Clue the Card Game

As family board games go Clue is a classic, but it can also grow tedious as you constantly roll and never get quite the right roll to make it to the room you want.

Enter Clue the Card Game.

Clue the card game

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What’s different about Clue the Card game?

Clue the card game

There’s no board, so that removes a large part of the randomness of Clue that drove me crazy.  Instead the same 6 suspects have stolen something, and are heading to a famous landmark in the United States to escape.  You have to figure out who did it, how they’re escaping, and where they’re going.

It’s also more portable because there is no board to worry about.

Clue the Card game strategy

In Clue the Card Game* you are playing the cards you’ve drawn to get your information, there are cards based on types of information and for specific people.

Clue the card game

So, you might be able to get everyone to show you a specific vehicle type (land) or location (Northeast), or have one person show you all of their location types.  And of course there’s the usual method of “I think Professor Plum escaped in a hot air balloon to the Lincoln Monument, can you prove me wrong?”

Clue the card game


Just like in the original Clue board game, it’s worth writing down who you showed information to, and what questions were asked.  Jeff writes down everything and as a consequence wins a large majority of the time when we play together.

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Similar games to Clue the Card Game

sadly it looks like Clue the Card game is out of print, or the one dealer selling it on Amazon has a SUPER high price, so here’s some similar games you might enjoy:

Forbidden Desert board game

My family knows me well.  For Mother’s Day I received some graphic novels and a board game.  I also didn’t have to cook or clean at all that day, it made for a happy Mommy.

Forbidden Desert board game

Of course that night we broke out our brand new game and played it, meet Forbidden Desert Board Game*.

{This post contains affiliate links marked with *.  For more information read my disclosure page}


What is Forbidden Desert?

cooperative game

Forbidden Desert is a cooperative game, that means you are all working together to win, and it’s hard!  You and your friends were flying off to find a cool new archeological site when your airship crash landed in the desert, now we need to find our missing pieces and rebuild the ship BEFORE we are buried by sand or die of thirst.

resource management game

It’s also a bit of a resource management game because you have a certain number of resources (special gear, water, and special abilities) you have to manage carefully to play well.

How to play Forbidden Desert

The tiles are laid out in a grid with an empty space in the middle (that space will move), you all start on the same space, and each have a specific job.  We have to explore the area to find our pieces and scavenge any tools we might find and water to drink.

Forbidden Desert board game

On your turn you can perform a few actions:

  1. unbury tiles
  2. move
  3. explore tiles
  4. pick up items
  5. perform your special ability

You see that last one, that is vitally important, everyone needs to use their ability as much as possible.

At the end of your turn you draw storm cards to see what the storm does.

About these jobs in Forbidden Desert

There are 6 possible jobs in Forbidden Desert:Forbidden Desert board game

  1. Water carrier- this person can deliver water to people and get water from a well, they need to do this as often as possible
  2. Archeologist- they are great at digging and can remove 2 sand tiles at a turn
  3. Climber- can move to blocked tiles AND take people with him
  4. Explorer- moves diagonally, this is more powerful than it seems
  5. Meteorologist- is able to look at storm cards or draw fewer cards (this seems to be the weakest person)
  6. Navigator- can move people up to 3 tiles away (very powerful)

We are still working on mastering this game, we have yet to win it, but it is clear you must use your job often.  We just haven’t figured out how to best do this, yet.  Emphasis on yet.

Drawing the storm cards at the end of your turn on Forbidden Desert

Those storm cards can be brutal.  At the end of each turn you draw a number of storm cards depending on how bad the storm is.  There are three different types.

Forbidden Desert board game

  1. Storm picks up- you move the difficulty meter up, which means you might be drawing more cards later
  2. Sun beats down- everyone takes a drink, if anyone is out of water, then they die and the game is over
  3. Storm movement- you orient the card correctly and move the number of tiles shown in that direction, each tile you move gets sand on it, this could result in the tile being buried.  If there is no tile to move in that location, you breathe a sigh of relief that you’re not going to die yet.

Once a tile has two sand on it, it is considered buried and you can’t move on it, it can still get more sand, but it might take several turns to unbury it.


Tips and Tricks for Forbidden Desert

Forbidden Desert board game

The navigator needs to move people as much as possible to get them around the board.  It may not be fun, but it’s a good way to discover as many tiles as possible.

