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!)

Pick-a-Pig/Pick-a-Dog—A Double-Double-Take Review!

pigYes, you have arrived at TheologyofGames,com; no, we haven't changed to a livestock or 4-H blog. Today we're giving you our thoughts on a nifty set of sister games from Gryphon Games called Pick-a-Pig and Pick-a-Dog. Each of these games is identical—with one significant distinction: one features a pig on each card, and the other... wait for it...a dog!


  • 96 - Square playing cards featuring the animal species of that particular game. (i.e. pig, or dog)
  • The rules
  • Yep that's it!


Deal each player one card (which is called their Captain Card) and then deal out a 5 x 6 grid of cards, face up. Put the rest of the cards aside.

(left) Mr. C getting off to a good start. (right) Mr. X checking his cards after a round.


On the word "Go!" each player tries to find a card matching their Captain Card, or a card that has only one attribute that is different from their Captain Card. If they find such a card, they grab it and stack it face up on top of their Captain Card, and then search for a card that matches—or only bears one difference from the new top card of their stack. This is not done in turn: Players are reaching for cards, throwing elbows, flicking the backs of others' hands, etc. trying to make a mad grab for their cards all at once. Once a player has determined that they can no longer legally grab a card, they slam their hand down and yell "STOP!" Everyone double-checks to see if the player who yelled stop was correct; if they were, they get to add an extra card from the grid to their pile. If they jumped the gun, they discard all the cards they gathered that round.

Then all the players lay their cards out in order to check that they made no errors; if they didn't make mistakes, they keep all of their cards (which count for 1 point at the end of the game); if they made even one error, they lose all of those cards.

Then each player is dealt a new Captain Card, the grid is refilled, and a new round begins. The game is over when there are not enough cards to refill the grid (usually after about 3 rounds). The cards are counted and the player with the most wins!

Image from BGG user KrisVanbeeck

Here are the differences on the cards:

  • Size of the animal (big/small)
  • Number of arms (one/two)
  • Color of the animal (brown/pinkish)
  • Wearing sunglasses/Not wearing sunglasses
  • Holding popcorn/Not holding popcorn

A single set of either game supports 2-5 players, and adding the two sets together will allow you to play up to 8 players, and also allows for an additional one difference: the animal species itself!


      • Kids/Families? Absolutely! The game plays fast, and is easy to learn!
      • Veteran Gamers? Probably not! It's a fast filler, but just not very deep. So leave this one home and play with the family.
      • Party Game? Probably! Again easy to learn, and brings out a little competitive edge in folks.
      • Youth Groups? Yep! The narrower the age gap, the more competitive it gets. You could totally run a tournament around this game, because of the speed in which it plays!

The Firestone boys scrambling for cards!

The Verdict

Jeremiah—First off, I really like this game, but I probably won't bring it out at a game night. My kids and family love it and we have lots of fun with it, but it's just not a "Daddy's game night" sort of game.

Firestone—Yeah, there's no reason to ever bring this to game night with my regular group. But that's fine; it's not aimed at that audience.

Jeremiah—It's designed for ages 8+. My oldest will be 7 in a month, and he does well with it. Our youngest is almost 5 and he doesn't do so well with it.

Firestone—Yeah, our 5-year-old was on my "team" and he kept grabbing the absolute wrong cards...the little stinker. But he'll be ready for this in a couple of years.

My wife seemed to enjoy this one, too. It might be because she and her Type-A personality CUH-RUSHED us. Any game my wife likes is a win in my eyes.

Jeremiah— We've had the game only a few weeks and the boys love it; we've brought it out to play with the grandparents and friends. We've combined the games and played with 7 players—it's sheer pandemonium! Lots of vicious competition, and good clean fun!

Firestone—My one complaint is that—as someone who's color blind—I had a little trouble telling the color difference between the cards. In fact, the difference was so subtle to me that we played two rounds before I even remembered that was a thing... Once I was intentional about it, I could tell the difference—I just had to try harder to see that difference. Not a big deal at all, but it's there.

Jeremiah Final Thoughts— Pick-a-Pig, Pick-a-Dog is a great set of family games that you can play when you may not have a lot of time. Pick it up; this is a no-brainer! It plays fast, it's competitive, and you can teach new gamers how to play in about 90 seconds. The more we play it, the better we get at it, and the more fun it becomes!

Firestone Final Thoughts—The MSRP on these is a mere $10—who can argue with that price-point? It's a great, cheap family game that plays in 10 minutes...and I'm just awful at it.

Thanks for reading!