Wednesday, August 31, 2011

PAX Prime 2011 Through a Boardgamer’s Eyes

By Jonathan Liu Email Author  |  August 31, 2011  |  Categories: Board Games, Electronic Geek, Places

This past weekend, several of the GeekDad contingent traveled to Seattle for PAX Prime 2011, a weekend of videogames, tabletop games, geeky panels, and celebrity sightings. Here’s a quick run-down of my weekend, with plenty of visual aids.
The crowds waiting to enter PAX on Friday morning.
I’ll tell you right up front that I’m much more of a tabletop gamer (board games, card games, and so on) than a video gamer, so I focused mostly on what’s on the periphery at PAX. The video games and PC games get top billing, but that means that the tabletop folks have a little more time to chat, which is great for me. This post will give you my brief impressions of things I saw and played this weekend, with more in-depth reviews to come!
Thursday evening Dave Banks and I met up in the hotel lobby and played a few games to kick off the weekend: Battleship Galaxies, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, and Catacombs. I would have loved to play more, but we both needed to get some sleep in preparation for the weekend.
My first stop on Friday was with Ray Wehrs of Calliope Games. I’d heard about their upcoming game Ugh! from John Kovalic, who did the artwork, so I knew it was something I wanted to check out. Wehrs told me a little bit more about the history of Calliope Games and where they’re coming from. They have a cool story and are definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a boardgamer who has kids. So far they’ve just got four games in their line-up, but they are all kid-friendly and non-gamer-friendly, while still offering something for people who really like games.
Ugh from Calliope Games
Ugh from Calliope Games (artwork by John Kovalic!)
Dave Banks and I sat down to try Ugh! and were both impressed. Here’s the basic gist: you’re collecting sets of three: a caveman, a pet, and a house (the orange, purple, and green cards). Your score for each set is the product of the three numbers, so getting higher numbers can increase your score significantly. However, until you lock in a set, you’re in danger of losing it to other players or to various “Ugh” cards that turn up in the deck. It’s a press-your-luck game with hilarious drawings by Kovalic and simple enough mechanics that you could teach it to younger kids, even if they can’t do the multiplication themselves.
Tsuro from Calliope Games
Tsuro from Calliope Games
Next up was Tsuro. This has actually been around for a while (I know because I’ve had it on my “maybe” list), but now it’s being distributed by Calliope Games. It’s a little bit like Carcassonne with just roads. Each edge has two paths leading to it, and your goal is to play tiles so that you stay on the board the longest. Everyone chooses a starting space on the edge of the board, and then you play a tile to extend your path. You must move along the path until the end — if you’re off the board, you’re out of the game. It’s a gorgeous looking game with very simple rules and a very zen-like feel to it, and you can play up to 8 players. (For the curious, this is one of the two games Curtis Silver beat us at.)
Got 'Em! from Calliope Games
Got 'Em! from Calliope Games
Last on Calliope’s list for PAX was Got ‘Em!, a game about boxing in your opponents. Players start near the center (on the white dots) and then everyone gets a few cards. On your turn, you play a card, which allows you to place a wall on a specific colored square, and then move from one to three spaces. Some cards let you play a wall on any color square, some allow you to remove walls, and some even allow you to walk through walls. If you get boxed in, you’re eliminated. The reverse side of the board doesn’t have any colors, and it’s a more pure strategy game: play a wall, move a space. It’s a pretty simple idea, but Dave and I both enjoyed this one, too.
Keep reading for more!
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 View All
Jonathan Liu is a stay-at-home dad, Etch-a-Sketch artist, community agitator, board game geek, and a voracious reader.
Follow @jonathanhliu on Twitter.

The Secret Life of an American Geek Mom: Calliope Games: Not Your Average Game Company

Like my motto states, I'm a Mommy by Day...Gamer by Night! (Well, at least when my son goes to bed on time.  We have been struggling with bedtime lately, but that's a subject for another post.)