The archeologist really needs to be digging as much as possible, they also need to find the tunnels to be able to hide in them just in case of sun beats down cards, they have the least amount of water.

Honestly, we’ve played this game 5 times so far, and I still feel like we’re learning the mechanics of it, so if you’ve played and have any great tips, I’d love to get them.


Final thoughts on Forbidden Desert

Forbidden Desert board game

This game is a lot of fun, we really enjoy it, even if we haven’t won yet.  I’ve heard Forbidden Island* is easier, so if you only have 4 in your family you might give it a try first.  Even as difficult as it is, I really like it, and it’s really helping Princess with her frustration at being defeated, and getting her to be more willing to play other things she might lose at, so for that alone I like it.

Smash Up game review

My boys got a cool new card game for their birthday, Smash Up Game (affiliate link), one we’ve been playing so much since March we’ve already bought two expansions.

Smash UP review


Smash UP game, what is it?

Smash UP game has a unique game play, you are choosing two different factions (robots and wizards for example) and mixing them together.  Because each faction has a different playing style, it’s not easy to categorize.

Smash Up card game

Zombies, Robots, and Wizards all play as card cycling.  You are moving through cards quickly to get the maximum effect

Ninjas, Pirates, Tricksters, and Aliens are attack cards.  They all have cards that will attack other players, destroying their cards or making them not work properly.

Dinosaurs and Tricksters are enhancement factions.  They have lots of make this card better for a turn or two.


You see what I mean about not being easy to categorize?

How to play Smash Up game


Smash Up choosing factionsThe game starts with everyone choosing two factions.  The first player chooses their faction, then it cycles around as everyone chooses their first faction, and the choice reverses and the last player chooses their second faction first and the first player chooses last.  Then you shuffle all of your cards together and draw five cards.

Smash Up card types

On your turn you can do two things:

  1. Play a minion.
  2. Play an action.

How you do those two things determines how the rest of you turn goes.  Some minions give you extra actions or abilities when you play them, and some actions let you play more actions.

Smash up base card

After you have played all of your cards you check to see if any base has scored (a base scores when the total number of minions there {and any actions affecting them} goes over the point total required), once a base scores all of the points are passed out and you draw two cards.

Play continues like this until someone has 15 points.  One nice thing about this game, if everyone is playing well together it can play in about 30 minutes.  That’s a rare thing in our house.


Our house rules for a Smash Up game

Because there are several different factions in play and not everyone knows all of the factions, we’ve developed some house rules.

  1. Play one card at a time, and explain why that card has happened.
  2. Talents (which are from the Expansions) only apply to minions/cards on the base the character is played.  If a minion is moved from that base before the player’s turn comes again the talent applies to the card until the next turn.
  3. Minions on a base are stacked according to player to make it easier to see which minions go together.


Okay, that’s really it.  It’s a fairly straightforward game to play.  So far we’ve bought two expansions:

Smash Up family card game

Pretty Pretty Smash Up– Princesses, Cats, Horses, and Fairies, all things cute and pretty and they are powerful.  Seriously horses are scary powerful and the Princesses, wow!

Smash Up Awesome Level 9000 Board Game– Steampunk, killer plants, Bear calvary, and ghosts.  The boss from the Bear Calvary is what led to our house rule on the talents only applying to a single base.  His power is crazy big.

King of Tokyo review and game play

About a year ago my boys were given King of Tokyo by their aunt as their latest game.  Ever since then we have played it about once a month.

King of Tokyo review

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What is King of Tokyo?

In King of Tokyo you’re playing a monster trying to take over and destroy Tokyo.  Unfortunately for you several of your best frenemies all had the same idea.  You are duking it out for King of Tokyo.

Dice game

When you think of  King of Tokyo think Yahtzee but with giant monsters, and a few more mechanics.  On your turn you roll dice to see what will happen.  You’re playing the odds of what combinations are more likely to happen.

Gateway games

It is also a gateway game.  These are games you can play with non-gamers.  They’re the ones you might find in Barnes and Noble or the occasional Target.  Actually I texted Tara when I saw King of Tokyo in Target.


How to play King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo components

You start off choosing a monster, there’s 6 possible monsters in the base game, and they all have the same abilities, just what type of monster do you want to pretend to be.

