We don’t recommend a game unless we think it’s a good investment that pays off in significant fun. Nevertheless, some games seem a little more Major than others. And, once again, as we do every year, here’s the 2012 selection of the Majorer:
Jungle Speed Ravin Rabbids is essentially a fast-paced matching game. Cards are evenly dealt to all the players. Extras go into a pile (called “the pot”). Players turn over cards and if a match occurs, the two players with the match try to grab the “totem” (a soft plastic tube that stands on one end in the middle of the table). The loser takes the winner’s face-up discards and puts them at the bottom of his or her pile. In this manner, winners get rid of cards and losers get more cards. The game ends when one player is out of cards.
Like a lot of party games, Train of Thought puts one heroic player on a quest to squeeze the magic word from the lips of the other players. In most such games each player discovers, when it is his or her turn to accomplish this task, that all the other players were gifted with fewer brain cells than the universe bestowed upon zooplankton let alone higher mammals. Can’t they SEE what I’m doing? How hard can it be to guess this word?
FitzIt is something like Scrabble, only instead of letters you’re playing with ideas. On the other hand, it’s nothing like Scrabble at all, because the winner isn’t the one with the biggest vocabulary, but rather with: a) the most imagination, b) the best ability to convince everyone else of the unquestionable logic of oft-absurd assertions, and c) a modicum of sheer luck.
I’m going to warmly embrace the over-the-top, absurd twists supplied by Mayfair’s Lemming Mafia. Silly? Yeah. Major Fun? Are you kidding? Lemmings! In fedoras. Jumping off a pier. And there is no saving the lemmings. Only betting on their watery demise. So limber up your best wise guy voice and get yourself fitted for concrete galoshes.
Snake Oil is crazy fun. It’s fun to play the salesperson, enthusing your little heart out pitching a truly absurd product to a whimsical, and often genuinely silly customer. The intensely purposeless creativity, the sheer passion of the pitch, the remarkably consumer-like arbitrariness of the customer. Hilarious fun of major proportions. The manufacturer recommends Snake Oil for 4-9 players, age 13 and over. Snake Oil was created by Jeff Ochs, design by the design company.
Kids and Family Games
Rhino Hero is a kids’ game, unless they allow their parents to play. And then, when the kids are asleep, it’s party time. It’s a direct descendant of playing house of cards. But it’s a game instead of an exercise in masochism. And an innovatively fun game it is.
Pentago is like tic-tac-toe, don’t you know. Only you have to get five-in-a-row instead of three. Which is almost all you need to know about so, naturally, you assume you don’t really have to learn anything else in order to have yourself a good old time outsmarting opponents. Except for the turning-a-section-of-the-board part. I mean, even with the turning-a-section-of-the-board part, you still really know more than enough to play the game. You just might not know enough to keep from, well, losing.
Zombiepox is Major Fun for its simple rules, surprising strategy, and replayability. It also works as a good introduction into cooperative games. Those who have played cooperative games like Forbidden Island will recognize the basic elements of those games in Zombiepox. If you have been weaned on those games then you’ll seeZombiepox as a good vector for getting your friends into those other, more complicated games.
At first, Sifteo seems like some kind of IQ test from the future: a set of three high-tech cubes, each a small computer with a color screen, each knowing when it is pressed, tilted, turned over, turned around, or near another cube. All together providing an apparently endless variety of surprisingly deep puzzles and investigations of the universe of sound and reason. And then you realize it’s a more of an IQ toy than an IQ test, inviting you and your children to hours of, as the manufacturers describe it, “intelligent play.”
Gluddle made me laugh. Several times. Out loud. I don’t know if it was because all these eyeball things say “oi” whenever they hit something. or each other. Gluddle is brought to your iPad,-pod and -phone courtesy of Creative Heroes. It was by created by Richard van Tol and Sander Huiberts. It is fun. Major Fun. It will make you laugh. It will keep you playing. It will make you laugh some more.
If you were looking for an electronic game to exemplify why the Major Fun seal was created, you’d need look no further than Hasbro’s Bop It! SMASH. It’s very easy to learn how to play. You don’t have to read the instructions, you don’t even have to take it out of the package it comes in. You, as the package so clearly indicates, simply smash both ends at once. That’s it. That’s all you need to know.