We Went to Origins 2014 - Part 2

We Went to Origins 2014 - Part 2

As we shared yesterday, I (Jeremiah) went to Origins last Friday and got to catch up with some of the movers and shakers in the gaming industry! Today we'll continue with my thoughts and recap of the con! So, with that... Let's keep it moving!

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2013 Holiday Gift Guide—Kids Games!

Whether you have kids of your own, know someone with kids, or were a kid once yourself, it can be hard to find just the right game for the tiny little snot factories in your life. So as we continue our gift guides, we're going to give you some of our favorite new and old games you can pick up for the kiddos—all of which are in print. And on a few of them we've linked to our review of the game, so you can investigate yourself if it's a game you'd be interested in. We'll give you the MSRP, and age/audience as it's appropriate. So without further ado, here's the list!

cheeky monkeyCheeky Monkey—This is a cute little press-your-luck set-collection game involving exotic animals. It even comes in an adorable (albeit legless) stuffed monkey. Our youngest kids really love this game.

Cost: $29.99 (Find it online)

Ages: 5 and up

Review: http://wp.me/p2hTk7-vM


candle questCandle Quest—We haven’t forgotten our Jewish readers! (Okay, we don’t know if we have any of them, but still…) This auction game has you trying to be the first to complete your menorah. It’s a retheme (actually, the original theme) of the game It’s Alive.

Cost: $21.99 (Find it online)

Ages: 5 and up

Review: Coming Soon!      

pigPick-a-Pig/Pick-a-Dog—In this game you’re trying to quickly spot the differences in the portraits of dogs (or pigs). It’s cheap, and fast. If you grab a copy of both (pig and dog) versions you can combine them for even more animal selecting enjoyment!

Cost: $10 (Find it online)

Ages: 7 and up

Review: http://wp.me/p2hTk7-Fu


mayfair_catan-junior-rightCatan: Junior—This game is designed to teach kids the basics of Settlers Of Catan, and it does so marvelously. It plays quickly, and there are decisions to be made—but they’re manageable. The colorful and chunky components only add to the appeal.

Cost: $30 (Find it online)

Ages: 5 and up

Review: http://wp.me/p2hTk7-qC


The classic code-cracking game is back in a 25th Anniversary DelCrazy Creatures Dr. Gloom—This cute little card game has you adding creatures from your hand to Dr. Gloom’s machines. It helps kids with their counting, and learning about higher and lower numbers.

Cost: $15 (Find it online)

Ages: 5 and up

Review: http://wp.me/p2hTk7-A1


louieLooping Louie—This is a holdover from last year's list, but it's just so stinking good it deserves to be on every list. This is a kids game, but I can tell you that I've played just as many games with adults as I have with kids. It's a super-fun game where Louie whirls around on a pivot, trying to knock out your chicken tokens. You're trying to keep him away from your chickens and send him at your opponents' chickens. Sounds crazy. Is crazy. Is also crazy fun.

Cost: $30 (Find it online)

Ages: My 5-year-old plays it, but he's probably too young by just a bit. Six or 7 and up, I'd say.


LabyrinthThe Magic Labyrinth—This clever little game lets you build a different hidden labyrinth under the board every game, and then you're trying to be the first to make it to tokens without running into one of the hidden barriers. There's a big memory aspect to this, and some luck. But best of all, there's no David Bowie in super-tight tights. *shudder*

Cost: $30 (Find it online)

Ages: 5 and up

There it is, our highly recommended list of kids games for this 2013 Christmas season! Stay tuned as we unveil more of our 2013 Christmas Holiday Gift Guide this week!


What You Missed...

MeThanks for joining us on another grand week here at Theology Of Games. Here's what you might have missed. After playing the DC Deck-Building game with Son The Elder, I wondered if anyone out there let their kids win. We got some great responses!

Then we brought you the news that the 4x game Eclipse is out on the iPad!

We interviewed Arctic Scavengers designer Kyle Gabhart.

The we had a Double Double-Take Review, of the cute games Pick-A-Pig and Pick-A-Dog.

And finally, Firestone took a look at the trick-taking game Little Devils.

