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Farkle Flip – Our Favorite Dice Game Now Played with Cards

"Farkle" has been a best-selling family dice game for years. How could you not want to play a game called "Farkle?" It is produced by "Patch Products, Inc.," which was founded in 1985 by Fran and Bryce Patch, who now market a full line of family entertainment products.

Earlier this year, a new version of "Farkle" was released called "Farkle Flip." It basically took the traditional "Farkle" dice game and transformed it into a family card game. It certainly complements the original game, which remains one of our favorites.

There are 110 cards in the "Farkle Flip" game box, including 84 numbered from one to six, 22 "Farkle" cards, and four score summary cards. Scoring is based on creating combinations of cards, as shown on the score summary cards. For example, three 1s are worth 300 points, and five of any number is worth 2,000. However, every time a player draws a card, there is a risk of a Farkle card ending their turn. Players alternate turns, draw cards and try to make scoring combinations. Once a player reaches 10,000 points, he is declared the winner.

We set up a table for a "Farkle Flip" tournament. We gathered 4 players, 3 adults and one teenager. Because we only had one copy of "Farkle Flip," we explained the rules and first played a 2 player game, while 2 players sat out. Then the remaining two players played each other. The two winners then met for the championship. We also played a 4 player game to complete the evening.

To make sure we got all of the games included in one night, we only played to 7,500 points in the first two games, but as it turned out, we had no problem getting all of our scheduled games completed within a reasonable time.

It was fun to see the impact on the game when a "Farkle" card was drawn. Players laughed, screamed and nearly cried, as the pesky "Farkle" card halted their progress in the game and cost them several high scoring opportunities. The fun factor was incredibly high throughout the evening, as several of the games were extremely close. The losing players all wanted a rematch and vowed to do much better the next time around.

Everyone inquired about the price and availability of "Farkle Flip." We suggested they could purchase "Farkle Flip" from Amazon.com for less than $8.00. It is well worth the money.
-- RJ Cullen
Posted in Card Games, Games

Game Night – “Quiddler” – “Five Crowns” – “Set” – “Xactika”

The staff at "Toys Bulletin" arranged the first in a series of game nights. It is basically a party where the participants play several games throughout the evening. We invited 12 individuals to play 4 different games, by rotating from one table to another, playing each game a minimum of two times.

Six males and six females made up the group with ages ranging from 13-55, providing a nice cross section of different interests and abilities. Several staff members were available to explain the rules, answer any questions or settle any disputes. All of the games played were manufactured and distributed by "Set Enterprises, Inc.," out of Fountain Hills, Arizona.
 







 





 





 







The featured game was "Quiddler." This game was first demonstrated to us at the recent New York Toy Fair, and it was an amazing experience. "Quiddler" is called a "short word game." The game includes 118 beautifully designed cards, each highlighting a different letter of the alphabet, plus several cards containing two letters. The object of the game is to spell words and accumulate points. Letters like Q and X provide more points that more common letters.

The interesting part of the game is that on each deal more cards are dealt to each player, whereas during the early rounds each player receives very few cards. Thus, many of the spelled words contain as few as two or three letters. By using the deluxe version of the game, "Quiddler" included a very clever "Short Word Dictionary." The dictionary was in alphabetical order like any ordinary dictionary, but it also had sub-sections which sorted all words based on the number of letters in a word from two to five. "Quiddler" can be played by 2-8 players from ages 8 to adult.

The second game of the night was "Five Crowns." This was a rummy type game, although the two 58 card decks include 5 suits, instead of the standard 4 suits found in a regular deck of cards. Players try to create runs of 3 or more cards of the same suit, or books of 3 or more cards of the same kind regardless of suit. There is a wild card that changes with each hand, and there are also Jokers included that are always  wild. The first player to lay down all of his cards, with just one card remaining as a discard wins that round. There are 11 hands played in a complete game, and the lowest point total wins. "Five Crowns" can be played by 2-7 players from ages 8 to adult.

"Set" was the third game played, and is the flagship product from "Set Enterprises, Inc." This is a visual game of shapes, numbers and colors. The object of "Set" is to identify a set of three cards from among 12 cards displayed on the table. In order to qualify as a set, each feature must either be the same on each card, or different on each card. For example, a set could include 3 cards, each of which contains the same diamond shape, plus each of the diamonds is red in color, and there are exactly two diamonds on each card. Or a set might include 3 different shapes, all of a different color, and all with a different number of shapes on each card. Let me tell you, it is not easy to spot the sets. It takes concentration and practice. There are no turns in this  game, as players call for and grab sets, which accumulate points. Once the deck of 81 cards is depleted, the player with the most sets wins the game. The basic game of "Set" is recommended for 1 or more players, which includes rules for an entertaining solitaire challenge. It is suggested for ages 6 to adult.

