A to Z Electronic

Those of you astute enough to have read our review of the majorly Major FUN-award-winning A to Z might easily assume Fundex‘s new electronic version would prove as unabashedly praiseworthy.

On the one hand, you would be entirely correct in your assumptions. A to Z Electronic is attractive, engaging, and far more convenient. No chips to lose. No boards to keep track of. You don’t even need to keep the box. The category cards fit nicely into a compartment on the back of the game. And everything else is integrated into the device.

If you already own a pre-electronic copy of A to Z, and are reading this review online, you’ll probably find that even though it is far more convenient and compelling. you should expect to spend some time figuring everything out, and, frankly, the original, non-electronic version plays just as well – some might say even better. Though it’s all quite logical, and all the lighted buttons are lovely and alluring, and the accompanying sounds meaningfully amusing, there are certain things you just have to figure out. For example, the six buttons on the top of the device are used to indicate both who goes next, and what the category is. There are lights on the left and right to help you (which most ostensibly say “player” or “category”). But you have to remember to look for them. And when it’s your turn to “Steal,” you have to remember to hold your victim’s number button down for several seconds.

But it won’t take long to learn, and it’s clearly worth the effort. The game is so portable, so well-packaged, so attractive and, as you already know, so much fun, that you’ll want to take it with you wherever there’s the slightest possibility that there’ll be people to play with. A to Z, in any form, is a wonderfully adaptable and fun game. Because there are so few components (the device and the cards) and so many lights, the electronic version most definitely adds the convenience, the attraction, and the sheer delight of it all.

Backseat Drawing

Draw a rectangle. Wait. Draw it horizontally – you know, so it’s wider than it is high. Make it a little smaller. Good. Now draw a kind of egg shape touching the upper right corner. Great. OK. Now make 4 straight lines, attached to the bottom of the rectangle, spread more or less evenly. Now draw a small arc, the bottom of the curve touching the top of the egg shape. Good. Good. Good. Still can’t guess it? Try this: between the first and second of those lines you drew on the bottom of the rectangle, the lines on the left, draw smallish “W” shape. Feel free to guess what it is any time. No penalty for wrong answers. And if anything the other team draws or says helps, please, be my guest. What? Did you say “cow”?

Holy, mmm, cow, you’re right! We get a card! Oh, the udder bovine bliss of it all!

The name of the game is Backseat Drawing. And, yes, in deed, it’s Major FUN.

You need two teams of two or more players. Each team gets a dry-erase marker, board and eraser (the eraser comes in very, very handily). There’s a deck of 168 “challenge” cards. The cards are two-sided. One side is easier. That’s where you’ll find “Cow.” The other side is where you find words like “Soup,” “Zipper,” and, OMG, “Sea Horse.” The cards fit into an open plastic box which also acts as a viewer – revealing the top card to the people who are directing while concealing it from the artists and their cohorts of fellow-guessers.

It takes maybe five minutes to learn. And a good 20-30 minutes before any team accumulates enough points to win. We played a couple rounds. In the second round, we changed partners and also tried the more challenging side of the Challenge Cards. We drew. We laughed. We lost.

The game is in four different languages (English, Spanish, French and German). There are four different rule cards, each in one of the aforementioned languages. The Challenge Cards are equally multi-lingual. What this means is that should one wish to elevate both the chaos and joylikeness of it all, one could conceivably backseat draw cross-culturally.


Zenn is a remarkably fun and inviting dexterity game for 2-4 players. What makes it remarkably inviting is how easy it is to play, even if you never read the rules. What makes it remarkably fun is how many different games there are to play.

Here are a few things you might want to notice: each corner of the playing field is at a 45-degree angle. This makes it possible for a player to achieve some remarkably impressive bank shots. Directly in front of each goal are two reflecting blocks. They are positioned just where you’d want them if you were trying to bank your chip off the corner into the cup. The space between these blocks is only slightly wider than a small poker chip. Thus, sliding a chip from one side of the board so that it passes between the two blocks on the opposite side (and into the goal cup) requires concentration and coordination that is, well, Zen-like. Then there are the various lines and numbers and letters – each of which lends itself to the formulation of yet further and more profound challenges.

Then of course there are the poker chips. Four each, of two different sizes and colors, inviting yet further possibilities of game-like engagement.

You might also notice that the instruction booklet that comes with your Zenn set describes exactly 101 different games you can play.

In sum, the game of Zenn is an invitation to chip-flicking at it’s finest! Each different game described in the booklet takes advantage of some different aspect of the board and pieces. Each is an inspiration to invent your own.

This is what makes Zenn Major FUN – the elegance and subtlety of the design, the almost intuitive clarity of the goals, the many, many different ways to play; and the sheer delight of the game mechanics.

Yes, the rule booklet has a certain homemade look, and the poker chip pucks seem a little, well, common, but the game is anything but common, and the many different variations are positively inspirational, and the chip-pucks, available almost anywhere, slide and bounce ever so satisfyingly around the lifetime-guaranteed board (with added slipperiness provided by your readily available can of Pledge spray wax)(and a bag of replacement chips available for a nominal $1.75).

