Spiel des Jahres award, Hanabi is a cooperative card game in which nobody can see their own cards, but can see everybody else’s. Players must rely on limited clues from their teammates to deduce what they should do next. The aim is to collectively play consecutive numbers in each of five colors, while making less than four errors in a game. This is a fantastic, high-tension card game that avoids many of the pitfalls common to cooperative games. For example, it’s impossible for one person to take control of the game and dictate how everyone else plays, since everybody has to pay close attention and really rely on each other for information. Challenging, yet easy to learn, Hanabi is a true cooperative game unlike anything else around.
Dominion: Guilds is the brand new expansion for Dominion. Every Dominion expansion has had its own theme which adds an interesting new element to Dominion gameplay, and Guilds is no different. In this new set, the focus is on new options for how to save and spend your wealth. Some cards allow players to overpay when buying cards in order to gain extra effects. Other cards give players coin tokens they can spend to buy cards, but unlike regular coins in Dominion, these don’t go away from turn to turn. This may lead to more efficient deck-building, since players don’t have to pick between either wasting the money they draw or buying cards they don’t really want, leading to a cluttered and inefficient deck. Guilds gives a new spin to Dominion’s theme and gameplay - after all, you certainly can’t be an iron-fisted ruler if you can’t control your money.
Yottsugo is a tricky word puzzler consisting of interlocking pieces with letters on them. Working on your own or cooperatively, you choose a set of letters from one of the many challenge envelopes. You must try to organize these letters into grids consisting of four or eight words, both horizontally and vertically. Each envelope unfolds like a piece of origami to reveal several layers of clues if you get stuck. In my experience, Yottsugo is definitely a higher-level word game, so if you’re looking to give your vocab muscles a workout, Yottsugo is a cool new option.
For the caveman in all of us, there’s Ooga Booga. A simple, silly memory game, Ooga Booga challenges you and the rest of your tribe to remember a chant that gets longer and longer as the game goes on. Contending with caveman lingo, table-banging gestures, and direction-reversals, the first one to get rid of all their cards becomes the new chief of the tribe! This game is absolutely hilarious for kids as much as adults - I’ve never seen or played in a game where everyone wasn’t laughing, smiling, and cheering the whole time. Not to mention that I became chief my very first time playing...
And those are just a few of the new arrivals this week! Others include Terzetto, a marble-placement strategy challenge for two. Fish to Fish is a race to pick the correct tiles to transform one fish into another. Cheese Louise! is fun spatial puzzle racing game in which you have to hurry to find the right slice of Swiss cheese to cover up all the delicious condiments on your sandwich. Warning: Delicious condiments may contain bugs!