Reviews - Family games (page 3)

We have reviewed a selection of games which have been sent to us. These will help you and your child to have fun - family games are great to enjoy and bring all ages together.

Slide Quest Board Game

Slide Quest gets you working as a team to guide the knight through the kingdom to save it from the bad guys! What's in the box?

  • Board base
  • 4 x levers
  • 20 x different maps of increasing difficulty
  • A rolling knight
  • 1 x life counter
  • 1 x heart marker
  • 1 x game saver
  • 8 x obstacles (barriers, rocks and arches)
  • 9 x traps (dynamite, 4 numbered guards and a villain)

The base of the box cleverly converts in to the game board; place the 4 levers in the notches around the box and then place the board base in to the bottom of the box. There are 20 maps which have progressing levels of difficulty and are made up of 4 different worlds - The Coast, The Mountain, The Castle Grounds and The Castle. The maps are placed one at a time on to the base, they have a variety of holes in them, some will be so you can add the obstacles in and others are big enough for the knight to fall down.

The game piece is a sturdy blue knight who has a heavy silver ball instead of feet and this allows him to cleverly slide over the smooth surface of the maps as the players gently move their levers to get him to move in the right direction.

The aim of the game is to successfully guide the knight across the board, without him falling in to any traps or knocking over any dynamite. The levers move the game board around and this allows the knight to slide along. Each map has a path of light that you must follow to get the knight from the starting point to the end, the paths get more tricky as you go on with more obstacles and extra traps to avoid. The game can be played with between 2 - 4 players, if you are playing with 4 players then each person can use one of the levers to help guide the knight across the board. Some of the maps have different missions; you might have to push the guards in to the traps or use the dynamite to get on to the next map.

There are two game modes - Mini Quest and Grand Quest. To win the Mini Quest, players must help the knight cross over 5 maps that make up one world. The Coast is the easiest of the worlds and The Castle is the hardest to complete. If you really want a challenge then you can try and complete the Grand Quest in which you will need to cross all 20 maps. This is very tricky and we haven't managed to complete this yet!

At the start of the game you can choose how many lives you get to play with (between 3 and 8) and the handy marker will help you keep track of how many you have used up. If you have started a game but need to stop, you can use the included 'game saver' which is a clever little device that allows you to select the level you were on and how many lives you had left.

The game ends in one of two ways:

  1. You and your team successfully complete the last map from the set that you have chosen to play, and you have at least one life left on the counter.
  2.  The game ends if you run out of lives. You can start again by playing from the beginning of the chosen game mode.

Slide Quest is unlike any game we have played before, one of the main differences is that it is a team game. There is not one sole winner, you either win as a team or lose as a team! The rolling knight is very clever and slides smoothly across the maps without jolting or running away. We have been playing this with 4 people (2 adults and 2 children of 7 &9) and this is a really good balance as the children needed a little bit of guidance as they learnt the best way to use the levers.

This is a fantastic game to play as a family and you want to encourage a bit of teamwork! We have played this a handful of times and have managed to complete two worlds, so it's such a good one to keep coming back to and trying to improve your last score. It can take as little or as long as you like because you can save the game for later on. Everything is well made and of great quality, you can even play on your own if you want to test your skills or get a bit of practice in!

Slide Quest is suitable for 2-4 players of 7 and over and retails at around £19.99 and can be found in all good toys shops.

Confident? Board Game

What's in the box?

180 game cards

6 answer boards

6 pens

1 scoreboard

1 scribble board


Aim of the Game & How to Play:

Be the first player to score 15 points by answering numerical questions within a range that you choose.

The pile of cards sits in the middle of the table, each player (or team) has an answer board and a pen and someone is the designated scorekeeper who gets the scoreboard to fill in! Each card has a question on e.g. 'Email: In what year was the first one sent?'. Now like most people, I don't know the exact answer to this, but I could give it a well educated guess, and that is precisely how the game is played! On your answer board you need to write down the range, from lowest to highest that you think the answer falls between. So for the question above I would think that the earliest it was sent was 1965 and the latest it was sent was 1985, take the top of your range away from the bottom of your range and you get the size of your range, which in this case is 20.

Everyone writes their answer down at the same time and you all reveal them at the same time then flip the question card over to see if you were right. You are correct if your answer falls between the bottom and the top answer, or if it matches them. What you are aiming for is to get the smallest range as this means that you get to win 3 points for a correct answer. If the answer falls within your range but your range isn't the smallest out of everyone then you score just 1 point and if the answer doesn't fall within your range you don't score anything. The only exception to this scoring system is that if everyone gets the correct range, the person with the biggest range doesn't score, this is put in place to stop people from putting 0-the highest number in each round. The first to 15, wins! Once you have played a few times you can use the Confidence Boosts - Copy, Swap and Double. These will give you extra chances at winning by either copying someone else's range, getting other players to swap boards and if you are super confident of the answer you can try to double your points. Each boost can be used once during the game.