I mean you can be Godzilla and talk about smashing Tokyo.  You can be a bunny in a giant robot suit, and talk in a really bad foreign accent.  Have fun with it.

King of Tokyo dice

On you turn you roll all 6 dice up to 3 times.  Each time you can set aside dice and choose not to roll them again, or change your mind and reroll those dice.

Numbers 1-3= Victory Points.  If you get 3 of a kind you get that many victory points, each extra number is more points.

Paw print= Damage.  You want to damage others.  If you are in Tokyo, you damage everyone else.  If you are not in Tokyo you damage the person in Tokyo.

Hearts= Healing.  If you are not in Tokyo you can heal, otherwise hearts are useless (unless you have the Power Up Expansion, more on that later).

Lightning= Money.  Officially they are energy cubes, but it equates to money for buying power ups for your character.

King of Tokyo power up cards

What are the power up cards?  I’m glad you asked.  They are cards which change and make your monster more powerful or give you points.  Some are permanent and say KEEP.  They can give you extra damage, healing, damage reduction, they are awesome.  The others say DISCARD, you use and discard to get Victory Points, healing, energy cubes, all sorts of things.

Once you’ve rolled your dice and done your damage the person in Tokyo may choose to yield to you, in which case you get Tokyo and you start gaining Victory Points.


King of Tokyo expansions

King of Tokyo power up expansion

King of Tokyo Power Up Expansion Game is the first expansion and I would recommend getting that first.  Now your monsters can mutate and gain powers.  It also introduces one new monster (Pandakai).

Now if you roll 3 hearts not only does your monster heal a lot, you gain a new mutation.  These are like power up cards, but specific to your character.  So they can be temporary or permanent.

They are AWESOME!  It adds a whole new level of fun to the game, and I’ll have a few tips on this.

King of Tokyo Halloween expansion

King of Tokyo Halloween Expansion Board Game, it’s Halloween night in Tokyo and even the monsters are dressing up.  This expansion adds in two new Halloween monsters (Pumpkin Jack and Boogey Woogey).

The costumes work like Power Up cards, but and this is the cool part, they can be stolen.  If you damage a monster you can steal their costume if you pay them for it.  And some of the costumes are crazy powerful.

The box also includes mutations for the two new monsters, and those have some interesting variations (more in the tips).


King of Tokyo playing tips

King of Tokyo tips

First tip:

Remind any kids playing their monster will be hurt, and people will be attacking them, but you can’t take offense at it.

The tension of the game, and all of the expansion is how long can you stay in Tokyo taking hits before you get to zero hit points.  Once you do, you’re out of the game.  But, the longer you are in Tokyo the more Victory Points you get.  Find your happy spot for that one.

Mutations- We house-ruled you can start with one mutation.  It makes it fun to see what the fun trick you start out with.

*We also house-ruled Pumpkin Jack and Boogey Woogey’s mutations can be played on them because otherwise it’s too much of an advantage with only 4 people.

Costumes- If you are going to allow people to start with a costume make sure it is random, not they chose.  Also, don’t let the princess costume be part of the random dealing, it’s way too powerful.

Kings of Israel a Biblical board game

As you all know by now my family loves board games, and I love to find unique board games that are not random chance.  I’ve been looking for a good Biblical game, but most of them are trash.  They are either bad knock-offs of currently existing games (I’ve seen knock-offs of Magic the Gathering, Monopoly, and Trivial Pursuit) or they’re over the top preachy, or just poorly made.  I’ve finally found a Biblical game that’s fun AND gets in a bit of Bible history at the same time

Kings of Israel Biblical game

(Disclosure I received a free copy of the game and was compensated for my time, but all opinions are my own and I’m buying a copy of this game for some gamer friends, so yeah it’s awesome)

Back to my comments, Funhill games has come up with an awesome game that my ENTIRE family (yes even Princess who hates games likes this one) loves to play.  We even took it cross country so we could play it with our friends who moved.

Kings of Israel cross country game

Sigh I miss them, that half sad/half so happy look on my friend’s face is similar to the one I had the whole time because it was so great to see her, but also bittersweet knowing I’d be leaving the next day.


