Sea Shanties: Arrrgh you up for Playing a Game?

The Kanvas Seas are fierce. As the wind blows us onto our new heading, I fear what lies ahead. My crew is tough and ready to pillage and plunder at a moment’s notice, but there be pirates seeking to take my fortune away from me.
We seek Gold, Iron, Grog and Food, but most important, we seek glory and to be remembered among the great pirates before us…

Gameplay

In Sea Shanties, you are a pirate seeking glory in verse and ballad, hoping to have the most renown (Victory Points) by the end of the game. On your turn you follow the ABCs: Actions, Burying and Collecting.

You can take five actions and each player has five to choose from:

When moving one must be aware of the wind direction. Moving along the wind will give the player additional movement at no cost. Moving against the wind will cause additional an additional movement.

Plundering is key to the game. Treat it like area control. The more you control, the more resources you will receive. Also, each island controlled at the end of the game will add to the player’s renown. A player may steal an island for control by having more crew than the previous player.

If a player’s ship is away from their island, they may abandon their crew off the island and back to the tavern. At the tavern the player may recruit a crew member back onto their ship.

When two ships are adjacent to one another a Sea Battle may occur. Each player will bid their crew members against each other. The player with the higher number wins. Then the winning player takes the difference between the two numbers and pillages that amount from the deck of their opponents ship. So if player 1 bid 10 and player 2 bid 5, then 10-5= 5 resources pillaged from the losing player. There is a cost for the winning player. Since the battle was tough and arduous, that same difference will be applied to the crew and that amount will be returned to the tavern.

After doing five actions, the player then buries any loot that they would like by moving their goods to the treasure map side on their player mat.

After this the player then may collect one good from each island they control. Some islands may have multiple goods.

As different actions are completed players may have a chance of being rewarded with achievement cards called Lore and their special abilities granted to the player called melodies. Together they form a verse. The lore will be set to the side of the player as renown at the end of the game while the melody will go into one of two slots on the player board.

There can only be two. Any additional melodies must replace one of the others. Choose wisely.

“Because the Hook brings you back…”

Another card that can bring good fortune are Ballads, these cards go the players who have buried 5 or more of certain resources.

The end is triggered when all lore/melody cards have been revealed or when all Ballads have been claimed. All players have one final turn including the one who triggered the end. All players then total their Lore Cards, Islands under control and their Ballads. Whoever has the most Renown wins the game and shall be forever remembered in pirate history.

Components

One thing the publisher wanted to accomplish was no plastics used in the making of the game. The tokens are cardboard, the dials for battle have a small screw, the map is a canvas style bag, the bags holding the wooden pieces are a nice cloth. A lot of consideration was put into this and you can tell that they took pride in each piece of the game.

The only thing to mention is that the canvas tiles do fray a little and will leave a little cleanup on your game mat, but it is worth it for the effect and feel of the game they have made. The Kanvas Sea is Canvas.

Our Family’s Thoughts

Abigail- it is a creative game. The Shanties added a fun aspect. The board is a neat idea and makes it more like pirates. I don’t like that there aren’t many resource tokens and it makes the game a bit harder. it was fun to play though. Recommendation: Try it.

Beth- this game tries to immerse you in the pirate sea life from the canvas map to the pillaging and island stealing with a few songs along the way. It was a fun concept and easy play once we got the hang of it. Some friendly rivalry was good. With 5 people playing, we struggled to get enough resources buried to claim the ballads. By the time we would get close to 5 of one, the resources ran out. Then we also couldn’t steal much from each other because no one was earning more. Maybe we need to be more willing to battle each other earlier in the game instead of hoarding! It was fun and I can see us becoming more confident and ruthless as we understand it more, but since the individual resources don’t count for anything at the end of the game, it’s discouraging when they run out and your islands can’t help you steal the ballads. I say try it as it is, but the game is such a good concept that I would say buy it if we could purchase an inexpensive additional resources pack for 5 players. Recommendation: Try it/Buy it.

Chris- This has been an enjoyable game. The only real complaint is the amount of tokens vs the 5 player count. At lower counts the tokens are more than enough and easier to obtain, but at 4-5 players, it can be an uphill battle to get the resources to win those achievements. A great game can turn sour in those situations especially when playing with our kids. I think more tokens for resources could easily put this into a “Buy it.” I feel that I am like my wife and am in the middle of the road as well. Recommendation: Try it/Buy it.