Confident? is suitable for ages 12 and over and can be played with two or more players, either as individuals or as a team. It takes around 20 minutes with a few players but around 30 minutes to play with larger teams. It is really easy to learn the rules and a great game to play with lots of people as it doesn't take much explaining, it is also far more competitive when played in a team as you 'discuss' things that you think you know! The great thing is that you don't need to know any of the answers, surprise yourself with how much you know by just taking a guess! Loads of fun, this has been our go-to game in recent weeks and we've enjoyed playing it just as much with just 2 of us during the last week in lockdown! Confident? retails at £22.99 and is available from all good toy shops and expansion packs are also available!

Exploding Kittens Card Game

What's in the box?

56 Playing cards: Exploding Kitten cards - 4 Defuse cards - 6 Nope cards - 5 Attack cards - 4 Skip cards - 4 Favour cards - 4 Shuffle cards - 4 See the Future cards - 5 Cat cards - 20 (4 of each type)

Aim of the game:

To not get blown up by an Exploding Kitten. To start the game the Exploding Kittens and the Defuse cards are removed from the pack, the rest of the cards are shuffled and each player is dealt 7 cards, add a Defuse card to your hand so that you have 8 cards in total. The left over Defuse cards are inserted in to the pack and you add the Exploding Kittens cards - insert 1 fewer than the number of people playing e.g. if there are 4 people playing then 3 cards should be put in the deck. Shuffle the deck and place it face down on the table.

To Play:

Decide who goes first, you can choose to pass or play during your turn; to play you lay a card face up in the discard pile and follow the instructions on the card. You can play as many cards as you like during your turn and to end your go you have to draw a card from the deck and hope that it is not an Exploding Kitten! To pass your go, don't lay any cards and simply draw one from the deck to end your turn.

What do the cards do?

Cat cards - There are 5 different Cat cards and you can collect up to four of each, they do nothing on their own and if you want to get rid of one you can simply play one by itself during your turn. If you have two matching cards you can steal a random card from another player and three matching cards lets you name the card you want to steal (if available).

See the Future - A very handy card to have as this lets you privately view the top 3 cards in the deck which will help you plan your next move.

Attack - Lay this card and you won't have to draw a card to end your go, but the next player will have to take two turns in a row which increases their chances of drawing an Exploding Kitten!

Shuffle - Use this to shuffle the pack before you draw your next card.

Nope - This stops any action and it can be played at any time, even if it's not your turn. This card can't be used on an Exploding Kitten or on a Defuse card though.

Skip - Use this card to end your turn so that you do not have to draw a card, these are good to use if you suspect an Exploding Kitten may be lurking at the top of the draw pile.

Favour - Ask another player for one of their cards, it is up to them what they give you!

Defuse - If you draw an Exploding Kitten, you can use this card instead of dying. The Defuse card goes in the discard pile and the Exploding Kitten can be secretly inserted back in the deck! Starting with a Defuse card doesn't guarantee you will always have one though, there are plenty of chances for them to be stolen from you!

Exploding Kittens - If you draw one of these you have to show it straight away, if you have a Defuse card you can use it, but if you don't, your're dead! Discard the card once you are out and play continues on.

How to win:

As there is one fewer Exploding Kitten cards in the pack than there are players, there will always be one person who doesn't get blown up. If you are this person, you are the winner!

There is no limit to how many cards you can hold in your hand at any one time, and often the more you have, the better. The game can be played with between 2-5 players, we have played with 2 but it is more predictable and playing with 4 or 5 people is much more fun! Exploding Kittens is quick and easy to pick up and you will build your strategy up the more you play, this has quickly become our 'go to' card game as it can be set up and played quite speedily. It is suitable for ages 7 and over, the instructions are really clear and well written and the cards are printed on high quality, textured card and presented in a sturdy box. I'd heard lots of good things about this game but I'd never actually played it until now and we have all really enjoyed this, it has been out several times over the holidays as we've introduced it to friends and family.

Great fun, competitive, silly and highly recommended! Exploding Kittens retails at around £19.99 and can be found in all good toy shops.

Just One Game

This month we have been playing Just One as part of the Board Game Club Blogger! In the box you get: 110 cards, 7 easels, 7 erasable marker pens and an instruction manual. Just One is a fun party game where everyone plays together to try to guess a word.


To Play:

Shuffle the cards, randomly draw out 13 cards and place them face down in the middle of the table, these form the deck you will play from and the rest can go back in the box. Each player gets an easel and a marker pen and you will need to choose someone to be the first active player. Each card has 5 words written on it and the easels have a lip on one side which hold the card in play; the active player will need to pick the top card from the deck in the middle, and without looking at it, place it facing out on their easel so that the other players can see the words on it. The active player then chooses a number from 1-5 which dictates the word on the card that needs to be guessed.

