Update – Sorry We Fail!

Due to holidayness we have failed to play enough games to do all the reviews! My sister’s gone wandering across Europe and I’m about to go wandering across Wales. So I must apologise that we will not be able to publish our reviews as promised in the June Update post. But we will review Trivial Pursuit and Know it All in July; as well as the Kids Games month we had planned. But until early-mid July it’s unlikely we’ll achieve anything.

I take great solace in the fact that I doubt anyone really cares but great pride in the fact that probably more anyones care than those that would have cared around 5 months ago!

Anywa;y I hope you all have wonderful holidays planned, with plenty of games and craziness! So this is goodbye for at least two weeks or so… Hopefully less, but I make no promises.

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Taboo

4 - 5

Number of Players: 4 – 10

Year of Publication: 1989

Creator(s): Brian Hersch (designer), René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo (artists)

NO. FLAILING COUNTS AS CHEATING.

Taboo is an absolutely hilarious game, even more so when you play with people you know really well. It’s only kind of a quiz game, in that it’s not actually about how much stuff you know, it’s about your ability to describe.

What’s In The Box:

The Stuff.
The Stuff.
  1. 1 Rulebook
  2. 1 Taboo Easel
  3. 1 Really Annoying “Nuh-Uh” Button
  4. 1 Score Pad
  5. 2 Reversible Word Decks
  6. 1 Timer
  7. 1 Pencil
  8. 1 Die

Playing The Game:

Objective: To get more points than your opponent by accurately describing more words to your team.

This game’s pretty simple, essentially you just divide up into teams, and then take it in turns to do some describing. You choose one player from your team to describe, and one to guess. The describer then places one card up on the easel, like this:

This is how you put the cards you're describing.
This is how you put the cards you’re describing.

As you can see, there are four colours on each card, which is great, is allows you to play four different games, and the colours have different kinds of words on them. We were playing to describe the green words, so the deck is placed accordingly face-down inside the easel and only one card at a time is revealed. Once the top card is turned up it’s the job of the describer to describe the word in such a way that their partner can guess it. BUT, they aren’t allowed to say the word on the card, or any of the words underneath it. These are “Taboo” words, and saying any of these causes you to give away a point to your opponents, as does passing because of the difficulty of a word to describe. They’re also not allowed to say the letter that the word begins with, or make explicit gestures.

Whilst you’re doing this you sit with one of the players from the other team; they’re given the annoying “Nuh-Uh” button and if you say anything you shouldn’t, they hit it so everyone knows you’ve made a mistake. For every word your partner guesses correctly, you get one point. Every time you finish a word, either because it’s been correctly guessed, passed or you said a Taboo word, you then flip up another card, trying to get through as many as possible per turn. The timer is used to regulate turns, each team is only allowed to turn it over once per turn and when it runs out your turn is over.

There is a second, slightly different version of this game, wherein the die is used. The only difference this makes is that at the start of each turn the describer has to roll the die, and then slightly different conditions apply. For instance, this side of the die means that the player describing must sit still like a statue:

Sit on your hands! (I also appreciate that the quality of this photo is terrible - Dave's away so these photos were done on my phone)
Sit on your hands! (I also appreciate that the quality of this photo is terrible – Dave’s away so these photos were done on my phone)

The die does make the game slightly more interesting, but can be frustrating if you continually forget to roll or only get that face showing…

 

Winning The Game:

Points are scored how I said above, players pre-determine how many rounds or sections of the deck are going to be played before play starts. Once that number of cards has run out, the game is over, and the winner is the team left with the most points!

 Strategy:

I can’t really figure one for this game, don’t waste your time waving your arms around? Try and partner up with someone who thinks similarly to you, sometimes you get a word that you can make an obscure film or song reference to, to help your partner guess it. But that’s no help if they’ve no idea what you’re on about!

History and Interesting Things:

  1. There was a game show based on Taboo, hosted by Chris Wylde, in 2002.
  2. In 2010, Cassandra Dominguez scored a record of 38 points in a four-round game at the World Board Gamers Convention.
  3. The buzzer for the game featured on the Special Project episode of The Office.
  4. Originally there was a board with the game, like in Tension, but this is no longer in the current editions of the game.

As far as history goes, that’s about it, it was only published in 1989, so not very long ago. It’s been on the radio and appeared in a few different TV shows, but other than that it’s not got much to say for itself.

 To Conclude:

Taboo is a great game, a lot of fun, very light hearted and generally very silly. Like most games, it’s more fun with more people. Also, the fact that the rules explicitly say that you’re allowed to burst into song to help your partner guess a word really appeals to our family.

Tension

4 - 5 Strike Thro

2.5 - 5

Number of Players: 2+ (team play)

Year of Publication: 1992

Publishers: Cheatwell Games and Drumond Park Ltd.

There Was Much Tension:

Tension is an interesting game, in the sense that it says; “NO! Not all answers to this question are right… Only the ones that I randomly preordain as right will score you points”. So. You end up getting angry at it because you name every James Bond film except for the ones written on the card.

