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Dad Suggests
Fatherly thoughts on kids books, board games, and more. Discover new picture books and family board games - and uncover new parenting and dad thoughts.
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Monsieur Carrousel - ReviewGrowing up, memory games were always some of my most favorite. I remember my mother telling me how when I was just a little kid I would play game after game of memory matching against her until she could no longer beat me. To this day, I still love to play them and now have the pleasure of playing them with my own children. I believe that memory games are not only a fun game to play, but also an incredibly useful educational tool to help young minds learn. So I’m always on the lookout for great ones to add to our shelves, and luckily for my children, the selection is far superior than my glory days of “guess and flip” tiles. Now they have games with a working carousel! And yes, it sounds as amazing as you’d think! What is Monsieur Carrousel? Monsieur Carrousel is a cooperative memory game. Players work together to help all of the children ride the carousel before the rain begins to fall. How do you play? To play, first decide what level of difficulty you wish to play. The six, double-sided seating discs each have different difficulty levels, easy, medium, and hard. Choose which level you’d like to play and insert it into the carousel. Then assemble the carousel. This part is relatively easy, but if your kids are younger, you’ll probably want to help them. Difficulty levels are determined by number of butterflies in the middle. Once the carousel is set up, you’re ready to play! Each player’s turn is divided into two phases. In Phase one you’ll place a kid on the carousel. In Phase two you’ll check the weather. On your turn, roll the die. The color you’ve rolled is the seat you are able to fill on the carousel. There are six colors on the carousel, each repeated once for a total of 12 seats. Take a kid token not yet on the carousel and place it in an empty seat that matches the color you rolled. Make sure you remember what seat the kid is on. Are they sitting on a a lion? Alligator? Dolphin? You’ll need to remember this later! Once you’ve placed them in their seat, it’s time to see what the weather is like. Spin the carousel around. When it stops, check to see what section of the board the kid you just placed on the carousel stopped. The board is divided into two distinct sections. On the left is the yellow sunny side and on the right is the blue rainy side. If the kid stops in the rainy zone, that means the rain is coming. Place one of the blue raindrops on the board. If the kid is in the sun section, great, the sun is in the sky and you get to place a sunbeam on the board. Select a yellow sun beam and place it in one of the troughs on the board. Each trough needs two sun beam pieces to complete it, but each beam is just slightly different in size so they can only fit a certain way. If you choose wrong, you must place the beam back in the reserve. If you choose correctly it can stay. If that beam completes a trough section, then you may remove a raindrop from the board. This then ends your turn. But what if you rolled the die and there was not an open seat in that color? If all of the seats in that color were filled then turn the carousel. When it stops, look at the seat Monsieur Carrousel is pointing to with his finger. If that seat is empty, add a kid token to it and proceed to phase 2. If the seat already has a kid token on it then you must now use your memory to guess what seat the kid is sitting on. You and the other players can work together on this! Once you’re ready, make your guess. Then lift the kid token to check your answer. If you were correct, you get to put a sunbeam fragment on the board. If you were incorrect, you must place a raindrop on the sky. Your turn is now over. The game ends when either all of the kids have been placed on the carousel or all of the raindrops have been placed on the board. What do we think? This is another fantastic game from LOKI, and much like their game SOS Dino, Monsieur Carrousel has incredible table presence. There are very few games designed for kids that go to this level of production. When we set it up for the first time I couldn’t believe it. Honestly. It is one of the coolest designed games I’ve seen in a while and it is just gorgeous! The art, design, and illustrations are simply beautiful. I need a Monsieur Carrousel children’s book stat! Can’t you just see this game as a cute picture book? Let’s collab on a children’s book, LOKI! Okay, anyway, moving on! All of the wooden pieces are high quality, well painted, and sized just right for preschool hands. These all fit into their recessed sections on the board and carousel, keeping them nicely in place. The fact that my kids can play Monsieur Carrousel as their usual wiggly selves and not have the pieces go flying everywhere anytime the board is jostled just a bit is such a benefit. The 3D carousel is beautiful. With the natural wooden details, vibrant colors on the base, and fun spinning ability, it practically magnetizes kids to it. Heck, I’m magnetized to it! As a mom, I was worried that it wouldn’t hold up since the kids this game is geared towards are young preschoolers. Little hands aren’t always the gentlest, even when they are trying really hard. So far it has held up just fine, even with my rambunctious boys. There was one piece with a dowel rod that didn’t get glued perfectly and popped off....