Kings of Israel premise

In Kings of Israel Board Game (affiliate link) you are God’s prophets working together to rescue Israel from their sin before God punishes Israel by allowing her to be invaded.  For the gamers in my reading audience Kings of Israel is a cooperative resource management game.

cooperative game

Cooperative Game– all of the players are working against a game mechanic, usually a doom clock governed by a certain number of rounds.  An example I’ve talked about so far is Castle Panic where you are all working together to beat the monsters.

Resource management games

Resource management– You have to manage your resources to build the items you need, or destroy items you don’t want.  Most of these games are more complex, so my kids are just now learning to play these.  The only one I’ve reviewed so far is Settlers of Catan.


How to play Kings of Israel

Kings of Israel instruction manual

Just as a side note, I have to say Kings of Israel has one of the best instruction manuals I’ve seen in a game, seriously it’s well laid out (follow the link to see a PDF of the manual if you want).

Kings of Israel prophet abilities

Each person is playing a prophet of God who has a special ability, some can move faster, others can hold more, some have special trading abilities, all of them can be useful, but none of them are so earth-shatteringly important that you’ll lose if one of your people doesn’t have that ability.  Your goal is to get rid of the sin in Israel and build altars to God.  You win the game once you have a certain number of altars (the number increases as you have more players).

KIngs of Israel

The game works in a cycle.  At the start of each round the first player adds sin for two locations, and draws either a blessing or a curse card depending on which king you are on.  Blessings are incredibly powerful.  Insanely powerful at times.  Curses can be “oh that’s not that bad,” to “Oh no the game is going to end next turn if we don’t fix this,” and the always popular “We have 4 turns to stop that from happening.”

Once all the start of round stuff is done, each player takes their turn.

If you're ever not sure what to do, look at the handy dandy cheat sheet

If you’re ever not sure what to do, look at the handy dandy Kings of Israel cheat sheet

On your turn you have 4 actions to perform you can:

  • Preach to Israel and get rid of sin.  This is one of the places resource management comes into play, if you don’t get rid of sin it can build up and cause you to lose, but if you spend all your time destroying sin you will lose the game because you haven’t built altars.  Resource management……
  • Travel to different cities- you travel to get rid of sin, build altars, so on and so forth.
  • Build an altar- you need stone, gold, and wood to do this (again Resource management to aquire it all and be in the right spot to build one).
  • Gather a resource- draw a card, but you can only hold six resources unless that’s your special ability.
  • Give a resource- you can  give resources to another player, this IS NOT A TRADE (we played wrong the first time).  You can talk about what you have and what they need, and you can give up to two resources at a time.  You have to be in the same city (unless that is your special ability)
  • Make a sacrifice- You can “spend” a cattle and a grain card to make a sacrifice that will get rid of all the sin at a location and 1 sin cube at each adjoining location (this is why placement of altars is important, if you place an altar at a location connected to several locations making a sacrifice can remove at least 5 sins in one action, it’s all about the resource management folks)
  • Destroy an idol- Idols are heap big bad news.  They spread sin like no one’s business, so you want to get rid of them, but it takes TWO actions to do so.


Here’s an example turn order for Kings of Israel:

Good King: Draw a blessing card, wow that is helpful I can’t wait to use it at a crucial point in the game.


Kings of Israel

This punishment is an “Oh that’s annoying, but not world ending” punishment

Bad King: Draw a curse card, how will we fix this problem?  This really helps your child think strategically and not just what is the immediate problem?  I love that aspect of this game.

Sin increases.  You draw a location equal to the number of players plus ONE.  So we are usually drawing 5 or 6 (yes we cheated and made the false prophet token a fifth player so the entire family can play, it doesn’t break the game dynamics) locations.  You put 1 sin token at each location.  If it is a nation you put one sin cube at each location that trades with that nation (EEK so much sin).  If there is 3 sin cubes an idol is created and each time sin is placed at the idol it is also placed at the surrounding towns.  YIKES, where is all this sin coming from, why won’t they listen to the prophets?


Kings of Israel prophet abilities

Blue prophet moves up to Dor from Hepher and preaches to Israel twice removing sin.  Then draws a resource card.

Red prophet stays there because we have a foretold prophecy about that location if it is free of sin then it will be okay, otherwise it will be destroyed.  She preaches to Israel and removes the sin, and draws 3 resource cards.

Yellow prophet stays where they are and collects resources.  While sin is relatively low it’s a good time to gather resources.

Green prophet moves up to the yellow prophet to give them materials to build an altar.