The active player has to use the clues given by the players to guess the word written on the card. The other players are allowed to write 'just one' single word as a clue, there are rules about what it can and cannot be, for example you cannot write 'whether' instead of 'weather' etc. Once all players have written their word the active player has to look away while the players turn their easels round to compare their clues. This can often wipe out clues as any identical clues are declared invalid as well as variants from the same word family. Tip the easel over to hide all invalid clues and then the active player can then look around to try and guess the word with the help of the remaining clues. The active player is successful if they guess the word correctly first time but they fail if they guess the wrong word. The player to the left of the active player becomes the new player and the game continues until all 13 cards have been played. The instructions don't say that the winner is the person who guesses the most cards correctly but instead there is a table of scores where you can compare your success! You have to think out of the box a little bit so that you can try and write down a clue that no one else thinks of so you decrease the chances of you having to turn your easel over due to duplicated words. We have found out that occasionally someone thinks a bit too far out of the box and it makes it hard to guess! This is a great game to play with children as it actually makes them think about how to explain different words and is a great for expanding vocabulary in younger players. We've played this with just adults too and it is slightly more competitive as the clues have been far harder to work out!

Just One is aimed at ages 8 and over and each game takes roughly 20-25 minutes to play depending on the ages of those you are playing with. It retails at around £19-£22 and can be found in all good toy shops. A really good fun family game that everyone will enjoy!


Jungle Speed Game

A slightly different game for us from the Board Game Blogger Club this month! Jungle Speed is a fairly fast-paced card based game which is suitable for the whole family from around 7 years and above. In the box you get 70 playing cards, one rule book, a totem and a bag for storage. Each of the 70 cards has a pattern on; there are 15 different patterns (each one shown in yellow, red, green and blue)and there are also 8 special cards (4 of each type). The aim of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all of their cards.

To Play:

The yellow totem stands in the middle of the table and all of the cards are shuffled and then dealt equally between all of the players, play goes clockwise and one by one the players turn over their top card (you must turn over your card away from you so that you don't see the card before the other players). If another player has the matching card on top of their pile (it can be any colour as long as the pattern matches) then you need to grab the totem in the middle before the player with the matching card does, this is called a duel! The player who isn't successful in grabbing the totem first has to take their opponents discard pile to add the to the bottom of their card pile, thus making the pile that they need to get rid of to win, far bigger. Once a card has been played it then goes in to your discard pile and play continues like this until someone lays a special card; if a card with arrows pointing inwards is laid then everybody needs to try and grab the totem first and the winner can place their discard pile in the pot (the pot is a central discard pile). If a card is played with arrows that point outwards then each player must flip a new card simultaneously, this starts a duel if two or more cards have matching symbols on.

There are punishments for incorrectly grabbing the totem, if this happens to you then you must take the discard piles of all players as well as the pot. Once a player has turned over their last card, it stays in play and they can only be declared the winner once their discard pile has gone, a fun twist as they can often end up with more cards as game play continues!


We've mainly been playing this with two adults and two children (8 and 7) and it has been really fun! The children have often been quicker than the adults and it's great to find a game that you can start playing quickly, without the need for complicated instructions. Each game has taken around 15-20 minutes and the winner hasn't always been the person who has turned his last card over first. It is trickier than you may think as the patterns are deceptively similar to some of the others, so it is not that easy to instantly recognise if your card is the same as someone else's and an incorrectly grabbed totem means you get a punishment! A great game to play with the family and its handy bag means you can take it out, it is simple to learn and we love the nature of its unpredictability! Jungle Speed retails at £14.99 and is available at all good toy shops.

Colt Express Board Game from Asmodee

As part of the Board Game Blogger Club we were sent Colt Express from Asmodee to play and review! In the box you get: 6 train cars, 1 locomotive, 10 terrain elements, loot tokens - 18 purses (worth between $250-$500), 6 jewels (worth $500 each), 2 strongboxes (worth $1000 each), 17 round cards, 1 marshal figure, 13 neutral bullet cards, 6 character sheets, 6 character cards, 36 bullet cards, 60 action cards, 6 bandit figures and an instruction booklet.

Before you can begin playing, you have to assemble the train cars and locomotive, there is a separate instruction sheet included which shows you how to do this. All of the pieces are popped out of a thick cardboard, they are all very detailed on both sides and once slotted together they create lovely, solid pieces that feel sturdy and won't fall apart.  The train pieces are designed to stay together, rather than be taken apart and inside the box you can create separate compartments for all of the pieces to live in safely. So there is not an actual 'board' for this game, it is played on the train which is very fun and a certainly makes this game stand out!

Use the locomotive and add one train car for each player; there are different round cards depending on the number of people playing, we played with 4 so we used the green set of cards. Each player also gets a character sheet, a character card, 10 action cards, 6 bullet cards and a bandit figure. Randomly choose a bandit figure, the person who has chosen this one as their character goes first. Place the bandits on the train, starting with the first player and going clockwise, players alternate placing their figures on the train and the adjacent car. Take 1 $250 purse token for each player and then place loot tokens on the floor of each cart (each one is indicated on the floor of the cart). The Marshal figure and a strongbox gets placed in the locomotive and the 13 neutral bullet cards are placed in a pile next to it. Each player chooses a character and corresponding character sheet and places it in front of them as well as a $250 purse which is to be kept face down. Each player gets 6 bullet cards which need to be placed faced down in ascending order (these are used to fire at your opponents to slow them down)!

