about to do. The statement above about being related to a person at the table is a good example. I was looking at my daughter across the table and to my credit, I put out my right hand for True; however, before I could whack the target, I switched hands because one of the people next to me was putting out their left hand. So when we sorted the answers, I was stuck with this embarrassing FALSE answer to a question that is so obvious that it would be used to determine if I had suffered a concussion.

Trigger is Major Fun in a tiny round can. It comes with 60 cards, a foam target, and a concise set of rules. Each card is one of six colors on the front (orange, blue, red, violet, black, and green) and has six color coded questions on the back. Players receive 5 cards and one player starts as  the referee. The referee asks a question. The other players race to slap the target with the correct hand. Once you slap your hand down, you cannot move it. This results in a pile of hands covering the target which the referee must sort out. The player with the first correct answer (the correct hand at the bottom) wins and receives the card. That player becomes the referee and reads a question that matches the color of the card they just won. The player with the first wrong answer (the lowest wrong hand) loses a card.

The game ends when one contestant runs out of cards.

You could determine the winner by who has the most cards. You could determine the winner by who made the fewest embarrassing blunders. Or you could just embrace the absurdities of human psychology that drive us to make responses we know are wrong just because we are under pressure and looking at other people. We could have kept score but we were having too much fun.

Trigger was created by Julien Sentis. It is © 2011 by Blue Orange.

Dragon Face

Filed Under (Thinking Games, Tops for 2011) by Bernie DeKoven on 10-07-2011

strategy game

One of my personal tests for a good strategy game is what happens after I play. If I find myself walking around in a crowd, looking at people I might be able to jump, I know I’ve played something deep enough to engage my conceptual entirety.

Then, of course, I start thinking about who I can find to play it with me. Then about how easy it will be to teach. And how fun. And how impressed they’ll be when they see the beautiful fabric board and the hefty, two-sided pieces, and, of course, the long, red metal cylinder housing it all. And by that time, I know that the game I’ve just encountered is Major Fun.

Dragon Face is a bit like checkers and a bit like chess. Actually a bit more like chess than checkers. If you know chess, you will immediately understand how the pieces move. There are only three kinds: one, the Governors, move exactly like a pawn (one or two spaces forward on the first turn, attack only diagonally, can only move forward, and have a special power if they manage to cross the board). The other two are the Emperor (which moves exactly like a king in chess – one space in any direction – and, like the king in chess, if it is inescapably attacked, you lose); and the other, the ambassadors, moving as many spaces as they can, in a straight line.

But then you discover that they capture more like checkers – you don’t take the opposing piece off, you jump over it. And even then, you don’t take it off. You turn it over, and it becomes one of your pieces! (Similar to Shogi – the Japanese version of chess.)

Which makes you realize, eventually, that everything you know about chess – Indo-European or Japanese – is really no help at all. Which makes the game that much more interesting, that much newer.

Then, to add further fascination, the border around the playing area is called the “sacrifice zone” – which doesn’t sound too attractive if you ask me. But it is – oddly so. Some times, you find yourself jumping over an opponent’s piece, right into the sacrifice zone. If it’s one of your wonderfully powerful Ambassadors, the poor thing just stays there. Unless you manage to get one of your Governors across to the opposite side of the board, which, because of political implications too profound for a mere game maven, allows one of your lost Ambassadors to return to the conceptual fray.

All in all, Dragon Face is an exceptional accomplishment – a strategy game that is easy to learn, deep enough to engage a chess player, and elegant enough to invite your casual game player into extended strategic delights.

Dragon Face was very intelligently designed by Thierry Denoual, and is published by Blue Orange Games.

Fastrack

Filed Under (Dexterity, Family Games, Kids Games, Party Games, Tops for 2011) by Bernie DeKoven on 03-07-2011

award-winning dexterity game for twoOne of the things that we look for when we grant a Major Fun award is how easy it is to figure out how to play the game – even without the rules. Learning time is always a problem with games – the more time it takes to learn (regardless of how wonderful the game is) the narrower the appeal. So, when we do find a game that is almost self-explanatory, and when it’s well-made, and when it’s fun enough for people to want to play again and again and yet again – we consider it a major find.