So, what does that mean for my game closet?  What it means is that I have a new view of the games we buy.  When I look over a new game, I am not only looking for a fun game that's innovative and elegant, but a game that is also easy to set up, quick to play (around 30 minutes), and plays well with 2 players.  As my son grows, I am also beginning to look for games that he can play along with us.

As all parents know, there is a precious amount of time for families to spend together and even less for mommy and daddy to be alone and relax.  Usually it is that tiny little window between the kids' bedtime and mom and dad collapsing on the couch.  I have found that this is anywhere between 2-3 hours, and it still includes tidying up after the kids are asleep.  That is not a very large window to pull out a game and play. But hope is not lost!

A new company has surfaced with parents and families in mind.  At Gen Con this year I had the opportunity to talk with Ray Wehrs, president of Calliope Games.  Their mission is to provide games that get kids and parents together for face-to-face entertainment.  To do this, their games play in under 60 minutes, support 2 or more players, are easy to learn, and work well with a wide range of ages.  And here's the best part.  They make games that are fun for both adults and kids to play together!  It's not a case of parents needing to dumb down the rules or for kids to feel frustrated that they can't play and win.  These games are designed for both kids and adult to feel challenged and motivated to improve their strategies.

A great example of this philosophy can be seen in their first game, Tsuro: The Game of the Path.  Some of you may be familiar with this fun tile laying game.  The rules are simple: Place a tile and follow the path.  The last person left on the board wins!  The challenge is to keep your stone away from danger and to send the other stones on a path to the edge.  It sounds easier than it is, and for those who like puzzles and mazes, this is a great game.

Ray showed me three other games that are hitting your local game store shelves with the same great mission: Fun for Everyone!

Double Double Dominoes is a new approach to traditional dominoes.  More like a combination of dominoes and scrabble.  Players score points by matching their dominoes to spaces on the board.  Probably the most challenging of Calliope's games, this is a great one for older kids and for mom and dad to play together over dessert.  A 5-6 player expansion is in the works as well and can be expected to hit stores in 2012. 

Got 'Em! turned out to be an addictively fun game for me.  Again the rules are simple.  You try to wall in your opponent while keeping your own pawn out of harms way.  There are two modes to the game offering slightly different levels of luck vs. strategy.

In Brainy Got 'Em, players are forced to use what? Their brains of course! And corner their opponents by outsmarting them.  On your turn you place a wall and move your pawn 1 plus the number of walls that surround you.  Simple, right!

Your other option is to play Bright Got 'Em.  In this version, cards are used to determine your movement and wall placement.  Each card tells you what color square you may place a wall on and the number of spaces you may move.  There are even some cards that allow you to remove walls and improve your escape.  This version is slightly more luck based since you will be relying on the cards to determine where you may place walls and move.  Both modes are great fun and don't be surprised if you get beat by your kids!

The final game that Ray showed me was the most animated of them all.  For those of you who love Munchkin and the art of John Kovalic, this game will make you giggle with delight.  Ugh! is a push your luck card game set in the Stone Age.  You each play as a cavemen collecting cards that represent your jobs, pets, and homes, but be careful for the dreaded Ugh! cards (which is exactly what you will say when you draw one!)  Everyone takes turns drawing up to 3 cards and scoring sets.  The player with the most points when the deck runs out wins!

To here our interview with Ray from Gen Con
Click Here!

So as you begin thinking about family gatherings this fall, consider picking up some o these great titles from Calliope Games at your Friendly Professional Games Store.  Give them a try!  You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Inside Calliope Games

