This week I presented with two wonderful peers (John Pappas & Tegan Conner-Cole) at the 2018 Pennsylvania Library Association Conference on why every librarian should play board games. Although, I was too short to really stand at the podium it was an overall wonderful experience.
Information ranged from types of board games to the importance of diversity and representation in board games selected for your collection. Topics covered included statistics proving the growth of the industry, arguments to present to your board on why to have a circulating collection and host board game events, how to start family board game events, tween/teen club tips, recommended games for adult board game evenings, and even how to start a golden gaming group.
It is your first day on the job and you want to make a great impression. Fill your customer’s orders before your competition, but be careful not to touch or drop the gelato!
Dexterity and caution are essential for Go Go Gelato by Blue Orange Games. The fastest person does not always win. In fact, I often watched the person who rushed panic and drop their scoops. An easier version of Dr. Eureka, this game is aimed at a younger audience. After mastering Gelato, many will want to transition to the tougher versions. Two to four players race to duplicate the challenge card image. The key is, they are out if they drop a scoop, touch a scoop or yell, “Go Go Gelato!” with the wrong combination.
Blue Orange Games has been on a role with their family friendly, educational games. They excel at dexterity games (which are hard to find). Each game is eye-catching, brightly colored, has interesting features, and very few parts. From the box art to the neon gelato scoops, this game is aesthetically pleasing. It is sure to catch the interest of children.
Game setup is easy as it only involves cones, gelato scoops, and cards. Shuffle the challenge cards and place them face down in a spot everyone can easily see them. Each player starts with matching colored gelato on their corresponding cones (ex: a yellow scoop on a yellow cone). Players will race to duplicate cone and scoop combinations shown on the challenge cards. The first one with the correct combination must yell, “Go Go Gelato” in order to win!
How to Play
When a challenge card is flipped, players race to juggle scoops from cone to cone and replicate the card combination. Players are out if they touch a scoop, drop a scoop, or yell “Go Go Gelato” without the correct combination. If a player is out, they must wait as others try to complete the challenge.
An interesting aspect of the game is that players may choose to reset their cones after play to the original starting cone/scoop combination or if they wish to make it more challenging they can just play the next card.
The winning player keeps the challenge card and play continues until the deck runs out or the players want to stop. The player with the most challenge cards wins.
Thoughts and Suggestions
Dexterity games are much harder to find and Blue Orange makes some incredibly fun ones. I love that this version is for a younger audience (as they are often practicing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination). The cones and scoops are large enough that little hands can easily hold them. Adults and children alike find the game easy to learn yet challenging.
One of the downsides is the box itself has a large plastic cut out portion on the cover. I know it is to display the extremely well-made props inside but the plastic easily falls out. The library version has been glued and taped in but I still fear it will one day pop out and we will lose pieces. It was also pointed out to me by a color blind patron that those who are color blind would have a tough time playing this game and possibly could not play it at all.
The box recommends ages 6+ and those who master it may wish to check out our other dexterity games by Blue Orange. This easy to learn and play game teaches color recognition, pattern building, and how to follow rules (which is essential for most games). I often use this game in STEAM programs on balance and dexterity and the adults are always impressed by the quality and theme. Overall, Go Go Gelato is a great way to introduce younger audiences to competitive games, but families do not have to use the racing or rules aspect. Children could simply practice manipulating the cones and scoops or learn how to read a simple pattern.
Other Games by Blue Orange: Dr. Eureka, Dr. Beaker
You are either a Meow, or Not a Meow. No matter what, you must remain calm, Meow the loudest, and discover who is secretly Not a Meow!
Meow by Asmadi is a fast-paced (approximately five minute) bluffing game. Two to nine players are pretending to all be cats, even though some players may not be. Players must remain impassive, not giving anything away through facial features, tone of voice, or body language.
This is a game I suggest for families with small children just learning the mechanics of bluffing board games and potentially as part of a library collection. Personally, as a household with two adults, I would not purchase this game, and instead buy more in depth bluffing games such as One Night Ultimate Werewolf and Salem 1692. I think Asmadi has many other games for adult game nights, including the hilarious We Didn’t Playtest This At All series. Meow though, only has a possibility of two roles and no special abilities or unique scenarios. My teen group finds the concept of “meowing” at one another hilarious and sometimes play this as a quick filler game.
Game setup is easy as it only involves cards. Shuffle the entire deck and put it face down within reach of the entire group. Everyone starts with an empty hand and you pick up your first card on your turn. The object of the game is to be the last person standing or be the first person with two Not Meow cards in your hand.
How to Play
On your turn pick up a card and say “Meow” no matter what is on the card. You want everyone to think you have only “Meow” cards in your hand at all times. Play then passes until one of two things happens:
As soon as a player picks up their second “Not Meow” card they automatically win the game. They have bluffed their way to victory.
Play also pauses if someone accuses another player of being a “Not Meow.” In this situation, the indicted player must then reveal their hand. If they have only “Meow” cards in their hand, the player who pointed at them is out, but if they have even one “Not Meow” in their hand they are out. Play would then resume.