For kids, families, parties – like I said, Major FUN.

Say Anything

North Star Games is one of those rare companies that places a high premium on quality over quantity. Although the company was founded in 2003, they have only published 3 games. Each of them has been Major FUN, and each production seems to be getting better than the previous one.

Say Anything, their latest creation, is a light-hearted party game that will get you and your friends talking and laughing in no time. Everything about the game reflects years of play testing, and finer and finer tuning. The rules are wonderfully easy to understand – clearly written and presented, every question answered. Everything fits in the box just so. The write-on, wipe-off boards (8 answer boards and a scoreboard) write on easily (golf-pencil-sized wipe-off-able markers included) and wipe off even more easily. The 400 Question Cards are pleasantly thick yet amply bendy. The little, graphic-and-color-coordinated Player Chips are non-bendy enough to be satisfyingly chip-like. And the state of the art SELECT-O-MATIC 5000…one can barely comment enough about the functionality, portability, and virtually cordless battery-freedom!

Of course, it’s the fun that counts – even more than all the well-thought-out-edness of the packaging and game components. Let’s start with a Say Anything card. There are 5 questions to choose from which means you’ll always be able to ask something that suits the people you’ve invited to your gathering. The question all have something to do with your right to, well, say, as it were, anything. Some of the questions solicit your pop culture opinions, some are about personal experiences, some are slightly serious, and a handful are seriously ridicules (designed just to make you laugh). If for example, we picked the question “What TV channel would be the hardest to live without?” Really, you could write anything on your Answer Board. I mean, you like what you like. Write anything. Say anything. What’s to argue about?

So you write what you write (it can be non-sequitur if you want), and toss your Answer Board face-up on the table. She or He Who Holds the SELECT-O-MATIC 5000 (SoHWHtS-O-M5000) will read all the answers, and pick a favorite response. Any favorite response – for any reason. Because SoHWHtS-O-M5000 can, of course Select Anything.

Now everybody else tries to guess what answer was picked. It turns out that the SoHWHtS-O-M5000 gets a point for everyone who votes for His or Her chosen Answer Board (up to a maximum of 3 points). They guess by using their well-designed, chip-like, color-coordinated Player Chips. They each have two. Which means they can put both chips down on the same Answer Board, or select two Answer Boards to carry their personal Player Chip-ness. Ah, an opportunity to demonstrate something to everyone in attendance – two chips to manifest your personal certainty, or your clever covering of the bases, so to speak.

Finally SoHWHtS-O-M5000 reveals the chosen board, and players gain points accordingly, which the Holder of the Write-On Wipe-Off-able Score Board dutifully records. And in the mean time, much laughter tends to erupt. Much laughter. Because of the unexpected answers people come up with, the unpredictable perspicacity of their votes, the verifiable silliness of the task, and, for some, because of the score they get.

Say Anything is the very kind of game the Major Fun Award was designed for. It takes a few minutes to learn, a good half hour or so to play, and can be played with your basic 3-8 people. Maybe 16 if you play in teams. Probably 24, tops.


Attribute, another minor wonder of strategic silliness from Z-Man Games, is a word game inviting more than a bit of psycho-strategico contemplation.

There are two decks of cards: one deck of 60 sheep cards and another of 164 attribute cards. There are only two kinds of sheep in your cutely-illustrated sheep card deck – the green sheep card of topic matching and the red, out-of-topic sheep card. There are 164 kinds of attribute cards, indicated by words like: “spooky,” “bleak,” “wild,” and “furry.”

Each person gets 4 attribute cards and one sheep card. Let’s say you have a red sheep card. You put that card face down, in front of you. One player, anyone, actually, makes up a topic. Really, literally, any topic. For example: crime. You are more or less in luck. At least one of your 4 cards clearly and obviously is unrelated to “crime.” For example, “Furry.” But perhaps less in luck than you might first have thought. Because if you put down your Furry card it will be fairly obvious to everyone that you are a red sheep. It might have been better to use your “spooky” card, or even the card called “wild.” At least you might make someone hesitate.

Because, you see, when all is said and done, and everyone has put their sheep face down and an attribute face up, players then select (e.g. grab) any face down pair, the object being to have grabbed a green sheep, and not a red, don’t you see. So when all the pairs are on the table, you have to think very, very quickly – is the attribute that’s revealed enough like the category to be covering a green sheep? Or is it perhaps a ruse, or a rouge, by any other name?

Since Attribute can be played by as many as 8 people, it is definitely a party game. It might also succeed as a family game, depending on age of the youngest players. We’d recommend 10 and above for a mixed age group, and 8-10 for a kids’ game.

Designed by Marcel-Andre Casasola Merkle, Attribute is a unique and engaging word game. Major FUN.

On the Dot

It’s a puzzle. It’s a game. It’s visual. It’s logical. It’s On the Dot, and it’s Major FUN.