We read a lot about games in a typical week. A lot. No, more than that. I mean a lot. We know we're onto something deserving of more investigation when we read about someone that has a slightly different take on the gaming world than most of the 'competition'. When we read about Calliope Games we were intrigued. Calliope Games is fronted by Ray Wehrs, with a design team headed up by Jordan Weissman and Seth Johnson. The team was on hand at Gen Con to give us a tour of their booth, and the four games they had on display.
What makes Calliope Games just that little bit different is that they pay a lot more than lip service to the idea of the 'family' game (whatever that might be. Go ahead, it's tougher to define than you might think.) As Ray explained, 'We really believe in bringing family and friends together across the tabletop. All our games can be played in less than an hour, making them ideal to play in that space between the evening meal and bedtime. All our games are playable for anywhere from 2-6 players, so nobody has to sit out, and you're not going to be unable to play because you can't find a fourth person.'
Key to the company philosophy is an approach to 'family' games that runs contrary to the idea that 'family' equals 'kids'. 'We don't want to make games where Mom and Dad have to take a step backwards to play, and are quickly bored, or have to deliberately play badly to give the kids a chance' Ray says. 'Our games are designed to encourage the kids to step up and improve their skills and take on their parents as gaming equals.'
These are all lofty ideals, and words come cheap, but one of the most impressive aspects of their offerings was that, despite the four games all being worlds apart from each other, both mechanically and thematically, they all managed to deliver on those overarching goals of streamlined gameplay, straightforward yet strategic rules sets, and a manageable timescale.
TsuroWe began with Tsuro, the 'game of the path'. That might sound like the cue for a Japanese martial arts adventure, leading to broken bones and self-fulfilment, but it is in fact much closer to what it literally sounds like. It's a tile-laying game, in which players extend and complicate their path, while trying to ensure that their opponents have no choice but to leave the path. The last one left on the path wins. While we were trying the game, one of the spectators asked, 'So presumably there's a points system for, like, how many tiles you got through before you fell out?' The emphatic 'no' was revealing. Sure, it's possible to add things like that to your own gaming sessions, running a series of paths, with an overall points score to determine the victor. That isn't the Calliope Games way, however. 'If you explain that to kids, of course they'll understand it, but if you make the rules really clean - stay on the path, last one standing wins - they really get it, and can go about the business of enjoying the challenge with a minimal rules set to get in the way or offer 'degrees' of victory.
Ugh!Next up was Ugh!, which is the story of a caveman, with illustrations by John Kovalic of Munchkin fame. Of the four games, this is probably the one that would appeal to the younger age range of children, with three suits of cards representing your monolithic jobs, pets, and homes. Mixing things up are the 'Ugh!' cards, presumably because that's the sound you make when you get hit by one. The whole thing is done and dusted in 20 minutes or so, and that's a timing that parents can rely on, since when the deck's finished, it's game over. Ideal post-evening meal fare then.
Of the four games, Double Double Dominoes was probably the least exciting, both thematically and presentationally. Double Double Dominoes is, essentially, Dominoes meets Scrabble. The awkwardness is that Scrabble players like to play with letters, not letter substitutes, while a good game of dominoes isn't necessarily improved by having to play round the confines of a board. When Dominoes meets Scrabble, should they really hook up and play nice together? We're not so sure they should. That said, this one probably has more depth to it than either Tsuro or Ugh!, so with more time it might have grown on us. Still, we're not convinced.
Got EmWe've saved the best for last, in the form of Got 'em! Played out on a raised platform grid (in a similar way to the excellentQuoridor, players attempt to trap their opponents. Cards tell you where you can place your walls, and how far you're allowed to move. Certain special cards allow you to remove walls, or even walk through them. This game seemed to bring the wholeCalliope Games philosophy into focus. It's colorful, not dull. The rules are simple - box them in, don't get boxed in yourself. It won't take 4 hours to play, nor half an hour to setup. It doesn't make too many concessions to younger minds, but instead encourages them to get better with each game, and to try out new strategies. Most of all, for the children who take to the game, there's lots of depth waiting for them to explore. And when they have, Mom and Dad had best beware...
One of the advantages of being a small company is the ability to develop products that make a clear statement about who you are, what you're about, and the ability to talk directly to a specific audience. That's something that the giants of the industry find hard to do, because they are always marketing right across the genres and age ranges. For companies like Calliope Games, it's an opportunity to deliver quality products to a very specific corner of the market. As we left the booth, one thing stuck in our minds. Whether it's forcing your opponent off the board in Tsuro, giving them a kick in the teeth with the Ugh! cards, or boxing them into a corner in Get 'em!, there's the chance for exactly the kind of calculated (fun) meanness that kids just love. And, let's be honest, that grownups love too.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The year’s best new easy-to-learn, fun-to-play children’s board games