The aim of the game is to become the richest bandit in the Wild West and this is done by getting more loot than your opponents and by not getting shot! Each game has 5 rounds which is made up of 2 phases - Schemin' and Stealin'. During the Schemin' phase, each player will program their bandits actions by playing an action card and placing it in a pile; it is useful at this point to try and imagine what you want your bandit to do and where you want them to go. Once all the players have taken a turn it is time to put the Schemin' in to action!

All the action cards that have been played are now applied, one by one, in the order in which they were laid. Once this has been done you start another Schemin' phase and then another Stealin' phase until a total of 5 rounds have been played. At the end of these rounds you need to add up all your loot tokens, the Gunslinger prize is awarded to the player who shot the most bullets (they win $1000) and the winner is the person who is the richest!

There are, of course, lots of different rules and exceptions for each of the cards and how they can be played. The instructions detail very well all the circumstances in which cards can be used which we found really helpful as there are quite a lot of variations to get to grips with. The full colour booklet is full of pictures and illustrations which will guide you as you play but do expect your first couple of games to be slightly slow paced as you work out your strategies!


Colt Express is very different to any board game that we have played before and we all loved the non-traditional element of not actually playing the game on a board! The extra touches like the desert landscape and being able to turn the inside of the box in to a handy storage box are really great features. We have played it a few times and once you get the hang of it then it can be a relatively fast paced game and once you get to an expert level there is an 'expert variant' at the back of the instructions that you can try! Overall, a really fun game that you don't have to take too seriously as its unpredictability makes it exciting and fun to play! Colt Express is aimed at ages 10+ and can be played with between 2-6 players and a game takes around 40-50 minutes to play.

Concept Board Game

As part of the Blogger Board Game Club, we have been sent the Concept game to play and review! In short, the aim of the game is to guess the word that one team has on a card in front of them by looking at the clues to associated icons that they have marked for you.

The box you get the main game board, 4 player aid cards, 5 sets of pawns and cubes, 110 concept cards, tokens, a bowl and the instructions. The deck of concept cards are shuffled and placed face down on the game board. On each card there are three sets of words (easy, hard and challenging) and the game board is covered with icons which will help you to guess the word. One team pick up a card and choose a word for the opposing team(s) to guess, they then use the green pawn to mark the main concept and small cubes to clarify it, further sub concepts can be added if required but it is best to start off with the easy words while everyone gets used to play.

There is to be no verbal communication with the other players aside from 'yes' if a good answer is given or they are on the right track. Correctly guessed words are rewarded with double tokens and single tokens are given to each member of the team whose word was guessed. Once all of the double tokens have been claimed, the game ends and the player or players who have scored the most tokens win the game.

Each icon could have more than one meaning, for example, the icon which shows a plate of food is described as 'food/nutrition/edible'. The player aid cards can be used by the teams as the game is played, and they act as a helpful key to the icon meanings (as there are plenty to remember)!

The green 'question mark' pawn is always used to mark the main concept, the small green cubes can then be used to mark clues. If the green pawn is placed on the 'wildlife/animal' icon and a small green cube is placed on the 'water/liquid/aquatic' icon then a good guess for this word would be 'fish'. If a team was trying to guess 'the Eiffel Tower' they may find the main green pawn on the 'building/construction/city' icon with the small green cube on the 'metal' icon. But this could be many things so a sub concept can be added by using one of the exclamation mark pawns. By putting this pawn on the 'location/country/flag' icon and then placing the small cubes on the blue, white and red icons, the team can guess a country that has those colours in their flag (France) and therefore work out that the word could be a building/construction in France - The Eiffel Tower.

Concept Board Game is suitable for ages 10+ and can be played with between 4-12 people. The idea is quite simple and relatively easy to explain, the player aid cards are a great help and there are lots of visual examples in the instruction leaflet which make play easier to understand rather than having it written out.

Once you have played a few times and you have the same word to guess, you will find it fascinating that other people will 'explain' the word through icons in a completely different way to you as not everyone works things out in the same way! This means that game play will always be new and exciting, even when you have played plenty of times.


Overall, a great game to play with the family, not too long and not too short, it moves quite quickly and a great to play with a range of ages as there are no tactics involved for those who aren't so keen on games that you have to think about too much.

Science Museum Timeline Game

I thought this sounded really easy when we first opened the tin to start playing, oh how I was wrong! Inside the tin you get 110 small cards and some instructions; each card has the same image on both sides, but one side also has the date of its invention on it. To play, each player is dealt 6 cards (dependent on the number of players) all 'date side down', and you do not turn them over! The remaining cards are put in to a pile (date side down) to one side, take one of these cards and put it in to the middle of the table with the date side up as this forms the start of your timeline. Each player takes it in turn to place one of their cards where they think it fits in to the timeline and once it has been 'placed' it can be turned date side up to find out if they were correct. A correct answer means play moves to the next player and an incorrect answer means that you have to draw another card from the pile and you discard the incorrect card.

