We recently purchased Dr Eureka at a games sale; it looked like a fun game and it fits a niche we didn’t currently fill. It’s a game of dexterity as well as puzzle solving. In Dr Eureka, you start with three test tubes with colored marbles in them. One person flips a card, and everyone starts pouring their marbles from one tube to another, trying to match the pattern on the card.
Sounds easy, right? Catch – you can’t touch the marbles. So you need to figure out how to pour them back and forth between the three tubes you have until you get the right pattern – all without touching the marbles. If you drop one, you’re out. This can be a fun game for anyone with the dexterity; it’s especially fun if you’re the sort of person who likes those 9-square puzzles or even a Rubik’s Cube.
Loy says: “I liked this game for quick reflexes and quick thinking. It was easy enough to hold a conversation between rounds and the rounds do fly past. This would be fun for a group that includes kids tweens and slightly younger. I could also see it being great fun at a bar; rounds would get more challenging as the night went on.”
From the box: “Small World is a zany, light-hearted civilization game in which 2-5 players vie for conquest and control of a board that is simply too small to accommodate them all. Picking the right combination of fantasy races and unique special powers, players must rush to expand their empires – often at the expense of weaker neighbors. Yet they must also know when to push their own over-extended civilization into decline and ride a new one to victory. Designed by Philippe Keyaerts, as the fantasy follow-up to his award-winning Vinci, Small World is inhabited by a cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and even humans; who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth. Small World marks the return of the Days of Wonder line of heavily-themed, big-box sized games featuring evocative illustrations, high-quality European components and a compelling, fun theme. ”
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From the box: “Place tiles, adorn the Palace lake, and dedicate lanterns in this beautiful, fast–paced board game set in Imperial China. 36 lake tiles 56 lantern cards 20 engraved wood favor tokens 30 dedication tokens 1 custom wooden fishing boat rulebook the harvest is in, and now it’s time to celebrate! lanterns: the harvest festival is a tile– placement game set in Imperial China. Players act as artisans decorating the Palace lake with floating lanterns. The artisan who earns the most honor before the festival arrives wins the game.”
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From the box: “Build Like A Mortal – Win Like a God
Do you have what it takes to join the pantheon of winners? Build like a mortal and win like a God in the game of Santorini! Created by mathematician and educator Gordon Hamilton, this pure strategy game requires players to sharpen their wits! Everyone can gather around Santorini and face-off in a build-to-the-finish.”
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We’re a camping and picnicking family, and we like to pack a game or two in case things slow down. We’d much rather play a game when waiting in an unexpected line or at a restaurant; it keeps the noses out of the phones.
How do we pick a portable game? First, it needs to have a small footprint. After taking away the box and rulebooks, the remaining pieces need to fit neatly into a small space. This is especially important in the camper, where space is at a premium. Second, it needs to to play on almost any surface. We may find ourselves on a picnic table, but we’re also likely to be sitting on a beach blanket or around a neat sheet near the Washington Monument. Minatures and counter cubes are not right for that environment. Finally, it needs replay value. Games that can be played repeatedly and still be entertaining are key.
Here are some of our favorite traveling games:
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From the box: “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 player’s paths can lead you in the wrong direction – or off the board entirely. Find your way wisely to succed. Stay the path – your journey begins here.”
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From the box: “Play as your favorite characters and defend the wizarding world from evil forces. Enhance your abilities as you build your deck with over 140 cards. Seven successive game adventures offer increasing difficulty as you battle Villains and unlock new abilities, secrets and challenges. Also included are four HOGWARTS house dice, game board, over 50 chip pieces, and sorting cards to keep everything organized.”
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From the box: “Players take on the role of Lords seeking new lands to expand their kingdom. As with ‘Dominoes’, these new lands must match the landscape tiles that have already been played. You need to create large areas of the same landscape type. But these will only score points if there is at least one crown on a tile. Points for each landscape type are calculated at the end of the game by multiplying these two together: so the number of squares times the number of crowns. Before this however, you’ll need to pay attention to your choice of tile, which decides the order of play for the following round. Taking a good tile now means you’ll play later next time. Each round presents the players with new important decisions as to which tile they should take.”
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From the box: “Two players compete to make the best quilt! In the past, it was a way to make use of leftover pieces of cloth to create clothing and quilts. Today, patchwork is a form of art, in which the designers use precious fabrics to create beautiful textiles. To create a beautiful quilt, however, requires effort and time, but the available patches just do not want to fit together. So choose your patches carefully and keep a healthy supply of buttons to not only finish your quilt, but to make it better and more beautiful than your opponent‘s.”
Dan says: “Patchwork is a nice little tile-laying game for two players. In it you’re buying and placing patches of various Tetris-like shapes onto your square tableau. The play is ‘timed’ against a spiral board where your pawns move toward the center. Each ‘patch’ has a potential button and ‘time’/movement cost, so picking which of 3 available patches to buy has to measure the cost against the gain, including its fit in your tableau and the buttons it can earn you. Quick to pick up with lots of replay value, this game is a great 2-player game.”
From the box: “Released to critical acclaim in 2000, Carcassonne has long captivated audiences with its simple yet engaging gameplay. Now you can experience the best the 2001 Spiel des Jahres winner has to offer. The 2017 version of the Carcassonne big box combines the base game along with eleven of its expansions, making it the perfect starter set for anyone who wants to play this bestselling game with as much variety as possible. Including the inns & cathedrals, traders & builders, the Abbot, the River, the flying machines, the ferries, the messengers, the gold mines, mage & witch, the robbers, and the crop circles expansions, the Carcassonne big box includes more than 150 tiles and seven different types of Meeple.”
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