Friday, February 28, 2014

New Arrivals This Week 2/25/14 to 3/3/14

by Becky "Floop" Topol

Jamaica lets you take part in a rowdy race organized by former pirate captain Henry Morgan, who has weaseled his way into the governorship of the island! Of course when pirate ships race each other, it's not just a question of speed - there's bound to be fighting, looting, and shooting galore. The active player must roll two dice and assign one to the morning and one to the evening. Each opposing pirate captain may then decide what to do with those dice. Will that six you rolled mean six measures of food or gold? Six spaces of movement backward or forward? In the end, you can't win just by having the most gold or by being in first place, you must cleverly combine resources and positioning to get more points than all the other buccaneers looking to win glory in this race around the island. With gorgeous components and character cards and backstory based on real pirates including the fearsome Mary Read and Calico Jack Rackham, Jamaica is a fast game of tactics for marauders of all ages!

Looking to try some swashbuckling in your next Fate role-playing campaign? The Fate Freeport Companion expands upon the classic pirate setting of Freeport, adding a new skill system, magic system, an insanity and madness system for Lovecraft-themed games, and rules for using firearms! With stats and details on brand-new races, monsters, and allies, as well as the pre-made Fury in Freeport adventure, the Fate Freeport Companion opens up a rope-swinging, treasure-taking, keel-hauling world!

Some of our favorite party games are back in cool new forms! Speedy versions of Cranium, Scattergories, and yes, even Trivial Pursuit include new features that update these great classics. Scattergories now focuses on pairs play, where each member of the team attempts to come up with words to fit into various categories without copying their teammate. More original words means more points! Cranium Fast Play is built for two teams of two or more, and features 400 of the best challenges from the beloved party game series. Trivial Pursuit Party is the first version of Trivial Pursuit we've been able to get in years! This update on the old-school trivia game includes Wild spaces, the option to ask another player for help and get points for both of you, and overall faster gameplay. With these updates on beloved games, your party can get started with a game anyone can dive right into!

If you want to try something a little different (and more murderous) for your get-together, One Night Ultimate Werewolf might be just the thing. A lightning-fast version of the popular Mafia/Werewolf genre of hidden-identity party games, One Night Ultimate Werewolf will work with as few as three players and goes all the way up to ten. As with any Werewolf-style game, every player gets a secret identity, each of which comes with certain special abilities - most people will be villagers, while some will be bloodthirsty werewolves. The aim is simple: the various villagers need to discover and dispatch of one of the werewolves in their midst in order to win, and the werewolves win if even one villager is killed. With no player elimination and just one fast round, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is perfect for smaller groups looking for a great bluffing game!

The Legion of Doom have invaded our store! Heroclix's The Legion of Doom Fast Forces Pack contains six all-new figures for the DC Comics Heroclix game! Featuring Bizarro, Black Manta, the Cheetah, Solomon Grundy, and a mega-sized Giganta, this set allows you to make a variety of teams right out of the box. If you feel the need for a little more evil in your Heroclix games, the Legion of Doom Fast Forces Pack brings all the peril you need! This set also includes everything you need to get started with this game.

Card Wars first appeared in an eponymous episode of the popular cartoon Adventure Time, where it was played by Jake the Dog and Finn the Human Boy. Now this spoof on games like Magic: the Gathering has left the Land of Ooo and entered reality in the form of Adventure Time: Card Wars - Finn vs. Jake! This two-player game includes Jake's Corn Deck with its Husker Knights and Archer Dan, and Finn's Blue Plains Deck featuring the Ancient Scholar, the Cool Dog, and that most fearsome and loathed beast - The Pig! Play cards into one of four lanes, build up righteous combos, and of course, "floop" your cards to activate special abilities! Who will be the Dweeb and who will be the Cool Guy? It all depends on how mathematical you can be in Adventure Time: Card Wars - Finn vs. Jake! We also received the BMO vs. Lady Rainicorn pack, so now you can use the new pre-made decks, or mix them with the first pack to customize your game!

Sentinels of the Multiverse: Vengeance is a new mega expansion for the popular cooperative hand-management game, Sentinels of the Multiverse. This set contains a complete team of five heroes, two new environments, and the dastardly new team of villains known as the Vengeful Five! Headed by Baron Blade, these villains use the heroes’ own strategies against them: working together to support and boost each other to more vicious attacks. With a whole slew of new mechanics and play options, this is a great addition for any Sentinels fan!

