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Category Archives: Games

How Mao? Try Quao.

Fourteen summers ago, I came home from a teen tour obsessed with a card game I had learned — Mao. If you aren’t familiar with this diabolically fun game, Mao has no rules. Or at least, none that can be explained. But in this day and age, you can find everything on the internet, including a detailed explanation of Mao ... Read More »

Automatic Pile It

One of the first games I ever reviewed on Spillingthebeans was Ruckus. This card game has since become a success, thanks to the exceedingly simple and exceptionally fun concept. Dan Levy is the founder of Funstreet Games, and the brain behind Ruckus. Until now, he’s been a one-trick pony, but he’s just released a new game, Pile It. I really ... Read More »

How’s your poker face?

At Toy Fair, we picked up a sample of Spy Alley, a game that is not new, but we’d heard great things about it. The reputation is well-deserved – I thought it was a really nice game. Very well thought out and unique, fun to play and appealing to a wide age range. Although it is rated for ages 8 ... Read More »

Strategery in Phoenix

I’m back from my vacation – thanks for bearing with me while I took a break from writing. While we were kicking back in Phoenix, I took the opportunity to do some toy testing with my kids and my family. We are big time game players, a trait that seems to be genetically hardwired, so when my extended family gets ... Read More »

Say it with a French accent

The newest game from Blue Orange has just arrived. It’s Froggy Boogie, a memory game for ages 4 and up. The idea is simple – move the baby frogs around the lily pads without being seen by the adult frogs in the middle of the pond. Here’s where the game gets a bit bizarre: the memory component of the game ... Read More »

Bananagrams Split

No, it’s not a stuffed banana. Bananagrams is a great new word game that’s sort of a takeoff on Scrabble. Players are “dealt” a predetermined number of letter tiles, and then each player uses his/her letters to create a personal assortment of intersecting words. As the letters dealt get used, more letters are taken from the pile, and when the ... Read More »

Words at first sight

There’s a brand new reading game for the kindergarten set. Word Chase is the first effort from Beyond Learning, a new company founded by two accomplished teachers and backed by an impressive advisory panel. The game is designed for ages four and up and it teaches familiarity with “sight words” – the 25 most common words used in the English ... Read More »

A Deflexion by any other name

Last year’s popular holiday game, Deflexion, is back for 2006 but with a new name. For reasons I may never completely understand, they’ve renamed it Khet. According to a press release on the game’s website, they rebranded the game based on feedback from customers and retailers, and Khet is an Egyptian word for flame or fire. Okaaaay. Makes sense, sort ... Read More »

Dinner Theater

When someone first showed me Dinner Games, from FamilyTimeFun Games, I was very skeptical. Why would parents need a little box of suggested activities to keep kids engaged during dinner? I found a curmudgeon blossoming within me: why, when I was a kid, we just sat at the dinner table and talked. We didn’t need fancy games. Then, my four-year-old ... Read More »

Shake it up, spell it out

Rattled is a new game from Educational Insights, the same company responsible for Blokus, a perennial bestseller. Rattled is a word game that offers a creative twist on a familiar theme. Shake the wand, and a random set of 8 scrambled letters appears. Then, two players (or teams) compete to find the longest word that can be made using those ... Read More »