Märchenland, and told me that I really needed to work on my storytelling skills!
The aim of the game is to collect all four story tiles from three different fairy tales before any other player. To do this you roll the die and move around the board turning over the number of story tiles indicated on the space you land on. A player who rolls a magic wand must switch places with another player, the same applies for a player who lands on the magic wand space. If a player rolls a number that would mean they land exactly on the same space as another player before the gingerbread house they have to remain one space behind the other player, but if they roll this after passing the gingerbread house they are able to force their opponent to go back to the start.
This game is a good opportunity to tell a few stories, but you might not want to invite Aunt Jean to play if there are little kids around – she’s likely to tell the slightly more gory versions of the stories written by the Brothers Grimm, rather than the lovely, romantic Disney versions of each story. It’s a good memory game, and is relatively quick, with very few rules so can be easily learnt and played by players of mixed ages. I would recommend it.
Happy Fifth Day of Christmas! We hope no one in your house is bored of their presents yet!
Lotti Karotti – and asked if we could eat more vegetables in the next few days to help counteract the Christmas binge!
There are hardly any rules for this game. Basically everyone has four rabbits, and it’s a race up the mountain to get to the big carrot. You take it in turns to draw a card to see what your action is, for instance, how many spaces you can move, or whether you need to twist the carrot, and you then perform that action. If you get a “twist the carrot” card this will cause several spaces on the board to change from normal space to open hole. If your rabbit falls through one it’s lost and gone forever! The first player to reach the carrot wins.
It’s a pretty nifty little game; it encourages kids to think a little bit ahead to try and make sure their rabbit doesn’t get swallowed, whilst being really nice and straightforward to play. I’d say yes, it’s great for Christmas if you’ve got little kids, as it can both interest and occupy them. It’s also so simple that even Aunt Jean can get involved! To add extra hilarity, you could get all the players to talk like Bugs Bunny for the duration of the game!
All six racing snails are placed on their colour on the board and players place bets on which two snails they think will come first and last in the race, respectively. Players then take it in turns to roll the dice and move the snail of the colour shown one space forward on the board. Generally two snails will be moved, as the dice will show different colours, however one snail will be moved forward two spaces if the dice show the same colour when they’re rolled. This continues until all snails have finished the race.The winner is the player who guessed most accurately the winning and losing snails.
Yes! This game is great for everyone because there is no strategy or tactic to it; it’s not about skill, it’s about guessing and getting lucky with the dice rolls! Plus it would be funny to see Aunt Jean get frustrated over the apparent lack of any kind of method to the game, the very existence of it will upset her delicate world-view, which will add entertainment value to the overall experience of the game. Because every player has to guess which snails will win and lose you could make it interesting (if there are no kids playing) by placing bets on your snails to add a little edge to the game. After all, it’s Christmas, and there should be plenty of sweets around that could be used as chips.
Happy Third Day of Christmas! I hope you’re still trying to eat your way through the Christmas dinner leftovers and haven’t even thought about cooking anything fresh for the last few days!
Scwarzer Peter (Black Peter/Old Maid) and a book about German robbers and thieves.
The whole deck of cards is shuffled and then dealt out between all the players. Each player then looks through their cards and removes any pairs they already have in their hand and lays them on the table in front of them. Once this is done players take it in turns to draw one card at random from one other player and see if it makes a pair. Once all pairs have been laid down the player left with the Black Peter card is the loser.
Yes! It’d be a good way of keeping the kids calm and in one place whilst you get dinner going, or out of the oven. Aunt Jean could even be enlisted to help play as it’s simple enough that she can’t get confused. This game would be a good stocking-filler for the kids as it’s pocket-sized. It can also be played with up to 6 players (when playing with one deck of cards) so it’s good for those times when there’s a group of people together!
Happy Second Day of Christmas! Keep playing games, keep eating sweets, keep opening presents and keep reading about our Christmas games!