That's it for this week. Stay tuned for more fun next week! (And we'll have a big Kickstarter Weekly tomorrow. Don't miss it!)

Little Devils—Review

Cover by Firestone

My group loves trick-taking games—and climbing games. We regularly play Tichu, and we often play Mu and Frank's Zoo and Sticheln (my personal favorite). So where does Little Devils fall in that group? Let's find out.


  • 54 cards, numbered 1 through 54. Each card also has a number of devils on it—from zero to five.
  • Rules

That's it—but it all comes in a nice, embossed tin case that will stand up much better than the flimsy boxes most card games come in.


The game plays 3-6 players, and you'll remove certain numbers of the cards depending on how many are playing. Then you'll deal out nine to each player.



The player to the left of the dealer leads any card he or she wants—except a card with five devils on it (unless that's all that person has). Unlike most trick-taking games, the next person can play any card he or she wants, and chooses the direction of the hand. If the second player chooses a card numbered higher than the first one played, then the highest card played to the hand will win the trick. If the second player chooses a card numbered lower than the first one played, then the lowest card played to the hand wins the trick. It will happen that someone doesn't have a card that can go in the direction of the trick, and that person is forced to play in the opposite direction. Well that turns the hand topsy-turvy: the person who leads the highest or lowest card in the opposite direction wins. That seems way more complicated than it is in real life, so how about a couple examples...

Example 1

Player 1—Leads a 31

Player 2—Plays a 40, so the direction is higher and the highest played card wins the trick.

Player 3—Plays a 32

Player 4—Plays a 54, and takes the trick

Example 2

Player 1—Leads a 52

Player 2—Plays a 53, so the direction is higher and the highest played card wins the trick—but there are only 54 cards...

Player 3—Doesn't have anything higher, so is forced to play lower than 52; she plays a 40, reversing the direction of the trick, and will currently take the trick.

Player 4—Only has cards lower than 40, so plays a 35. He has played the lowest card and takes the trick.

The player who wins the trick leads the next one, and since the person who leads will never win the trick, you'll never win two tricks in a row? But don't I want to win tricks?, you ask. No, you don't.

As I said, cards have little devils on them—from zero to five—and you're trying to avoid them. Once you finish a hand, everyone counts up devils, writes it down, and you deal out a new hand. Once someone(s) reach 100 points, the game ends, and the player with the fewest points wins.


Family game? Yes with a but! You should decide if a game with cartooney devils on it is something you want to play. But as far as game weight and luck level, this is a great family game.

Youth group game? Maybe! Again, this will depend on your group. But I could see playing this game as a great introduction to a discussion of demons and the Enemy. You can talk about how the game seems to trivialize and minimize the idea of devils by making them cartooney, but how deadly serious evil in the world is.

Gamers Game? Maybe but probably not! Unless your group really doesn't mind a lot of luck with their games, this one might just frustrate them. But it's an okay filler, and portable.


The Verdict

This game is a very simple member of the trick-taking family of games. And that's okay! When I was a kid, my parents used to play a Euchre variant called Pepper, and I'd bug and bug them to explain it to me. And every time they'd try, my eyes would glaze over. I wish I'd had a game like Little Devils to teach me the basics of playing a card, and winning a trick, but in an easy-to-understand format.

Is this going to make it to many of my regular game nights? No, there's just too much luck. But I'll likely be using Little Devils to teach my kids the basics of trick-taking.

We played at my game group, and everyone agreed that it was just too lucky. If you have a crappy hand, welcome to Pointsville—Population: You. I like games where I can take a crappy hand and play it well and cleverly. But I will say that despite the randomness there was a great deal of laughing and groaning and just plain fun! Sometimes luck and randomness can lead to lots of fun.

I do like that you know exactly which cards are out there and could be played. If, during setup, you just took a random 20 out of the deck and put them aside unseen, this would be a much worse game for it.

One big advantage this has is that it plays more quickly than other trick-taking games. You can't really play Sticheln or Mu as a quick filler. But while it's faster than other trick-takers, this still plays on the high end of the "20-30 minutes" advertised on the tin—sometimes longer.