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Troll & Dragon - ReviewGet in, get the gold, grab a little more gold…okay maybe just one more piece of gol- OH NO! The dragon’s waking! Grab your gold and GET OUT! What is Troll & Dragon? Troll & Dragon is a push your luck game from LOKI. You take on the role of daring Adventurers recruited by the King to bring him as many Gold and Diamonds as possible from the Monster Den while evading the Troll who wishes to eat you and the Dragon guarding his gold. Players will take turns rolling dice to collect as much diamond and gold as they can before the Troll or Dragon catches them. The player with the most treasure at the end of the game is the winner! How do you play? Troll & Dragon is as quick to teach as it is fun to play! To start, hand each player an adventure pack and set the troll hand in the middle of the table along with the bottom of the box. The bottom of the box will be used to hold the treasures players will be attempting to get on their turn. Pour all of the diamonds into the diamond grotto and the gold nuggets into the treasure cavern. Players take their turn around the table with each turn having two phases. On your turn, you’ll first enter the Diamond Grotto, taking all four of the white diamond dice and roll them. Resolve the dice according to the faces rolled. Troll: The die is blocked and cannot be rerolled. Diamond: if you roll one or more diamond faces, take that amount of diamonds from the grotto and place them next to your adventure pack, but not on it. These are not yet yours. Diamond face dice may be rerolled. Door or Key: You can reroll these dice to try to find more diamonds or you may set them aside. To enter the Treasure Cavern you must roll both a door and a key. If you set dice aside they are blocked and cannot be rerolled. The troll appears when all of your dice are blocked. When this happens you lose all of the diamonds you collected this turn. Place them on the troll hand. If you wish to end your turn, before all of your dice are blocked simply say, “I’m leaving!” Then take all of the diamonds you managed to get from the box and place them on your adventure pack. These are now yours! If you wish to enter the treasure cavern and rolled both a key and a door, then you may enter the second phase of your turn. Set the diamond dice aside and take the gold Treasure Cavern dice and hand the dragon dice to the other players. Just like with the diamond dice, any time you roll a gold nugget, take the amount shown and place it beside your pack. Roll as many times as you would like until you wish to leave or the dragon wakes. Just say “I’m leaving!” Then add your gold and diamonds onto your adventure pack. While you are rolling your gold dice, the other players will be passing the red dragon dice around, trying to roll two dragons. If this happens before you leave, the dragons wakes up, scaring you and the troll, forcing you to drop your treasures as you flee the cave. If the players rolling for the dragon are successful, they will then take any gold and diamonds you were able to get, and and diamonds that are on the troll hand and share them amongst themselves, adding the treasure to their packs. The next player then takes their turn. The game ends when either one or both of the treasure locations is empty, or after an agreed upon number of rounds. It’s up to you! What do we think? For this style of game, the theme is just perfect and adds the right amount of excitement as players are trying to escape the cavern before getting caught. Aiding the theme also are some really beautiful art and components. The diamond and gold pieces are nice little nugget-shaped treasures that sparkle really well and look great all piled up on your adventure pack. The dice are well sized with icons that are very easily distinguishable; important since you’ll be rolling them quickly. Best part is it all fits in its compact box making it a great option for travel and will save you some shelf space! We have had such a fun time playing Troll & Dragon. Push your luck games are always a hit in this house, but I love how Troll & Dragon keeps everyone playing even when its not their turn. During the first part of your turn, you’re working against your own dice rolls, hoping to not get caught by the troll as you grab diamonds and search for the entrance to the treasure cavern. But once you enter the treasure cavern and begin to roll for gold, all of the other players will be working against you to wake up the dragon. This is such a fun and exciting part of the game as everyone frantically passes the dragon dice around the table hoping to thwart the active player and maybe score a little treasure for themselves in the process. Now, while we the adults love push your luck games, kids don’t always feel the same. The main thing that makes this style so fun: risking everything to win or lose big, makes it pretty difficult for kids emotionally. That’s not to say that kids won’t like this game. They’ll most likely be drawn in heavily by the theme and mechanics, I know my kids are. Just know that you’ll potentially have to work through some big emotions when the dice just don’t roll in their favor. Troll & Dragon is recommended for players ages 7 and up. This is right on, not just because kids will need to process quickly...