Daniel- I like how it’s a pirate based game and how it seems to be based on Port Royale. I like the Lore and Melody parts and the songs on it. The map is unique and the battles are fun. I always steal islands but I always lose. I wish there were more resources. Recommendation: Try it.

Elijah- when you go on a wind space you get to blow to the next space and I like that. I like the songs. Some of them are funny because they say “booty”. Recommendation: Try it.

Verdict

Our Family puts this at a 3.4/5 Young Buccaneers. This would be closer to a 4.6/5 if that higher player count had just a few more tokens to make reaching achievements that much easier.

The Whatnot Cabinet: A Kickstarter Preview

Game: The Whatnot Cabinet

  • Publisher: Pencil First Games
  • Designed by: Eduardo Baraf and Steve Finn
  • Illustrated by: Beth Sobel
  • Ages 8+
  • 2-4 players
  • 30 minutes

Remember when you were younger and would go outside? The fresh air was like a stirring to the soul, encouraging us to explore. Along the many paths we’d take there would be little trinkets. A smooth stone here, a little toy left behind, maybe a leaf that had turned a beautiful red shade would come across you as you went along. Some things you would take home to put on a shelf, and that collection of trinkets and knickknacks would pass into memory…

The Whatnot Cabinet brings back that feeling of being a kid again, and sharing those feelings with our own children has been a great reminder of our youth.

Gameplay

In The Whatnot Cabinet, you are collecting objects and scoring points for having the best Whatnot Cabinet.

Each player receives a Cabinet and a pawn of their matching color. (In a two player game, the player will use two pawns.) Then each player will place their pawn on the action board according to their position. Over the course of six rounds (three for two player), players will be collecting curio tiles, items of value such as gems, bottles, small animals and leaves, in hopes to fill their cabinet with the best collection. These items may be found in the curio tile bag or the outdoors, an area where adventure awaits.

In order to collect tiles, the player must pick one out of the five possible actions. These actions could be adding to your collection from the bag, adding to the outdoors and then to your collection or even resetting the great outdoors and collecting two tiles from the newly available pieces.

Scoring on your cabinet depends on colors and objects. A row of similar objects (ie all gems) will result in 3 curio tokens (points). A row with different objects will result in 1 curio token.

Columns are based on colors. Different colors equals 2 curio tokens while the same colors equal 4 curio tokens. How you place your tiles makes for an interesting strategy that will succeed or fail miserably depending on how you play.

Once players have all played on an action spaces not taken by another player, they will clear the outdoors and reset. Then they will move their pawns to the turn order space matching the action spaces.

Throughout the game there are Wonder Cards and Curiosity Cards which could help a player find a strategy to win. Curiosity Cards are cards that can be claimed by a player who has met a condition. For example there is a card with conditions of playing each color on the cabinet. Once someone has done so, they can take the card as their own and score for it at the end of the game. Wonder Cards are cards that give an edge to all players as it pertains to having certain objects. These objects will gain extra points for each one you have.

Having a large amount of objects related to the Wonder Card will pay off greatly in the game.

Lastly there are tiles with crowns and point/clearing tiles that you will encounter. Curio tiles with crowns get you more points. Point Tiles will have you do certain conditions and then place outside of your cabinet. The clearing tiles will have you resetting the outdoors and claiming tiles from there.

Each crown is worth an additional point.

Once all rounds are complete, players will score their cabinet, wonder cards, crowns, curiosity cards and where they are on the turn order spaces at the end of the game. The player with the most points is declared the winner!

Elijah collecting his Curio Tiles
Components

This artwork is beautiful. Each tile has just the right amount of detail and the cabinet looks like a Kallax shelf, perfect for a board game enthusiast. The pawns are a nice wooden design and the overall production is well worth having at the table.

Each piece has its own little detail down to the carpet under the cabinets.

One note, we were able to play with the Fascination Expansion and it adds a challenge to collect specific colored objects. This is a nice addition to change up strategies.

Our Family’s Thoughts

Abigail (not a hoarder or particularly fond of animals, but appreciates quality time together): it was a good game, easy to learn and easy to play and fun. It is fun with the family or just 2 players. Recommendation: Try it.

Beth: I feel like this game had a little bit for everyone. I was focused on strategizing placement while my kids had fun with their collections and we still had fairly similar scores. It was important to remember the cards that give you extra points for accomplishments, those gave the extra edge to the game. We enjoyed it and it went quick enough that everyone stayed focused (big plus for a family game). Recommendation: Buy It!