What’s In The Box:

The Stuff!
The Stuff!
  1. The game board.
  2. 1 Orange and 1 Purple deck of Quiz cards.
  3. Pad of scoring sheets.
  4. Two playing pieces.
  5. Sand timer.
  6. Rules book.
  7. Two pencils.

Playing The Game:

Objective: To be the first player/team to reach the ‘Tension’ marker in the middle of the board.
The starting setup.
The starting setup.

Each player/team places their piece at the start, then the opposite team draws a card of choice (either purple or orange). They write the title of the card on their score sheet (you are effectively keeping score for the other team). Then they read out the title of the card and flip the timer over. The other team has until the timer runs out to guess as many of the ten things written on that card, that fall into that category – for example “James bond Films”, “Madonna Hits” or “British Inventions” – as possible. The team who reads the card out ticks off each one they get right on the score card until the time is up. The team then gets to moves the amount of spaces they got right. The colour of the square they are now on dictates the colour of the next card that will be drawn for them. They then do the same

for the other team.

The additional factors are the question mark squares and the whirlpool squares:

  • Question mark squares – The player must guess how many answers they are going to get right before the title of the card is read. If they get at least that many right they may move the amount the guessed (and no more) forward, if they get less than what they guessed they have to move the amount they guessed backwards. The colour of the card they get for these squares is chosen by the other team.
  • Whirlpool squares – If you land on one of these at the end of your move, the move you just made is immediately made again e.g. if you moved 7 and ended on a whirlpool you get to move 7 again straight away.

The player to reach the middle of the board first wins!

Strategy:

Possible strategy to this game is limited but here are a few things:

  1. BE REALLY SMART OR PICK THE SMART PERSON TO BE ON YOUR TEAM – Basically knowing a lot about a lot of things is helpful… As in all quiz games.
  2. TACTICALLY TRY TO HIT WHIRLPOOLS – If you can think fast enough you can try to hit Whirlpools intentionally. For example if you know you need eight to land on one, stop guessing once you know you’ve got eight right, because they you’ll move sixteen over all.
  3. TACTICALLY TRY TO MISS QUESTION MARKS – Try to miss question marks by making sure you get more or less than the amount needed to land on one.

History and Interesting Things:

There is almost no history to be found on this game except that there are two editions of the game; the first one published in 1992 as Tension: The Crazy Naming Game and the second edition published more recently as Tension:The Zany Crazy Naming game, this is the edition we have which has more up to date topics/answers than the original.

To Conclude:

This could be a very good game; it’s easy to see how the concept could be expanded to make it more of a board game as well. You could add more of a maze type board and directional options that allow you to choose between which type of cards you’re more likely to get given. This would make it less based on just knowing stuff – yeah I know it’s a quiz game, but it could be that and so much more. Also some of the cards are a bit questionable as to who could possible guess those 10 answers correctly, like this one:

IMAG2619
The one that can’t be read because of the flash is “Swiss Cheese”.

Not only is the question so broad it literally has millions of answers but the 10 answers picked to be “the chosen few” are mostly ridiculous! If the questions where a little better devised and the general game design a little more complex it could be a very good game. Additionally I see no real reason why it needs to be only two players/teams, apart from the fact that the teams/players who aren’t guessing or reading are sitting around doing nothing… But that’s true of most board games ever… If it’s not your turn, you’re not doing anything.

It does have the advantage that it’s easy to play, quite quick, and a good laugh, so it’s not all bad… It could just be so much better!

The UK Games Expo!

So on Saturday the 31st of May we went to the UK Games Expo in Birmingham. It was amazing! We’d been debating about going for all three days, but decided to go just for the day as we were unsure if it would be worth it or not. On reflection we can say it’s definitely worth going for the full thing and we will be going for all three days next year! Anyway, being the proud owners of a video camera we took that with us and videoed some bits; here’s what happened:

Because it was in Birmingham it was a LONG day; we left our house in London at 5am and got home at 11pm, give or take a bit, and all that for only six hours or so at the Expo.

The Biggest Problem With The Expo Was Staying Rich!

All the things we bought!
All the things we bought! And the programs.

We bought three board games, some surplus canvas boards that looked cool and a whole load of games pieces. Now that may not seem like much but actually that was about £100 worth of stuff… Totally worth it. Especially as all the games are AMAZING! The Firefly game is quickly becoming my new favorite game!

Chris Barrie Was There:

As you may have noticed from the video (if you watched it) Chris Barrie was there, who is famous for portraying this man/hologram:

So that was really cool as I’m a HUGE Red Dwarf fan!

What I Realised…

…Was that there are WAY more people into board games than I thought. There’s a lot of people doing really cool stuff and developing really really cool games. Like the Ragnar Brothers who are in the throes of developing a really cool looking card game called Steam Donkey, having had a little help from Kickstarter. That will definitely be a game we’ll be getting and reviewing once its released.

To Conclude:

The Games Expo was AMAZING and we’re definitely going back next year. Also if you live in the UK and like that kind of think I can’t recommend it enough.

