Just One

Release: 3/4/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 73 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Just One is a cooperative party game. A stack of 13 cards stands between everyone playing and perfection. Each round clues will be given and a guess will be made in hopes of finding the magic word for the round. But in each case, whether you’re a clue giver or word guesser you get JUST ONE.

The tension in the game comes from each player’s imagination and trying not to get in synch with anyone else at the table. Can you use your powers of inference, using your knowledge of the word and the knowledge of the people at the table to figure out what path they might be on so you can avoid it and find one of your own?

And by shifting the competition away from each other to a question of how well can we all do, it celebrates the joy of playing over the joy of winning. It’s not even funny how Major Fun that is.

Listen in for a full review and discussion.

Just One

Repos BGG  |  Buy

Designers: Ludovic Roudy, Bruno Sautter

Artist: Eric Azagury

Publisher: Repos Production

3-7 players  20 minutes   ages 8+   MSRP $25

For info on the other segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!


Music credits include:

Just One of Those Things  |  the song
performed by Ella Fitzgerald written by Cole Porter
A Day in the Life  |  the song
performed by Manhattan Jazz Quintet  written by The Beatles
Just a Bum  |  the song
performed and written by Greg Brown




Next Move Games|  BGG  |  Buy

Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
Publisher: Next Move Games
2-4 players 30 minutes ages 8+
MSRP $40

text-the concept

In Reef, players explore the fragile beauty of nature’s coral reefs. Each player controls one tiny bit of ocean, adding bright coral pieces to their real estate. Choose carefully which coral to add, and Neptune will reward you with his approval. Can you create a masterpiece of the sea?

text-the components

The first thing you notice when you open Reef is the 112 chunky pieces. Evenly divided between four colors: green, yellow, purple, and orange-red. Big and tactile, each color is formed in a distinct shape, but also stacks well with any other color.

From these pieces you will build your own coral reef. Your challenge is to look ahead and build in a way which meets the demands of the cards you choose. Do so, and you’ll claim mastery of an undersea kingdom!

In addition to the pieces, there are 88 point tokens in various denominations, a deck of 60 cards, and 4 player boards.

Each player takes one of each color reef piece, three 1-point tokens, and two cards at random from the deck. Then, on your player board arrange the pieces, one on each of the four center spaces.

text-the mechanics

Reef is a game of pattern building and recognition. Using cards you’ll gather colorful pieces to build your reef, hoping to stack them into the right configurations to score.

A turn in Reef is simple. You either draw one of the face up cards from the display, or you play a card from your hand.

If you draw a card, you may take any one of the three face up cards for free. The top card of the deck is also available, but at a cost. You must pay a 1-point token to take this card, putting the token on the lowest point value card in the row.

Playing a card from your hand allows you to grow your reef. First, take the two pieces depicted on the top of the card into your stock. Now add these two to your player board, placing them either on an open space, or on top of other pieces already in your reef, regardless of color. The only restriction is that no stack may ever exceed four pieces high.

After, score the pattern at the bottom of the card. If the pattern doesn’t match your board, it scores no points. For every match, take the number of points shown on the card.

For example, a card might show an example of three red pieces arranged at a right angle(or an ‘L’ shape). Below this might be a number 4. For each separate instance this pattern appears on your board, you score four points. Keep in mind that the only pieces which count are the ones atop each stack.

A pattern might also show a specific number, such as a yellow piece with a number 2. Here, the only stacks which can be considered for scoring are those which are two high, and whose top piece is yellow.

Once you draw a card, or play a card, the next player in clockwise order will take a turn. The game continues in this manner until at least one set of pieces, or the draw deck runs out.

At the end of the game, you score the cards left in your hand, if any. But, if there are multiple matches on a card, only one match will score. Add up all the point tokens you’ve collected, and the player with the highest total wins!


I will emphasize three elements of game play which make Reef a new classic among abstract games. All three allow players to learn and enjoy facets of more complex games without becoming bogged down in tedious study.

1).The ease of entry. The 8+ age suggestion seems right, but even a seven year old could play this game. The big chunky pieces even invite them to play. Maybe they won’t win. But teach it to a nine year old, and watch them run the table.

2).The dread, delicious ending. Of course, you want to go into the final scoring with cards in hand. But so often cards will score multiple times before the end, and only once after. Which cards do you try to get played before the game ends?