The aim of the game is to get rid of all of your cards by correctly placing them in the ever growing timeline which becomes trickier and trickier as you can sometimes be just a year out! We are big board game fans and this is one that you can get out when you fancy a quick game and it is easy to explain to those who haven't played before. The game can be played with 2-8 players and is suitable for ages of 8 and over. We played this with our 8 year old and I didn't expect him to know too much but he made some very good guesses based on his knowledge and did very well. Such a simple idea but a really fun game and some of the answers will definitely surprise you! Buy here from:

The Board Game Family by Ellie Dix

It can often seem that individual members of the family are physically all in one place, but individually, they are all playing their own separate electronic/single payer games. This refreshing book aims to redress that balance and as it says 'to brush off the dust' and rediscover the joy of board games payed as a family or group. In The Board Game Family, teacher and educationalist Ellie Dix aims to help fellow parents by inviting them and their families into the unplugged and irresistible world of board games. The benefits of board gaming are far-reaching: playing games develops interpersonal skills, boosts confidence, memory formation and cognitive ability, and refines problem-solving and decision-making skills. With these rewards in mind, Ellie shares a wealth of top tips and stealthy strategies that parents can draw upon to unleash the potential of those dusty game boxes at the back of the cupboard and become teachers of outstanding gamesmanship equipped to navigate the unfolding drama of competition, thwart the common causes of arguments and bind together a happier, more socially cohesive family unit.

Jumbo 4 Connect from Big Game Hunters

We were very kindly sent the Jumbo 4 Connect to review. This garden game is a giant version of the classic game in which you have to place four counters in a row (vertically, horizontally or diagonally) before your opponent does the same.

After taking the pieces out of the box, it is a simple job to just slide the sides into place on the base, and then to add the bottom bar which stops all the counters from falling out. Included in the box is also a bag in which you can store all of the counters when not in use and this is a very handy touch!

The frame of the game is wooden and is hand painted in a lovely deep garden green, the quality of the game is outstanding and being made of wood, rather than plastic, makes it particularly special. The red and yellow counters are thick and durable and the bottom bar has metal clips either side to hold it in place that allow it to quickly and smoothly be released and re-fitted by simply pulling it out and pushing it back in. The Jumbo 4 Connect stands at 75cm tall, which is absolutely perfect for children (and adults) of all ages to play with and it is really sturdy so little ones won't knock it over.

This is a game that you never really tire of playing, it is unpredictable (I did lose to a 2 year old the other day) and with no set up time and barely anything to tidy back up, it means that you can keep coming back to it throughout the day. It is slim for storage or you can take the sides off and store it in the box it came in.

We've got plenty of children's toys for the garden but we've never had any giant games and this one has become the go to game for all ages, including the grown ups. It looks good too, the dark green is certainly more pleasant to look at than the vibrant, multicoloured sandpits and slides that adorn the rest of the garden!

The Jumbo 4 Connect currently retails at £79.99 and you can find it here at The Big Game Hunters website along with lots of other garden toys and games.

The Which Way Game from OJO

ojo1This new and exciting strategy game for 4-8 year olds is designed by OJO in collaboration with OKIDO. Coding skills are an important part of the curriculum - and an important part of our everyday lives with the prevelance of electronic devices. Now children from the age of 4+ can learn key coding skills with their family and friends; the game is suitable for 1 to 4 players). Who can help Messy (from CBeebies TV show, Messy Goes to OKIDO) to visit all his friends across the map first? The instructions are easy to follow. Spin the wheel and pick your mission; plan the fastest route through and to your final destination;  create your route by placing the magnetic tiles; then scan the path with the 'magic' car to reach all the destinations. Are you the winner? The game is well made and very attractive; it's great fun to play and you can see children's skills develop each time they play the game, as they learn more about how to play as well as possible. The elements of forward planning really encourage children to think about what they are doing and how best to reach the destination.It's great to see a coding game for younger children, as many are aimed at older ones. They will quickly grasp the principles with this simple game, which is easy to play yet has so much learning value.

"OjO is a pioneering educational toy company based in London, UK. We develop fun STEAM-focused activities and games for 2-8 year olds. We have developed a range of Maker Kits and early years learning resources available on our website. Our mission is to promote STEAM education for the next generation of makers and innovators, and help them to prepare for future failure and success!" Find out more here - The game can be purchased from late June 2019 from the OJO website.




Not one game but over 100! Playing games together is a great family activity, making the most of that precious time we have together. This book is packed with unusual and engaging ideas for all manner of games, suitable for a wide age range and situations, quick games and longer games - just take your pick. In The Floor is Lava there are games to start a party, ideas to trigger conversation, story-telling setups and fiendish puzzles, plus physical challenges, activities to soothe a weary brain and plenty more. To whet your appetite, here are a few of the games - Squiggle Challenge; Murder in Paradise; Hardest Game in the World; Reflect Me and King Henry VIII's Banquet. For less than the price of many board games, here are 100 games for home, journeys and holidays. Great fun and full of unusual and interesting ideas.