There are several other versions of the "Set" game, including "Set Cubed," an interesting dice variation of the game, the "Set Puzzle Book," and even an iPad app called "Set Pro HD."

The fourth and final game of the night was "Xactika." The game consists of 81 cards each with 4 shapes on the card. The shapes are balls, cubes, cones and stars. Each card may have one or more of these shapes on the card. There are rules for playing to win, playing to lose, or playing to bid. We chose playing to win for game night, where the object was to take as many tricks as possible. It is basically a game of calling one  of the shapes, and then the other players must play a card with the same shape on it. The player who plays the card with highest numerical value of that shape takes the trick. "Xactika" is suggested for 2-10 players, ages 12 to adult.

Now that we have briefly described all of the games played, here are the comments gathered from game night. Starting with "Quiddler," the consensus of opinion was highly favorable. The players liked the design of the game, and the fast play. They really liked the "Short Word Dictionary," and the way it which it was organized. The group did disagree with the rules which allowed players to look at the "Short Word Dictionary" when it was not their turn. It was simply providing too much help, especially when playing with 4 or less players. So, we removed the "Short Word Dictionary" from the table and only used it to settle disputes at the end of the game.

Next up was "Five Crowns," which also garnered a favorable reaction from the players. Although most found it reminiscent of other rummy type games, they did comment on the excellent graphics depicted on the cards and thought the 5th suit added to the excitement. But, most of all, they loved the rotating wild cards, which caused several players to accidentally discard a wild card, due to a supposed lapse in concentration.

"Set" had actually been played previously by several of the players prior to game night, which was a bit of an advantage to those individuals. This game also appealed to the younger players a bit more than the older players. Some of the older players had trouble finding the sets, and reacting fast enough to stay competitive. Frankly, "Set" was a favorite among the Toys Bulletin staff, since we found the shapes and the shading used on the cards created a very challenging game for everyone. This may be one of the best "visual perception" games available right now.

Lastly, everyone enjoyed the game experience provided by "Xactika." Although the shapes highlighted on the cards were considered a bit too small by several players, the game itself created a good deal of excitement throughout the night. When asked at the end of the night which game they would like to play one more time, "Xactika" was the choice of the majority.

All of the games played retail for $12.99, with the exception of "Quiddler Deluxe," which includes the "Short Word Dictionary," for $26.99, and "Set Cubed," which retails for $19.99. Each game can be purchased at Amazon.com.
-- RJ Cullen
Posted in Card Games, Games

Sound It! – A Great Party Game from Wowopolis



"Sound It!" is a game where each player is given an opportunity to make common everyday sounds, or guess what sound another player is attempting, based on a "Sound It!" game card. The game includes a deck of 96 "Sound It!" game cards, each suggesting a different sound. For example, one card reads, "The Sound of Something at the Beach." The first player to make a beach type sound wins the card, and another card is drawn. Maybe the sound of a "wave" might be a good choice.

Another variation is for a player to look at a card, concealing it from the other players. Each card has a picture on the upper portion of it. The player must try to make a sound that will allow the other players to guess the picture. The first player to correctly guess the picture from the sounds wins the card, and play continues. For instance, there is a card with a picture of a "smoke alarm" on it. Maybe, the player who draws the card would try to make a "beeping noise" as a hint.

The variations to the basic rules are numerous, and the game can be played by 2 or more players ages 6 years old and up. 

We decided to try the game with a group of six teenagers, 4 boys and 2 girls.  We set things up on the dining room table at one of their homes, and then watched and listened from nearby. The kids played both game variations described above, but the group seemed to like guessing the sounds much more than trying to be the first to make a certain sound. 

The laughter was contagious, and as they became more familiar with the basics of the game, the kids came up with some rule changes of their own to get their sounds across to the other players. They actually grabbed other items, such as dishes and utensils to clang together.  It may have not been in the rules to use props, but it worked and they had a good time.

The youngsters played the game for nearly two hours, so there was no doubt they enjoyed the experience.  By the end of the evening, I honestly think some of the kids were losing their voices. When asked what they thought about the game, the responses were unanimous......"wild, fun and crazy."  That sounded like an strong endorsement for sure.