Today, we take great pleasure in introducing you to our current Major Fun major find – a little wooden game called Fastrack. Well, not totally wooden – there’s an elastic band on either side. And not so little – interior dimensions are 13″ by just about 8″. And there’s a drawstring bag, made out of something net-like, which is also not wooden.

Between the two elastic bands, spanning the middle of the board, there’s a wooden divider. In the middle of this divider, there’s a small hole – slightly larger than one checker-puck-width. On either side of the divider there’s just enough room to line-up five checker-pucks. And that, my friends, is all you need to know, pretty much.

dexterity gameIt’s a two-player game. Each player begins with five wooden, let’s call them “disks.”  Checker-like, puckish things that get twanged from one side of the board, through the divider, to the other. Twanging is generally done with one finger on the disk, the disk pulled back against the elastic and then released, both players twanging simultaneously. The round ends, hopefully, when one player has no more disks to twang. I say “hopefully” because, though a round can take less than a couple minutes, equally matched players can drive each other to exhaustion – which is pretty much the whole point.

Though the rules are exceptionally brief, and the game can be played without them, there are some good reasons to read them. For example, you learn that if a disk is stuck in the slot, you can only move it by shooting another disk at it. Which makes sense insofar as there might be some potential finger damage from ongoing rapid-disk-propulsion. You also learn that if a disk jumps over the divider and lands on the other side of the board, it still counts. And that disks that fly off the board entirely are out of play for that round, which means that you only have to get the remainder on to the other side to win.

The game is easy to handicap – especially if you are playing with your kids. For example, they can let you start with three disks, while they take the remaining seven.

The concept for this game has been around for a while. But the execution makes Fastrack exceptional. The game looks as attractive as it plays. The race-flag checkerboard and red colors accentuate the experience of speed. The elastic bands have enough elasticity so that you can shoot your disks with significant twang, and, if you shoot a disk just right, it can bounce back and forth across the board several many, delightworthy times. The board and disks are scaled perfectly so that you get the same delightful action you might get from a larger version, yet the game itself is just the right size to carry with you effortlessly everywhere. The twang often leads to many satisfying bangs as the disks carom off the wooden divider and the wooden sides of the wooden board. It is a skill game. And you can get better. And that’s all you need to know.

The game was designed by Jean-Marie Albert of Ferti in France, who also designed the Major Fun award-winning Le Pass Trappe – which explains a lot.

Befuzzled

Filed Under (Family Games, Kids Games, Party Games, Tops for 2011) by Will Bain on 08-05-2011

The real joy of reaction games is when things go wrong. Befuzzled from Fun Q Games gleefully directs players to perform the silliest actions in a split second. Your adrenaline is pumping, the decibels of laughter are crowding out all rational thought, and when the card is flipped, you know that you are supposed to flap your arms like a chicken but instead you moo like a cow and make binoculars with your fingers.

Great fun. Major Fun.

Befuzzled is simple party game played with cards that encourages a great deal of competitive silliness. The game consists of three types of cards. There are 24 Action Cards. These tell the players what to do. There are 8 Shape Cards. These are each paired with one of the Action Cards. There are 40 Flip Cards. These tell the players when to take an action.

Eight Action Cards are dealt face up. A shape card is placed on top of the Action Card so that everyone can see the shape and read the action. The Flip Cards are flipped by one of the players, called the judge. The Flip Card reveals a shape. All players, other than the judge, try to be the first to do the action that matches the shape. The judge must watch the players closely to determine who performed the correct action first.

In the case of a tie, the judge may be …er… persuaded, or the judge may order a tie-breaker of some kind.

As with a lot of reaction games, the rounds become more chaotic as they progress. In early rounds, players are looking for the shapes and reading the actions. After a few rounds, memory and instinct and anticipation kick in, and that’s when the mistakes start to happen. For me, the whole right-hand vs. left-hand concept seemed to get chucked out the window. More than once I had to bite back the phrase, “This is my left hand,” because I did indeed have my right hand in the air.

But it is the mark of a good game, a fun game, a Major Fun game, that the mistakes are as enjoyable as the win.

OK. Almost as enjoyable.