Teddy Memory – and suggested that I work on my memory before buying him another present…
This game is just Pairs, but under a cuter name. Very simple and straightforward. You shuffle all the cards and lay them face-down on the table/floor/whatever surface you’re playing on. Then the first player picks two cards and turns them face up. If they’re the same that player gets to keep them and takes another turn. If they’re different they have to be turned over again and play passes to the next player on the left. The winner is the person with the most pairs when all the cards have been picked up.
Well, why not? It’s a nice easy game that can be played by any number of people (provided you have enough cards and a big enough table or floor). It’s also fantastic for all ages because it forces you to exercise your memory muscles! Brain-active games have been shown to help prevent Alzheimer’s, so get all the oldies playing with the kids and then everyone can have healthier brains! It’s definitely a social game too, so Aunt Jean (see Twelve Games of Christmas – 2013) won’t be able to complain that no one wants to spend any time with her! (Unless of course she doesn’t want to play the game and then, well, what can you do?)
Anyone who was reading this blog as far back as 2013 will already have a feel for how these posts go. The only difference really is that this year they’re all kids/family games rather than just any game we really liked during the year.
Merry Christmas everyone! Play many games and bring joy and game-related arguments to all your family and friends!
Go back to whichever hole you jumped out of and leave us alone!
What do you call a happy rabbit? A hop-timist! (Not the place for bad rabbit jokes? Okay…)
Lotti Karotti(the German name for the game, the English is Funny Bunny) is a simple and fun game in which you race against the other players’ rabbits, and hop that little bit faster than everyone else!
What’s In The Box:
Three-dimensional playing board
Deck of action cards
4 x 4 coloured rabbits
Playing The Game:
Objective: To get one of your rabbits to the big carrot faster than anyone else.
To begin the game the deck of action cards should be shuffled and placed face-down at the side of the board and the carrot should be twisted until there are no holes showing in the board. Next each player should choose a colour of rabbit to be from the four available. As it doesn’t say in the rules who plays first we just did Rock, Paper, Scissors for it. Once a first player has been determined they draw the first card from the deck and turn it face up on the table. They then perform the action on the card which will be either, hop 1, 2 or 3 spaces, or twist the carrot.
Normally players will place a rabbit onto the first, second or third spot on the board on their first turn. This normally creates a que of rabbits, like this:
If this happens and the player in the middle or the back turns over a card that tells them to hop they are allowed to jump over any number of rabbits that are adjacent to them to get to the next empty space. Like this:
When the carrot is turned it causes holes to open up at different points on the board. If one of your rabbits is on a hole when it is opened by another player (or yourself) it falls underneath the board and is immediately out of the game. Likewise if a hole is opened next to where one of your rabbits is and you turn up a card saying to hop one space you also have to hop into the hole, you cannot hop over it.
Winning The Game:
The first player to get a rabbit to the top of the carrot is the winner.
It’s not really possible to have a strategy for this game. This time round that we played it all my rabbits ended up in underneath the board and there was absolutely nothing I could have done about it. I would say just try and get your first rabbit as far along the board as possible. But otherwise don’t think it through too much, because it’s a game of chance with the cards really.
History and Interesting Things:
Between 2001 – 2002 this game was recommended for two awards and won 1.
I have absolutely nothing else interesting to write here.
As kids games go this is pretty great. It doesn’t involve any complicated thinking but also, because of the nature of the ‘carrot’ cards, doesn’t get boring either. It’s a good quick play for children of all ages with a cute theme.
This a favorite to say to children when they’re obviously making something up instead of telling the truth, but this game is all about fairy tales!
What’s In The Box:
36 Story Tiles
4 Player Pawns
Playing The Game:
Objective: To collect all four parts of the as many fairy tales as possible.
This game is pretty simple. You start by shuffling all the story tiles and laying them out, face-down, on the four gridded areas of the board. Each player then chooses a colour and places their token on the start space. In this game the youngest player starts.