Chris: I love this game. It’s quick to play, easy to teach and fun for the whole family. There is something great when you get that feeling of your younger days. This game brought back memories of collecting sticks and leaves and seeing as my kids have done the same on walks. The artwork and gameplay fit well with our family and I would recommend this be a game your family backs. Recommendation: Buy It!

An example of a two player game where Abigail defeated me. Those leaves are what got her the win!

Daniel (11 year old hoarder of anything collectible): I like how the game is about collecting things because I like collecting rocks and gems and finding things that are unique. I liked the design of the tiles and the cabinet looked cool with the pieces in it. Recommendation: Buy It!

Elijah (9 year old with a cat obsession): I liked how there were kitties in it. I collected gems and animals because the gems looked cool and I like kitties. Recommendation: Buy It!

The Whatnot Cabinet deserves to be on your table. It’s a quick filler full of fun and we give it a 4.6 Goodlets out of 5.

The Whatnot Cabinet hits Kickstarter June 9th, 2020.

Zoned Out: Play, Develop, Repeat. Then lose to your kids as they laugh at your poorly made developments.

Game: Zoned Out

  • Publisher: Grey Fox Games
  • Designed by: Keith Rentz
  • Illustrated by: Jake Blanchard
  • Ages 10+
  • 2-4 players
  • 30 to 60 minutes

“I’ve done it! I have found an area of land to develop on. It has some run down homes and a few parking lots, but there is so much potential. I think I will build some homes and a library here.”

“The houses are built, but I wasn’t able to build on the parking lots and tear down the creepy house in time, but I did work a little on a skyscraper. It’s looking good and I have built some commercial buildings… What!?! Why are they in my zone putting those industrial buildings there. Now they are adding to my skyscraper?!? This is inconceivable!”

Our small town waiting to be developed into a bustling metropolis.
About the Game

In Zoned Out, players build and develop their zones by playing square cards on top of others, covering at the most three blocks. When one plays their card, they would place their developer/architect onto one of the buildings: the residential homes and libraries, the commercial buildings and stadiums, and the industrial buildings and train stations. Each building group has different densities. Those densities are one to three buildings. The other buildings like the library are like wild densities and take on the density of nearby buildings. So if a train station is beside a commercial building with a density of 2, that train station is worth a density of 2. We’ll come back to density and its affects on scoring.

The player has claimed this library as part of their residential area. Currently this residential space would have a density of one.

When the architect leaves their development area, they will place their architect on a new building space related to their newly placed card. Then, they will develop the zone that they had originally worked on. Each space that has that specific building type grouped together will have their plastic building pieces stacked according to their density. Then one will score for their number of blocks and any surrounding museums, parks, parking lots and abandoned houses. The larger the grouping of houses, the more points. Once stacks of buildings have been made, the player who built will add to the downtown zone for their skyscraper.

The small area in the beginning has become our downtown area with skyscrapers being crafted in one of the four zones.

The end of the game is triggered when either a player has played all their pieces or there are no more cards to draw. Then the next set of scoring begins.

Each player is given a card at the beginning. This card is a secret objective that will be scored by all, but that specific player has the upper hand at knowing what is to come. They may play their cards and buildings so they may achieve more points.

Parking lots can hurt players while parks and museums help your score.

Each player will reveal their card and score for them together, one card at a time. Some will be related to density, some to the skyscraper and even to having a majority of groupings. Then there will be the community cards which are known and will score. Finally players will score for the 1st and 2nd most pieces on a skyscraper for each zone. Whoever has the most points wins.

These objectives could make the difference between victory and utter defeat. Play them to your advantage.
Components

The artwork has vibrant colors and designs. The downtown acts as the center and lays on top of four cards with their parking lots covered. The cards have a nice feel to them and are easy to shuffle from game to game.

Nothing gets muddled in the details.

The pieces that stand out the most though are the plastic stackable buildings. They are easy to pick up and it feels like the person who designed that had it in mind. Each piece curves nicely to fit between one’s fingers. As for stacking them, it is simple to place it and just as easy to take them off. Our kids even built different looking towns with the pieces as we were learning the game.

These pieces have the right amount of color to enhance the cards they are played on.
Our Family’s Thoughts

Abigail: It’s a good game. Simple and easy to learn, Fast-paced which makes it fun. It has a fun design to it. I say buy it. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Abigail’s Downtown with a Hall of Justice.