"Sound It!" retails for $9.99, and will be available around May 1st.  Orders can be placed now by calling toll free at 888-840-7815, or by contacting
customerservice@wowopolis.com.
-- RJ Cullen


Posted in Card Games, Games

Square Shooters – Cards on Dice Game

"Square Shooters" may be the first game where dice take the place of a full deck of cards. The game was designed by Heartland Consumer Products, LLC, which is known for producing the best deck of poker cards available under the "Vegas Brand" name.

Now, they have released "Square Shooters," which includes 9 dice, each side of which replicates an actual playing card, plus 2 jokers. That makes for a full 54 card deck (9 dice x 6 sides). The object of the basic game is to accumulate the most chips, within a certain number of rounds, based on a player's ability to complete a specified poker hand.

Here is how it works.  To begin each turn, a player draws one of 42 game cards from the stack.  The game cards are made up of either target cards (34 in play) or shootout cards (8 in play).  If the player draws a target card, it will indicate the poker hand that must be matched in order to earn a specified number of chips.  That must be accomplished using no more than 3 rolls of the dice.  Prior to the second and third roll of the dice, certain dice may be set aside, if a player wants to keep them, requiring less than 9 dice being tossed on subsequent throws.  If a player matches the actual suits or values of the specified hand, he earns even more chips.  If he fails to match the hand on the target card, no points are earned.  

If a shootout card is drawn, there is an opportunity for a player to double his score, gain a wild card, grab points on an opponent's turn, or force a showdown for chips based on who can get the best poker hand in a head to head duel. 

We tested "Square Shooters" with a focus group of youngsters ages 8 to adult.  The number of players needed to play "Square Shooters" can vary from one player to a large group.  You simply pick the number of rounds to a game, and reshuffle the game cards as required.  We played several games with 6 players and one game with 9 players.  The rules were easily explained and everyone was able to participate without a hitch.  A few dice flew off the table from time to time, but the play went smoothly throughout the evening.

There was lots of hooting and hollering as players matched some high chip hands like a straight flush or even a few royal flushes.  The focus group clearly enjoyed "Square Shooters."  It moved fast, and lots of people could play at the same time.  It was simple to play too, yet it did require some strategy along the way.  The only complaint related to the size of the game cards (1 5/8" x 2 1/2") .  They were just too small, making them hard to shuffle and handle.  It would have been nice to see game cards about the same size as a regular playing card.  

There are many unique variations to the basic game, all of which are outlined in the rules included with the game.  So, "Square Shooters" is like owning multiple games with just one set of dice.  "Square Shooters" can be purchased at Amazon.com and retails for $12.99.  There is also a deluxe version of the game available for $19.99, which includes a dice cup, score-pad and a deck of standard playing cards.
-- RJ Cullen
Posted in Card Games, Games

Flashwordz – A Two-Sided Letter Game


U.S. Games Systems, Inc. has just released its newest game, "Flashwordz." We have played lots of word games, but this may be the first one with two-sided cards. The game contents include 100 cards with different letters and point values on both the front and back of the cards. In addition, there are 4 card racks, a timer and a special flash round token.

To start the game, each player (2-4 players) receives 6 randomly dealt cards. The cards are placed on the card rack, so that the outer facing side of the letter cards are viewable by all opponents, and the inward facing side of each letter card can only be seen by the individual player. Remaining cards form a draw pile. Next, the timer is started and the first player to the left of the dealer is given about 10 seconds (until the timer runs out) to create a word of at least 4 letters. The player must use the letters facing him on his own rack, plus at least one of the outer-facing letters from an opponent's rack. If an acceptable word is formed, the letter cards are kept by that player and their point values are totaled at the end of the game.

If no word is formed, a flash round begins, and all other players can jump in and form a word, using the same "word forming rules" described above. The first player to grab the flash round token and form an acceptable word, earns the letter cards and the point values at the end of the game. The timer is not used in the flash round.

Once a round has been completed (regular plus flash round, if needed), all players are able to replenish their hands back to 6 cards. Play continues in a clockwise direction until all cards are exhausted from the draw pile. Points from winning words are totaled, and points are deducted based on the inward facing value of cards remaining in the rack, but unused. The player with the highest point total wins the game.

