Thursday, December 24, 2015

Being this cool isn't always easy

In case you missed part 1 of this story, here's the link:

Forced family fun pretty much makes me the coolest parent on the planet. Except that for almost 2 weeks I made them open the wrapped games and then not play them. We had some school goals to get done, some bad behavior to deal with and some days where I was lazy/tired. You know how it is. By the time our semester ended on December 11th this whole board game advent calendar idea was beginning to feel like another failure of an idea.

I persevered,  more for you, my fans, than anything, but still, I persevered. So, over the course of weekends or whenever we had some free time, we caught up on the advent gaming to do list. We're still not caught up completely but tomorrow's schedule is wide open so there's hope that we'll finish.

These reviews are too late to do you any good for Christmas, but let's face it, you should be playing more games always, so pick up whichever sounds the most interesting/least awful and open it up on the next rainy day. You'll thank me.

Dec. 7th - these dates are not real and just serve to make sure I don't forget any of the games
This see through card game, Swish, is a new one for us. It was quick to figure out and has infinite playability as a one person challenge or with a lot of people. There were a few tricks to figuring it out but we got good as we went. Game play was fast, about 30 minutes. It's a puzzle game where you have to match cards in a sort of pattern. The trick is that you do it in your head and call "swish" when you're sure you can do it. You can only touch the cards to rotate, flip etc... at this time. I loved it.

Dec 8th 


Concept, another new game for us that I now LOVE! This game is pictionary with a twist. You have a board full of images and you have to get everyone else to guess a word or phrase simply by marking the images. Everyone who guesses gets points for helping and the person who guesses correct gets double points. It's quick, funny and sneakily taught my kids that images have more than one meaning. That's an important concept in our emoji filled world. Game play 30 minutes.

Dec 9th

Loot is a cooperative card game where you loot pirate ships. You can choose to work together or against each other. I've only played it once and it wasn't my favorite. When my kids unwrapped it, I let them play without me. I will say, they all really enjoy it. If your kid is into pirates, ships or card games at all, this is probably a winner. Appropriate for ages 5 and up I think. Game play approx. 30 minutes

Dec 10th

I can't say enough good things about the card game Fluxx! I was desperate for the holiday version, I love the idea of a game that comes out with the decorations each year and goes away with them too :)

Disclaimer: we've introduced Fluxx to 2 other families, they did not share our love for the game. I don't know why. It's sad.

Fluxx, in any of its versions, is a game where the rules are in the cards and change as people play new rules to replace old rules. The cards are witty and I like the way they're written. This is a game that my husband and I will sometimes play on our own after kids are in bed, we think it's that good! All the kids love it and none of us can ever turn someone down when they ask us to play.  Game play lasts 10 minutes to 60 minutes, it's all about the cards you draw.

Have I mentioned we love this game? It's genius.

Dec 11th

Aaaaaahhhhh, Monopoly Deal, the only other game my husband and I play, even if it's just us and uses our precious free time. We love, love, love it! Game play really is 15 minutes, but you'll want to do it over and over so we usually play for about an hour. The concept is similar to Monopoly, you need to collect 3 property sets to win the game, there are cards that bring you windfalls and setbacks. You can steal and block opponents moves, which is a fun twist. The only thing I still haven't gotten used to is that there is no change. If you owe $1K in rent and you only have a $10k note, you have to pay the whole 10k. No money? You pay in properties. Buy this game! Well, I mean, if you're cool and if you like monopoly,  buy this game.

Dec 12th

Scattegories is kind of a classic game. It's got a timer and stresses my kids out and hasn't been a success at my house but I love it. Scattegories the card game has been the answer to prayers we didn't know we had. We bought it a year or two ago during our card game craze and it has had serious staying power. It's a game we can play in the car, at dinner, with friends or wherever and however we want. It always leads to laughs and sometimes identifies bad spellers in our midst. Basically it's a win - win :)

Dec. 13th

I'm not totally sure what to say about this game. Civilization is based on a computer game. You develop an ancient civilization and win by being be the best at conquering, or technology or the arts. The youngest son loves history and was desperate to own this game. I managed to play it without crying. There are so many pieces that it took us almost 2 hours to setup. Game play was interesting and the first time my son attacked my village I declared him supreme ruler and quit. I have hopes for this game, it gets rave reviews and now we have it organized so it should be quicker setup in the future. But, I won't be trying it for quite awhile, it emotionally and mentally exhausted me.

Dec 14th

Wizard! This is my favorite card game and I almost always have a game going with at least one of my kids. It does take about 2 hours to play but it's easy to stop at any time and pick up where you left off later. It's a game of trumps. Each round you get an increasing number of cards and the trump suit changes. There are wizards and jesters that have their own special rules. It's easy to figure out and never stops being fun. You need strategy so it's a great learning tool to help the kiddos hone those skills.

 Dec. 14th

I'm so excited to tell you about this new to us game, Tokaido. You go on vacation in Japan, travelling the ancient road from Edo to Kyoto. Along the way you stop at inns, souvenir shops, excursions and scenic overlooks. You collect postcards, souvenirs and yummy food as you go. This game is all about the journey. It was super fast to setup and learn and we are all begging to play it again asap. The directions has some great info on Japan and it's customs, so you may spark some interest. I love it!

Dec. 15th
Now we've reached my favorite board game, Settlers of Catan. It has a lot of expansions and versions but the original has stolen my heart. The board is different everytime but the goal is the same, to settle Catan. You build villages, cities and roads and buy development cards. It takes about 2 hours to play.  Come over, I'll play it with you any time!


Apples to Apples anyone? The more people you have the longer it takes, but the more fun you'll have. Everyone has red apples (nouns)that they need to match to green apples (adjectives) and the judge votes on the best match. The more you know the players the better you'll be at this game but it's fun with anyone. A great party game.

Dec. 17th

Smallworld. The youngest boy got this for his birthday a year ago, it was a spontaneous purchase that revived my faith in the boardgame industry. It's a small world on the board that needs to be conquered by the many different races using their many different skills. All of its expansions are amazing must haves that add to the game without changing or adding rules. When pixies, amazons and orcs have a chance to battle you know the game is a winner. Game play takes 1-2 hours. It's available as an app too, and plays great in that mode. The app is probably the best way to learn the rules and hone your skills so you're ready for battle when the time comes to play the game with us :)

We have 7 games left to play, so look forward to another post soon. We clearly favor strategy games :) we've also managed to play quite a few board games that weren't in our advent calendar in the last week such as Blokus, Catan Jr, Quirkle, Pictopia, Balderdash and the 2 year old favorite,  Go Fish. Feel free to ask me about any of these if you've been considering a major board game purchase or check out reviews at

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