You get 4 transparent squares, each of which shows a different pattern of colored dots. You also get 64, square puzzle cards, each of which also shows a different pattern of colored dots. The challenge: arrange all 4 transparent squares to match the pattern on the puzzle card.

The thing is, each transparent square has 8 possible positions. If they weren’t transparent, there’d only be 4. But, see, you can not only turn them clockwise, or counterclockwise, or upside-down or downside-up, you can also turn them over.

And then, since you always have to use all 4 transparent squares, there’s learning how to hide the wrong-colored dots underneath the right-colored dots. This works, because though the game cards are transparent, the dots aren’t.

And when you play it competitively (there are 4 sets of transparent squares, so up to 4 people can play), you’re all turning and flipping those colored squares and sometimes surprising the heck out of each other and yourselves when the solution actually appears.

This is a grown-up kind of puzzle/game, perceptually challenging, logically subtle. You probably need to be at least a fifth-grader before the fun really kicks in.

And it’s just about the perfect “filler” game for a games party – since people can pick it up and understand what the puzzle is about almost immediately, amaze onlookers with their brilliance, play with it for 5 minutes or an hour, and, when the time is right, invite others into a game of significant tension and even more significant fun.

Party Pooper

In the latest Out-of-the-Box card-(432 cards)-reading, personality-predicting, finger-pointing fun.

There’s a die (the Party Cube). You roll the die. That tells you whether you are looking for the most or least likely person in the group who, for example, would join a bow-hunting safari. It says “Party Pooper,” so you’re looking for the person you think would be least likely to want to join that old bow-hunting safari. At the count of three, everybody points. Since it’s you’re turn to be the prime pointer (the “host”), you point to the person you think is the Pooper, while at the same time everyone points to the person they think would be the person you would point at. Get it? Not necessarily the “real” person. Just the person they think you would point at. Then everyone who pointed at the same person you pointed to gets points (chip) and gets to give you points (also a chip) (“gets” as in “has to”). Everybody else, the nay-pointers, as it were, gets nothing. And that’s the game. And someone else gets to be the host. And the die is rolled. And a card is picked. And people point. And then they laugh.

And that’s it, in brief. In sum, Party Pooper, the many-carded game with chips and pointing and laughing, is Major FUN. In a little more depth, I think you should know why this makers suggest that the game be played, yes, by as many as 8 players, in party-like fashion, as long as everyone’s at least 12. Physically and emotionally. Because getting pointed at or not, as fun as it can be, is easy to take a little too personally. In fact, there might be people who have been categorized as adults, and yet might actually be prone to taking such playful pointings personally.

And there is an alternate set of rules, actually, that don’t involve finger pointing, but rather thumbs-upping or -downing.

But you happen to be the kind of person who plays for fun. And regular-old Party Pooper happens to be just that kind of game, especially with all the pointing. A genuinely fun game. And the people you want to play with are also of that emotional age we consider to be at least 12. And it will be something definitely, deliciously fun, this game of Party Pooper. I promise, or my name is not Major Fun.


It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Rage. Being the mild-mannered Major you know me so well to be, it might strike you as uncharacteristic of me. But, you see, I’m talking about a game. A game called “Rage.” A card game, for as few as 2, or as many as 8 players, all of whom know about trick-taking games. It will remind you, as a matter of fact, of that old trick-taking game, with the unfortunate, but evocative name “Oh Hell.

The Rage deck consists of 110 Cards of 6 suits of color cards each numbered 0-15. There are 14 “special” cards including: 2 Wild Rage cards, 4 Out Rage cards, 4 Change Rage cards, 2 Mad Rage Card. All those cards, and all those special cards might make you think of another card game. Not a trick-taking game at all, but the rather hilarious, and far less serious UNO game. Which makes sense, since the original publishers of UNO were in fact the same people who publish Rage. (In case you asked, Rage is now published by Fundex).

Trick-taking games. You know about those. The reason I am stressing that point is that we had one person in our Tasting who didn’t know about trick-taking games, and it made the game less fun for all of us. If you know about trick-taking games, you can learn Rage in a few minutes.

First, there’s the deal. The first deal, each player gets 10 cards, the next 9, the next 8, all the way down to the last round, with one card each. So each round is a little shorter, and the tension a little higher.

Then there’s the bidding – everyone declares how many tricks she’s going to win that round. Not bidding, really, since you’re not trying to out bid anyone. More like, well, declaring.

Then there’s the play. A card is thrown. You follow suit. If you can’t, you throw anything, or throw trump. You know, like a trick-taking game.

Then there are the wild cards. There’s Bonus Rage, which gives 5 points to whomever takes the trick. Mad Rage, which takes 5 points away from the she who took the trick. Out Rage, of course, there is no trump for the rest of the round. Change Rage, which lets you change trump to any color. And Wild Rage – allowing you to change the color of the suit being played.

So, no matter how card-countingly astute you are, anyone at any time can change pretty much everything. Which adds just that extra spice of fate-fickleness to make you laugh instead of scream.

Very Major FUN.

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