Beth: this was easy to explain to the kids and the colorful cards appealed to them. I appreciated that the turns went quickly so that we didn’t lose their interest. There is enough strategy to keep the adults interested, but sometimes it may not matter and the luck of the card draw advances someone more. The redraw option shouldn’t be feared once or twice because it could advance your points by much more. I had a difficult time understanding the written directions for this game even though that is my preferred learning method. I was left with a few unanswered questions, but playing the game helped some of it come together for me. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Beth deep in thought over her next move.

Chris: This game was easy to play. There were some hiccups in understanding at first, but as we played through the game, we quickly caught on and enjoyed our time playing this one. Those pieces and the ease of play make this a quick filler. I highly recommend this to be played by families. Kids have just as much a chance to win as the adults. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Our fully completed metropolis, dense with residential, commercial and industrial buildings throughout.

Daniel: I like how the building pieces stack and the art of the city block cards and how it looks when its all together. I like how its quick and easy and I say buy it. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Daniel’s little town of stacking.

Elijah: I like how I am actually allowed to stack the pieces in this game. They don’t usually let me. It doesn’t take much time. Recommendation: Try it.

Elijah’s creation from stacking the pieces.
This is an easy recommendation. The illustrations and ease of play make for an enjoyable game. We hope you like this one as much as we have.

Volcanic Isle: The Wife just used Fissures to Destroy My Village

Game: Volcanic Isle

  • Publisher: Arcane Wonders, Pendragon Game Studio
  • Designed by: Andrea Mainini, Luciano Sopranzetti
  • Graphic Design by: Davide Corsi, Kris Aubin, Stephen S Gibson
  • Ages 13+
  • 2-4 players
  • 45 minutes
Journal Entry: Day 1

“We have arrived at the island. We have decided to go our separate ways and find places to call home. This land is surrounded by volcanos and have left behind signs of great eruptions of long ago. We shall build our homes on top of the ashes as we seek to please our gods.”

Journal Entry: Day 257

“Our village prospers. We have begun to raise Moai to praise the gods we worship. May they be pleased in what we do. There have been some fissures along the land, but we are not fearful. The gods will protect us.”

Journal Entry: Day 382

“The volcanos are erupting and our villages are lost. The lava comes closer to us. Perhaps we must pray harder to our gods and build more Moai…”

Journal Entry: Day 401

“Our people have sunk to the bottom along with part of the island. My life was spared thanks to the prayers to our ancestors, but the volcanos of our land were our doom and destruction… I must rebuild a new civilization and more Moai in hopes to bring bounty to our people.”

Part of the island has sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

Arcane Wonders was kind enough to provide us with a copy of Volcanic Isle. This game brings your villager to an island covered with volcanos. As you journey across the board you will remove ash and build up villages, create villagers, and then create Moai in hopes to praise the gods and ancestors before you.

There is one catch. With each Moai raised, fissures are created and may cause the land to be spilt and sunk to the bottom of the oceans below. Also, there are chances that one of the eight volcanos may erupt, causing lava to flow into your village, bringing death and destruction. As you build, you will receive points. Once there are two or less volcanos remaining, the game ends and scoring will be added from what remains on the island.

Components

The plastic pieces are well made. Each village, settler and Moai have a great attention to detail. The boat, prayer and lava tokens have artwork fitting of the design and made of thick cardboard.

The scoreboard’s pieces stack on each other which is a nice touch.

Then there is the board. This is what is so special. The board is modular. The game has an initial setup of where you will put all the board pieces and volcanos, but there are special setups with smaller amount of land and also larger islands.

Our Family’s Thoughts

Abigail: the board and character pieces are cool. I like being able to sabatoge other people and get rid of their villages and moui. I dont like how if you use the lava up in on place it doesn’t refill right away so its useless. Recommendation: Try it.

My red players were no match for my wife.

Beth: this one keeps me on my toes and I like it. I plan ahead when I play, but I havent quite figured out the best strategy, whether it is to set up more Moai or just spread out and set up villages. I look forward to trying different ways. It is frustrating to set so much up just to have it sink into the ocean, but hey, thats island life, right? Recommendation: Try it.

Chris: This game has a nice feel of take-that. The wife and I had a serious raising of Moai, resulting in a split right down the middle of the island. Sadly, the side that survives is the side that has the most volcanos. All that work to sink her to the bottom of the ocean led to my own destruction. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Game ends when the island is down to two volcanos. Elijah’s endgame scoring got him the win!

Daniel: the first things I like is that you can sink other players and build your own villages. I hate it when other people sink my villages, but it is fun. You can spread people all over the place. Recommendation: BUY IT!