At the end of the round the first player token moves to the next player in line, the king marker moves to the next king and it all starts over again.

Our take on Kings of Israel

We’ve played this game several times now and it’s a lot of fun.  I’m looking forward to trying the difficult variation sometime when we’re just playing with adults.  My kids aren’t quite ready for that.  We played our first time with the easy version and that was a lot of fun.  All the rest of the time we played with the standard rules.  I’m really curious to try the Bible study version they talk about in the rule book, it sounds very intriguing.


Tips and tricks for Kings of Israel

Kings of Israel bad news

You see that guy there.  That is an idol.  Destroy them early and often.  Don’t let them sit there, they will multiply like nobodies business.

I’d highly recommend for your first time playing using the easy version.

Our house rules for using 5 players was to increase the amount of sin at the start, and that seemed to more or less balance it out right.

We’ve also found Kings of Israel to be incredibly helpful for our family Bible study.  I’ve pulled the game out to show the kids the map and trace where things are.  You might have noticed it in my post on the Samaritan woman.  I’m sure if we were still studying the Old Testament I’d be pulling it out every week (I’m secretly hoping they come up with a game for Acts, imagine “You’re a new Christian trying to spread news of God’s Kingdom to the world, but can you spread that news before Rome shuts you down and throws you to the lions?”  Or something less silly sounding).


Save on Kings of Israel

If you order soon you can save 20% on Kings of Israel Board Game using the promo code KINGSPRO through April 16, 2015.

using promo code for Kings of Israel


Editted to add:

1.  I was over at the Kings of Israel Facebook page, and found a cool podcast (so totally check out their FB page, they’ve got some cool stuff)

2.  I forgot to include the giveaway!  Who wouldn’t want a chance to win this?

5 Crowns card game, Review and game play

I don’t know how we first found 5 Crowns card game, or when exactly, but this is one of our go to games when we have friends over.

5 Crowns a fun card game to play with your family

{all Amazon links in this post are affiliate links}

5 Crowns card game Quick Overview

Here’s a quick 10 second explanation of Five Crowns card game: It’s Gin Rummy with 5 suits and a changing wild card.

Clear as mud right?

This is part of why we like to play this and introduce it to friends.  It’s a game you can easily talk around, as Jeff would call it a “beer and pretzels game.”

Side note, someday I want to get this Five Crowns Playing Card Game in Wooden Protective Box, because our plain cardboard box is falling apart from play.


5 Crowns card game the longer explanation

5 Crowns great for learning to deal cards

This game has 12 rounds with you gaining one card each round.  The first round you have 3 cards and by the last round you have 13 cards.

Each round you are trying to organize your cards into sets of at least 3:

  • Runs- sets that are part of one suit that go in order (3, 4, 5, 6, 7 of hearts)
  • Matches- sets of one number that could be multiple suits (3 “9’s”, heart, clubs, stars)
  • Sets can have one OR more wild card in them.  Wild cards are the current wild for that round and Jokers.  Jokers are always wild.

5 Crowns card game fives are wild this turn

This is the third round, and you have 5 cards.  5’s are wild this time.  If you’re ever not sure what card is wild, count the number of cards you have and that number is wild.

Five Crowns is a low level card replacement game.

card replacement

I figured I better start defining some of the gaming terms I use on posts like these.  So, here’s my first definition.

Card replacement- picking up and discarding cards rapidly to cycle through cards rapidly to gain the most effect.

In this case every turn you are discarding and picking up cards.  That’s the whole point.  You need to change your hand to get the arrangement you want.  I say this is a low level version of that because in more extreme versions your goal is to run through your entire hand in that one round.

5 crowns card game review

The most difficult hand is the “5’s,” because you have to get 5 items in your set (sets require a minimum of 3).  In this case I ended up with 5 “9’s” with two wild cards.

5 Crowns card game review how to score

5 Crowns is a great game to get your kids started on counting cards.  You want to teach your kids to be aware of what has been played and what patterns are developing.  Who is picking up what, what types of cards are they discarding.

I’m sure you’re thinking, that’s nice, but why do I WANT to do that?  Later on in life you want your kids to notice details.  What was someone wearing, how are they interacting with other people.  Teaching them to notice details in smaller things like card games will help them to get better details later in life.