Something we should mention is the theme of devils. The depictions of the devils are cartoonish and "light"—and you're trying to avoid them during the game. But you're still playing a game with devils on it. It doesn't make me uncomfortable, but it does mean I'll be very intentional about when I bring this out with my kids. I want to make sure we can fully discuss devils and demons and just open a dialogue on it. Use your judgment on it.

The Final Verdict

If the only trick-taking game you've played is Hearts on the computer, or Spades in college years ago, this is a new and unique spin on the genre. It's not deep. It's not complex. It's not NOT filled with luck. But it is fun, and a great way to introduce trick-taking mechanics to young'uns. It scales well, and can be had for $15. All-in-all, it's a good family, group, and gathering game.

Thanks for reading!

What You Missed...

What more could you ask for in a week of posts? Three reviews, an interview, and a ton of news! #boom Specifically...

spacesheepcoverWe shared news of the interesting-looking Space Sheep, a real-time customizable cooperative game from Stronghold Games.

Then I talked about Grail games a little bit—and how I was recently able to snag one of the games at the top of my Grail list. Update: I talked about moving to the next game—Magic Labyrinth—and I found a copy of this out-of-print gem for $34 shipped. Awesome!

Then we talked about yet another expansion for the hit game Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak.

Review #1 was a Double-Take Review of Reverse Charades. Spoiler Alert: We loved it.

Then we broke some news about another Smash Up expansion, sweet tiles for The Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game, and Mayfair's Facebook contest—which we didn't win... :(

Then we interviewed Randy Hoyt and Tyler Segel from Foxtrot Games about their upcoming game Relic Expedition.

Review #2 was The Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom.

And finally, Jeremiah gave us his first impressions of the print-and-play copy of Relic Expedition. Once I get a chance to play it (I've been ridiculously busy!), we'll have a proper back-and-forth on our thoughts.

Have an awesome weekend. We'll see you next week!

Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom—Review

GloomCover"For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius." ~Dr. Frederick Frankenstein—pronounced "Fronkensteen." Mad scientists, or just misunderstood? Either way, Dr. Gloom has created a machine that brings to life creatures from imagination—or nightmare—which will help him be king of the mad scientists. Or something. It doesn't matter. All you need to know is that The Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom is a neat little card game from designer Michael Schacht. It follows the same pattern of so many of his designs: simple, interesting choices. This one is particularly good for families.


48 Creature Cards in 4 different colored "suits"—or, monsters—numbered 1 through 6, and there are two of each of those numbers. In addition to the color differences, the monsters are different types, so they're easy to distinguish.

4 Monster Machine cards—one in each of the colors. These are double-sided with a "+" symbol on one side, and a "-" symbol on the other.

These cards come in a nice, embossed tin that makes it portable, but also able to stand up to being transported. (Some of my card game boxes are getting worn out over time; that's unlikely to happen here.)

The Dr's Creature Machines!!



  • First you place each of the four Monster Machines on the table—with the "+" side up.
  • Then you shuffle up all of the Creature Cards and deal them out to the players—the number depends on the number of people playing.
  • You also create an 8-card deck of extra creatures that is set aside—and then later played exclusively on Dad!
  • Pick a start player.

The horrible creatures...

You'll play a number of rounds equal the the number of players, and each round plays exactly the same: on your turn you'll either play one card or pass. The first card played on any of the machines can be of any value. From that point on, any cards played have to follow the current "rule" of the Monster Machine: equal to or lower than the previously played card if the Machine is on the "-" side, and equal to or higher than the previously played card if the Machine is on the "+" side.

The 5 and 1 cards are special. They have a "mutation symbol" on them. So while you can play a 1 on a 1, or a 5 on a 5, you can also "wrap around"—again, depending on the Monster Machine's orientation at the time. So if it's on the "+" side, and there's a 5 down, you can play a 1 on top of it—or a 1 on a 5 in the case of the "-" side. This kind of...unsticks the machine if it's maxed out at the highest or lowest number, and there's no way to flip the symbol. So how do you flip the symbol on the Monster Machine?