Elijah: I like to play pretend with the people and Moai. I make them them talk to each other. I like making the volcanoes erupt. Recommendation: BUY IT!

We think this would be a fun game to enjoy with the family. The changing nature of the board makes for replay-ability and the risk for building your Moai can be your victory as much as it is your destruction.

Lift-Off! Get me off this Planet!

These aliens are adorable, even though their planet is about to explode with whoever is left.

Game: Lift Off! Get me off this Planet!

  • Publisher: Pencil First Games, LLC
  • Designed by: Eduardo Baraf
  • Illustrated by: Dustin Foust, Sebastian Koziner, Keith Matejka and Helen Zhu
  • Ages 13+
  • 1-6 players
  • 45 minutes

“The planet is getting hot, like totally critical. It was 62 degrees in Winter… yeah that is not winter. It’s getting hotter…”

“How many rotations of the moon do we have left?”

“Not many. If the moon is full we have a chance of evacuation…”

You have the ability to get on some timey-wimey police box to lift off.
Each move you make is a race against the destruction of your world.

There is something magical when the moon aligns with your path. It leads to getting off a planet that is doomed to destruction. This is what Lift Off! Get me off this Planet! is all about.

Pink Team, Day 5: The kids have kept me from lifting off this planet. My looks to me to help them off, but I think we may not make it off in time. Our only hope is some extra move cards and a Garglore…

The game plays over so many solar days where the moon’s rotation around the planet triggers effects that can help the aliens find their way off before meeting their end. The game originally came out in 2015, and is coming out with an Expanded Deluxe Edition which adds a solo mode and a new player count. Some of the things that I will talk about may not be in the final copy as they will be stretch goals, but I want to cover how it plays, some new features and what our family thought of this one.

You can tell there is some sci-fi love here. Does this take us to P4-3687? Will we meet the Ancients? Probably not, but the game references some fun pop culture.

In the game your goal is to get your ten alien meeples off the planet before the solar days come to an end. The game ends when either a player is able to get all of their alien meeples off the planet or the planet explodes. Rounds of the game are dependent of the number of players for solar days and a round is a full rotation of the moon.

The board has different pieces that can be put together to create an entirely different experience and replayability.
The cards you are dealt can help you get extra moves, resources, cause havoc or move the moon to your will and more.

Each player can play can move twice along the path, either twice with one alien or once with another. The other action they can take is playing cards in hopes to enter a launch location or Lift Off. Some conditions may require a Screw or Fuel Card to enter a launch zone. They also may require certain payments based on where the moon is on the board. The moon can be a full moon (above your location), new moon (opposite of your location), and half moon (the other moon locations). Lifting off may also cost resources and moon location as well. One launch pad may not lift off unless the moon is full, while another may need the Garglore and maybe an alien of a different color along for the ride.

Lifting off cost resources and may depend on where the moon is located, but beware! The Garglore is out to get you and stop you from getting off the planet.

Garglore? What is that? It is an alien bent on keeping your meeples on the planet for destruction. I think he just wants some attention. There are cards you can play that let you put the Garglore on someone’s launchpad, causing them to not be able to lift off. This is the trick-taking nature that is part of the game. There also are cards that make it possible to move the moon during your turn rather than at the end.

The Gurglore just wants some hugs. What’s so wrong with that…other than the impending doom that lies ahead?

One neat feature that Ed has added is the Gurglore. The Garglore must have been lonely, so the Gurglore was created. Instead of moving the alien, you can use one of your move actions to move the Gurglore and give some meeples some hugs and attention, acting similarly to the Garglore.

Components
Climbing a ladder seems like a fun way to get off the planet.

The alien meeples are beautiful and the board has a great deal of variety. Let’s say you get a terraform card. This card allows you to change a lift off point of the game. The lift-offs have opposite sides so there is plenty of variety.

The dice in the game can help you get off the planet or terraform into another lift-off location, causing you to go back to the planet’s core.

The dice are nicely made with great detail and the rulebook has plenty on information to help along the way.

The tokens and cards are also a nice touch. What has me excited are what could be a possible stretch goal, the little space ships for each color. Each has their own personality and style.

These little ships can be a stretch goal worth having. I love the detail and work that went into these.

One other thing to note is that the rules also have variations in play. Some could be more cooperative in nature and others quicker to play or family-friendly. This is a nice touch for our family as it can help eliminate some of the competitive nature.