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6 of Our Favorite Social Deduction GamesSocial deduction games can make some of the best party games. Easy to teach with little to no components, the game plays out amongst the group and the interactions they have together while frequently accommodating several players. There are a bunch of social deduction games out there, most featuring hidden identity mechanics where players attempt to discover the traitor(s) amongst them while the traitor(s) blend in while working towards their own objectives. With such similarity, it can be hard to know which ones are worth your time. So to help in your quest, here are some of our favorite games in this category! Deception: Murder in Hong Kong A murder has happened! You and all of your friends must form a team of investigators to discover the murderer. The catch? The killer is one of you! Roles are randomly assigned to players at the start of the game with the investigators attempting to suss out the murderer and the murderer, along with his/her team attempting to mislead the investigators. This game is one of my absolute favorite social deduction games and also was the centerpiece to my all time favorite game moment! You know, those hilarious game nights that you’ll never forget? It plays up to 12 players, making it a great game to pull out for those larger groups. The game does have some graphic cards so it may not be suitable for kids outside the PG-13 zone. Hail Hydra If you’re a Marvel fan you’ll definitely want to check this one out. Your group will team up as S.H.I.E.L.D. heroes to save New York City from an evil villain – except, you guessed it, some of you are evil HYDRA operatives! Determine who is a truly loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D. and who is secretly saying “Hail Hydra” behind your back, (or out loud to the whole table!) You’ll choose your hero, each with their own special ability, a loyalty card letting you know if you’re working with or against the heroes and then you’ll all proceed to go on missions to defeat a villain, secretly choosing cards to attack the villain. If the result is positive, the villain takes damage; if it’s not, they don’t and the speculation as to everyone’s identity escalates. It is so very very fun! If you’ve played The Resistance, this will feel familiar, but, in my opinion, it is even better. The production value is also top notch! Two Rooms and a Boom If you’ve got a large group, this is your game. Perfect for parties, team builders, or family gatherings, Two Rooms and a Boom plays anywhere from 6 to 30 players. Yes, you read that right, thirty players! Players will be secretly assigned roles, forming two teams, and randomly placed into two rooms where one team’s job is to protect the president, and the other team’s job is to get the bomber into the room with the president before the end of the last round. Players must negotiate to determine which players are going to move to the other room at the end of each of the three rounds. Form alliances quickly and deliberate decisively as the game only takes minutes and you don’t have long before the “Boom.” Perfect for large groups and a great choice as an ice breaker or team builder! Werewords This game completely surprised me as we played it well into the hours of the night one Christmas. It’s simple yet thinky (that’s a word, right?) Twist on 20 questions that is just a ton of fun. Players are trying to guess a secret word by asking yes or no questions before time runs out. Among them is a werewolf who knows the word and is working against them, attempting to mislead the group without getting caught. If the group guesses the word they win, if they can’t guess the word, they can still win by identifying the werewolf! With its clever use of roles and variable player powers it makes for a really fun play experience with just about any group. Bonus! A free iPhone app is used to generate thousands of words in multiple difficulty levels for all ages so you’ll never see the same word twice! And you don’t just have to take our word for it, this game has been nominated for the 2019 Spiel des Jahres award! Saboteur I love this one because it packs a fun bluffing game with hidden traitors into a small card box. Players are dwarves hunting for gold in the mine, attempting to form uninterrupted paths to goal cards. But among them are saboteurs just waiting to mislead them in the wrong direction. Dwarves play cards from your hand to form paths through the mine to the gold while saboteurs attempt to mislead the path, keeping the gold for themselves. Played over the course of three rounds, the player with the most gold at the end is the winner. The Chameleon A lighter option for those who may not be interested in lying or acting but still love the challenge of deception. In The Chameleon you will have one of two goals, if you are the chameleon, you will want to blend in amongst everyone and discover the secret word. If you are not the chameleon, you want to figure out who is without giving away the secret word. In a world of a ton of word games and social deduction games alike, this one feels fresh and unique. This is one of my new favorite word games and a great option to pull out for a quick filler. Pull it out, teach it in minutes, play as many rounds as you’d like! Lovely! What are some of your favorite social deduction games? If you liked this post you may also like: 10 Great Date Night GamesEducational Board Games for Summer Break3 Ways We Try Before We Buy
