Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Calliope Games

Calliope Games is all about fun and they have generously donated some of the best family games on the market to Serious Fun 2011!  Calliope Games is a family run company that was founded in September of 2009 by Jordan and Dawne Weisman, and Ray Wehrs. Collectively, they have been engaged in the gaming industry for over 70 years!

Calliope’s main focus is the “Family” and it shows in the games they create and publish.  Calliope is focused on pulling families and friends back to the recreation room table in this digital age.
Not only that, but Calliope is aware of the burdens created by today’s economy and has priced their games at or under $30!  Check out Calliope and all their family friendly, affordable games by clicking on their logo found under our sponsor links on the right side of this page.

Calliope Games Review

In 2006, John and I moved to Greenville, SC – 8 hours from our hometown in Ohio. The year we were there, we made some excellent friends, but for the most part, we were homebodies. About a month after moving there, we discovered an amazing little store in the local mall. The store was full of games for all ages. I’m not talking Monopoly or Clue either, although there were specialty versions of these too. There were thousands of games that we had never heard of. We tried about a dozen new games that year and a love of unique and different games was born.


We moved back to Ohio in 2007 and there just isn’t a store around here like that favorite game spot in Greenville. We both were excited at the chance to try a game from Calliope Games. Calliope makes several games for adults and families. Their goal is to create games that bring you, your friends and family together. The games help encourage socialization and connection in a world full of technology and stress.
We had the opportunity to try out Tsuro: The Game of the Path. The game is intended for ages 8 and up and for anywhere from 2 to 8 players. The artwork on the box and board are beautiful. We are both huge fans of Oriental-inspired artwork. The little game tokens you use to follow your own individual path also have little dragons etched into them. You utilize individual path cards to create different twists and turns on the game board. The goal is to force the other player off the board.


Set up takes less than a minute as you layout the board, each player chooses a colored dragon token and places it on one of the notches on the edge of the board. In turn, players play a path card in front of their token. To finish the turn the player follows the path on the new card. Learning the games takes little effort and play is quick and easy. Each game was less than 15 minutes. However, the strategy and forethought involved kept us from becoming bored with the game. Every game is completely different because of the endless number of paths you can create.


I highly recommend this game for adults and children who can follow the path concept. It was a lot of fun and I’m proud to add it to my collection of different and unique games. You can visit Calliope’s website to purchase Tsuro (as well as many other great games) for $30.00 plus shipping or locate a store near you where you can buy any of Calliope’s games. Or, follow Calliope on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Calliope Games - Tsuro Review & Giveaway! Share

At Calliope we develop and publish tabletop games for the “Family”. Calliope is focused on pulling families and friends back to the recreation room table in an era where occupations and digital mediums are constantly soaking up each minute of one's day. It is our intent to facilitate communication of families and their relationships through analog tabletop gaming experiences.

There is something special about being able to sit with your family and play a board game on the weekends, a time set aside where there is no more T.V., cellphones, or computers... just the family at the table enjoying their own laughter, creativeness and bonding. Calliope Games has a sincere belief in this ideology, to have families spend more time together through tabletop games designed for great fun and/or thoughtfulness. With games like "Got 'Em!" where you must outsmart your opponents through savvy card playing, Double Double Dominos where you must match up like dominoes on a game board without awarding your opponents bonus points, UGH! where you encounter the Stone Age life by pushing your luck against the deck and then there is Tsuro which is all about creating a journey and is the game my family and I had chosen to review.
Create your own journey with Tsuro…the Game of the Path. Place a tile and slide your stone along the path created, but take care! Other players’ paths can lead you in the wrong direction—or off the board entirely! Find your way wisely to succeed. The rules are simple: you place a tile to build the next step for your stone to follow. Paths will cross and connect, and the choices you make affect all the journey across the board. Stay the path—your journey begins here

What is so interesting about Tsuro is that it is about creating a path. You begin with your colored stone on a small dot on the game board and each card has different paths that you can take. The goal is to try to keep on your path for as long as you can because if your path hits the side of the gaming board then it is over. In a way it almost represented life, by the choices you make on your journey it leads you to another place with other choices. You chose wisely your footsteps for as long as you can, but you never know where you might slip up and take the wrong path.

Tsuro has been awarded the 2011 Game of the Year Award by Creative Child Magazine, The Major Fun Award and the 2009 Preferred Choice Award with Creative Child Magazine. It is a story and a journey and by far one of my favorite Family Games. It has an adult touch to it to keep it enjoyable for us "big kids" and yet is challenging and fun for younger children. I really think this would make a fantastic Holiday Gift for a family who loves to spend time together.


You can connect with Calliope Games on their Facebook Page and/or @CalliopeTweets on Twitter.