Let’s get off this planet together. This will help prevent an all out attack on Daddy…
Our Family’s Thoughts

Abigail, 13: “I like how they put a lot of thought and how the board has different ways that you can get off the planet. I like the characters. I like how each individual way to get off, that the surface has its own little cost or rule.”


Beth: “The obviously themed exit points add a little bit of fun and the fact that you can change which ones are used will always keep the game different. The game is cute and fun, but at the same time includes strategy and a challenge. There is something for everyone in the family. That’s what I like about it.”

The art and detail makes this game one I recommend for families. Elijah, age 8 was able to grasp it and won. I was close with my eight pink aliens.


Chris: “This game has a great family feel to it with beautiful colors and the meeples are adorable. I love that feeling of seeing science fiction references on the board and moving the Garglore over to stop my opponents. Relying on the location of the moon also is a fun factor to how one will place their aliens. I find the game to have a solid experience worth bringing to the table.”


Daniel, 11: “I like how the little figures look. I like the little thing that you put them on when they are off the planet. My favorite thing to use to get them off is the slingshot, and you can basically keep using the slingshot to get your guys off.”


Elijah, 8: “The blue one is my favorite, or orange, or both. I like getting on the slingshot so that other people will slingshot me. One time Daddy slingshot me.”

Elijah in his Superman Pajamas, ready to fly off the planet.

Overall we loved this game and hope you will love it too. Lift Off! Get me off this Planet! hits Kickstarter January 7th, 2020.

The Grimm Masquerade: Why Does Everyone Point the Finger at Me?

Game: The Grimm Masquerade

  • Publisher: Skybound Games, Druid City Games
  • Designers: Tim Eisner, Ben Eisner, James Hudson
  • Illustrated by: Mr. Cuddington
  • 2-5 players
  • Ages 8+
  • 20-40 Minutes
The top left of the card shows the Boon. The bottom right shows the Bane.

There I was. I knew she was Red Riding Hood, and I had just drawn a disguise. This was my moment. She had one disguise already in front of her. I passed it over. She smiled. She then put the evidence marker on Red Riding Hood. What?!? Was she really the Big Bad Wolf all along? I drew my next card, the card I would keep. It was a spindle. I was unmasked and removed from the Beast’s Ball.

Playing with a pre-teen is killer, especially when she learned her competitive nature from you.

Actions give players chances to accuse a player or try to unmask them.

The Grimm Masquerade is a fun-filled deduction game that pits you against others trying to unmask each other at Beast’s Ball. Each player is a character straight out of Grimm’s Fairytales. You play as one of eight characters and each character is working to collect Boons (Good) and avoid Banes (Bad). Each turn a player will draw a card and either a)keep it face up in front of them or b)pass it to another player. Then they draw a card and do the opposite action. If someone collects three of their special Boon, they end the round and get the rose marker for that specific round. Roses act as Victory Points. This is Beast’s Ball after all. If you collect or acquire two of your Bane, you are unmasked.

Roses are the victory points of the game. Whoever has the most wins!

Unmasking does not mean elimination. You still have the chance to mess with your fellow players and unmask them. When unmasked, you collect your cards. Then on your turn you will draw a card and give one of your artifacts (cards) to another player in hopes to kick them out of the Ball.

So what was pointing the finger about in the beginning title? It is about actions that players can do. When a player has two of an artifact, they have a chance to discard them and take one of three actions. These actions may cause players to place evidence markers on a character they are not, look at the guests who did not attend the ball or point the finger. Pointing the finger is accusing another player of being a character. If right, the accuser receives two roses and the accused turns over their character card. Then the broken mirror is placed over that player. If the accuser is wrong, the accused gets a rose and then places an evidence marker on that character. After three rounds, the player with the most roses wins!

One benefit to the board is that each character is on the board showing their Bane and Boon. This makes it easier for the player to not have to remind their self who they are and what can hurt them.
Components

The artwork is stunning and beautiful. Each character has their own personal look that does not fit the Disney norm, and that is a good thing. The cards are solid and even the board is well done. There are additional components for advanced play and also to make it easier for a first time action.

Pay two cards of one type to play an action. Actions can be vital to your success.
Our Family’s Thoughts on the Grimm Masquerade

Abigail, 12: I like everything about it. I don’t like the putting the mirror on after you have been unmasked instead of before. It confuses me. I like how you have to try to unmask the other players before you get unmasked. I get excited when I know who someone is then I get to point a finger at someone. It has pretty good artwork too! Recommendation: Buy It!

