Everyone loves Christmas and it only seemed appropriate to review a new game entitled “Santa’s Bag” as the holiday shopping season approaches. The game is aimed at youngsters ages 7 years old and up, but there will be plenty of adults who will want to get in on the fun. “Santa’s Bag” is designed for 2-8 players and a typical game can generally be completed in less than 30 minutes. Each player takes on the role of a competing elf. Each elf builds various toys for as many children as possible.
The game contents include 32 Toy cards, each with a “trickiness” factor of 1, 2 or 3, with 3 being the most difficult. Each card includes a likeness and description of the toy, along with photos of each of the parts needed to complete the toy. For example, the Rag Doll has a trickiness factor of 3 and requires 3 parts to make it…Fabric, String and Fluff (soft filling). In addition, there are 32 Kid cards, each with a “niceness” number of 1, 2 or 3, with 3 being the nicest kid, and 1 being the naughtiest. The naughty kids have somewhat angry looks on their faces, but elves can choose to build toys for all types of kids. There are also 96 Part cards, each displaying one of the 13 different parts available to make the toys. Finally, there is a Toy Dial to keep track of the toys completed, a player aid sheet and a brief set of rules.
To begin play, each elf receives 4 Part cards. The remaining Part cards are turned face down and form a draw pile. 4 of the Kid cards along with 4 of the Toy cards are turned face up and placed side by side in the center of the table. The rest of the Kid and Toy cards are placed face down on the table. Players then alternate turns by performing each of 3 steps.
First, a player can trade a Part card from his hand with any other player, or draw a new Part card (discarding one from his hand).
Second, a player can build a toy if he has the right Part cards as shown on any one of the Toy cards. If a player successfully builds a toy, he picks up both the Toy card and the Kid card next to it and places them face up in a pile in front of him. Players may not be able to build a toy on every turn. A new Kid card and new Toy card replace those removed from play.
Third, a player draws one more Part card, which completes his turn.
Each time a toy is made, the Toy Dial is turned to indicate the number of total toys built during the game. The short game ends after 10 toys are built, while an expanded game extends play until 20 toys are built. The player aid sheet comes in fairly handy, as it shows photos and descriptions to help identify the various toy parts available. It is also a strategic reference for more experienced players, as it shows the actual number of Part cards included for each part. For example, there are 17 Wood cards, yet only 3 Clay cards. There are also some special Part cards included with a “Stardust” label that can be used as wild cards and players are also allowed to combine any two like cards, using “Elven Magic,” to create any part that might be needed. When the last toy is built (10th or 20th), the elf with the highest total score (sum of Toy card “trickiness” factors + Kid card “niceness” numbers) wins the game.
We honestly had a ball playing this game. It got us into the holiday spirit for sure, yet we believe “Santa’s Bag” would be fun to play at anytime of the year. The game was simple to learn and easy to play, and it retails for $24.95. Look for it at your local game store, or visit the Griggling Games website for more information.