There are two ways to win the game: either by picking up your second, “Not Meow” card or being the last player left in the game.
Thoughts and Suggestions
This is a beginner bluffing game recommended for ages 8+ and I would suggest it is for those under ten. It can be used as a teaching method for those just learning how to bluff during games, but I would not play this at my adult game nights. The mechanics are extremely simple, and it when I tested it at Pax Unplugged, it lasted one round before the group chose to try other games. This being said, adults may not be the game’s primary audience. Parents may find this a useful tool and I am glad I have it in my library collection as I serve a diverse community. As one teen stated, “this game is so silly but it makes me laugh!” It is a just that: a quick, simple, game that has everyone laughing and saying “Meow” in the funniest ways possible. The problem I have with it is that novelty only carries the game so far before it becomes stale.
You and your friends have decided to eat together at a sushi restaurant; the only problem is they have a limited supply of everything. You must quickly try to grab the best combinations as they wiz by! In the mad scramble though, do not forget to order your dessert.
Sushi Go by GameWright is a fast-paced (approximately fifteen minute) card drafting game similar to 7 Wonders and Fairy Tale, but with fewer rules and a much faster play time. Two-five sushi enthusiasts (or up to eight if you have Sushi Go Party!) play and pass cards for three rounds, tallying points after each round. It is a fast, fun quick game (by which I mean quick to learn and quick to play).
Sushi Go comes in an eye-catching portable tin. Happy, chibi tempura, dumplings, sushi, and wasabi smile and tempt you to open the box. Everywhere I bring it to demo, there are sighs and admiration for the adorable illustrations created by Nan Rangsima. This truly is a pick up and play game for anywhere and anytime. Although simple to learn, there is strategy involved. If one is not observant of other players’ choices they can quickly fall behind and lose the most valuable combinations.
Game setup is easy as it only involves cards. The number of players determines how many cards dealt to each person. I demoed with two players so each round we started with ten cards in our hands. The object of the game is to have the most points after three rounds of play.
Top Row- Nigiri (worth the point value on the card unless you play a wasabi first), Wasabi (play this first. The next Nigiri you play is tripled), Chopsticks (allows you to play two cards in one turn- when played it must be placed back into your hand and passed onto the next player)
Bottom Row- Tempura (worth five per pair), Sashimi (worth 10 per triplet), Dumpling (worth 1 if you have 1, 3 if you have two…max 15 if you have 5), Pudding (this is the only card you keep for all three rounds in front of you. After the last round, the person with the most pudding gets +6 and the least -6), Maki (after each round the person with the most maki gets +6 and the person with the second most +3).
How to Play
Everyone starts with the same number of cards in their hand (see rules to find out how many depending on the number of players). Everyone secretly picks a card to play from their hand, puts it face down in front of them. Everyone reveals the card they have chosen, and then passes their hand to the next player. Players continue to choose cards, hoping to add to the combinations they have started. Play continues until all cards in hand have been played. Tally points for the first round, discard all cards played (except for puddings) and deal a new set of cards for the next round. This continues for three rounds. After the third round, the player with the most points wins!
Here is my first through third round:
On my first round I scored 16 points (6 for having the most maki, 4 for my salmon nigiri, 5 for my tempura pair, 1 for my single dumpling, and I had one pudding to keep).
On my second round, I scored 21 points (I again had the most maki with 7 rolls so got 6 points, 5 for tempura pair and 10 for my sashimi set. I also added a second pudding). My round one and two combined gave me 37 points but I was still 3 points behind my opponent who scored 40 points.
On the third round, I scored only 7 points (6 points for the most maki but minus 6 as my opponent had more pudding making this a wash, 1 for egg nigiri, 5 for my tempura pair, and 1 for my dumpling). My opponent won as I only had 44 points and they scored 50 points.
Thoughts and Suggestions
Gamwright has created a game both novice and veteran card game lovers can get behind. I do wish the original Sushi Go included a score card (even a paper scorecard like in New York Slice) which would help players keep track of their points during the rounds. This has been remedied in the Sushi Go Party edition, which has a beautiful scoreboard and colorful pawns. The board even has a display area so participants know which menu items are in play and how to score points with them without having to search through the rule book. The party edition is worth the extra money because it gives more playing options including a cutthroat combo for competitive players, larger group set, master menu for seasoned players, and dinner for two combination.
Since the game only takes fifteen minutes to play, my board game attendees often play this game if they are waiting for others to arrive, in between longer games, or if the club is almost over. I have played this game at all three of my clubs (family, teen, and adult) with great success. It is a light card-drafting game. Players strategize, trying to create the best combinations while blocking others from completing theirs. The box recommends this game for ages 8+ but I think that even younger participants can play, as the scoring requires set collection, number recognition, an understanding of greater than/less than, addition, subtraction, and simple multiplication. Whether two players or four players, I found the game just as entertaining and fun. Although I may remember what was in my hand with only two players, this did not detract from my enjoyment. It is highly portable and great for any game night.
Other Games by GameWright: Monster Café, Pyramix, Forbidden Island, Imagine