The first player then rolls the die and moves that number of spaces forward. Each circle that you can land on has a number in it (with the exception of the magic wand, which I’ll explain after), when you land on a circle you can turn over that number of story tiles and look at them. The first tile you turn over becomes the story that you’re trying to collect; after that when you turn over a tile you have to put it back if it doesn’t match your story. When you turn over a tile you have to show it to all the other players. This means that if you turn over a tile that belongs to a story another player is collecting it’s then easy for them to pick it up if they’ve a good memory. So the first time you land on a space you’re almost definitely going to pick up a tile that becomes your story, unless, weirdly, you manage to pick up a tile from a story that one of your opponents has just collected.
Until you pass the gingerbread house players cannot land on the same space as each other. They are allowed to pass each other if they roll a high enough number on the die, but if they roll a number that would allow them to land on the same space as another player they must remain one space behind. After passing the gingerbread house this rule changes and if a player lands on the same space as another player the unlucky other player has to go back to the start.
The only thing really left to explain is the magic wand symbol. This is on one space on the bottom of the board and on one side of the die. If this is rolled or landed on, the player whose turn it is has to swap places with another player. Now, if you’re lagging behind a bit and would really like to be up front where the others are, then you’re lucky if you roll this, however, if you’re doing well and roll this and the only options for places you can swap to are spaces that allow you to turn over 1 tile you’re probably not going to be so happy.
Winning The Game:
To win the game a player must collect all four story tiles from three stories before the other players. This means that players can keep going around the board for as long as is necessary to achieve this goal.
Have a good memory. A big part of the game is remembering where a tile is when another player turns over a tile that you need. This can enable you to win very quickly if you get lucky with the other players turning over tiles you need instead of ones that they need. It’s also good to keep an eye on one other story that no one else is collecting as a potential for your next story, as if you already know where two or three of the next story tiles are when you finish collecting the first one you’re likely to get ahead. Other than that this game is mostly luck of the roll and hoping that your opponents don’t roll magic wands if you’re in a good position.
Märchenland translates to Fairy Land in English, though this isn’t a literal translation.
The Brothers Grimm were academics who were born in the late 18th century and specialized in collecting and publishing folklore during the early-mid 19th century.
Many of their stories are very commonly know still, although they are more commonly known in their romanticized, Disney form than in the form originally written in, which tended to be a little more gory and with slightly less happy endings.
During the 1930’s and 40’s the many of the stories were used as propaganda by the Third Reich.
The way the Gimm’s collected and rewrote stories before publishing them was regarded at the time by many to not be an accurate collection of the stories. However, this method of collecting folklore and legends has since been used throughout Europe.
As a result of the use of the book Kinder – und Hausmärchen Nazi party it was actually banned in Germany for a short time when the country was occupied by the allied forces after the war.
I rated this game 4.5 because although I really like it and would definitely recommend it I think there’s not enough to it. If I were going to suggest an improvement to the game I would suggest that the stories that go with each set of tiles has to be told whilst they are being collected, or something similar. That way the game is an opportunity to do some creative storytelling as well as have a bit of fun.
Sphinx is a simple game for kids which incorporates the popular mythological creature. The Sphinx is a widely recognize creature; a lion with the head of a man. The most famous Sphinx in the world is the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt, which stands near the Great Pyramids of Giza on the west bank of the Nile. In popular mythology the Sphinx is a wise being which often demands the answer to a riddle. when this answer is given incorrectly the Sphinx eats the unfortunate person who couldn’t answer. However, the mini Sphinxes in this game are much less vicious.
What’s In The Box:
3 6-sided dice, one with a double snake image on one side
6 Sphinxes with different coloured bases
4 player tokens
6 coloured Sphinx cards
1 Rule book (not in the picture as someone was reading it at the time)
Playing the Game:
Objective: To collect the right coloured Sphinx cards and present them before the Sphinxes to collect the treasure.