Our youngest gamers have some great new games to try out! Move & Groove is the newest game from the makers of the popular Roll & Play and Hello, Sunshine! While it is played very similarly to Roll & Play, Move & Groove is all about dancing! Roll the multicolored plush cube, grab a card of the color it lands on, and rock out the dance moves on the card! With moves ranging from disco to air guitar to the robot, Move & Groove is all about learning coordination, balance, and flexibility while having a ton of fun! Two new Zingo! games work on basic skills for kids aged five and up. Zingo! Time-Telling familiarizes players with how to read the hands on an analog clock while doing time-based math, and Zingo! Word Builder lets early readers fill in the blanks in three-letter words, all within the familiar and fun Zingo! format!

For word nerds, we have two super-cool new options. Last Letter is simple on the surface, but is infinitely variable and complex based on your vocabulary. One player must play a card from their hand while coming up with a word to describe the picture on it. All the other players then race to play a card from their hand which can be described with a word whose first letter is the same as the last letter of the previous word. For example, if one person laid down a card and described it with "Circus," the next person could play a card described with "Superhero." The next player would have to describe their card with a word beginning with the letter O, and so on. The 61 cards feature gorgeous art in many styles, reminiscent of Dixit, and gameplay is fast and furious! Another new game, Say the Word from Peaceable Kingdom is a silly, cooperative, memory-based storytelling game. Cards are played face-down, and introduce a slew of crazy characters and objects. You must pay attention to what happens every step of the way, because you must recite the whole story before you can add to it. Forget something? The Story Master and other players can act it out for you. If you can work together to fill the whole Story Board, your silly story team is victorious!

After a ton of requests, we now have Tenzi! A simple but super-fast game, Tenzi is all about speed and luck. Each player gets ten dice, then races to be the first to get them all to show the same number. Featuring several rules variations, including the challenging Tenzi Tower where players must stack their matching dice in order to win, Tenzi is a game that takes moments to learn, yet provides hours of fun for everyone! Similarly, Twisted Fish is a game that takes hardly any time to learn, and is great fun for all ages. A twist on the classic card game of Go Fish, Twisted Fish adds more complexity to the mix. With five suits and tricky Zinger cards, you'll need strategy, memory, and bluffing skills to collect up the winning set of five cards. Winner of the 2007 Creative Toy of the Year Award, Twisted Fish is a clever challenge for kids and adults alike!

A whole fleet of new ships for Star Trek: Attack Wing have docked at Labyrinth. The Dominion 4th Division Battleship, Romulan I.R.W. Gal Gath’thong, Klingon I.K.S. Somraw, and Federation U.S.S. Equinox are now available!

Kathleen brought back some crazy-cool new puzzles from Toy Fair in New York! So far, we’ve received Oblo and Logiq Tower. Oblo consists of four nested spheres which in turn are made up of interlocking pieces of various shapes and sizes. To solve it, you must first take apart each layer, then put them back together from the inside out. This award-winning puzzle challenges you to slide, rotate, and fit each piece into the correct position. Oblo is gorgeous, unique, and much trickier than it looks! Logiq Tower is a stacking puzzle with over 22,000 solutions. Featuring fifteen interlocking pieces, your aim with Logiq Tower is simple: stack up a tower with no gaps or empty spaces. Of course, that becomes harder and harder as the tower grows higher and higher! A challenging cylindrical twist on classic pentominoes puzzles, Logiq Tower challenges you to find as many of its thousands of solutions as you can!

Added to our Game Demo Library this Week: Tenzi, Last Letter, Say the Word, Oblo, Logiq Tower

Friday, February 21, 2014

New Arrivals This Week 2/17/14 to 2/23/14

by Becky "Geek Queen" Topol

Geek Out! is the trivia game for the nerds of the world. We played last night at game night, and it was tons of fun. Rather than covering aspects of general knowledge, Geek Out! focuses on themes like Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comic Books, Games, and Miscellaneous, and each category covers a wide range of topics. For example, the Comic Books category covers traditional comic books as well as manga, comic strips, and graphic novels, while a Games question is just as likely to be about video games, tabletop RPGs, or board games. Each question challenges the active player to come up with a list of things in a category, for example, four named fantasy swords, six Shakespearean characters, or four action movies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The active player rolls a die to determine the category for their question, reading it aloud to the group. The bidding then begins with the start player and continuing clockwise with each person saying how many of that thing they can name, upping the ante if they feel they can name more than the previous bidder. The winning bidder gets to answer the question, and gains one point if they’re correct. But if you get it wrong, you must take a negative-two-point chip! Packed with over 1,000 challenges, Geek Out! is the trivia and bluffing game for those of us who are proud to let our geek flag fly!