By Amy Kraft | February 17, 2010 | Z Recommends

The year’s best new easy-to-learn, fun-to-play children’s board games
When working my way through the sea of board games offered at the 2010 Toy Fair this week, my philosophy is simple: If you can't explain it to me in 30 seconds, it's too complicated for my kid. With the best game design, gameplay should be easily learned and intuitive, but most of all, fun. Here are some of the best that I found.

Gobblet Gobblers (Blue Orange Games): It's a cross between tic-tac-toe and Blue Orange's hit game Gobblet. You need to get three in a row, but bigger pieces can gobble up the smaller ones. | $20,

Tsuro (Calliope Games): Place one card at a time to create your path to the center of the board, making sure your path never takes you off the board. $26,

Name 5 (Endless Games): Can you name 5 TV Dads? How about 5 pizza toppings? Female rap artists? Mollusks? Work your way around the board, and rattle off lists of five as you go.

Destruct 3 (Uncle Skunkle Toys): Build up pieces and then find the most efficient way to knock them down, with the catapult, pendulum, or ramp. This board is so lovingly crafted your family will be playing it for a long, long time. | $45,

Stop 'N Go (Talicor): In this speedy card game, place your cards as fast as you can by matching the color on your card to any player's discard pile, strategically using special cards along the way.

Kewbz (Family Games): Place your colored blocks to form corners on the board, trying to be the last person to place a block on a 5-block tower.

Blockers (Briarpatch): Place your tiles on the board according to their number, letter, or symbol as you try to create the fewest clusters of blocks of your color.

Zenith (MindWare Games): Place your colored tiles on the board in either an empty space or on a cluster of triangles where one has the same color as the tile you’re trying to place. Here’s a demo from game creator, Nicholas Cravotta:

Zenith has an MSRP of $30 and is on sale for about $25 on

In other fun gaming news, Lego has announced that they will begin distributing ten Lego-based kids' games in the U.S. Lego has been selling games in Europe for over a decade, and their current offerings there look like a lot of fun. Word is they'll start distributing these games in the U.S. this summer.

Amy Kraft is an independent kids' media producer and publishes Media Macaroni. You can read her previous dispatches from the 2010 Toy Fair here and here.

ICV2- Calliope Games at Gen Con

Three New Titles more

ICv2 caught up with Ray Wehrs, President of Calliope Games, at last week’s Gen Con. He was kind enough to give us the details on Calliope’s three new titles for 2011: Got’Em, Double Double Dominoes, and Ugh.
Got’E  is an abstract multi-player strategy game in which players use walls to block their opponents’ pawns. For two to four players, ages eight and up. Suggested retail price is $28. Designed by Zach Weisman and Tyler Bielman, Got’Em is shipping now.
Double Double Dominoes is a variant on the classic dominoes game. Players score points by matching combinations of dominoes printed on the board. For two to four players, ages eight and up. The suggested retail price is $30. Designed by Jordan Weisman and Seth Johnson, Double Double Dominoes is scheduled to release in late October.
Ugh! (MSRP $10.00) is a card game about caveman life, illustrated by fan-favorite John Kovalic.  It’s a push-your-luck style game for two to six players, ages eight and up. Designed by Jim and Lori Reichert, Ugh! is scheduled to release in October.
“Calliope is all about families and trying to pull families back around the recreation room table,” Wehrs explained. “All of the games play under 60 minutes and will retail for less than 30 dollars.” He described Calliope’s philosophy as making games that parents will want to play, but are designed so children as young as eight can also participate.
Calliope Games was founded in 2009 to sell the award-winning Tsuro game. Calliope was briefly associated with Mayfair Games, but the two companies separated in March: “Mayfair Severing Ties with Calliope Games.”