Besides, it’s “good clean fun.”  And a fun excuse to play some games.

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Stocking Stuffers to promote learning

One of my hidden agendas with Christmas presents is to promote learning while having fun.  You could easily spend hundreds of dollars pursuing that goal, but today I’m going to share some stocking stuffer ideas that are less than $15.

stocking stuffers to promote learning

Random question I thought of as I took this picture.  Does your family wrap stocking presents, or do you just have them open?  I grew up wrapping stocking presents, and so the first year I went to go wrap them in white tissue paper (which is of course THE way to do them) and Jeff looked at me like I was crazy, “You DO NOT wrap stocking presents, that’s just silly.”

So do you wrap your stocking stuffers or leave them as is?

Stocking Stuffers to promote reading

There are a lot of great book series for kids, but I want to highlight 5 different games your kids could learn from.

  1. Bananagrams(strong reader)
  2. POP for Blends Card Game (learning to read)
  3. Quiddler (strong reader)
  4. Mini Word Puzzle Game (able to read)
  5. Snap It Up! Phonics(learning to read)


Stucking Stuffers to promote math

Math is a fun subject to learn through games, you can sneak in so much learning through games, and much more enjoyable for both parents and kids than flashcards.

  1. ThinkFun Math Dice Jr.
  2. Think Fun Math Dice
  3.  Addition Wrap-Ups
  4. Learning Wrap Ups – Multiplication
  5. Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception(introduce algebra concepts to younger kids)


Stocking Stuffers to promote science

This is a slightly different take than the previous two categories because there are some great science gear you can get for under $15 (and it fits in a stocking), and some great toys that will promote science learning.

  1. Pocket Microscope
  2. Safari Ltd Ocean TOOB(I cannot emphasize enough how great these are for early elementary science)
  3. Professor Noggin’s Wonders of Science
  4. My First Pocket Guide Stars & Planets
  5. Animal Tracks: A Folding Pocket Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Familiar North American Species (Pocket Naturalist Guide Series)


Stocking Stuffers to promote history and geography

For my kids, I’ve found a large selection of games and toys increases their interaction and knowledge of history more than almost any other thing.  The first two items in this stocking stuffer list are MUST HAVE items in our house for homeschooling

  1.  Safari Ltd Jamestown Settlers TOOB
  2. WWII US Marines Figures
  3. Professor Noggin’s History of the United States
  4. Timeline Historical Events Card Game
  5. Flag Frenzy!



Stocking Stuffers to promote writing

Writing can be challenging for young kids because they don’t know WHAT to write or are still learning how to form their letters and words.

  1. Rory’s Story Cubes
  2.  Once Upon A Time
  3. Lisa Frank Sketch Stationery Set(these were the height of coolness when I was a kid)
  4. Blank Book(your best bet for large numbers of these are teacher supply stores or Oriental Trading from time to time)
  5. Journal (Notebook, Diary) (Small Journal Series)(craft stores and Barnes and Noble always have a great supply of these, all of my kids love little books)


Stocking Stuffers to promote critical thinking

Critical Thinking will be important as you continue in life past school, why is this decision better than the other, what are the risks and rewards of one choice over the other?  All of these games promote critical thinking and problem solving, and additional bonus, they travel well for waiting in doctor’s office or restaurants.

  1. Five Crowns
  2. HABA Catch Me Mini Game To Go
  3. HABA Orchard Mini Game
  4. IQ Twist
  5. ThinkFun Hoppers

Of course you can’t really go too far wrong sticking a pad of paper and a set of markers because you’ll be amazed what your kids will come up with just being left to create and having fun.
Follow Erica • What Do We Do All Day?’s board Gift Guides for Kids on Pinterest.

Today I’m joining up with many other fabulous ladies from Kid Blogger Network to bring you gift guides.  I’d highly recommend heading over to What do We Do All Day to see the other gift guides.

stocking stuffer gift guide

Castle Panic Game

I read about Castle Panic over at Stone Soup for Five and immediately knew this was a board game we needed to add to our collection.  So I made the excuse of buying it for Jeff for Father’s Day.

Castle panic a great way to work together and have fun

{This post contains affiliate links.  For more information read my disclosure page}

I was right, Castle Panic has been a perfect game for our family.