The River from Days of Wonder

The eye-catching images on the box, with their stunning characters, immediately drew me into the game, making me want to explore the contents. And I wasn't disappointed! This is another excellent strategy game from Days of Wonder, which has players thinking hard throughout. The objective of the game is for you, the mayoral players, to create the very best pioneer settlement by developing land along a river bed in your town. To do this, players must use resources from the area and construct buildings. As you do so, this makes you think about what will create a successful settlement, and the best order to do things in. Unlike many strategy games, the focus is on your own settlement, not on scoroing points off other players - this makes the game particularly good for younger ones, as they can concentrate on their own strategy. The game is a good introduction to strategy games. You need to be on the ball throughout playing, as every decision has an impact on the future success of your settlement. It's worth taking time out before first playing, to ensure everyone is really up to speed with the rules as this will pay off in terms of making sure your strategies are the best possible. Better still, let each player read the rules for themselves, as there are some really useful graphics which help to explain the game fully. The game is well made, with good strong card with colourful illustrations which are very attractive. There are four different types of resources - wood, clay, stone and food and these are represented by tactile wooden pieces. We found the game offers opportunities to discuss the environment and making good use of resources. The game is suitable for 2 to 4 players and there are clearly explained minor differences in the game play, depending on the number of players (this makes the game adapt well to different numbers); recommended age is 8+. We found that every game is different, as players employ varying strategies; as you gain experience, the game gets better. Average game play is 30 to 45 minutes, and we found it quicker after a couple of games had been enjoyed. A great family game and a good starting point to introduce children to the fun of strategy games. Satisfying, well made pieces with excellent graphics add to the pleasure. A good addition to the games cupboard!




Blue Orange Planet Board Game

This strategy board game is all about developing diverse habitats for animals to populate around the world. The game is suitable for 2 to 4 players, age 8+. The objective of Planet is to extend your habitats so that you provide for as diverse a range of animal life as possible. Mountain ranges, deserts, forests, oceans and glaciers - all these are ready to be populated with animals. We found the game easy to understand with straightforward rules that didn't take long to assimilate. I like the fact that the rules for each language (eight in all) are separate - no frustrating trawling through loads of irrelevant material. The game includes four planet cores, 50 continent tiles, 45 animal cards, five objective cards and a first player token. To start, each player receives a Planet core without anything on it; in turn, players chose a tile with mountain/ice/forest/desert on it and place it on their Planet; gradually your world begins to take form. The pieces are magnetised and attach to the planet securely - it's a nice touch which gives the game a different feel. The five-sided pieces are attractively designed and colourful - a pleasure to play with. Once the third round has been played, it's time to start welcoming the animals onto your planet The age range is just right - children enjoy the theme We really liked the concept, so much in tune with current ecological concerns and a brilliant way to help us all, and especially younger ones, think about the environment. An attractive and well-designed game which is fun to play - each game takes around 30 minutes. It's a game that makes you think about the natural world and develops strategic thinking skills'; the variations add to the play value too.




This is a highly addictive party game where teammates try to transmit secret codes without letting the opposing team intercept them. It's pacy and fast-moving, with all the players involved all the time which makes it great fun and a good ice-breaker - no time to be shy! The components of the game use anaglyph effects to scramble the codes; words are decoded by sliding the cards into the screen. The game is suitable for 3-8 players, ages 12 and up. The average playing time is around 30-minute... but, like us, you'll probably get hooked very quickly and want to keep on playing to refine your skills. The skill lies in giving clues to your teammates that they will understand, but vague enough to ensure sure your opponents don't get the message, so the better teammates know each other, the better your team will be at the game. This is one where our twins were definitely at a huge advantage! We found it more fun with more players, and it's definitely a stimulating game that really gets you thinking. Concentration skills will be enhanced, as you can't afford to switch off. It's simple to understand and quick to get going, so no frustrating wait while everyone gets to grips with the rules. A really enjoyable game, that gets you thinking, and which works well for the whole family. This will be one of our go-to games.

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Blue Lagoon

Build your very own paradise with this beautifully illustrated game that will transport you into another world. In this game which is suitable for age 8+, players have the opportunity to be the Chief of their own tribe. They will lead their people on an expedition to claim and then settle the different islands of a recently discovered archipelago. It really is a Paradise and there's a beautiful lagoon hidden somewhere between the islands. It's a game of strategy which means that younger players might be a slight disadvantage against older ones, so we found it worked well to start off playing as pairs until they got the hang of it; as the game is for 2 to 4 players, that's not a problem.  Strategically direct your people and build your settlements so you can collect as many resources as possible and become the most renowned tribe on the archipelago. Players need to think ahead and try to out-guess and pre-empt their opponents' moves, so you need to concentrate. With a game time of between 30 and 45 minutes, that's not too hard to manage. The aim is to gain the most points by collecting resources and settling on the islands. the player with the most points at the end of the two phases wins the game. We found the game simple to learn  and having two phases means you can play the first phase, then have a breather to review the rules for phase 2 - great for the first game or two. It's a tile-placing game and players can enter the board from any water space; then tokens are placed next to current ones or in a.water area. Huts can be 'built' too. Scores are calculated at the end of this phase. Then, for phase 2, all tokens are removed from the board, except for the huts. Placing rules are slightly different and the round concludes like the first. We like the two phase format as you could do poorly in one phase and then pick up. It also brings a pleasing variety to the game. It's a beautifully made game, a real pleasure to play and great fun with plenty of strategic thinking needed.