LOU'S VIEWS: The best games from GenCon

Lou Harry
For years, I’ve been telling Hoosiers that GenCon isn’t just for hard-core game geeks committed to multi-hour games of World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons. For every elf-costumed, sword-wielding aficionado, there’s also someone who just likes to play games socially with friends.

As in the past, I visited GenCon looking for those kinds of games—ones that offer a fun alternative to television or the computer and don’t require extensive study of textbook-length rules. And, once again, I found some winners worthy of space in your game closet.

OK, so maybe you don’t have a game closet—and I’m a game geek. Still, if you’re in the mood to expand your collection beyond Monopoly and Scrabble, here are some new ones worth considering:
A&E Dabble
At the recent gaming convention, Dabble was a stand out. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)



No coincidence that Dabble is only a couple of letters away from Scrabble. And, truth be told, you could play a version of it with your Scrabble tiles. But putting that aside, this think-quick word game is a brainy no-brainer for word-game fans. The rules are simple: You have 20 tiles and, before time runs out, you have to make them into a two-, a three-, a four-, a five-, and a six-letter word. The successful player gets the points on the unused tiles of the unsuccessful player.

Got ’Em! 

(Calliope Games,

The best new game I found for fans of chess, checkers,

Othello and other abstract strategy games, Got ’Em! involves trying to trap your opponent while avoiding being trapped yourself. Each turn involves playing a card that allows you to, in most cases, move your marker and build a wall next to a specific colored square. As the game progresses, the walls become harder to avoid. A nice touch: The board is flippable to an all-white playing area, which can be used without the cards to create a strategy version that takes the luck of the card draw out of the equation.


(Out of the Box Games,

Fans of the breakout hit Apples to Apples are strongly urged to check out this party game in which players have to create an imaginary word out of syllable cubes in order to best match a definition card and impress that turn’s wordmeister. How to describe “The smell of a dog owner’s car”? Well, each player has three six-sided cubes—with Supa, Ode, Maga, Icious and other fragments from which to craft a word. Max-crust-oxious, perhaps? Or Anti-yum-tastic? As with Apples to Apples, the fun is not just in coming up with an answer, but also in seeing how the wordmeister subjectively chooses a favorite.

Artus was another stand out at GenCon. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

(Rio Grande Games,

While it uses the trappings of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, this colorful, tactical game relies not on noble behavior but on thinking ahead, adapting to change, and wisely managing your resources.

Playing pieces surround a movable round table (complete with suckling pig). Point values are assigned to each seat, but these values can change as the table is rotated. Points are scored, in part, based on the proximity of your pieces to the King, who always sits at the head of the table. An additional level of strategy comes from the finite set of cards you have, all of which must be played before the game is done. That element gives this one an exciting end-game where fates can turn suddenly if you haven’t played your cards right.

I learned the basics of the game in about five minutes and immediately after my first bout, I wanted to play again. That’s always a good sign. Replay has made it my favorite find at GenCon this year.


(Closet Nerd Games,

One of the big selling points for this company’s recent titles is that they come in small but sturdy boxes. That makes them great for throwing into your kid’s bag when you head out for a weekend getaway. In this one, you’re fighting for territory in ancient Ireland with only a finite amount of armies. The gimmick that makes the game more interesting: You move forward on the scoring track only if you occupy the right order of color-coded regions. Think a smaller scale, dice-free, quicker take on Risk.

Small World: Underground

(Games of Wonder,

Not every good game can be grasped in a matter of minutes. The rule book for professional football is, after all, pretty thick.

So it might take a little patience—or an already experienced friend—to get you into your first game of this sequel to the hit Small World. Like its predecessor, Small World: Underground is played on a cramped board where your civilizations vie for dominance. Once a race (Mudmen, Spiderines, etc.) spreads itself too thin, it goes into decline, allowing you to add another race into the overpopulated mix. It’s ideal for players open to the idea of fantasy-based competition but not necessarily wanting to commit to marathon gaming sessions.


