Top Twelve for 2010

This year, we have twelve games that have made it to the top of our 2010 list. Many of them are marketed especially for children, and yet have proven to be at least as much fun for adults. The rest are marketed for adults, and, oddly enough, depending on the kids, can prove at least as much fun for them as well. (click on the name of the game to see our review)

Not just for kids:

Rory’s Story Cubes

Rory’s Story Cubes is a set of nine dice. Each die has a different image on each side, and each die is different from the others. All in all, this gives you 54 different images and close to ten million possible combinations. Gamewright has added its usual stamp of quality, housing the dice in a wonderful little box with a folding magnetic lid, giving the game a look that complements the treasure it can so easily become.  Making and telling stories is a valued and venerable play form. And Rory’s Story Cubes is a wonderfully nonthreatening invitation to that art. Play it by yourself. Play it friends. Play it with family. Play it at a party. By all means, play it.

We reviewed the original Word on the Street a while back. It’s major fun. We wanted to see how Word on the Street, Jr. held up in comparison. Specifically, we wanted to see if the junior set would engage adults and children at the same time. Sound impossible for a word game? Sound like two great tastes that have no business being in the same kitchen let alone the same plate? THINK AGAIN!! It’s a hoot.

Sumo Ham Slam

I’ve generally found that if you are going to do silly, you might as well go all out. What’s the point of dressing up as a pirate if you’re only going to go through the day saying your same old innocuous pleasantries in your predictable Midwestern mumble? Sometimes you just have to go for the gusto.

Gamewright goes for the gusto with their hamster sumo wrestling game Sumo Ham Slam. That’s right, sumo hamsters. And if the thought of crashing your hamster into your opponent’s hamster until one of you falls over or out of the ring doesn’t bring a smile to your face then remember this: at the start of the match, all players must chant SUMO HAM SLAM!! And there are magnets. And you feed your hamsters to make them heavier.

If you look for Haba’s Dancing Eggs game, you’ll see photos of kids running amok with giggly silliness. If you look at our review, however, you see a group of adults, similarly amok. This is to make a point: though Dancing Eggs is designed to be a great, highly physical, significantly delightful game for kids; if adults get to play, it’s at least as much fun for them to play.

Creationary is the first LEGO party game. It’s not like any other LEGO Game, yet it’s the best way to discover what LEGO Games are all about.

First of all, it’s great fun. It’s very easy to learn (especially if you know how to play Pictionary). It’s invites play (especially if you know LEGOs). And it’s completely open-ended. You can pretty much change everything about the game.

Before I go any further, and just in case you were wondering, Spot It is Major Fun.

Any further questions? Yes? 2-8 players. Another question? You in the front. Kids, of course, probably even as young as 7. Adults? You betcha. And yes, it’s a game for kids, a game for families, a party game for kids, families, and a very welcome filler game for grown-up gamers. And yes, still Major Fun. More Major Fun for kids or adults or families? Nope. In all cases, the fun is major. In deed.

Wits & Wagers is a Major Fun award-winning game – a Keeper, in fact. So now we have Wits & Wagers Family, which, as you might correctly conclude, is a somewhat less complex version, designed to appeal to the whole family. Except for kids that are below the age of…what? 10? 8? 6? 4?

Use your make-believe, wipe-offable marker to write your hypothetical guess on your imaginary write-on, wipe-offable Answer Board. Then collect everyone’s similarly imaginary Answer Boards and organize them from low to high (or high to low). Ready to vote?  Great. Place one or two of your pretend “Meeples” (wooden, people-shaped playing pieces) of your choice – the larger one on your best guess, the smaller on your next best.

Wicketball

If you can kick a ball, you can play it. If you can roll a ball, throw a ball, bounce a ball, you can play it. You can play it in the sand. You can play it in the snow. You can play it in the dirt. You can play it like golf, you can play it like croquet, you can play it like both games simultaneously. You can play it with kids, you can play it with seniors, you can play it with kids and seniors and anybody who wants to play. You can create your own course. You can make it very hard. You can make it just easy enough to make you want to keep playing. You can play it seriously, you can play it for fun.

Not just for adults:

Sounds Like a Plan turns out to be everything you’d want to see in a Major Fun party game. It’s easy to learn. It takes maybe a half hour to play. And you spend most of the time laughing. As you can see, the cards are very cleverly written – the Advice cards easily as clever as the Plan cards. The die works brilliantly to keep the game unpredictable and fun. There are two other sides of the die: one is “Wild” which allows the Planner to select whatever kind of advice she wants to get; the other is called “Psychic.” When that turns up, the players have to guess which of the three To Do’s on the Plan Card the Planner would most likely select, and then come up with the most appropriate Plan for that To Do. OK. So there’s a certain element of luck there. In fact, there are certain elements of luck everywhere in the game – what side of the die turns up, what Advice Cards you get, what Plan Card is selected. All of which prove to provide exactly enough luck to keep anyone from taking anything about the game too seriously.

The category is “hotels.” You’re playing with Rocky. Everybody has already voted on how many of the four questions you’ll answer correctly. The first question is: “a motel with a number in its name.” You and Rocky count off: “one, two, three Sync Up!” You say “Motel 6,” Rocky says “Supper 8.” No points. So you’re on to the next question. “A luxury hotel.” Ready? “One, two, three, Sync Up!” And you both answer “The Four Seasons.” Fantastic! Four Seasons? How could you both come up with something so relatively obscure? What about Napa Valley’s Auberge de Soliel, for gosh sakes? So, anyway, congratulations. You get two points. Ready for the next question?

Oh, Really!™ is a party game for 3 up to 8 players or teams. Given the team possibility, Oh, Really! is a game that can easily provide anywhere from a half-hour to 90-minutes of thought- and laughter-provoking entertainment for your personal multitudes. And if some of that particular multitude happens to include those of the eight- or eighty-year-old variety so much more the potential fun of it all.

You get 160 cards, total. Each player gets three cards. Each card has two categories on it – like: “Cannot take off” and “Leisure activities for old people.” Or “Things you secretly do at work” and “Famous sportsmen.” Or “Things that itch” and “Presents for mommy’s widdle puddy tat.” (Actual categories from actual cards.) You get an electronic timer you can set to 5 or 8 seconds. And you get a cloth bag that everything fits into very nicely. It’s your turn to be Buzz Master. You pick any card, either category, and read it aloud. You start the timer. It beeps once. Everyone else takes a turn, each turn trying to come up with yet another example of the chosen category. Then the timer makes a polite, cymbal-crashing sound, and the card goes to whomever’s turn it is as a “token of failure.”

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