Published on November 23rd, 2008 | by Greg0
Board Games o’ Plenty: GameWright
We'll be taking a break shortly for Thanksgiving, but before we do, we wanted to share the results of our month-long gaming marathon. Fought nightly in between testing other items, we looked at around a dozen board games, most of them pretty new. Some of them are aimed at families, others at groups, and a few of them at more specific audiences- but almost any of them would make a good gift for the appropriate person, because pretty much all of them were fun!
We'll start off with a few from GameWright. They sent us Captain Clueless:Lost in the Carribean, which works best in a group of 6-8 (maybe on a cruise ship), though is playable with 4 people. It's a cute idea- basically one player draws lines with a dry-erase marker across a board while blindfolded, listening to teammates give clues and hints to direct them around obstacles and to various ports. Two teams compete, and you can guess where it goes from there. It sounds a bit more fun than it is- we weren't certain that it had enough depth for replayability- but it is pretty good for families, and doesn't take too long. And the included "blindfolds" are really cute!
Tiki Topple, also from GW, is also a family-oriented game that works well with younger kids. A Mensa Select Winner, the game is complicated enough to confuse on first glance, but actually isn't too tough. This is a game focused on cards and plastic tikis that are kind of neutral markers- they also represent the goals, as each player (2-4) is trying to arrange them in specific ways. Again, it doesn't have a ton of staying power, and the strategies might seem pretty obvious to an adult. But it isn't violent, it looks and feels nice, and is surprisingly absorbing once you sit down and start playing with tikis!
Finally, there's Castle Keep, which was a favorite here. Maybe it's just the medieval theme, or similarities to some nostalgic games (anyone tried Waterworks?) It's really simple to play, doesn't take very long, and though is aimed at families and younger folks, it pretty compelling for an older group as well. The Advanced rule set adds some neat twists if you get bored with the basic version. The castles you build are small (3×3), and there is a lot of randomness built in, but it still gets our pick for the sheer fun of the concept and for working well with only 2 players. It feels like an expansion could be added, but part of the fun for kids could creating their own additions, modifications, and schemes. Castle Keep= one to keep. All games mentioned were in the $10-$20 price range, and are available online and in stores.