Mastermind

3 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: 1971

Creator(s): Mordecai Meirowitz (designer)

I’m The Real Mastermind:

It’s completely possible, and quite likely, that the first thing that comes to mind upon hearing the word Mastermind is the TV Quiz Show, and although there is a board game of this, this is not it. This game of Mastermind pre-dates the TV show (by 1 year) and is a very simple, quick and fun game that anyone can pick up. But I want it noted here that the version featuring in our photos is in fact the Junior Mastermind, version of the game produced for children, featuring small, brightly coloured jungle animals as the pieces and having only three holes across for the code, rather than 4.

What’s In The Box:

You can probably tell that we're missing some of the pieces...
You can probably tell that we’re missing some of the pieces…
  1. Green jungle playing board
  2. Rocky mountain section (used to hide the code)
  3. An assortment of 6 coloured animals
  4. 15 red creatures and 15 white creatures (supposedly)

Playing The Game:

Objective: to crack your opponents code before you run out of pieces, or to create a code that your opponent cannot crack.

To start the game you choose one player to be the code-maker, and one to be the code-breaker; then you position the board accordingly. The code-maker then takes a minute or two to secretly decide what the code’s going to be and put the pegs (or in our case little animals) in the shielded section of the board. After this, play starts.

It’s now the job of the code-breaker to pick out pegs (or animals), and position them on their side of the board in the order that they think the code is. The code-maker then uses their red or white creatures to signal which, if any, of these guess are right. To be right a piece must have both the correct position in the code (i.e. central, left or right hand end, from the point of view of the code-maker) and be the right colour.

So the first turn of the game might look something like this:

And they're all wrong
And they’re all wrong

Play continues in this manner until the either the code is cracked, or you’ve played to the end of the board. Like this:

And Dave wins
And Dave wins

Winning The Game:

Traditionally this game is played in rounds; the players decide before starting how many rounds are going to be played (always and even number) with the roles of code-maker and code-breaker alternating every round. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of this. Points are scored by the code-maker. S/he gets one point for each guess the code-breaker makes, and is given an extra point if the code-breaker doesn’t manage to accurately guess the entire code in their last move. Points are kept track of across the rounds and added up at the end.

Strategy:

For the Junior version of this game there isn’t a great deal of strategy required, but for the adult version (which has a four-peg code, rather than three, and one more option for indicating yes or no to part of a code) you can be a little more logical about it. Unless you’re a mathematician (which I’m definitely not, but the internet’s a wonderful place to learn things) you probably won’t be able to work out in your head the maths that accompanies this game, but the most important thing to remember is that duplicates are allowed in the code.

History and Interesting Things:

  1. The modern game, played with pegs, closely resembles a pen and paper game called Bulls and Cows that may be over a century old.
  2. The rights to the game have been held by Invicta Plastics since 1971, initially they manufactured it themselves, but have since licensed it to Hasbro, Pressman Toys and Orda Industries for production across the world.
  3. The 1973 edition of the game features a well-dressed white man sitting in the foreground with an attractive Asian woman standing behind him. Bill Woodward and Cecilia Fung reunited in 2003 after 30 years to pose for another publicity photo.
  4. In a standard set of the game, allowing a four-peg code, with six colour options, there are 1,296 different possible code patterns (including, and allowing for duplicates).
  5. In 1977 Donald Knuth showed that the code-breaker can solve in a maximum of five moves, using this algorithm.
  6. There have been computer versions of the game produced, as well as multiple different editions released.
  7. The difficulty level of the game is altered simply by changing the number of pegs allowed for the code, or the way in which the code-maker indicates a correct or incorrect guess.

To Conclude:

I like Mastermind a lot, it’s a simple game that’s good for burning time or just chilling out, it doesn’t require a lot of concentration, and it doesn’t take long to play. I’d strongly recommend teaching it to kids too, the length of time it takes to play is well-suited to the generally shorter attention span of kids. But don’t let the really little ones get their hands on it – swallowing one of those pieces could end really badly!

Update June – 2014

So this month is going to be Quiz Games (with the exception of the first game). I’m not a huge fan of Quiz Games because I consider myself a man who knows quite a lot about quite a lot of things… But just not any of the answers to any Quiz question asked EVER. I might see how it goes by keeping a tally of how many questions I collectively get right across the four Quiz games we do and publish it in the next Update post. Anyway, these are the games we’re doing:

Games for June: – Quiz Games

Monday the 2nd – Mastermind

Monday the 9th – Tension

Monday the 16th – Taboo

Monday the 23rd – Trivial Pursuit 

Monday the 30th – Know it All

Other Things to Note:

  • We’re going on holiday! This coming month is when we’re both going on holiday; my sister is away for the best part of a month and I’m away for a few weeks in that time as well. So the posts that go up may be boring and short because we have no time. Additionally it’s possible something may be late or missed but, we’re trying to avoid that.
  • The board game cake my sister made for Scrabble went down quite well as a post, so we might try to do a board game cake a month starting from next month or whenever we have the time.
  • Time sucks! We have so many ideas and plans but NO TIME! Which I’m sure is a problem most people most places suffer from, but we’re working on cool things in regards to videos, our own game developments and just playing as many games as possible but unfortunately we’re doing them all so slowly it almost hurts. One day all cool things will surface!
  • Don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to us on YouTube.