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Dr Eureka Game from Blue Orange

The objective of this fast-moving game is to mix the molecules and master the formula in eccentric Dr Eureka's lab; how fast can you transfer the molecules between the tubes to become an ace scientist? The rules are simple, so none of that annoying hanging around while everyone tries to assimilate a complex set of rules - you can get stuck into the game really quickly. Basically, players flip over cards and then have to match the pattern shown. Be careful - you mustn't touch the balls with your hands! The winner is the first to match the challenge card combination in this pacy fun game that will provide the whole family with hours of entertainment.With 54 different challenges to complete there is plenty of opportunity for different game play every time, keeping interest levels high. The game is ideal for two to four players, age 6+. It's one of those games where age doesn't seem to confer any real benefit, meaning everyone plays on equal terms, which is great. It promotes logical thinking, manual dexterity (you need a steady hand) and quick reactions as well as being a super ice-breaker to get all ages having a good time together. Bound to be a games cupboard favourite!





7 Wonders from Asmodee

In 7 Wonders each player is a leader of one of the 7 great cities of the Ancient World  The game is for 3 to 7 players - and the more people you can get to play the game, the better we found it. This strategy game has lots of elements to keep interest high - gather resources, develop commercial routes and affirm your military supremacy.  Interestingly, 7 Wonders is played in three ages. The slight downside of this is that the rules are really lengthy, with a large-format 12 page booklet explaining them all, but don't be too daunted, because the game overview is much shorter and gets you going. Each player chooses a civilization to control and at the start of every age receives seven cards from a particular deck... I won't go into more detail here as it all becomes much more clear once the board and pieces are in front of you. It's a super quality game with beautiful artwork to engage the players. It takes a while to get it all ready as the pieces need to be pressed out, so you may want to get it all ready before introducing the players to the game. With fourteen different wonders and lots of strategic options, 7 Wonders is a simple and addictive game the whole family can enjoy. With a game time of around 30 minutes, you can raise your civilization to the mightiest heights, and build the greatest wonders of the world We liked the fact that you really need to plan ahead, giving you real control over the outcome rather then depending on chance (although there are elements of chance too); the more you play, the better you will get at this. The great thing is that it's a game you can play over and over again, as the strategy and outcomes will vary every time - you definitely won't get bored!  It's a great way to generate an interest in ancient civilisations too, as it really raises knowledge and appreciation.

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Smart Games Sleeping Beauty Deluxe

Smart Games are one of my favourite companies! They produce a fabulous range of games for all ages; games that really test thinking and logic skills in a fun and unusual way. And even quite young children can enjoy them - this game is suitable for children age 3 -7 and it really is a game that grows with your child as they will go back to it over the years as their skills grow. Right from opening the box, you know this is a quality product - the playing pieces are found in a separate smaller box and the maze itself is strong bright plastic adorned with flowers. All 60 games - starter, junior, expert and master - are shown in the puzzle book which also includes the solutions. There's also a colourful wordless hardback picture book, which is a great way to encourage children's storytelling skills. The aim of the single-player game is to rescue Sleeping Beauty by navigating your way through the maze to the castle... or play as the dragon for a different challenge, and prevent the knight from reaching the castle! The four maze pieces are placed on the board according to the puzzle book and then the idea is to solve the puzzle by finding the shortest pathway through the maze. Includes 60 multi-level challenges (with and without the dragon) and an enchanting picture storybook. Challenges without the dragon are suitable for children 3+, and with the dragon are suitable for children 5+. This engrossing game will help stimulate many key learning skills, including spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, problem solving and planning. It's a lovely way to link a favourite fairy tale with an enjoyable learning game, beautifully produced and guaranteed to give hours of enjoyment.

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Smart Games IQ Stars

Oh, this is so pretty! Sets of brightly coloured stars have to be placed in position on the slotted plastic tray - and it all comes in a neat clip-shut plastic box, making it perfect for journeys and days out. Can you fit all the stars in the grid and face ever-increasing challenges as you work through the 120 games in the puzzle booklet? Reach for the stars and solve the 120 multi-level challenges, from - starter, junior, master, expert and wizard; the different levels make the game suitable for 6 year olds to adults so there's fun for all the family. The game helps stimulate concentration, problem solving and logical thinking skills - and the answers are included if you get desperate! It's great fun to do and the progressive nature of the game makes it really satisfying as you move up the levels.

