168 – Favorite Gamewright Games – The Family Gamers Podcast
We have been playing Gamewright games for years, but they’re on our mind because we just participated in a Game Night fundraiser (listen to episode 88 if you’re curious how the fundraisers work).
What We’ve Been Playing
Brainwaves: The Brilliant Boar – examine a card, then add it to your hand, facing away from you. Play cards from your hand to match other cards on the table. Test your memory!
One Night Ultimate Alien – a social deduction game that Andrew enjoyed. He says that games with a “funny” theme (and players ready to embrace the silliness) are a lot easier to take.
Dwar7s Duel – a tile-laying game with worker placement. A changing board and the ability to place workers anywhere make it more “thinky” but more intuitive than it looked at first.
Mystery of the Temples – read our review.
Herbalism – review coming soon
Imperial – an area control game set in Eurasia with rondel actions. “The game I wish Diplomacy was.” You’re buying stock in countries, and if you have the most influence, you “own” the country.
Dragon’s Breath – Not just for kids, a great way for a group of adults to de-compress. Again, you need to be OK with being silly.
ShipShape – a 3D puzzle game designed by Rob Daviau. We love the game, but not a huge fan of the art. It looks much more “serious” than how the game actually plays. It’s a bit of a top-down puzzle, and you’re bidding on the available tiles each turn. Important info: each tile has 3 spaces covered, and the values on the 3 spaces always add up to 8.
Dragonrealm – Adds area control to the familiar cards-and-dice gameplay from Dragonwood. Makes us think of a more family-friendly version of Smash Up.
Dwayna shared with us that the American Library Association has a few more great resources on using games to promote education: https://www.alastore.ala.org/content/libraries-got-game-aligned-learning-through-modern-board-games and https://games.ala.org/
And a nice review on Apple Podcasts from “clintr3551”.
And on episode 154 on player interaction, we forgot about bluffing games! Sheriff of Nottingham would be an excellent choice.
SNAP Review – Dragon’s Breath
Andrew and Anitra explain why this HABA game is delightful for players of all ages.
You and your fellow players are little dragons, hoarding sparkling stones. But the stones are all stuck in a column of ice! Dragon Dad can melt the ice with his fiery breath, but who can grab the most stones as they fall?
Each member of our family gives Dragon’s Breath a thumbs-up or thumbs-sideways. Find out why and see more pictures.
The Family Gamers recommend Gamewright games:
They make games for all ages, so we thought we’d recommend one or two of our favorites in a few different categories.
For the youngest kids (2-4):
Gamewright makes two of Anitra’s favorite games for really young kids.
Go Away Monster (our review) and Hisss both provide an opportunity to try some very basic turn-taking and matching skills. There’s no counting necessary!
Go Away Monster wraps turn-taking in the conceit of a game. You do the same action every time: reach in the bag, pull something out. Only then do you analyze what to do with what you’ve got.
Hisss allows you to match colors to make the longest snakes. There’s rarely a single “right” answer, instead it encourages experimenting to see where a colored tile can fit. And if a card doesn’t fit anywhere, then you get to use it to start a new snake.
Our top choices are Dragonwood (our review) and Dragonrealm. Both of these let kids experiment different ways to use the same numbers, as well as teaching some probability (Rolling four dice should allow you to beat a “9”… but they could come up all “1”s.)
The Sushi Go family: Sushi Go, Sushi Go Party, and Sushi Roll. All are drafting games: choose one card (or one die), then pass the rest to your neighbor. Kids probably need help to learn the scoring, but won’t have trouble understanding the game play. Adorable art doesn’t hurt.
Zeus on the Loose is incredibly easy to learn. Play cards into a central pile to add to the total. You want to be the person who controls the Zeus figure when the pile total goes over 100. Zeus switches hands when special-power god cards are played and whenever the total is a multiple of 10. There’s a little bit of speed which can be house-ruled out if necessary. It’s a great way to sneak in some arithmetic practice, and may also spark an interest in Greek mythology.
Adults and mixed-age groups:
Kids and adults love Go Nuts for Donuts – an unusual drafting game, with more complex scoring than Sushi Go. The vote-drafting mechanism is easy enough for a young child to grasp (although they need to recognize numbers), and they won’t ruin the game for anyone else (although they may act as an agent of chaos). We found that even very competitive kids don’t necessarily care about their scores in this game, because they just want the donuts!
Forbidden series: Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, and Forbidden Sky. These are cooperative games intended for adults, but still appropriate for children (both in difficulty and in theme). Sometimes called “Pandemic Jr.” – Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert are a step up in complexity from Peaceable Kingdom games and Ghost Fightin’ Treasure Hunters. An interested parent can use them as an opportunity to talk through strategic options with their kids and perhaps gently “quarterback” the group’s decisions.
Gamewright makes a ton of party games, but our favorites are ones that look familiar but play unlike any other games we’ve seen.
Bring Your Own Book – we’ve been raving about this “judging” (Apples-to-Apples style) game since we first tried it in 2016. Every player brings a book, and then searches for a line in the book that matches the clue (everything from “A line in a ransom note” to “A word that sounds awesome when read backwards”). Try it with pretty much any kind of book – we’ve tried it with books as varied as “The Art of War”, the D&D Monster Manual, a cookbook, and a computer science textbook.
Qwingo is an interesting twist on a large-group-friendly roll-and-write game: there’s only a single die! We reviewed it back in 2017.
One reason we heartily recommend Gamewright games is that they’re all very reasonably priced in addition to being a lot of fun. So take a chance on one!
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