3).The smooth introduction of strategy game elements to casual gaming. Without even realizing it, players step into a world familiar to strategy gamers. Concepts such as hand management, chaining of actions, and pattern recognition.

The finest of all abstract games, Chess and Go, use these last two elements in deep ways. Masters of either game spend entire lifetimes exploring those depths. Reef allows us all to play with these elements, and begin to explore. Reef makes the deep simple and enjoyable.


Next Move was founded on the idea of introducing simple, but engaging, abstract games to the public. Starting with the hugely popular Azul(a Spiel of Approval winner in 2018), and now with Reef, they’ve managed to bring games with wide appeal more directly into public view. By doing so, they serve us all by helping to expand our hobby.

Some have criticized Reef for its pieces being less impressive than Azul’s patterned tiles. I think this misses the fact that Reef aims to attract a slightly younger audience. Reef’s pieces are fun to look at and fun to play with. Of course the underlying game is compelling in its own right, but the three dimensional reef pieces enhance our enjoyment of the game.

In the end, what we can ask from games is that they allow us to explore a path to fun, and to let us ask our common question: “What would it be like if?” Reef invites us all to build an underwater kingdom. Few of us will ever even visit a coral reef, but here we can grasp the pieces of our choosing and build a tabletop empire of coral.

Whether you are seven or seventy, the ease of play, coupled with the challenge and joy of creating an undersea landscape, makes Reef worthy of the Major Fun Award.

Maki Stack

Release: 10/2/2018    Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 89 min    Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Mom told you, don’t play with your food.

Maki Stack says forget that.

Sushi isn’t just delicious ; it’s fun to build towers with it, too!

Using your fingers like chopsticks, listen close and see if you can stack your wooden maki faster than the other team.

Then try it blindfolded!

So much Major Fun packed into a simple set of blocks and cards.

Listen in for a full review and discussion.

Maki Stack

BGG  |  Blue Orange  |  Buy

Designer: Jeff Lai

Artist: Stéphane Escapa

Publisher: Blue Orange

2-6 players  10-15 minutes   ages 7+   MSRP $25

For info on the Game Night Grab Bag segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!


Music credits include:

Black Room  by Jun Mayuzumi   |   the song

Ye Ye  by Shuri Eiko   |   the song


Deep Sea Adventure

Release Date: 6/14/2016 Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Running Time:   37 min Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Deep Sea Adventure is a wonderfully simple press your luck dice game from Japan with a devilishly fun twist: when you press your luck, you press EVERYONE’S luck!

Glittering treasure entices your team of divers to swim down into the depths. Each roll brings you closer to greater riches. The problem is, everyone shares the same oxygen supply! If too many divers get greedy, no one may make it back to the boat!

The higher scoring treasures are on tokens deeper below the boat. The more treasure you take, the more oxygen you use from everyone’s supply, making it more difficult for each player to make it back to the surface with their loot. Playing it safe may insure your survival but one good haul from the depths could net you the victory.

Tune in to learn more about this hidden gem and discover why we think it’s Major Fun!

Deep Sea Adventure

Oink Games  |  BGG  | Amazon

Designer: Jun Sasaki  Publisher: Oink Games  

2-6 players  30 min.  ages 8+  MSRP $22

Music credits include:

Deep Sea Diving Suit by The Lucksmiths  |  the song


GenCon 2014 – A quick observation…

As I was leaving GenCon today I witnessed the rare convergence between two forces of geekdom.

As the exhibition halls and large public venues of GenCon were closing down, the gamers streamed out of the convention center and went looking for sustenance amid the food trucks and pubs along Georgia Street. They were met by the inrush of blue and white clad Colts fans moving toward their Lucas Oil cathedral.

Exhibit A:

Cosplay gencon










Exhibit B:

colts fans








Each group eyed the other and I’m sure saw “The Other.” And yet, I can’t for the life of me think of a significant difference between the two groups.

We have a long way to go.

GenCon 2014 – Major Fun Games in Play!

Some photos of Major Fun Award winners being played at GenCon:

Tsuro Giant sized Tsuro by Calliope.

The Calliope booth was HOPPIN! It’s a great group of people who are producing some of the most beautiful and fun games out there. Several of their new games have been nominated for Major Fun and are up for review.