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Smart Games Cube Puzzler Go

Another stimulating game from the ingenious people at Smart Games. And it's another one that's perfect for families on the go, with all the pieces neatly stacking into the cleverly designed portable case that expands to create the game board. Recommended for 8+ to adult, the challenge is to build a cube from the seven brightly coloured puzzle pieces. This is an eye-catching puzzle game that will test and extends spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and planning skills. With 80 multi-level challenges - starter, expert, master and wizard, there really is plenty for all ages. Every challenge is set out in the enclosed instruction book and solutions are included if you really get stuck. Another beautifully made game that will give hours of pleasure - leave it out on the coffee table and you can pretty well guarantee that people will pick it up and have a go!

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Ravensburger Peppa Pig Muddy Puddles Game

We all know that Peppa Pig loves jumping in muddy puddles! The objective of this fun game is to help George avoid the muddy puddles and reach Peppa, who is waiting at the top of the hill. Who will be the first to reach Peppa Pig? Each player has three characters and it's up to you whether you start one or more on the journey uphill. All Peppa's friends are here to help and they can boost you one, two or even three puddles ahead... but look out for the deep puddles! When you pick up a Peppa card, you must turn Peppa - if you fall through a puddle you have to start again. The box includes a green hill with Peppa Pig, 12 playing pieces, and 24 colourful action cards. This game is suitable for 2-4, ages 4 years and up. The playing time is 15-20 minutes, and the game is simple enough for children to play one their own once the rules have been explained. Young children love the way the anticipation builds - will they fall into a puddle and have to start all over again? A super game for all young Peppa Pig fans, easy to play and lots of fun.



Jumbo Zippy Racers Game

Snail racing? Sounds like a contradiction in terms, but this lively game might just make you change your mind about the speed of snails! The really unusual thing about this game is that the playing course can become your whole house - a great way to get moving around when the weather keeps you stuck indoors. The game is suitable for two to three players, and there are three generously sized brightly coloured snails as the playing pieces, which can move in all directions. Each snail has its own colour and number, and can get just as long as the tape measure which forms an integral part of each. There are three ways to play - beginners, classic and racing. Beginners is suitable for children of 4+, and the variations mean the game will be popular for many years. The first snail to collect all their appropriately coloured petals wins the game. Each player throws the dice; counting with the smart tape measure in its shell, the snail is moved from one flower to the next. If you turn a petal over and get a rain cloud, you get to throw again. If you get a four-leaf clover, you go to a flower of your choice. If you get the moon, you skip a turn and if it’s the sun you have to go back to the start line. So there are lots of fun options that add excitement and anticipation to the game. The pack includes 3 Zippy racers (the snails), a starting circle, 18 coloured petals and a rolling dice. A fun and unusual game.



 #hashtag the game from Jumbo Games

This is a game that's really in tune with today's social media generation! Find out if you are a megastar, celebrity, influencer, popular or a loser as you try to get the largest number of followers by choosing the hashtags with the most posts within the 10 rounds of the game. You can play as individuals or as a team. When the rounds are over, each person/team adds up the followers on its ranking cards and the winner is the one with most followers. To start the team game the players are divided into two teams. The image annd hashtag cards are shuffled together and put in a pile, face down; the hashtag marker goes into the ‘round 1’ slot. In an unusual twist, the team with the players who have the most Instagram followers starts. In each round, a card is taken from the Hashtag Card deck and everyone has to think what could be the highest scoring hashtag - we found it can be surprisingly difficult to think of something appropriate; it's revealing to see the different ways in which people think! The winning hashtag (you do need an internet connection and ideally an Instagram account, although there are ways around this with a little ingenuity) will get the score token relevant to its Instagram post ranking. The round marker is moved forward and the game goes on. The game includes 200 hashtag cards, 30 score tokens, 2 whiteboards, 2 markers with eraser, 1 game board with a spinner, 1 round marking tracker and a 1 minute hourglass. A fun, fast-moving and thought-provoking game for players of 10+, perfect for our modern world.




Story Chest from Tactic Games

Inside the box, you will find 100 brightly coloured cards, 42 tokens, a tilting deck, 3 base cards and those all-important rules (in 4 languages). The aim of the game is to encourage players to step into the world of stories and to use their imaginations to make up stories, invent characters and devise plots - it's a great way to encourage creative thinking skills and also to give children confidence in speaking and telling their stories to others. Draw two cards and start a new story, while the others guess which card you are going to choose by placing a key token in the tilting Story Chest. The winner is the one who made the most correct guesses. Each card can take the story into all sorts of different directions. There are fantastical beasts, fairy tale characters, strange forms of transport, animals galore and much more, all designed to stimulate the imagination. The game is suitable for 2 to 7 players, age 7+. As players increase in confidence - and their story-telling skills develop - more cards can be used to make the stories longer and more complex. A fun game which enhances a key skill; a skill children need but which does not always come readily. It works well for all ages - children's imaginations can be more vivid than those of adults! Buy from 365 Games.



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