Beth: I haven’t quite perfected the art of throwing people off my trail, but I still like to try. I like forcing people to identify who they are not, so I can narrow it down more. And there’s always the chance that I unmask them anyway. I do not like that the winners of the third round get so many more roses than anyone else, because it makes it harder to beat, but overall it’s an enjoyable family game and even when someone is out they are not fully out. So everyone still gets to play. Recommendation: Try it.

Unmasked? It’s okay. You still can play in hopes to unmask other players.

Chris: I loved teaching this at stores and at local game nights. This is a fun social deduction game that plays within a reasonable amount of time. I also appreciate that when someone is eliminated, they still have a chance to play. I know that feeling of being killed off, watching others play as I sit in my chair. Waiting for the rest to be done can be irritating and not enjoyable. I think with this player count and difference in style, this can be a great game for families who are wanting to not cause anyone to feel left out. Recommendation: Buy It!

Daniel, 11: It’s really fun how you can be different fairy tale characters. I like that you can give stuff to people to see if they really are that person. I like that if you are unmasked that you can still give stuff to other people. I like how there’s different actions you can do if you pay two cards. Buy It!

Elijah, 8: There’s different characters. It’s okay. I might like it. I like giving people cards that mess them up. I had guessed someone, and it was Daddy. I wasn’t certain and didn’t call it out. Recommendation: Try it.

The Grimm Masquerade is a game worth a look, and if you are a social deduction nut, this is the game for you!

Teaching Games: Taking the Competitive out of Me.

Enjoying a game of Too Many Bones

I’m a competitive player by nature. I enjoy winning. I love the feeling of accomplishment. When I would lose, I would take it hard and get upset. I didn’t like losing. I liked winning. That changed when I was introduced into teaching games and furthering my hobby.

Teaching Tiny Towns at a local game store

Last year I was invited to a game night. I had not been heavily into board games since high school except for the occasional Monopoly game. I had ruined friendships because of that game. I had never played team games or cooperative before until that game night. The games I was introduced to that night were One Night Ultimate Werewolf and Pandemic. It changed the way I played games, and I saw that competition wasn’t everything.

Kids enjoying Super Kitty Bug Slap

Then came a few more board game nights and the chance to try Thanos Rising. (This is my favorite game as I write this.) I loved working together to defeat a big baddie. This event introduced me into the Herald program through Envoy. Envoy is a part of Double Exposure. Double Exposure helps publishers get their games known in stores and events, working hand in hand. I interviewed with them later and officially became a demonstrator for them. I loved the idea of teaching others games. They would ask us to do different splashes and demos to show games at local stores and conventions, including cons like GenCon and Origins. The opportunities I have had in gaming are partly thanks to them.

A mother and daughter learning Rhino Hero Super Battle

With each game I learned, I would be tested on it. I had to teach it to one of my peers and be certified in the game. I would learn the mechanics, theme and the rulebook like it was a second language. I even would reach out to my peers and publishers requesting further understanding as questions arose. This especially would occur when playing in preparation with my family. Anytime a new game would come in the mail, they were my players 2-5. This led to questions about, “Am I able to perform this action?” or “Why do we score on this round and not the other?” They helped me sharpen my skills.

A strategic game of Shobu

So how did the change happen with me and my competitive nature? It came from teaching kids. I had been helping a homeschool co-op the previous year dealing with seven to nine year olds. It changed how I addressed children and taught them. I learned to get on the level of the people playing the games. Giving high fives and encouraging them makes the game more enjoyable. Suggesting ways to address a situation and then letting them decide made a difference. I remember one night I was teaching Thanos Rising with five boys sitting around the table. We would roll the Thanos dice making the “DUH DUH DUH!!!” sound. There would be gasps as a hero died and screams of excitement with each villain removed from battle. Watching them enjoy the game made playing more meaningful to me.

Playing Team3

The fun no longer revolved about the winning. It revolved around teaching and helping pass that love for games to others. Now, I’m still competitive, but I have come to love games more when someone asks, “Can you teach us that?” The reward comes from helping others and having others at the table to play with.

Interview with Jennifer England

Saving Food, so others can eat.

“We believe good food belongs to people not landfills…”

Jennifer England, Senior Programs Director, 412 Food Rescue

I had the privilege of speaking with Jennifer England on August 26th, 2019 to discuss the hobby and about 412 Food Rescue, a program that started in the Pittsburgh area.

