171 – ChiTAG Interviews – The Family Gamers Podcast

Chicago Toy & Game Group

Nick Martinelli went to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair before Thanksgiving, and came back with a gaggle of interviews! We’ll share those with you after the break.

What We’ve Been Playing

Keeping it Saxxy: The Kenny G Game – a nice entry-level cooperative game from Big G Creative.

Fire Tower – Anitra won for her first time ever!

Barenpark with the Bad News Bears expansion – the expansion has two separate parts; we tried the monorail expansion, which encourages you to take lots of green park areas and arrange them in particular ways. It changes the trade-offs you have to consider!

Brave Rats (from Blue Orange) – a cute, fast card game for two players. Play a higher number to win the hand, but every card has a special power.

Adventure Games: The Dungeon (from KOSMOS) – we played the first chapter of this in October, and finished it up this week. A much more powerful narrative than an EXIT box. There are puzzles, but in service of moving forward in the story, and you might not hit every puzzle (and some have multiple ways to solve them).

Drop It (also from KOSMOS – we reviewed this last year) – it’s such a great gateway game and it works for any age or ability level.

Draftosaurus – always fun.

Quacks of Quedlinburg

Echidna Shuffle

HEIST (One Team, One Mission) – sent to us from University Games. A puzzle/dexterity game that feels like a toy (it’s an electronic, talking box). Our kids cannot get enough of it, it’s really clever!


Big G Creative

Shannon Swindle has nothing but good to say about the Young Inventor Challenge at ChiTAG.

Big G brought back Home Alone for the holidays again. Look for it at Target!

They’re also pushing Trapper Keeper Game, Carpool Karaoke, Keeping it Saxxy (Kenny G), and Happy Little Accidents.

Follow Big G Creative on social media @BigGCreativellc (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)

Dark Unicorn Games

Recently released their first game Super Powered Smash Masters, a family game. A collectible card game with no math. You have a team of heroes and are “smashing each other back and forth”. It’s not limited to only two players; as long as you have a deck, you can play.

Find them at DarkUnicornGames.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.

Gray Matters Games

Introducing two of their party games to lots of families, WOLF and You-Bet-Cha.

WOLF – “choose your pack wisely”. Strategic trivia game; pick your “pack members” based on the category. Each round, the points double. For 4-12 players.

You-Bet-Cha – a mix between poker and trivia. Write down as many category answers as you can in a minute, then play those answers as your “hand” in a poker-style game with bluffing. For 4-6 players.

Located in Illinois, Gray Matters Games gives a portion of their profits back to Alzheimer’s Association.

Find them at GrayMattersGames.com, on Amazon, or in Chicago-area stores.

Lethal Chicken Games

Their game What the Film? is about making a movie. Pick an actor, set, and plot from your hand. Then you’ve got less than a minute to pitch a movie. But other players can sabotage your pitch with cards from their hand.

Camping with Sasquatch is their second game. “Slapjack meets Rummy”. Get 3 of a kind or 3 of a set to complete your collection. Officially 8+, but preschoolers can definitely play.

Find them at LethalChicken.com, or on Facebook, and Twitter. Their games are available at Amazon and Walmart.


MindWare is known for brainy toys for kids of all ages. Crafts, science, building toys, and games. MindWare is best known for Qwirkle (which we’ve reviewed). At ChiTAG, the most popular game has been Marble Circuit – a puzzle game for one player.

MindWare is also the parent company for Peaceable Kingdom. Sky Magic is one of their newest games, but Hoot Owl Hoot is always popular, too.

Find all their toys and games at Mindware.com. Social media: @MindWareToys (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and @Peaceable_K (Twitter), @Peaceable_Kingdom (Instagram)

Studio 9 Games

They love role-playing games and have been trying to come up with games that feel like that, but make it more accessible for kids and families.

Play an oracle in Charms: A Game of Insight – One player asks a question, the “charms” are rolled, then all other players try to come up with an answer.

Global Crisis (on Kickstarter now) is a cooperative game to save the world in the future. But what if one of the world leaders is actually an agent of chaos?

City Builder: an expansion to Villagers & Villains. “Town building on the edge of Mordor”.

Hero vs Guardian has asymmetrical play – one player creates a dungeon while other players try to crack it. Do you press your luck and rush in, or let the dungeon build up over time?

Treasures and Traps was their first game, nominated for an Origins award. This game for 2-6 players is very accessible and most of the rules are right on the cards.

Find Studio 9 games at your local game store, on Amazon, or at www.studio9inc.com.

The OP

Highlights of ChiTAG: Astro Trash, Blank Slate, Tapple (a fast word game), and Furry Foodies.

Astro Trash – quick dice-based game. Roll dice and try to get trash off your planet by moving it to your neighbors’.

Toy Story – cooperative deck-building game. 6 boxes, each representing the obstacles from a different movie.

Dungeon Academy – trace your path and defeat monsters in a randomly-generated dungeon.

Furry Foodies (Nick & Izzy reviewed this recently) – collect sets of food by pushing them off the table.

Find OP games at a store near you, and online at TheOP.games.

Ultra PRO

Gopher Broke – roll dice and use your gophers to steal money from the foxes’ mansion. Up to five players, ages 6+.

Rocket Squad – Use cards to build your rocket or knock pieces off your opponents’.

Pass the Pandas – roll dice. Keep blanks, pass pandas, “evaporate” water, and compete over bamboo. Good for any age.

Dracaris Dice – like Pass the Pandas but with dragons.

Sunflower Valley – a roll-and-write game. Build little farming communities with sunflowers and farms, connecting them with train tracks.

Find Ultra Pro games in your local game store, and online at ultrapro.com.

University Games

HEIST (as we mentioned above) – An electronic game, where players work together to pull off a heist. Pass the 12 plastic objects from player to player as directed by the voice from the box, and push the buttons at the right time. Designed by Rob Daviau and Don Olman, there are five levels of play.

Rubik’s Race – a two player game based on Rubik’s Cubes.

Find them online at ugames.com, as well as social media (Facebook: @UniversityGamesUSA, Twitter: @UniversityGames , Instagram: @UniversityGames)

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or join the Family Tabletop Community on Discord! thefamilygamers.com/discord

Or, for the most direct method, email us! andrew@thefamilygamers.com and anitra@thefamilygamers.com.

Check out our new Family Gamers and Play Games with Your Kids merchandise – T-shirts, hoodies, and mugs – at thefamilygamers.com/merch.

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