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Snail SprintSnail Sprint. If there’s a more apt way to describe our life right now I’m not aware of it. With a brand new baby added to our clan, we feel like we are rushing everywhere, trying to do all the things, but getting no where fast. While we’ve been enjoying a lot of extra time at home cuddling our baby and falling behind on laundry (is it ever possible to get caught up?) we’ve also been having a lot of fun playing games with our four big kids and Snail Sprint has been on repeat for our boys. What is Snail Sprint? Snail Sprint is a cute racing game for 2-4 players ages 5 and up. Players will each draw a race card that shows them which three snails they want to finish the race. Then, taking turns, players will each roll the dice and move snails according to their color and symbol on the magnetic race track and over other snails to the finish line. How do you play? Snail Sprint comes in a magnetic tin rather than a standard box. This is because the tin itself is part of the game board. To start the game, players will assemble the three piece puzzle board and then place the bottom of the tin in the open slot to complete the race track. Players will then place all six snails at the starting space and each draw one race card. On these cards are three snails. These are the snails that each player is trying to get to finish the race. The faster the snail finishes the race, the more points will be awarded. Three points for first, two for second, and one for third. You’ll want to keep these cards secret so no one else knows which snails you want to win the race. Hand the two dice to the first player and you’re ready to play! On your turn, you’ll roll the dice which will tell you which snail to move and where. The dice have colored shapes on them which relate to both the snails and the spaces on the race track. After you roll dice, you’ll choose which dice you want to use to move a snail and which dice is for where the snail races off to. When a snail lands on a space, it covers up that spot’s shape and the snail itself becomes a place other snails can land on based on the colored shape on the side of the snail. If another player lands a snail on top of another snail, that snail is frozen and cannot be moved until the snail above it has been removed. (You can only have a maximum of two snails on one space) Players will move snails up and over the game board, crawling over other snails, and defying gravity along the sides of the tin as they race to the end. The game ends after three snails have claimed first, second and third place on the winners podium. The player with the highest points wins! What do we think? There are a few things I look for in a kids game, It has to be easy to teach, quick to play, and fun enough to hold attention spans. It’s an added bonus if it’s fun for adults to play as well. Snail Sprint checks all of those boxes. I love that this game is both incredibly simple, yet offers young kids a way to start thinking strategically as well. This easily could have been a game where you were in charge of one snail and you just had to get that snail to the finish line. But by giving players cards with three snails, their thinking has to expand a bit. With all six snails in play, regardless of the number of players, they’ll have to manage their three snails amidst the pack. Another thing I look for in a game is choice and I like that in Snail Sprint players will have to make a choice each turn. When they roll the dice, they have to choose from the colors rolled, which snail is better for them to move. Sometimes you’ll roll the same color and symbol on the dice and your choice will be made for you. But often, you’ll roll different symbols and will need to choose if it’s better to move say, the yellow snail to the green space, or the green snail to the yellow space. It’s the right amount of choice for kids. Not too much to stress them out. Just enough to get them thinking strategically about their options. The components are all fantastic and exactly as you’d expect from HABA. The snails are great, chunky wooden pieces that are easy to grasp, stack and look so cute sticking to the sides of the tin. The game comes with little magnetic stickers to place underneath them for this purpose. Our kids love the way the snails stick to the side of the tin. It’s just that right amount of whimsy that gets kids excited. (Tip: you may want to have a little glue nearby as some of our magnet stickers have fallen off after all of our plays. Just glue them on if that happens and you’ll be set.) Due to the fact that the box tin is part of the board, it can be a bit difficult for little kids to reach around to the other side to move their snail when it is on the tin. While the shapes on the path are on the outside of the tin, they are also printed along the inside as well. This allows players to know where their snail can go when it is on the other side of the tin from them. We just simply help each other out and move the snail where the player would like and it hasn’t been an issue. Age wise, Snail Sprint is a great fit for you preschoolers in...
