Published on June 27th, 2009 | by Greg0
Board Games for Everyone: Marrakech, Mumbo Jumbo, Hive
Plenty of people get annoyed at games that take too long- Risk can take hours, and even Monopoly can get tedious. Shorter games are also more appealing to kids, and thus families. Depth is also important, though- otherwise, it’s easier to just take out a deck of cards.
Marrakech is a game that lets you delight in materials and patterns- suitable to the subject matter. The rules are simple, and setup as well- each turn, the player moves the sole trader around the board based on the roll of a dice, and then places a rug. If you move the trader to an opponent’s square, you pay them, based on how many connecting rugs they own. And you can cover the rugs of others- each rug takes up two squares on the board, and can be placed over no more than one of a color. This leads to fun woven tapestries on the board, and a nice balance between luck and skill- and all players have a decent shot at winning even towards the end (when the last rug is laid down). It can handle 2-4 players, but plays best with a full group, and doesn’t take much more than 30 or so minutes. Easy to learn, it also manages to be beautiful, and unique. $25, good for most ages, 6 and up.
Next up, also from Fundex, is Mumbo Jumbo- a social/party game aimed mostly at adults, but suitable for ages 8 and up. It’s an odd duck- charades and humming are two of the five categories. It works for 2-8 people, the more the merrier, and definitely a bit better if drinking is involved (like many party games). There are 40 discs, that can easily be used as coasters, with questions that will require either acting, guessing, thinking and a good dose of playfulness. You are basically trying to get your teammates to solve the question and are only able to, say, use your hands or hum in order to prompt them. It’s fun, kooky, and different each time- but definitely a bit limited. We liked the variety of things involved and included- the spin timer was odd but neat, and two different die shake things up a bit. It’s definitely not a game for everyone, but perhaps for those tired of Pictionary. At only $15 or so, it’s also an easy gift.
Finally, we move onto Hive, distributed in the United States by Smart Zone Games. The concept is fairly simple- hexagonal pieces, two players, and a set of four insects with varying abilities vying to surround the opponent’s fifth insect type, the sole Queen Bee. No board required, and only 11 pieces for each side. Some deep strategy mixed with quick play make for a fun and easy to learn game for all ages. The trick here is that pieces, once played, will be limited in their movement, and so you’ll want to keep some pieces in reserve for important moments down the road. It’s portable, durable, and a nice alternative strategy game that won’t take up more than a few minutes at a time- a nearly-perfect boardgame recipe. We definitely suggest getting the “expansion”, called Mosquito, simply for a few extra pieces and a little more variability. It adds something and takes nothing away, even if you always end up using it as an “Ant” (a truly new insect with new abilities would be welcome). $30 for Hive, and $10 for Mosquito is a tad bit pricey for what you get- but worth it.