TheCharityBoardGamer: Jennifer, thank you so much for meeting with me today. Tell us about yourself and what brought you into the board game hobby.

Jennifer: Well, I came to board gaming late. When I started dating my husband 6 years ago, he told me he loved board games. I was EXACTLY the person that I saw mentioned on a board game thread a few days ago. I said, “Oh I love board games. I like Clue, Life and Scrabble.”

My cousins played D&D and would never let me play with them. They would let me play Risk but I HATED that game and Monopoly. I think had they let me play D&D I’d be larping by now. I would have been heavy into games early on.

Rocking around the Christmas, playing a board game.

Jennifer: As it was, it was my husband who eventually introduced meI played Ticket to Ride and a few others, and my reaction was, “These are fine,” but nothing great. Then we played Agricola and I was hooked. I was addicted immediately, and since then I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into the hobby. I tend to deep dive into hobbies to begin with, and now that my kids are grown and I’m married to my best friend, we play A LOT of games. I think we are over 800 plays for the year. My preference is a chunky Euro game, not light games, but I’ll play those too. I had no idea that board games could be what they are. It’s such a joy to discover. I love the challenge and the thinkyness (Is that a word???) of games. I really get bored with tv, and books are so solitary. 

Jennifer and her husband at Origins 2019.

TheCharityBoardGamer: I think thinkyness is a word… and you can’t knock Clue. What is your favorite game currently?

Jennifer: My favorite game of all time is Gloomhaven, but we haven’t played for a while. 

Currently my list of favorites are probably:

  • Everdell
  • Puerto Rico
  • The Gallerist
  • Museum
  • Agricola (Always!)
Looks like a great game is going down!

TheCharityBoardGamer: What has been on the table recently?

Jennifer: We just played Gugong and LOVED it. and have played I think five games of Burgle Brothers in a row trying to beat that game.

TheCharityBoardGamer: Any designer or publisher that you enjoy the most?

Jennifer: Uwe. He gets me. He really gets me, but we also just played our first Lacerda (the Gallerist) and it was our jam. We bought Lisboa at Origins. Oh, I forgot to mention Bunny Kingdom. That’s like crack to me. 

TheCharityBoardGamer: So tell me about 412 Food Rescue. How did it start?

Jennifer: 412 Food Rescue was the brain child of our Co-founders Leah Lizarando and Gisele Fetterman. It was designed to bridge the gap between the fact that 40% of the food we produce is thrown away while 1 in 7 are hungry. I knew Leah and when I expressed excitement for this idea she asked me to help her operationalize it.

We believe good food belongs to people not landfills, and to be honest, it was like a logic puzzle or a game to create. How do you rescue a million pounds of food 100 lbs at a time? How do you distribute 10,000 pounds of produce that has to be eaten IMMEDIATELY? How do you do all of that economically?

We created an app that mobilizes our volunteers so we don’t have to rely on economies of scale. We can, with the touch of a button, reach thousands of volunteers to ask them to pick up a box of food and take it to a nonprofit where it can be used. We partnered with nontraditional distribution partners, organizations whose main mission was not food distribution, but whose constituents are food insecure. They know that to accomplish their mission they need to make sure the basic need of food is met.

Loaded up with food.

Jennifer: We work with housing authorities, subsidized day cares, veterans programs, job training programs, really any organization where there are people who are food insecure. Though we didn’t anticipate it, it turns out that this helps remove barriers to food access another way as well. Imagine the mother who is working two jobs and taking her kids to daycare on the bus. She doesn’t have time to take another bus to a grocery store or a pantry, but if she can pick up a bag of healthy groceries when she picks up her child it helps on both fronts.

We started in 2015 and in 4 years we’ve distributed nearly 7 million pounds of food to over 600 non-profit partners. Now we are supporting organizations in other cities who want to use our technology and our model to do the same thing in their area.

Continuing the efforts to help those in need.

TheCharityBoardGamer: For those who may ask, what is food insecure?

Jennifer: Food insecurity means that during a given month there will be days where you can’t feed yourself or your family. You don’t know where your next meal is coming from. It can also mean that you have no access to healthy food. People who live in food swamps for example face all sorts of added health issues.

TheCharityBoardGamer: Where can one go to learn more and support 412 Food Rescue?

Jennifer: www.412FoodRescue.org . We have sister organizations in Cleveland, Philadelphia and Prince William County in Virginia.

TheCharityBoardGamer: Jennifer, thank you for sharing this with us today. I wish you continued success!