(Wiz Kids,

The vast quantity of dice and cards in the tin can box for Quarriors! intimidated me at first. But once I committed to the game—and realized that it’s an unofficial dice variation of the popular (and outstanding) Rio Grande Games hit Dominion—the rules became reasonably easy to grasp. Each player starts with the same number and kinds of custom dice, six of which are used each turn to purchase spells or monsters. These new dice get added to your pouch, affecting the moves you can make on future turns. Each game uses only a portion of the cards and dice available, so every new game plays differently. Yahtzee meets Dungeons and Dragons? Perhaps. Whatever you call it, Quarriors! quickly became the favorite new game of the year for my 9-year-old son.•

An amazingly refreshing game!

By Robert M. Juneau more

This review is from: Tsuro Game of Path Strategy Board Game (Toy)
Playing this game the first time is like playing go the first time: you are overcome by a sense that there is a tremendous amount of complexity in such seemingly simple rules. The primary difference is that, unlike go, Tsuro is comprehensible. The game board is a series of tiles that always interconnect. The player has a stone that must move along its path, and its path must always grow. The path you lay now can result in another player being forced off the board later, or for two player's paths to interconnect. As more players are added, the amount of complexity and strategy in the game increases exponentially.

I played this game for the first time last night, and by this morning the people I was playing with had already tried out rules variants that utterly change the nature of play, as well as coming up with a light framework for gambling on it that we didn't try.I could be wrong, but I think this game or some variant on it will ultimately rank with chess, go, and mancala as a defining game in history.

I'm also going to rank it as light strategy - the rules are simpler and the thought process is easier learned than say chess or go.

Tsuro – simple family fun

The Board Game Family more

If you’re looking for a game that’s simple to play, can handle up to 8 players of any age, and doesn’t take too long then Tsuro might be what you’re after.
Can the whole family enjoy Tsuro?
Absolutely. Tsuro is a very simple board game to play with all members of your family. While there isn’t a ton of strategy involved, you do get to make choices that can help determine your fate. But everyone else on the board is also trying to determine your fate. They want you off the board.
Because you’re picking random tiles, you may be limited in your options. So it’s up to you to make the most of what you get. But at the same time, the random tile draw means that the younger players also have a chance to upset the older players. And it’s this mix of luck with some decisions that makes it a good family game for all ages.
And if they’re really young players, they can just have fun playing tiles and moving their piece along the path while the older players build their path toward each other trying to force each other off the board.
Will anyone be bored?
Sometimes with family games some players start to wander when it’s not their turn or just sit and wish the game would end. Not with Tsuro. Because the options on the board shrink with every tile played, everyone stays engaged because their future path may be dictated by another player. And since there is a finite number of spaces on the board to play a tile, that also means that the game doesn’t last long enough to get bored.
How does Tsuro score on the “Let’s Play Again” meter?
Tsuro is a board game that always begs to be played again. The great thing about the length of Tsuro is that it allows you to stop when you’re ready. It plays very quickly and you never feel like it’s dragging on. So you can stack on a number of games in a row for more fun.
Thanks Funfair Games for a great family game!

Tsuro (by Will Bain, Major Fun )