"Flashwordz" is suggested for ages 8 years and older. We tested the game on several focus groups containing adults, teenagers and some youngsters under 10 years old. The game played very well among all age groups. Because of the short time allowed to form words with the timer, most of the words were 4 letters long, although there were some exceptions, especially when one of the 5 wild cards was available. The game was generally completed in 30 minutes or so, and almost everyone wanted to play another game after their first try. The rules suggest allowing 3 letter words for younger players and forcing 5 letter words from a "know-it-all" player. All in all, "Flashwordz" is a fun new game from U.S. Games Systems, Inc. It retails for $19.95 and can be found at Funagaingames.com.

-- RJ Cullen
Posted in Card Games, Games

Redakai – An Exceptional New Trading Card Game



For the first time, "Toys Bulletin" is going to begin our review by awarding "Redakai" our coveted gold rating. We want you, the reader, to know just what an innovation in trading card game play this new product represents.

The folks at "Spin Master" have created a great new game that is certainly unlike anything else in the industry. Although "Spin Master" began in 1994, it was actually several years later, when its line of "Air Hog" helicopters first came to our attention. We simply loved them. They were one of the first to provide a reasonably priced, incredibly small RC helicopter that could be flown indoors or outdoors.

Now in 2011, they have certainly hit another home run. "Redakai" provides the first 3D animated game cards, called X-Drive. Although the cards are of standard 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" size, they are made of heavy duty plastic and a good portion of each card is clear. There are three types of cards, Character Cards, Monster Cards and Attack Cards. With a deck of these cards, players may choose to play either the basic game or an advanced game of "Redakai." The basic game is best for younger players and provides an introductory environment for everyone new to the game. There is a starter set available that allows the game to be played with fewer cards and in a shorter amount of time.

To begin a basic game, each player first chooses a Character Card from their deck of assorted cards, which can number from 10-40 cards.

The Character Card has a name, three damage zones in the upper right of the card, and three possible colored defense zone numbers along the left side of the card. Each player then shuffles their remaining deck of cards, making certain that only Monster and Attack Cards are contained in the deck. The first player then turns over the top card of his deck. If it is a Monster Card, he may place that card over the top of his own Character Card. Fortunately, Monster Cards generally make your Character even stronger. Because of the see through nature of the cards, the Monster Card will likely add another or a higher defense zone along the left side of the cards. You simply look through the clear portion of both cards to see the new defenses. For example, there is a Character Card whose name is Ky. He has defense zones of 300 blue and 100 red. Ky has no green defenses. If a player played the Night Asp Monster Card on top of the Ky Character Card, his blue defense would increase to 400 from 300 and his green defense would increase from zero to 400, because of the strong defenses shown through on the Night Asp Monster Card. His red defense zone would remain at 100 and his three damage zones remain healthy and yellow in color.

The next player then draws a card from the top of his deck. Let's say it is an Attack Card. Attack Cards are played on top of the opponent's Character Card stack. Based on our previous example, your opponent has a Ky Character Card with a Night Asp Monster Card on top of it. He has a blue defense of 400, a red defense of 100 and a green defense of 400. The Attack Cards come in one of three colors, blue, red or green. The card drawn in this example is the red Lightning Strike Attack Card with an attack power in the lower right corner of 150. You place that card over the top of your opponents Character Card stack. Move the card up and down and side to side to get the full impact of the 3D action. Next compare the attack power of 150 red shown on the Lightning Strike Attack Card against the red defense rating of your opponent's Character stack. Your opponent's red defense is at 100, which is lower than Lightning Strike's red attack power of 150. Therefore, the Character Card is dealt one hit of damage which shows in red across one of the Character's three damage zones. Again, it can easily be seen by looking through the clear portion of the just played Lightning Strike Attack Card which remains atop your opponent's Character Card stack.

If the red attack power had been lower than the red defense of the Character Card stack, the Attack Card would be placed in a discard pile, and no damage would be incurred. The game continues back and forth until one of the Character Card stacks has received damage to all three of their damage zones. Once a player incurs damage to all three zones, he loses the game.

The advanced version of the game is where "Redakai" really shines. We honestly do not have the space here to describe the advanced game in detail. However, we do want to highlight the enhancements. To make the easiest transition from the Basic Game to the Advanced Game, "Spin Master" has created a smart looking Championship Tin that includes 43 X-Drive cards, a card screen, a battlefield, a draw deck and two energy markers. This set is made specifically for advanced gamers. The Advanced Game first requires each player to choose three Character Cards, rather than one. Players also compete with anywhere from 3-6 cards from their deck on each turn, having to decide whether to play one or more Monster Cards or Attack Cards. Kairu Energy is also tracked on each turn, as certain cards require more energy before they can be played. In addition, many of the cards have special powers that may change the impact of the game play.