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8 Great Board Games for Kids to Beat Summer BoredomAh, summer. The time of year when days are long, dreams are big, and kids invariably run out of things to do. There’s only so many times even the most energetic child can run through a sprinkler, and there are always days that are simply too hot to venture outside. That is when we retreat to the cool(er) basement to play board games. It is always nice to have a new game or two in order to keep things fresh and fun for the kids. Wondering what to pickup this summer? Here are some of my family’s choices. Disclosure: Some of the following links may be affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you click on a link and make a purchase. Outfoxed (ages 5+) Cooperative games are great for families, allowing children of varied ages and/or adults to work together to solve a problem. Outfoxed is a cooperative game geared for the younger set (5 and up, though any child with basic deduction and counting skills could play) and it has everyone trying to find the guilty pie-stealing fox among 16 suspects. As you get better at it, you can turn up the difficulty. Enjoy Outfoxed but want a cooperative game that is a little more complex? Try Mole Rats in Space as your next step. Hive (ages 5+) The publisher has an age of 9+ on Hive, but I would not wait that long to introduce kids to it! My younger children began playing at a much younger age, about the same time they began learning Chess. Hive is a 2-player abstract strategy game can be played in the dirt, sand, with sticky popsicle hands. Just wipe them down when you are done! And bonus, these tiles will not blow away, so feel free to take them to the beach or camping. Planet (ages 8+) My children love seeing their worlds come together while playing Planet. This game requires a good deal of spatial thought as you draft tiles to place on your world, and if it isn’t your strong suit, this game is sure to exercise those skills. The players with the best habitat for each animal gains that animal card, which offers you points needed to win at the end of the game. Throughout the game you’re making tough choices, which was a nice bit of practice for my kids. If you try to get all the cute animals, you won’t get any: an important developmental step as one moves into more complex games. Planet is the perfect fit for animal lovers and those who enjoy a good puzzle. Rory’s Story Cubes (ages 5+) When my kids were real little we would make up stories together in the car. I would start it off, “Once upon a time there lived in the woods a family of 3…” and the next person would pick it up, “… MUFFINS!” We would all laugh hysterically and the story would continue on. Rory’s Story Cubes is a way to turn storytelling into a game, giving you the paramaters that you will play with. They offer several games you can play, but you can really use them any way you can think of. Imaginative storytelling has gotten us through countless hours of road trips and flight delays. This is great for travel – make sure to pack it into your carry-on luggage for the plane! Already enjoy Rory’s Story Cubes? Have you tried out their other sets? They have Actions, Voyage, Fantasia, Batman, Scooby Doo, and even Doctor Who to add to your collection! Pyramid of Pengqueen (ages 8+) Brave adventuring penguins are attempting to escape the mummy at the Pyramid of Pengqueen! This clever hidden movement game uses magnetic pieces that attach to the 3-dimensional board. One player is the mummy while the others attempt to collect their treasures without getting caught. While the mummy is moving on one side of the board, clueless of where the penguins are, the penguins get to see where the mummy moves. This makes for some tense moments as you watch the mummy move ever so close to your piece, adding to the excitement of the game. Deep Sea Adventure (ages 8+) A challenge of a game, Deep Sea Adventure has you diving for treasure, hoping to grab the most valuable pieces you can. But beware! If you run out of air, you drop all your treasure and get no points for the round. This press-your-luck gem is in a small box and is the perfect choice to take to restaurants and coffee shops. For a fun and challenging twist, try playing Deep Sea Adventure cooperatively to see how much treasure you can get, and then try to beat your score! 5-Minute Dungeon (ages 8+) Have five minutes to spare? Then this game is for you, though chances are you’re going to want to play more than once. 5-Minute Dungeon has you furiously fighting through a dungeon (aka deck of cards), discarding cards as quickly as you can in order to defeat the mobs with your group. Once you get through the deck you still have the boss to defeat – and you only have five minutes to declare the entire dungeon clear. Character abilities and special cards add to this fast-paced game that usually has us yelling and laughing, and oftentimes losing. But always wanting to do it “one more time.” 5-Minute Dungeon is a great match for those who do not stress easily under pressure. That being said, it is a good game for children who need practice making quick decisions. Prefer superheroes to fantasy? There’s 5-Minute Marvel as well. Ion (ages 8+ or younger with variants) If you have a science lover in your family you need to check out Ion. This is such a fun card-drafting game that has you combining ions to make neutral compounds. Ion is a simple game to teach and plays quick (about 30 minutes) Added bonus: …
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