Published on November 23rd, 2011 | by Greg0
Thanksgaming: Five New Board Games
This week, the holiday season has truly begun. And what is a family gathering without some time around a table, frantically rolling a dice, grabbing cards, and shuffling pieces? In that spirit, here are five of the latest, greatest board games. Some of them are perfect for all ages, others are definitely aimed at a younger crowd.
We’ll start with one of those. Phone Frenzy is a fairly clever idea for a game- taking the Phone-a-Friend idea and making it pretty much the entire game. Everyone will need a cellphone to play, which isn’t too difficult- but they’ll also need a decently long contact list. Also, your friends better be OK taking calls or answering texts whenever you end up playing this- careful of the time difference. To win, you’ll need to complete a set of four challenges successfully- or, rather, your friends will. And you can only reach out to a person from your contact list, and only once per game. All in all, we found it fun, but it’s certainly a party sort of game and better for teenagers. Buffalo Games, 14 and over, two to eight players. Available now, $20.
Pass the Popcorn is also playable with larger groups (teams), and as you can guess from the name, is a movie trivia game. We found it a bit easy, but well-balanced between older knowledge and newer pop culture. Questions seemed to run from the 1930s to 2009 or so, and were primarily focused on America cinema. It’s fun, easy to setup and learn, and a good way to get people interested and excited. There are four categories of clues that each player can select to help them guess correctly- quotes, cast, characters, and story- and there are around 250 movies covered in total. From Wiggles 3D, two to eight players, ages 12 and up. Available now, $20.
Ding! is a brand new game for three to eight players, ages eight and up. It plays fast, and is kind of like UNO mixed with Sorry. There’s a small round game board, and each player also has a pawn that they move around. Also from Wiggles 3D, this one was fun and good for all ages. There is some strategy, some luck, and a weird game mechanic where you can choose to be in or out of a given round, and another that is sort of like a superpower (spelling Ding) that can change the course of a round. It’s a trick-taking game, where you exchange cards in the hopes of building a set, but if you fail you actually move backwards. Thus, you get to choose whether to play, but can get penalized for it as well. It takes a few minutes to learn, and has a bit of depth. $17, online and in stores.
Finally, two from Gamewright. They are similar in some obvious ways- box size, both ages 8 and up, and both quite fun. Knock Your Blocks Off is more fun for younger kids, and is a nifty twist on visual matching, Jenga, and a destruction game. Basically, two to four players rush to build up towers from sets of blocks, matching their sides. And then they compete to knock down the others using a die, either dropping it, flicking it, or tossing it. Altogether silly and enjoyable, but not too good for older kids, and definitely a little imbalanced between different ages. Skill matters, as does speed, so it can be pretty competitive. $16, a great pick for 9-13 year olds.
City Square Off is for two players (or teams), and reminds us of Cathedral in a good way, and is super-similar to Blokus. It’s a building game, with identical sets of “towers blocks” that players place on their grid simultaneously. Each turn, one player turns over a card that indicates which piece the players must play, and both do so until one of them must place part of the piece outside of city boundaries. Simple enough, but some strategies develop over time, and this one is definitely more fun for the older crowd (well, older than 12). Excellent game, though skippable if you already own others in the same theme. Great deal at $16, as it feels and looks well-made and intriguing.