286 – Play This, Not That, Dexterity Games! – The Family Gamers Podcast

Kiki Cuckoo on the completed nest
Kiki Cuckoo on the completed nest

Fact! 286 years ago (1736), the first American volunteer fire department was formally organized.

What We’ve Been Playing

Magic Mountain (SNAP review linked below)
Maul Peak (sequel to Skulk Hollow, coming to Kickstarter soon)
Royal Visit
The Key: Theft at Cliffrock Villa (review coming soon)

Magic Mountain

13:00 – Magic Mountain SNAP

Drop the marbles down the hill to guide down the students before the witches! A cooperative game from AMIGO – simple enough for pre-readers, but engaging for all ages.

Read the transcript or watch the video.

18:30 Welcome to the community / Backtalk

Check out our Facebook post

Backtalk – twitter follower Doug asks how we got started with family reviews of board games. (You can also check back in episode 100, we talk about this in the last 15 minutes.)

31:00 Play This, Not That: Dexterity Edition! (Kerplunk, Jenga, and flicking)

These games are not bad. But dexterity games, in particular, can start feeling a bit stale. So let’s shake things up a bit!


Anitra says Kerplunk is “bane of parents’ game shelves.” It’s loud, the marbles go everywhere, and it’s plastic. But it’s fun.

How about Go Cuckoo (HABA) instead? You’re still trying to balance round objects on precariously balanced sticks… but this game rewards thoughtfulness because you’re building the nest even as you’re pulling sticks out – and you still get the “OH NO” moment when you shift a stick and it comes plunging down.

We love that Go Cuckoo uses both construction AND deconstruction.

And share a moment mourning that Zitternix (which we used to recommend) is no longer available.


Oh no, what’s wrong with Jenga? Absolutely nothing. It’s a great game and amazingly designed/manufactured so that the blocks are not truly identical. (and is cleverly used in other things! Dread is an RPG that uses a Jenga-style tower for skill checks, building suspense.)

How about Crazy Tower (Synapses Games)? You’ll build into the tower and try to sabotage the other players.

We muse on the deconstruction vs. construction aspects of Jenga.

We like Suspend or Suspend Jr (Melissa & Doug) but they only have the “construction” aspect.

The only true “deconstruction” game we can think of is Don’t Break the Ice – obviously a kids’ game, but it’s fun!

For a much more “grown up” looking building game, we love Catch the Moon (check out this review from What’s Eric Playing?), but it’s harder to find a copy (until KOSMOS brings it to US distribution later this year). Place crooked ladders, in a way that’s indicated by a die roll. There’s a lot of room for strategy in this one, as you’re trying to make it impossible for the next person to hang THEIR next ladder.

Rhino Hero (HABA) for straight-up tower building and a bit of balancing skills.

Villa Paletti won the Spiel des Jahres in 2002 and used a similiar deconstruction/construction idea to Jenga, but it’s long out of print now.

Flicking Games (Tabletop football)

Ever folded up a piece of paper and tried to flick it through “goal posts” formed of another person’s fingers? Why not try something a bit more organized than that…

Mars Open Tabletop Golf (Bellwether Games) – the box is the “hole” and the game provides suggested setups and lots of possible obstacles. Works in nearly any sized-space!

Flick Em Up – act out team-based scenarios, flicking to “shoot” other pawns or obstacles.

ICE COOL (Brain Games) is a great family game, of course! And rather than being a solitaire “best score” type of game, it’s a race where one player tries to catch the others.

Tell us about your favorite flicking game or deconstruction game:

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