Befuzzled by Jeanine Calkin and Daniel Calkin. Illustration by Christine Payson and graphic design by Grand Prix Design Squad. © 2011 Fun Q Games, Inc.

Pajaggle is a Keeper

Filed Under (Family Games, Keeper, Kids Games, Party Games, Puzzles, Tops for 2011) by Bernie DeKoven on 27-03-2011

Remember the kids’ game called Perfection? That, in a very far-fetched way, is Pajaggle. Only not.

Pajaggle is far more fetching. And it’s not just for kids. It is a precision made, laser-cut, acrylic puzzle/game. The pieces look a little like gears – very fine-toothed gears, some round-toothed, some very, very pointy. Some larger, some smaller, some with other pieces inside. There are a total of 61 pieces, no two of which are alike. The challenge – fit the pieces into their corresponding sockets. Which reminds you, correctly but vaguely, of that round-peg, square-hole thing.

Eventually, of course, almost anybody can solve a Pajaggle. It’s not that kind of puzzle. It’s the kind of puzzle you time yourself solving. Which explains the precision electronic timer included in every set. The more you Pajaggle, the less time it takes. It’s an oddly informative fun to watch yourself improve – not that it means anything about you or your skills at anything (unless you work on an assembly line) – but that you can actually see yourself learn and experience yourself having fun doing it. And when you Pajaggle with others (a few others, even one other), you can learn how much better you can do, and how much fun it can be to Pajaggle together.

Pajaggle is “museum priced” [deservedly so: all that beautifully hand-made, laser-cut acrylic; the added niceties like the timer, the “Pajaggle Throw,” the backpackable bag for the board, the bag for the pieces; the “Pajiggler” rod for dislodging Pajiggles, and, of course, all those games].

“Pajaggle Throw?” you ask, wonderingly. Part of the art of Pajaggling requires that you begin with an empty board. To empty the board, without losing any of the pieces, is somewhat of an art in itself. You take your Pajaggle Throw, wrap the board in it, turn the board upside down so as to rest it on the drop cloth, lift the board, and behold, the majority of the pieces are now perfectly dislodged. For the few that aren’t, there’s your handy dePajaggling rod (Pajiggler) which fits in the conveniently provided holes in each of the sockets – also handy for removing Pajiggles (incorrectly placed Pajaggles).

There’s only one way to solve Pajaggle. But there are apparently endless ways to play with it. You can time yourself. You can time you and someone else or maybe two or three someone else’s all playing together. You can compete, giving each player an equal amount of pieces and seeing who can get rid of theirs first. All with only one Pajaggle board.

Which makes it as fun as a solitaire game as a family game as a party game.

Ultimately, however, you’re going to have to accept the truth that the more boards you have, the more games you can play or invent, and the more people you can involve. Reverse Chaos, for example, can be played with teams of maybe two or three players playing on maybe two or three or four boards, all at the same time. You put the boards in the center of the table, and the pieces in front of each team. Anybody can put any piece wherever it fits, despite what board it fits into. The object is to be the first team to use up all your pieces. You can get very competitive, or you can forget the competition all together and go for a new world record.

Designed by the Pajaggle Team, the puzzle/game is as lovely to display as it is to fun to play. When you’re finished playing, put a solved Pajaggle on your coffee table, with the timer nearby, and watch, smugly, as your guests get sucked in to some seriously shared delight.

Re. the Pajaggle/Perfection comparison, Pajaggle Team member Bill Witt comments: “Perfection, that’s a game of failure. Pajaggle is a game of success. Moreover, perfection is one game. Pajaggle is an endless array of games.” Excellent and most relevant distinctions. The very reason why Pajaggle received the Major Fun award.


5/5/11

After two months of extensive Pajaggling, after managing to shave actual minutes off our combined Pajaggle-solving time (which reminds me, we discovered that Pajaggling is as much fun when we solve it together as when by ourselves – another way of playing with a puzzle that seems to be unique to Pajaggle), after loaning a Pajaggle out to each of our Tasters (and asking them again and again to give the Pajaggles back) Pajaggle becomes the first puzzle game to receive the Major Fun Keeper award.