Uchronia is very similar to the popular but difficult-to-get game Glory to Rome. In fact, Uchronia was designed by Carl Chudyk, who also worked on Glory to Rome as well as the Innovation series. Uchronia’s art and theme are any kid’s dream: Humans and dinosaurs coexisting together in a fantastical landscape. You take the part of the leader of one of the great noble houses of Uchronia, who must expand and enrich the city while winning over its people. Use your various cards to implement resources, trade, and of course, construct buildings. Once you finish a building, it grants you special powers for the rest of the game. If you plan right and keep a close eye on the Great Works cards that can be grabbed by another player at any moment, you may become the most powerful force in Uchronia

The New Netrunner pack, Fear and Loathing is also now in stock. 

And finally, we also received the Adventure Time: Card Wars - Finn vs. Jake deck, but it has already sold out. We will hopefully be getting more next week, as well as the other deck, BMO vs. Lady Rainicorn!

Added to our Game Demo Library this Week: Geek Out!, KaBAM!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Learning Through Games: American History

by Lea Sidoti, co-coordinator of Labyrinth's Educational Outreach Program

This is the fourth article in our series on learning through non-electronic games. Our first article covered cooperative games, our second article focused on games that promote fine motor skills, and the third focused on early math games. The idea behind this series of articles is to explain some of the concepts that we address during our educational outreach efforts, like after-school game clubs, as well as provide our readers with the names of some great games and puzzles.

Happy Presidents’ Day! School may be off on the 17th, but we have plenty of great American history games and trivia to keep kids busy and learning throughout the long weekend.

Did President William Howard Taft’s wife call him Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty, or Sinbad the Sailor? You can find the answer in BrainQuest’s Presidents deck of trivia questions. All of the cards are connected so they can fan out rather than fly apart, making these trivia decks great for travel. For more questions about American history, check out the America deck or the Black History deck.

For more competitive quizzing, try the Professor Noggin card decks. Each card has a category on one side, such as “World War II” or “Boston Tea Party.” On the other side are three easy questions and three hard questions that may be multiple choice, true or false, or open answer. The answers are written to the side of the card, so even though the game is meant for 2-6 players it is possible to quiz yourself by simply covering the answers. The Professor Noggin’s series of educational card games includes several American history decks including American Revolution, History of the United States, and Presidents of the United States.

For children in middle school or older, there are several strategy games that give history lessons a new spin. Early American Chrononauts covers important events between 1770 (Tea Exempted in Tax Repeal) and 1916 (“Star Spangled Banner” Becomes National Anthem). As in the original Chrononauts, players act as time travelers who each have secret goals of changing history or collecting a set of artifacts to win the game. Also, while both original Chrononauts and Early American are stand-alone games, they can be combined to make the huge game of ÜberChrononauts.

Catan’s Settlers of America:Trails to Rails has players reenact westward expansion from the time of the Oregon Trail to the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. Founding Fathers has players take the role of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Each founding father has an agenda that they are trying to include in the final draft of the Constitution, and they can use cards to debate and cast votes in order to reach their goals. For each issue up for debate, you may choose to support the version that made it in to the Constitution or an alternate version that nearly took its place!

One of our most in-depth historical games is a new cooperative game called Freedom: The Underground Railroad. This game gives a thorough history of the Abolitionist Movement in the United States from 1800 to 1865 and each card contains interesting related details. Because of the realities of life during this time period, this game deals with darker themes than most and should not be taken lightly. It is recommended for ages 13 and up, and while the basic rules make the game quite difficult to win, there are several adaptations to decrease the difficulty.

Below is a list of other American history game and puzzles that we love. However you choose to enjoy the holiday weekend, make sure to keep your brains active!

  • US History GeoPuzzle (1810-present) Louisiana Purchase
  • American History Go Fish and Memory
  • Quotes from U.S. Presidents Knowledge Cards
  • The U.S. Constitution Knowledge Cards
  • The Oval Office Knowledge Cards
  • What Happened Here? Washington D.C. Knowledge Cards
  • African American History Knowledge Cards
  • What Really Happened? Myths of American History Knowledge Cards

Thursday, February 6, 2014

New Arrivals This Week 2/4/14 to 2/10/14

by Becky "Populated with Venomous Snakes" Topol

Pivit is a fast and colorful game that combines the patterning of Qwirkle and the frantic speed of Bananagrams. Each player begins with 24 tiles printed with various colors and designs, and then the race begins! Players must attempt to arrange their tiles in a crossword-style grid where each row must have at least three tiles and consist of all the same color or design with no repeats. If a player finds that they are stuck with tricky tiles, they may use trade tokens to swap out for new random tiles up to twice each round. All players will be hoping for Wild tiles, which can go anywhere! Whoever can correctly place all their tiles first gets to snag the most points, but they may have to give them all up if anyone notices a mistake in their grid. Combining great elements from several popular games, Pivit is a challenging race for players of all ages!