If you play an identical card on top of another card, you get to choose one of two options:

  • Flip one of the Monster Machines to the other side (it doesn't have to be the same machine you just played a card onto).
  • Force someone (usually Dad!) to draw one of the cards from the extra stack of monsters you put aside at the beginning of the game. This is a way to slow down someone who seems to be winning, or who is about to end the round by going out. Once that stack of 8 is gone, you have to flip a machine.


So players either play a card, or pass if they're unable to play a card. It could be that you pass on this turn and then, because of cards played after you, you're able to jump back in. The round ends if everyone passes because they're unable to play onto one of the machines, or if someone plays the last card from his or her hand—in which case, everyone else gets one final turn to play a card, if possible.

Each Creature Card has 0, 1, or 2 skulls on the top, which represent penalty points. (1's and 6's have no points. 2's and 5's have one. And 3's and 4's have two.) Everyone who didn't go out adds up the penalty points that remain on their cards. If someone happens to have no Creature Cards left, that person subtracts 3 penalty points from their score. Then you play another round just like the last, until you've played as many rounds as there are players. Whoever ends up with the fewest penalty points wins.

The Goofball Brothers enjoying this game!


Family Game? Definitely! I can't tell you how much I love that my 5-year-old can play this. And there's enough fun play that the 8-year-old loves playing, too. It's squarely in the small realm of games my whole family can—and likes to—play.

Youth Group Game? Under the Right Circumstances! Maybe preteen or junior highers, but I'm not sure senior highers would like this.

Gamer’s Game? Nope! It's a filler, but not one I'd bring to game night. It's not like there's anything to dislike here, it's just that there are deeper fillers out there, and my game group would rather play those.

The Verdict

As a family game—which is how I'll be playing this 99% of the time—it gets an enthusiastic thumbs up. My kids like it. My wife likes it. I like playing it with my kids and my wife—everybody wins! Plus it gives them a chance to gang up on Dad and hand him extra Creature cards. And who doesn't like that?! Besides me, of course.

Thanks to Stronghold Games for providing a review copy of Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom, which did not in any way affect my opinion of the game. You can get the Crazy Creatures of Dr Gloom on Amazon here.

And thanks to you for reading!


Sheeeeep! In Spaaaaaaaace!

spacesheepcoverStephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games has announced Space Sheep, a real-time, customizable, cooperative game with a possible traitor in the midst. We're still many months out from availability, but here's the press release:

"In Space Sheep!, you are Defenders in the Strategic Sheep Command (SSC) of the Lambda sector. A new race, known only as 'Wolf,' has been found. Their message is clear: total annihilation of Sheepkind. The Flock Commander and the most elite Defenders are ordered into the latest 'Shepherd' class ships with the mission of recovering all SpaceSheep, and returning them to their Home Systems via the complex hyperspace network. Unfortunately, SSC intelligence has determined that there could be members of Wolf in Sheep Commanders' uniform secretly working against you. The Defenders only have limited time and resources to bring the SpaceSheep and Shepherd ships back home, thwarting the evil Wolf plans.

For 1 to 8 players, Space Sheep! is extremely customizable, making each play experience different. Players choose the number of Systems in play (to change game complexity), the number of Tactics cards to use (changes game difficulty), the strength of the Wolf (changes game difficulty), from 0 to 3 Allegiance Cards to use (cooperation vs. competition), and the Direction Cards to use (creates variability in the game).

Tactics Cards are your resources used to move the Spacesheep and Shepherds between the Systems or for defense. The sandtimer is managed by one player, who must flip the timer over before it runs out, but ensuring that enough defense is in place, or a Wolf attack occurs forcing players to lose more cards.

'Space Sheep! is unlike other real-time and cooperative games,' said Stephen Buonocore, President of Stronghold Games. 'Anthony Rubbo has designed a puzzle-solving game that is very customizable and very scalable. By adding traitors, there is an amazing degree of tension for advanced players.' "

This sounds fun; we can't wait to try it out!

And speaking of Stronghold Games, we'll soon have reviews of the trick-taking game Little Devils, and The Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom—both from Stronghold. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!