Okay, that’s not a hugely clear way of writing the objective, but that’s why we write the rest of the post!
To begin the game each player chooses a token and places it on the square on the board with an arrow on it. The six Sphinxes are then randomly placed on each of the six squares with a Sphinx image on it. If you’re playing with less than four players you should remove the appropriate number of Sphinx cards from the stack by the side of the board so that there is one for each player. In this game the youngest player starts, and play then continues clockwise round the board.
To begin your turn you roll all three dice. In this game you do not total the number shown on the dice, instead you take each die as an independent section of your turn, in whichever order you choose. If you pass another player you can take a Sphinx card that you need from them. However you cannot take a card that you already have, if a player has Sphinx cards, but you already have all of them, they have to return one to the stack and recollect it.
An interesting thing about this game is the flexibility with which you can take each turn, when you move forward with the number on one die, you can then move backwards using the number on the next die.
Note:you cannot move forward an backward on the same number. For example I couldn’t split a five on one die into two three squares forward, one square back, I would have to move either five squares forward or backwards.
Okay, take this picture as an example of how I might take my turn. Say I’m green and I’ve just rolled a 2, 3 and 5. I could then proceed as follows: I could go forward two squares and collect the beige Sphinx card (to collect a card you can either land on, or pass over the correct square), I could then proceed a further five squares along in the same direction as I was previously going. This would pass me over a mummy hand, doing this means that I can look at the base of any one of the six Sphinxes on the board to know which colour it is. In addition to that, I also have to spin the section of board that I’ve landed on. It’s not clear in this picture, but some of the sections of wall in the maze are small 2×2 square turntables. If a player ends one of their moves on one of theses, they have to rotate it 180 degrees; if another player is on the next square, or the other side of the same wall section, they are also rotated. Lastly I have a 3 to use up, I can then go in whichever direction I choose, three either direction takes me to another turntable.
Oaky, so that’s how you would play a turn. Lastly, there’s a double-snake symbol on one of the sides of one of the dice. When this is rolled the player who rolls it has to swap one of the Sphinx from the center of the board with one of those situated down the right-hand side. When doing this they are not allowed to look at the base of either of the Sphinxes; that can only be done when a player passes over, or lands on a mummy hand.
Winning The Game!
To win the game a player must correctly discover (or guess) the colours and order of the three Sphinxes in the center of the board and proceed to the first Sphinx and present the correctly coloured Sphinx cards.
The optimistic player must then announce to all other players which Sphinx they think has each colour. They then look, without showing any other player what the colours are and announce whether they are right or wrong. If they are right they then show the Sphinx bases to all the other players. If they are wrong they remove their playing piece from the board, and stay quiet whilst everyone else keeps playing. The first player to get to the middle with the right Sphinx cards in the right order wins.
This is a pretty simple game, aimed at kids aged 8+. The only thing I really want to say in terms of strategy is that if you roll a double snake, the best thing to do on that turn is to try and pass over a mummy hand with your other two numbers, before swapping any of the Sphinxes. If you do this then you can look at one of the Sphinxes from the edge of the board, and then move that one into a space in the middle. When you do this you’re actually making it easier for you to win the game as you’ve played a Sphinx that you already know the colour of. Don’t forget that you have to collect Sphinx cards though, I generally try and pass over as many Sphinx cards as possible on my way around the board, as I can then proceed very quickly to the treasure in the middle once I’ve worked out the colours of the Sphinxes.
History and Interesting Things:
The word Sphinx was derived from the Greek word spingein, meaning to bind or squeeze, by Greek grammarians . However, the etymology of the word is unrelated to the legends that surround the creature, and therefore dubious.
The earliest Greek author to mention the creature was Hesiod, and he called it Phix.