Our focus group loved both the Basic Game and the Advanced Game. They wanted to buy "Redakai" immediately. We found the game appealing primarily to those 10 years old and up, although the basic game can be played by those as young as 6 years old. The game can last from only a few minutes to around 30 minutes or so for an Advanced Game played by more experienced players, and there seems to be a never ending amount of card variations. There are more common cards and then some very rare cards. Additional X-Drive Card Packs can be purchased for around $6.00. The starter set is $23.00 and the Championship Tin is around $26.50. Check them out at Amazon.com. Toys Bulletin predicts the "Redakai" trading card game to be one of the most popular and hard to get toys of 2011. As a final note, check out this video to see an actual demonstration of this fine new game.

-- RJ Cullen
*Gold Rating*
Posted in Card Games, Games

Wizard Card Game – A Triumph in Every Version





The editorial staff at Toys Bulletin has recently reviewed several games published by US Games Systems, Inc. However, we should take some time to mention what many consider to be their "flagship" game, that being "Wizard." Most game players have played or heard of "Wizard." Those that have not should place their order right after reading this review.

"Wizard" was invented by Ken Fisher in 1984, and the first game cards were released in 1986. The staff at Toys Bulletin has been playing the game for over 10 years, and although it may resemble other card games, it stands on its own merits.

The object of "Wizard" is to bid correctly on the number of tricks you think you will take during each hand of play, and earn points along the way. The player earning the most points wins the game.

The playing deck consists of a regular 52 card deck of playing cards, plus 4 wizard cards and 4 jester cards for a total of 60 cards. The game is suggested for ages 10 years and up, although a junior version is available (see later in review). It is recommended for 3-6 players. For the first hand, all players receive just one card, on the second hand, they receive two cards and so on until the final hand when all cards are dealt. Immediately after dealing each player is asked how many tricks he or she will take during that hand. It is entered on the scoresheet.

The first of the remaining cards is turned over and becomes the trump for that hand. The last hand is considered "no trump." Play begins to the left of the dealer, and any first card can be played, but the player should always keep in mind their predicted number of tricks. Players must follow suit, and if someone cannot follow suit, then they can play any other suit, or even use a trump card. Wizard cards trump all other cards and Jester cards count as zero and lose to all other cards. Wizard and Jester cards can be played on any trick...
Posted in Card Games, Games

Royalty Word Game – Unique Game of Letters

"Royalty" is a game for 1-4 players and consists of two decks of 53 cards each. Each card is assigned a letter from the alphabet and a point value. Each deck is identical, and depending on the number of players, one or both decks may be used. The point values are distributed such that letters like x and z carry higher point values than a or e, since they are more difficult to use in a word. There is also one additional card in each deck, the Knave card, which is a wild card that can be used as any letter.

The object of the game is to create words of 3 letters or more and score the most points. Play begins by dealing 7 cards to each player. The player to the left of the dealer goes first and must try to form a word from the 7 cards in his hand. He places the word down on the table, and it is scored. He then brings his hand back to 7 cards and plays passes to the left. The next player can capture any previously played words played by an opponent, if he can play an additional letter or letters on the word and change the meaning. For example, if one player had created the word "pin," another player could play an "e" and change it to "pine," which has a completely different meaning. You could not add an "s" to the word and create the new word "pins," since that would not be considered a change in meaning.

If a word is captured from another player, the new player scores the new word and can still create another word of their own on the same turn. Players only have one chance to capture a word as it is removed from play when play returns to the player who originated the word. The game ends when all of the cards are exhausted from the draw pile. Players caught with unused high point value cards get those values deducted from their final tally.

The player with the highest score wins the game. If playing alone, simply keep track of your total points and compete against yourself, trying to beat your previous high score. This game is suggested for ages 8 years and older, and can be very educational as younger players try to arrange letters to form words.

Our focus group enjoyed playing this game, although it was immediately evident how important it was to set a time limit for players to form words. The game can also slow down, if too much time is allowed for players to try to capture another's word, by creating a new word. It may be wise to use some sort of timer and only allow 1-2 minutes for a player to capture a word and another 2 minutes to take their regular turn, otherwise, play should pass to the next player.

Take a closer look at "Royalty," which retails for $10.75, at funagain.com.

-- RJ Cullen
Posted in Card Games, Games








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