How to Play Castle Panic

Castle panic conceptCastle Panic is a cooperative game, we are all working together to stop the monsters from destroying the castle walls and the towers.  At your turn you, trade, discard, and draw to get the most cards you can play.

Castle Panic turn

Everyone plays with their cards face-up, and on your turn you can trade 1 card, discard and draw another card, and then play any cards you have to do damage to the monsters.  Different types of soldiers are able to hurt monsters at different levels.

There are actually 3 different ways to play Castle Panic:

  1. Everyone together, no points.  In this version you all work together to kill the monsters, and you don’t worry about who got the most points for actually delivering the killing blow.
  2. Everyone together with points.  For this version of Castle Panic, you want to be the person who delivers the killing blow, so you might be less willing to trade and help out other players.  This version would be more difficult because you are trying to both make sure the castle isn’t destroyed, AND you get the most credit for kills.
  3. Everyone against one player.  We haven’t looked at this version at all, but one player controls the monsters and is trying to destroy the castle.  Since neither Jeff, nor I, are fans of all against one games, we haven’t tried this version at all.

Castle Panic for large groups

So far we’ve only played version 1, and even everyone working our best together to win, we’ve almost lost a couple of times because of timing of the monsters.

Castle Panic Strategy

In games like this, there are two different strategies:

  1. Play through cards as rapidly as possible, and plan to discard and use as frequently as you can.  This is usually referred to as “card cycling games.”
  2. Hold special cards and try to play them at “the right time.”

Castle Panic

I’ve never had much luck with the try to time the cards, but card cycling where you play cards as frequently as you can, no matter what works for us.

Specific tips for Castle Panic in light of card cycling:

  1. Use the barbarian often.  There is one in the deck, and he can fight anywhere.  The most effective use of the “dumpster dive” card is digging up the barbarian card.
  2. Unless you specifically see a mortar AND brick out, ditch your mortar or brick card in favor of drawing a different possibly usable NOW card.
  3. Reinforce takes one card, verses rebuilding a wall taking two, always reinforce when that card shows up.
  4. Go for the kill, not wounding.  Spreading your damage around to all of the monsters is a fool’s game.  There are cards that heal, and I’ve noticed you always draw that token right after you’ve damaged, but not killed the monster.
  5. Think strategically.  Trade for where the monsters might be in a few turns.

protect your towers to win Castle Panic

You win Castle Panic if you have AT LEAST 1 tower still standing after you’ve killed all of the monsters.  So far, fingers crossed, in 10 times of playing we’ve never completely lost a game.  We’ve won with 1 tower standing, but it’s been crazy crazy close.

Castle Panic with kids

Buying Castle Panic

I bought our copy of Castle Panic at our local comic store.  I’ve also seen it at Barnes and Noble, and obviously it’s available at Amazon for about $25.  There’s an expansion for it called Castle Panic: The Wizard’s Tower which all 3 of my kids have pointed out to me on a fairly regular basis.  The boys are arguing for us to get Dead Panic, but I’m not a big zombie fan, so they may lose that argument.

Lemming Mafia review

Way back at Christmas I told you I got a few games, I already told you about Fearsome Floors, well now let me tell you about Lemming Mafia (affiliate link).

Lemming Mafia review


Jeff and I first played this with some friends because we weren’t quite sure it would be okay to play with the kids.

Lemming Mafia game night

We played it a couple of times, and it’s fairly simple to play and understand, if a bit unusual.

Lemming Mafia concept

Lemming mafia concept

You’re all bosses in the Lemming Mafia, one night you and the other bosses get bored, and decide to send your minions to run off the dock.  You’re all betting on who will be first, and trying to rig the game.  Along the way you have some missions to accomplish, and a few vendettas to fulfill.

Pretty simple right?  Simple to explain, not so simple to win.

Lemming Mafia game play

Lemming Mafia game play

All of the lemmings start at the poker table, and on each person’s turn they roll the lemming dice and choose which color to move.  See, simple.

Lemming mafia spaces

It’s the board spaces that make it complicated. You have the possibility to move the lemming to:

  • betting- you bet on the winning lemming, but be careful of when you bet
  • concrete- trying to slow a lemming down
  • jackhammer- remove the concrete
  • escape car- to move faster
  • visit the boss- a chance to gain or get rid of missions
  • nothing, every lemming needs a break sometimes

So…. those missions.  Some are you’re guess on who wins first, some are attempts to concrete out a particular color.  They are all worth points, BUT if you don’t succeed in the mission, then you lose the points you might have gained.  The missions can make or break your game.