You can purchase Tsuro for $30.00 in Calliope's Store!

The Giveaway!

How would you like to win a Tsuro board game? Just fill out the Rafflecopter Form below!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ugh! Is a Fun and Fast Family-Friendly Card Game

Overview: Ugh! is not a game about fuzzy slippers from Australia or helicopters flown by cavemen. It’s an invigorating card game from Calliope Games that involves matching and multiplication with press-your-luck mechanics and a little light strategy.
Players: 2-6 players.
Ages: 8 and up (though scoring can be a challenge for younger kids).
Playing Time: 15 minutes.
Retail: $10 and available later this month (Edit: See shipment update at bottom of post).
Rating: Fun and fast.
Who Will Like It? Because Ugh! is so simple to pick up & play, it has appeal for non-gamers and, with a little strategy, will also appeal to serious board gamers looking for a little palate cleanser between longer games or while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.
Components: In the pack, you’ll find 110 brightly colored cards of standard weight and a set of rules. The artwork is by GeekDad favorite John Kovalic and, as can be expected from Kovalic, is brilliantly funny.
Gameplay: You can find a pdf of the instructions on the game’s website, but here’s a quick overview of gameplay.
Each player wants to accumulate the most points by locking in sets of cards that represent one card from each of three color groups: purple, green, and orange. Play begins by a player drawing from the draw pile. Each player can draw up to four cards, discarding the first three cards face-up into one of three safety piles. Players have some choice in strategy, but want to find a card with a high number associated with it. If a player has opted to discard the first three draws into the safety pile, the player is forced to take the fourth card and put it in their pool. After drawing a card, players can then lock in a set of green, purple, and range cards, which are then protected from loss against steals or forced discards (more on those in a moment). Rather than draw from the draw pile, a player may also draw from one of the safety piles.
If a player draws an Ugh! card, designated by a negative number or set of instructions, that player’s turn is immediately over and that player may be forced to discard a number of cards equal to the negative number or the instructions. In the deck, there are also a number of Wild Cards, which allow a player to steal a card of corresponding color from another player.
Strategy will change from game to game, but it’s a good idea to lock up sets as soon as you can, especially when your hand has some high numbered cards. When the cards are gone from the draw pile, the game is over and the scoring begins. Players multiply the numbers in their sets and then add them up (4 x 3 x 5 = 60, 2 x 1 x 4 = 8 for a total score of 68).
Conclusion: Not only is Ugh! a of of fun, it’s pretty affordable. (When was the last time you saw a game for $10?) Because the artwork is funny, bright, and cheery and the gameplay moves quickly, Ugh! has become a staple during our game nights. The one difficulty is that for kids and some adults, keeping track of scoring can be a bit of a challenge. At our house, we welcome the challenge as a way for our fourth graders to practice their math – a little pencil and paper goes a long way.
Update: I’ve just heard from Calliope Games and, unfortunately, the shipment containing Ugh! has been delayed and Ugh! will likely arrive just after Christmas. Bad timing, but it was out of Calliope’s control.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of this game.

Dave Banks is employed by Cyberdyne Systems and is building a global digital defense network. When not on the job, he enjoys playing games and watching cars go really, really fast.
Follow @davebanks and @wiredgeekdad on Twitter.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Why I Love...: Got 'Em!

Sometimes, love is unconditional. It's blind to faults, oblivious to issues, and would have us walk through the fire, unquestioning. In 'Why I Love...' we invite writers to share, without shame and without even the merest hint of balance, what it is about a particular game that turns them into a pile of gamer goo, desperate for just one more game.


Are you tired of buying family games to play with your kids and your non-gaming friends, and then having to buy even more games to play with your hard-core strategic gaming buddies?
Well, Calliope Games has the perfect game for you. Got ’Em is a fun family game that kids of any age can play AND uses the exact same mechanics to provide a awesome, repeatable strategy game that will quickly become a must-play for every gamer.
The best part of both versions of the game is their straight-up simplicity. Got ’Em is played on a grid-based board with slots along each side of the squares. In these slots you place walls. The goal of the game is to trap your opponent so they can no longer move—of course, at this point you yell “GOT ’EM.” The winner is the last piece standing (or, in this case, moving). That’s the game—simple and easy to learn even for the youngest players.
The family game, using the Bright Got ’Em rules, is played on the side of the board with all the squares colored in a mosaic of red, green, yellow and blue. Each player is dealt 3 cards and places their game piece on the board in the indicated spot. Each turn the player takes a card from their hand and plays it face up. The cards have simple instructions; for example, a typical cards reads: place a wall on red square [and] may move 2 squares. The easy-to-understand directions let anyone see the exact action the player takes, and in what order. Following those instructions, the player places a wall on any side of any red square on the board. They can choose to build on an existing wall played by another player, try to force another player into a dead end, or play in a more mysterious style and try to create a labyrinth that will slowly trap all the other players!
After placing the wall, the player can move his or her piece a number of squares less than or equal to the instruction on the card. In the example, the player can move her piece 0, 1 or 2 squares. There are cards that put a twist into things by allowing players to remove a wall or place one on any color square or, for the ultimate escape, move through a wall! At the end of their turn, the player draws a new card.
With 3 cards in their hand, the players always have a choice and can put the pressure on each other. The game plays extremely fast, less than 30 minutes for an average game. Before you know it, even grandma will have 3 or 4 games under her belt (I was schooled by my 7-year-old!). The card randomization and the creative layout of the board means no two games are alike, with some games feeling like the ultimate chase and others more like a boxing match. With 4 players, the options are endless!


