Just a couple of quick after-work stops.
Mille Bornes ($3) – Mille Bornes isn’t a game that I would choose to play if I had other options, but I think it’s a solid enough game to be included in a family game collection. Mille Bornes gives the player some choice in play, rather than relying on fairly telegraphed moves or chance. To be sure, there is some real “take that” in Mille Bornes, but I like that there is some counter-“take that” with the “coup forre!” plays that makes it somewhat risky to decide to start dumping on a single player. A coup forre is when a player tries to play a hazard on you (flat tire, out of gas, accident, et c.) but you have the countering super-card in your hand. Instead of taking the hazard, you play the super-card and get bonus points for the well-timed dodge. The game can bog down, and a player can have supreme bad luck (if you don’t get a Go, you can’t go) but there is more here than mere Crazy 8s.
Jenga ($3) – This one is still a get because it has lasting family appeal. Even though it is a very simple game with a little balance and skill, it doesn’t take long to set up and the rules explanation is about 3 sentences.
Sorry Sliders ($3) – Sorry Sliders is always a consistent performer in the used market, and it’s a worthwhile set of components for the price. Sorry Sliders has nearly no resemblance to its namesake game other than the pawn shape, but the bearing and pawn combinations glide well even over the cardboard boards to make for cheap and ersatz puck-flicking games.
HaPe Quattro ($3) – HaPe games are generally the cutest wood games on the market, right up there with Haba. This game actually isn’t anything special, it’s just Connect 4, but the execution of it is just darling. Instead of sliding chips down into a plastic frame, players are putting dark and light tubes on poles, and the resulting game makes it look like a small stand of bamboo.
Wise & Otherwise ($4) – This fun party game pops up now and again, and it’s usually priced well enough to make it a worthwhile get. The premise here is much like Dictionary or Balderdash, except that the subects are real proverbs from other cultures and they can be a little obscure. The good news here is that with a mildly creative group, it’s pretty easy to make plausible-sounding proverbs, especially when the real ones seem to lose something in translation.
Leaping Lizards ($1) – I picked this one up because it’s a simple game for small children that lets them learn a little about random chance, but also taking turns and recognizing order. It ended up being short a couple of beads, but they’re easily replaceable.
Jungle Speed ($2) – This is a classic that’s now available at mass merchant retailers for a reasonable price. I first learned to play this years ago with some French students who would curse and smoke while we played (how cliché), but it’s usually a fun one to bring out for light gaming. Be forewarned, though, there is a good possibility that someone may draw blood, drinks will get knocked over, or the totem will go flying. Fortunately, the widely-available version has changed to a hollow plastic totem instead of a solid wood cone, so it is less of a hazardous projectile.
Word Search ($3) – I was on the fence about getting this one, and I might just give this to a friend. Goliath had been flogging the hell out of this one at trade shows, so I thought there might be something to it. In reality, it’s a lot like an elementary word search, where players are trying to be the first that spots the word that is revealed, and players get points for the letters covered by their tokens. Seems like it might be fun for younger children, but I would think that adults would be pre-spotting words that fit with the subject matter of the puzzle, waiting for them to come up.
Shuffleboard ($5) – I originally resisted this one, but I realized that this was something that doesn’t come around too often. I occasionally see Carr boards by the Carrom Company, and I’ve seen enough copies of Rebound (like shuffleboard on a half-board with ricochet rubber bands) but this is a solid 4′ board for tabletop shuffleboard with roller-bearing pucks. I’ll put it along with Skittle Bowl as a ridiculous large game that I can have in a full-sized gaming room.