That’s the simple version of the rules.  Once you start interacting with different players it becomes confusing.  Why did they move that figure and not the other, what missions do they have?


Our thoughts on Lemming Mafia

I have two different criteria for games, do I enjoy playing them with my friends, and can I play them with my kids?

Lemming Mafia played with kids

Lemming Mafia fits both of these categories.  With my kids the results are a lot more random because they don’t completely understand the missions yet, but it’s still fun.  With adults there’s a lot more thought in which color lemming is moved.


The biggest praise I can give Lemming Mafia is Princess likes to play it.  She loves the little figures and loves to move them around.  This is coming from a little girl who doesn’t really like games.  I thought I’d sum up this post with her explanation of Lemming Mafia .

Anatomy for kids: circulatory system game

Back when we first started studying the circulatory system, Amber over at Fantastic Five shared a circulatory system game.  I told her we were totally going to play that game, and we did.  It was a huge hit!

Circulatory System game

All you need for this game is the print out, something to color with, tape, and scissors.  I would add in a dice and not use their suggested spinner, but I’ll get into the modifications we made to the Circulatory System game later.

{This post contains affiliate links.  For more information read my disclosure page}

Circulatory System Game Mechanics


Circulatory system game mechanics

You are a blood cell moving through the system and performing the jobs of a red blood cell.  You start off in the marrow where blood is first produced and have to go through picking up waste, delivering oxygen, and food to the “cells.”  Your goal is to do so before the other blood cells have done so, simple enough right?  Here’s the complications:

  • You have to pick up and deliver items to each leg and arm, and the head.  These are obviously totally different directions, you have to decide what is the most efficient way to complete these activities.
  • You have the option to add more blood cells in, is that a wise use of your resources?  I still haven’t decided on that one.

Our Circulatory System Game modifications

circulatory system game modifications

As I read the instructions for the circulatory system game, and the suggestions Amber made, I went ahead and made a few more modifications, partially to cut down on the time the circulatory system game takes to play, partially to enforce some other skills I’m working on with the kids.

  1. We used a dice we owned, we started off with a 6 sided dice (the kind you have in most games) then moved on to a 10 sided dice.  You have to cover a lot of ground and to make the game move more quickly I tried to get them moving over more spaces.
  2. On the topic of movement.  We started off multiplying the number rolled by 5, but ended up moving it to multiplying by 10.  It helped reinforce their multiplication.  All to the good.
  3. The original rules has you delivering 2 or 3 of each item to each place.  I’d modify it to only delivering 1.  We started off by only delivering 2, but even that leads to a fairly long game when you have multiple kids.
  4. Make sure each child uses 1 color for their pieces, you could make this even easier by printing each child’s pieces onto a different color of copy paper, but that would have meant I read the instructions ahead of time, which I didn’t.


What we learned about the Circulatory System

Part of why I like this circulatory system game is it gets into the hands on learning we really love, and it reinforces what was in the textbook.  Look at all they saw with this game:

  • The different ways the blood travels.  There were so many paths to take.
  • The amazing complexity of our circulatory system.  It’s confusing when you first start looking at it.  Each time our blood cells reached the heart we had to sit and look at where the blood vessels went.  God made our bodies amazing complex.
  • The many jobs our blood does.  It carries so many different things, and this game simplified it.


And with a big sigh of relief I am finally done writing about the circulatory system.  It’s amazing how much we really did once I sat down and wrote about it, and most of this was way back in March….  And I still had a few more activities I thought about doing, but finally just said, “That’s enough, we can do that later if need be.”


More Circulatory System Resources

Uncover the Human Body: An Uncover It Book

Human Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy Pinterest board



Science Sunday

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Science Sunday"><img src="" alt="Science Sunday" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Now link up your SCIENCE posts, new and old, and then visit some of the other posts linked up and say hi. I’m going to be pinning, commenting, FBing or tweeting all of the posts linked up as the week goes by. At the end of the month I’m going to feature the best posts linked up.

Make sure to include a link back to my blog so people can come back from your post to see what others have done.  By linking you are agreeing I can feature your posts in a round up post later (I may use a picture to feature, but will link back).

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