Family Style Games – GenCon Week!

wicked cleverThis week we are at GenCon, vending at booth #1940 – Wicked Clever. If you are there, stop by and say “Hi”, buy a book (or some of the other cool things we will have), and a get your picture with Gandersnitch. In honor of the occasion, I am going to talk about games today. Specifically, games you can play as a family with younger kids.

I go to a lot of geek and game conventions, and I am always on the look out for cool news games to play with my own kids. There are plenty out there, but today I am picking three that might not be so well known, do require some strategy, and are actually fun for adults to play too. First up:

Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule!

by David Luis Sanhueza, more info at

Goblins DroolThis one I picked up at Gencon a few years back, and I will honestly say I initially grabbed it because I loved the banner they had to advertise the game. It was a hot seller that year, and I almost did not manage to snag a copy. But I did, and me and my adult friends tried out the game that night. While a single game is relative quick, about 10 to 15 minutes which is great for kids, we played it over and over again. Yes, four adults, playing a kids game for several hours into the night. Because it was that much fun and there was the potential for great strategy!

On the surface it is a game about matching rhymes such as “He So Smelly” (a goblin) to “P.B. and Jelly” (the girls on the poster). When a rhyme matches, you flip over the rhyming cards, and then pick up anything that matches a symbol (sun frog, mushroom, moon) on the card you played. The first person to get six fairies in their hand (or no goblins at all) wins. A simple premise, with great art, and silly rhymes. Kids love it!

Now, everyone plays with their own hand face up on the table, so that everyone can see everyone else’s cards, and that is where the strategy comes in. You can be very savvy about what you play in order to keep others from getting what they need, and if you can think several moves ahead, you can really screw over your opponents. All in all it is a short fun game for both kids and adults, and if you have kids of reading age, you really need to pick this one up. Now for one where no reading is required:

Monster Factory

by Donald X Vaccarino & Nina Paley, available at

monsterThis is a silly tile placing game where the players compete to create the largest monster. Tiles have purple sides and green sides, and must match, side to side, in order to be placed together. It is a game where you have to balance creating a large sprawling monster with the ability to actually complete said monster. An unfinished monster scores no points.

This game is a lot of fun, quick to play, and the art is absurdly wonderful. You can involve a bit of strategy, as pieces can be played on others if they do not fit on your monster—but a word of warning when playing with very young kids: there have been tears shed at my house when someone’s monster got messed up with other people’s parts. The game is simple enough that kids can play on their own, fun enough that the adults will want to play from time to time, and the cards are cool enough that kids can amuse themselves simply by building fun monsters any way they want. A perfect game for rainy days, or sleep overs to wind things down. And last on the list for today:


by Gangrene Games

hoagieThis is a brand new game from a brand new company, that I met for the first time at Origins Game Fair this year. I sat down to first play their “Trash Wars” game, which  vaguely reminded me of an early (and now defunct) iphone game, about collecting trash to toss at the other player’s base in an attempt to knock it down. I enjoyed the game, but I knew that my kids would not be as into it as I was, and as I was playing the demo the game on the next table caught my eye, because it had little blue guys making a mess. This was something my kids could relate to!

I asked if I could demo that game as well, which we did, and it was deceptively simple but a lot of fun. The goal is to make a sandwich: two pieces of bread, meat, cheese, and lettuce. The problem is that other players will try and spoil your sandwich, and you cannot eat a spoiled sandwich! The art on the basic cards is well done, but lets face it, by necessity it is just pictures of nice clean sandwich parts. The art on the spoiled cards is awesome though, and really adds a huge amount of gross fun to the game. You have colorful oogie farmers growing fungus on bread, stomping on the cheese with stinky feet, and doing very unsavory things to the lettuce.

At the time I was out of my allotted spending money for the show, so I almost passed this one by. I asked if they would be at gencon, confident that I could get it there, but alas they were not going to go this year. They were a brand new company and this was their first big show. I could not walk away from that. I had to take a chance on these guys and snag a copy of their game.

I am so glad that I did! While the demo seemed deceptively simply, when you add kids to the mix it becomes an absolute blast! The devilish glee in their eyes while they ponder what gross things to do to the other players food takes me straight back to my elementary school days. The frustrating hunt for a clean piece of bread so they can finally declare victory… maybe, just maybe, makes them appreciate just a bit more the oogie free food I place before them on a daily basis. Regardless, this is a great game from a great company and you certainly want to track down a copy and snatch it up!


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