PandemicPandemic is a personal favorite of mine and I was a little envious of the board these guys were playing on. I am a small enough person that I will envy the newest, flashiest edition.

From right to left: Mike (Westfield, IN) and Jason (Indianapolis) and Michael (Las Angeles, CA).








Lemming Mafia Lemming Mafia from Mayfair is silly an cute and combines lots of cool elements as your lemming race to the end of the pier in concrete galoshes.

From right to left: Andy (Berkeley, CA) and Robby and Mithila (both from Indianapolis).






Hoot Owl HootHoot Owl Hoot is a very basic cooperative game from Peaceable Kingdom that is geared for younger players. Lots of cooperative games are very complicated but Hoot Owl Hoot strips the experience down to a few clear mechanics and proves to be very exciting.

Pictured is Debbie and her two kids Aurora and David from Oak Park, IL.





Cross WaysAnd finally Cross Ways from USAopoly. Great strategy game for lots of people or even just two people.

Paul (Spartanburg, SC) is learning the game from one of Major Fun’s own play testers, Heather (Indianapolis).





GenCon 2014 – Fun and Games

I am not a photographer by nature (NO you say with only the barest disguise to your sarcasm…) I often don’t think about taking pictures and when I do I suck at it. With those disclaimers, here are the cool things I have seen at GenCon that I actually managed to photograph (with only the minimum of hand-blur).

It's hard to depict Florida in the medium of hexagons...
It’s hard to depict Florida in the medium of hexagons…


Giant board games are cool. Catan is very cool. Thus we have giant cool squared.











And then there are the giant Lego robots…

Lego Brick World RobotsComputer guided robot vehicles. This is how we will travel between exhibition halls at GenCon 2015.









And one of my favorite events: Cardhalla. Every year folks build intricate structures out of cards from donated collectible card games. On Saturday the structures are destroyed in a hail of coins and there is an auction to see who throws first (all money goes to charity). I can’t think of a better use of collectible card games…

Cardhalla 01








There is a lesson to be learned here. I can almost feel it…

Cardhalla 02

GenCon 2014 – Trade Day Thanks

A quick shout out to those I talked to on Trade Day. It was great to meet you. Thanks for sharing your ideas and games and time with me.

Kathleen Mercury (www.kathleenmercury.com): great session on teaching game design to middle school students (full semester course in which the students design and build a board game).

Rudolf Kraus (Rhode Island College): great session on teaching game design in an undergraduate, college seminar.

Sean Duncan (Indiana University): Games and education

Chris Hamm (Indianapolis): Game development in Indianapolis & his game Strife.

Beth Koenen-Seelbach (Indianapolis): Games and after-school care programs

Chris Corbett (ACD Distribution): Hospitality room and Meeple Monthly magazine.

Cassidy and Chris (Calliope Games): Nice to meet you in person and lose all your game demos…

Tara (Peaceable Kingdom): With whom it has been proven I have NO telepathic link…

Al and Joe (Out of the Box): Thanks for teaching me a game that had already won a Major Fun Award! Obviously there are too many for me to keep track of…

The folks at Indy Game Developers: Michelle for showing me the story-telling games and the two young folks who taught me Demon Dice. Yours were the only names I did not write down and were therefore forgotten. I will find out when I visit your booth…

Joell Palmer (Amtgard): organized the foam sword fights in Union Station and talked to me as the melee roiled not more than 10 feet away.


GenCon 2014 – Set

A few more pictures wrapping up Trade Day for GenCon. This is what GenCon looks like in the quiet moments before the storm:Exhibit Hall - Before the Storm









So quiet. So empty. You’ve got to do SOMETHING until those tables fill with goodness.

Playing Set









Set is one of the earliest winners of the Major Fun Award. It’s a personal favorite and a fantastic game to take when you are waiting around for the festivities to kick into gear. If you don’t know the game you should. Pictured are three gentlemen from our eastern states: (from right to left) Chris and Patrick (Richmond, VA) and Evan (Boston, MA). Thanks, guys, for letting me take your picture. Hope you are having fun.

Battle Sheep Instruction Video

Major Fun presents my first attempt at a gameplay / instruction video. Still working through the whole video and audio editing learning curve but here it is in all its YouTube glory:


Let me know what you think!!

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