Eight player strategy game!!!
When I first played Tsuro, I missed the unpacking. I’ll come back to this in a moment, but I say it now to explain why my first impression of the game seems so odd. Without having heard the rules, I was struck by the fact that there were eight player pieces. The board is rather small, and I thought the game would be crowded with five players, let alone eight; but I was impressed that the game was designed from the beginning to accommodate eight players. Eight.With no expansion pack.
In minutes we were playing, and I got caught up in the intricate patterns that our pieces had to navigate. The game sucked me in, and it wasn’t until I got home that I carefully examined the elements of the game. That right there is the mark of a good game. It engaged me so completely that I didn’t fiddle around with the pieces in order to evaluate their quality. They are good, durable, lovely, even, but the game itself is the major attraction.
Tsuro  is a strategic tiling game in which players take turns laying down a square tile and then moving their game piece along one of the 4 paths that criss-cross each tile. After a player lays down a tile (adjacent to her marker), she moves her marker to the end of the path, and any other player whose path connects with that tile also moves their marker. If the paths on the new tile connect to yet other paths on other tiles, the players must continue following their paths to the very end. As the board fills with tiles (thirty-six total in a six by six grid), paths connect, and players whose markers are on paths that connect to an edge of the board are eliminated. After all the moves have been made, and all survivors acknowledged, the player who placed the tile then draws another and play proceeds clockwise. The object is to be the last player whose marker remains on the board.
The reason that so many players can stay engaged, even though players do have to wait for their turns, is that there’s always the possibility that a new tile placement will connect their markers to a new path segment. Regardless of whose move it is, all players have to move their markers if the path they are on is extended after a tile is placed. So, each new tile builds a lot of suspense, and everyone who is still playing stays involved.
Elimination games can be tricky things because the defeated players have to sit out while the others finish. This is true of Tsuro but the game is quick to play. Death is mercifully sudden. And down-time is minimal.
I said I’d come back to the unpacking. On top of being a fun game (Major Fun, by the way, if you missed the medal hanging over there on the left) Tsuro is a beautiful game. The heavy cardboard tiles have a Japanese water-color image on the back and the paths look as if they were engraved on a surface of polished limestone. The instructions fit on one side of one sheet of paper, the other side resembling a screen-print image of bamboo and Japanese characters. The board is a painting of a phoenix in warm reds, ochres, and oranges.
Ray Wehrs of Mayfair Games notes: “…The 35 path tiles all unique; there is not a duplicate in the deck.  The more you play, the more you understand their relevance in regards to the many true levels of strategy in Tsuro. You’ll also learn that Tsuro plays very differently with 2 players than 8… and everywhere in between. The number of players participating will directly affect the strategies of the players.”
In design, playability, and elegance, Tsuro exemplifies what makes a Major Fun major.
Tsuro was designed by Tom McMurchie. Artistic design by Shane Small, Cathy Brigg, and Sarah Phelps. © 2009 by Calliope Games, available 2010 from Mayfair Games.
William Bain, Games Taster

ACPL TEENS - Gen Con Update

GenCon update 2

Welcome back!

A company named Calliope graced Gencon with its presence this year, and danced around the halls, tossing their games into the air and singing songs about how wonderful they are.
Well, not really. But Calliope does sell some awesome games. Every game that stands on their shelves is under an hour of gameplay, for 2-6 players, and under $30. If any game they’re looking at purchasing doesn’t match these requirements, it’s gone. Calliope’s goal is to make their games fun and affordable for anybody who picks them up, whether they be student or parent, kid or adult, normal person or executive, Calliope has a game to match. Most of the games are family-oriented – not a lot of hard strategy, but enough to keep everybody interested. They’re quick, easy games that anybody can learn and play quickly.
One of Calliope’s new ones is Ugh!, a game of creating sets. It’s the Stone Age, and everybody needs one caveman, one pet, and one house to complete a set. The cards are color-coded, so one green card, one orange, one purple, and you’re done. But the cards are numbered 1-5, and the numbers in your sets are multiplied for points. If you get a level 3 house, a level 4 caveman, but only a level 1 pet – that’s great. You have 12 points towards winning the game!
However, like all games, there is a catch. One out of every four cards in the deck is an Ugh card, which makes you end your turn. There are worse Ugh cards, and those can cause you to discard up to three cards… and there goes your set. Collect colors and watch out for card-stealing opponents – or you’ll be saying Ugh!, too!
Another Calliope special is Double Double Dominoes, a blend of Scrabble and normal Dominoes. Dominoes are laid end to end on a board full of squares. A little less than half the squares on the board have a point number assigned to them. The numbers rank from 1 to 4, and are added to a player’s score when they cover that square with a domino. In addition, the scoring track is made up of domino pictures, and points are counted by moving pawns the correct number of squares. The number of pips (black dots) on the squares your pawn lands on tells you something else: whenever a domino with that number is played, your pawn moves ahead three spaces. Easy to learn and easy to play, Double Double Dominoes is sure to be a new family classic.