The most famous Sphinx legend features the Winged Sphinx of Boeotian Thebes. This Sphinx was said to have terrorized people by demanding the answer to the following riddle, “What has one voice, but becomes four-footed, two-footed and three-footed?” and devouring anyone who answered incorrectly. Upon being given the correct answer: a man who crawls on four legs as an infant, walks on two when grown and leans on a staff in old age, she kills herself. Talk about a drama queen.
It is from this legend that the belief that Sphinxes are omniscient apparently arose.
The Great Sphinx of Giza is known by the Arabs as “Father of Terror”.
Although most images of the Sphinx don’t have enough information with them for their function or symbolism to be known it is generally believed that the Sphinx served a protective function.
Sphinxes were commonly carved with the heads of pharaohs on them.
Okay, I know this is only seven points, but there’s actually so much that can be read about Sphinxes in different parts of the world, in legend and in artistic representation and interpretation that I can’t go through more of it without my brain turning into jelly!
This game is great. It’s complicated enough to be a challenge; the three-section turn means you have to think a little more tactically that if you simply moved the entire dice roll in one go. But simple enough that you can’t really get into any arguments about the rules or anything like that. It’s also a good memory game for children as in discovering the pattern of colours of the central Sphinxes they have to remember which Sphinx had which colour, and they have to be aware when Sphinxes are moved. This is challenging for children (and some adults) and encourages the development of focus, concentration and the short-term memory.
I rated this five because, in addition to the well-structured nature of the game, the box is also great. Every piece has a place and it’s tidy and efficient.
Schwarzer Peter is the German version of Old Maid. As I was unable to find accurate dates for Schwarzer Peter, I have here included the details for Old Maid instead.
What’s In The Box:
One deck of cards!
Playing The Game:
Objective: To have the most pairs at the end of the game, and not be holding the black cat card.
To begin the game the deck is thoroughly shuffled and the entire deck is dealt out to the players. Players then find all pairs that they have in their hand and place them on the table like this:
Once every player has finished laying down their pairs they take it in turns to take one card at random from one other player. When playing with two this means you will always (unless you draw the Black Peter card) manage to make a pair.
Winning The Game!
Once all the pairs have been made the player left with the Black Peter card is the loser, and the player with the most pairs is the winner. In the event that the player with the most pairs is also holding the Black Peter card, the player with the next highest number of pairs is announced the winner.
There’s little to be said for strategy in this game. It’s generally chance as to whether or not you will be dealt the Black Peter at the beginning or will draw it from another player. When playing with two players you both know from the beginning which of you has the Black Peter, but this doesn’t actually make much difference, in that the second player can still accidentally draw it on their turn. You just have to hope to get lucky.
History and Interesting Things:
Although there are many different published decks of cards with nice illustrations on them for playing this game it can also easily be played with a regular deck of cards.
The name Schwarzer Peter is thought to be reminiscent of a comrade of Schinderhannes, the robber Johann Peter Petri, who was also known as Black Peter. It’s thought that the game originated in his prison years, from 1811 onward, however, the true origin is probably older.
Old Maidis a Victorian card game, for 2+ players, believed to have been derived from a drinking game, in which the loser buys the next round/pays for the drinks.
It is known by many different names; Schwarzer Peter in Germany, Svarte Petter in Sweden, Svarteper in Norway, Sorteper in Denmark, Fekete Péter in Hungary, Musta Pekka in Finland, Asino in Italy, Le Pouilleux in France and Babnuki in Japan.