But here’s where Calliope Games has really created a must-have game—the Brainy Got ’Em rules. In this version of the game, you use the flip side of the board. There are no colored squares here and you don’t use the cards. In this highly strategic version, it’s your wits and puzzle acumen that will win the day, not the random draw of the cards. You place your game piece on the board in the space indicated, and each player does 2 things on their turn: place a wall and move. Simple, right? HA! You have no constraints in placing the wall. Want to create a maze? Go for it! Want to cut the board in half? Play away! When you move your piece, you move 1 space, and then 1 extra space for every wall on the square your piece is on. That’s right; you can place a wall on your own square and get an instant +1 speed boost to get you out of trouble! But take care if you stop near a square with more than one wall already placed: your piece may be trapped before your turn comes around again!
The exciting and strategic combination of placing walls, moving to escape trouble and setting up your piece in a safe area for your next turn makes this game simple to learn—and very hard to master. You will want to play again just to explore the many options and choices that you didn’t get to make. The Brainy version of the game still plays in less than 30 minutes and has the intensity of speed chess!
Got ’Em is a must for any gamer’s shelf—a game that appeals to everyone and will immediately become part of your game rotation!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Evading pays off in Got ‘Em

Got 'Em
Colorful trapping fun.

How does your family do in games where you directly go after each other?
Do they find it fun to attack and evade? Or do the games end with hurt feelings around the table?
Or does it completely depend on the situation?
We’ve found that a lot depends on the situation. Sometimes, the kids just aren’t in the mood for games that are all about knocking your opponents out. In those times, they might feel like the world is picking on them.
The good news is that as the kids get older, and as they’ve experienced more games, those times dwindle. So pulling out the new board game from Calliope Games, Got ‘Em!, can be a lot of fun. Just like it says on their website, “Got ‘Em! is a delightful way to corner your friends.”

Can the whole family enjoy Got ‘Em!?

Got 'Em
It all starts out innocently enough.

We think Got ‘Em! is a board game that the whole family can enjoy. Even younger kids can understand how to play the game. As you can see in the video review by Brook and Caleb, it’s pretty simple as you place a wall and move your piece. But we think you’ll find that the younger kids won’t enjoy it as much because they don’t like others trapping their pieces.The suggested age for the game is 8+ and we think that’s an accurate assessment. It’s around that age that kids start planning ahead and thinking strategically to survive in a game about trapping and being trapped.

Got 'Em
Time to watch out for traps.

Got 'Em!Like Brooke and Caleb said, the colorful side is very enjoyable. But there’s also a side without colors that’s completely a strategic game – which may appeal more to the older kids in your family. So depending on who you’re playing with, there’s a game style for you.
How much luck is involved in Got ‘Em!?
While there is some luck in Got ‘Em!, most of the game is about strategic maneuvering. The luck comes from the cards you draw into your hand. So in that case you’ll be limited to where you may be able to place a wall. But you’ll also always have a few cards in your hand to choose from. So you’ll still have the chance to make strategic decisions.
And if you flip the game board over, you won’t be playing with the cards at all. So that element of luck will be completely eliminated and you’ll be left to your own mental devices.
How does Got ‘Em! score on the “Let’s Play Again” meter?
Got ‘Em! scores high on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter. It really is a fun game of trapping and trying not to get trapped yourself. And because it’s so easy to set up for a new game, we find that most games end with calls for a rematch.

Thanks Calliope Games for a great family board game!
The Board Game Family Game Ratings
Caleb: 3.5 Meeples Caleb
Brooke: 4.0 Meeples Brooke
Jaden: 3.5 Meeples Jaden
Trevor: 3.5 Meeples Trevor
Mom: 3.5 Meeples Mom
Dad: 4.0 Meeples Dad
AVerage: 3.7 Meeples Average
Pick up a copy!