Syclone is a cool and addictive new dexterity puzzle from MindWare. At first glance, Syclone is very simple, consisting of a wood-and-acrylic top and a double-sided maze board, and all you have to do is get the spinning top from the beginning of the maze to the end. The precision-engineered top can happily spin for over a minute, assuming you can keep it on track with all the walls, pitfalls, ramps, and jumps in its way. The easier side of the maze board, called “Stratus”, has three paths you can choose from, each with its own difficulties. Have you ever tried to steer a spinning top up a ramp less than an inch wide? The other side, “Seismic”, has only one path, but that should be enough of a challenge for anybody: a raised section means there’s nothing keeping you from sliding off the board altogether, and you have to make several jumps. With all its tricky twists and turns, the Labyrinth staff haven’t been able to put Syclone down!

Castle Blast is another dexterity game, but this one involves taking a wrecking ball to a castle! Players take turns attempting to knock down the castle walls so they can reach the three special blocks inside - the dragon, the princess, and the treasure. If a player manages to knock one of those special blocks off the board they earn a matching token, and whoever gets all three tokens first is the winner! With a mix of precision and chaotic, noisy destruction, Castle Blast is a great game for anyone who dreams of storming the castle and saving the day...with a wrecking ball!

Seek-a-Boo is a game that helps toddlers develop their vocabulary, memory, and gross motor skills. The game contains several categories of cards, such as Food, Clothing, or Toys. Oversized circular cards in the selected category are placed face-down on the floor while an adult holds a smaller set of matching cards. As the adult chooses cards from their hand, they encourage the child to look under the face-down cards until they find all the matches. Seek-a-Boo has tons of room for variation based on the child or children’s ability level; you can mix card categories, create your own vocabulary groupings, or even switch roles with the child and let them tell you when you get a match right!

For all the Pokémon trainers out there, the new Pokémon XY theme decks and boosters are here! These decks will include the all-new fairy-type Pokémon and Basic Fairy Energy cards! Pokémon XY Elite Trainer Boxes are also available. The blue Xerneas box and red Yveltal box each contain eight booster packs, 45 Energy cards, special condition markers, damage-counter dice, and a coin-flip die. They also include card sleeves and dividers so you can store everything neatly in this special collector’s box! Elite Trainer Boxes are the perfect thing for any Pokémon player looking to upgrade and organize their collection.

Magic: The Gathering’s new set, Born of the Gods, will be released on Friday! Booster boxes and booster packs will be available, our first Born of the Gods draft will take place on Friday night, and our casual Sealed Deck League will start up again on Tuesday featuring the new set of cards! As usual, we will be selling full booster boxes at 25% off MSRP, so be sure to come in and pick up some new cards from the pantheon of Theros!

Monte Cook’s RPG Numenera is expanding with The Ninth World Bestiary. This 160-page hardcover is a gorgeously illustrated guide to some of the most notable creatures and characters of the world of Numenera. Packed with helpful tips for how to use and introduce each beast and personage, it’s an invaluable aid for any Numenera GM. Expand your world and challenge your players with creatures like singing dinosaurs with powers over the mind, a glass automaton controlled by insects that crawl inside it, and mysterious children who are more than they seem to be...

State Smarts is a new geography and trivia game by local company Orange Line Games. The game consists of 94 cards, each with different trivia about the various states of America. For example, one card tells you which states are home to the most venomous snakes, another lists the states that share their name with a river, and another says which states have been the location sites for the most dinosaur fossils. Of course, there's lots of overlap throughout the deck, and that's exactly what you need. Your aim is to gather sets of three cards that share a state in common. Of course, cards with fewer states on them are worth more points, since it's harder to find a match. With a mix of luck, strategy, and geographical know-how, State Smarts is a quick card game full of surprising facts!

Along with all that, we got some great new crossword puzzle books, a new extreme dot-to-dot book featuring scenes from U.S. history, beautiful new puzzles from Djeco, and the historic Isle of Lewis chess set is back!

Added to our Game Demo Library this Week: Pivit, Syclone, Castle Blast, Seek-a-Boo