There is an English variation of the game, known as Scabby Queen which is played with a standard 52-card deck in which the loser has an additional punishment, on top of losing the game. When played with a standard deck of cards the odd card is usually a queen and the punishment inflicted in this game is this:
When the loser (the player with the single remaining queen) is found, the deck of cards, including the remaining queen but not the jokers, is shuffled and the loser cuts the deck. The card on the bottom of the pile they picked up then decides their “punishment”. If a red card (heart or diamond) is chosen, then the player is rapped on the back of the hand with the deck. If a black card (spades or clubs) is chosen, then he has the entire deck scraped across his knuckles (known as snipes. A skilled player can draw blood with the opening ‘snipe’). The number of times this is performed is decided by the value of the card. Cards 2-10 carry face value, jacks and kings have a value of 10, aces are 11 and queens are 21. Be aware that this can rip the skin of your hands, and can be extremely painful, hence the name Scabby Queen. It is also better to use old or cheap cards, as the cards can also be damaged (cheap and older cards also tend to be softer and more bendable, so the “punishment” is less severe). However, today the game is often played without this punishment, especially where the pain inflicted is not considered appropriate by the players (such as when parents are playing with their children), though the game is still called scabby queen. As with all playground games, the rules are often lost in translation and regional variations are common (school-specific rule-sets are not unusual). Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Please note that this variation of the game is rarely played now.
It’s a good game for families, it teaches kids to identify matching pairs, as well as providing a learning opportunity if you’re using an animal deck. You can get the children to identify different types of animal in their masculine and feminine forms (if they have them) and also what the babies are called. On top of that the game is very straightforward, so it’s hard to get confused when playing it. I rated this 5 because there’s nothing I would change about it.
The simplest and yet often the most frustrating of games!
Connect 4is a popular game played most often by children of primary school age (7-11). It has a very simple your-turn-my-turn game play and can be quite frustrating if your opponent keeps winning.
What’s In The Box:
1 Fold-out game grid
21 yellow and red counters
Playing The Game:
Objective: To create a line of four of your counters either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, before your opponent.
This game is incredibly simple in its original form. The yellow player takes the first turn, and places one of their counters into the top of any column on the grid, this then falls to the bottom, taking a position on the lowest line on the grid. The red player then follows suit.
The game continues in this manner, with players each dropping counters into whichever column they like, until either one player has succeeded in creating a line of four, or both players have run out of counters.
Winning The Game!
Winning the game is simple, and would look like this:
This game is one of a group of games that can always be won by the first player, provided they play correctly. Strategically the best starting position for the first player is the central column, as from there they can choose to play on either side of grid whilst knowing that they’ll be connected to their other counters. I generally play to block off my opponent at every turn, whilst simultaneously trying to create a position in which I can create two lines of four, meaning that my opponent, at that point, cannot stop me from winning.
History and Interesting Things:
The game was first sold under this name by Milton Bradley in February of 1974, but is also known by these names: Captain’s Mistress, Four Up, Plot Four, Find Four, Four in a Row, Four in a Line and Gravitaps (Soviet Union)
The game is a Solvedgame, meaning that its outcome can be correctly predicted from any position, assuming that both player play perfectly.
The game has been mathematically solved by several different people, the first of whom was James Dow Allen on October 1st, 1988.
There are several different variations of the game; Pop Out, Pop 10, 5-in-a-Row and Power Up. They can be read about in more detail here.
Hasbroproduces various sized outdoor versions of the game, the largest of which is built from weather-resistant wood, and measures 120cm in width and height.
A rumor that the game was created by David Bowie was started by NME broadcaster and reporter Stuart Maconie which then became an urban myth.
Another version of the game, Connect 4 Twist & Turn was published by Winning Movesin 2015. This version features a game tower instead of a grid, with five rings that twist independently. The objective, to create a row of four of your colour disc, is the same, however as a player can choose to twist a ring after they’ve played a disc a new level of strategy is added to the game.
Look at that! I managed to find quite a few interesting things about this game!
This game is great, as a child I loved it (and am still good at it). I rated it 4.5 instead of 5 because of the problem where the first player can always win. Although there’s not much that can be done about it in the original form of the game it doesn’t still make the game technically unfair. Aside from that though, I have nothing to complain about, the game is great for kids as it makes them think a little tactically, plus, it’s simple enough that it can be learnt in a few minutes. I’d say that this a game to have in the house if you’ve got children, especially as it’s easy to tidy up due to not having lots of tiny pieces.