Roll For The Galaxy dice game
Ticket to Ride: Europe board game
Gloom card game
City Square Off board game
New York 1901 board game
Takenoko board game
Timeline Challenge card game
Sequence board game
Ingenious board game
YINSH board game

Congratulations Jaden!

Jaden graduation

Congratulations Jaden!

Today was another big milestone day for our family.

Our son Jaden graduated from high school!

It’s a day full of smiles all around.

Smiles of happiness for this achievement. And smiles of happiness for what’s to come.

Because Jaden isn’t sitting still.

He’s off to see the world.

The first stop on his next grand adventure is China!

He’s heading out in a couple days for 3 weeks in China with a group from high school. Thanks to a grant from a university in China, the Chinese teacher at the high school has arranged an amazing trip for about 35 students. They’ll start in Beijing and end in Hong Kong with a lot of wonderful experiences in between.

Jaden mission call

Jaden opens his call to serve as a missionary.

Then a couple months later he’ll head to Singapore and Malaysia as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 2 years.

Once again, we’re facing changing family dynamics as another child ventures out in the world to do good.

It’s such an exciting time!

We’re definitely going to miss having Jaden and his lively personality grace our home on a constant basis. But we’re also so excited to watch him continue to grow and develop.

My wife and I consider ourselves very blessed to have Jaden in our family. He’s been a joy to raise and we can just hope we’ve taught him well as he opens the door to this next chapter in his life.

During these life-milestone moments, it’s only natural to reflect on the past. We pull out old photos and reminisce.

And along those lines, I thought it would be fun to look back on the unique way we’ve happened to capture his growth over the last 7 years — his board game reviews.

Actually, this last year doesn’t quite count, because he hasn’t been in front of the camera for a review in over a year!

As kids get older, there’s a lot more going on in their lives. With tougher classes and homework as well as dating and a part time job, Jaden has been busy with many other things these past couple years.

So while there may not be recent material to draw from, it’s sure fun to see how he’s grown over the years — and how much his mannerisms have remained the same from when he first got in front of the camera in 2009.

Share with us a blast from the past in this series of video clips from Jaden’s 32 board game video reviews.

Once again, Congratulations Jaden!

And we wish you all the best ahead!


Love Letter: The Hobbit – We’re in love

Love Letter: The Hobbit card game

We’re in love!

A few months ago we posted our review of Love Letter: Batman.

It’s a card game we’ve really loved playing.

Yet as much as we enjoyed playing it, we were very disappointed in the card art of the female characters. So we took our marker to those cards and made our own art adjustments to cover them up a bit.

It also prompted me to buy another version of the game — a version I was sure I was going to enjoy even before I bought it — Love Letter: The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies.

And I’m not disappointed at all with this edition. We love it!


How to Play Love Letter: The Hobbit

Like all the Love Letter card games, Love Letter: The Hobbit is about knocking other players out of the game so you can be the sole survivor or have the highest rank card at the end of each round.

Love Letter: The Hobbit card game

Super portable and replayable – Love Letter: The Hobbit

The beauty of Love Letter games is how simple yet re-playable they are.

They’re easy to teach, easy to remember, and easy to play.

If you’ve seen our review of Love Letter: Batman or are familiar with the basic game play of Love Letter, you may want to skip ahead to our “Differences” section below.

Love Letter: The Hobbit is played over several rounds.

To start each round, shuffle the 17 cards and set one card aside face-down. That card will be out of play this round.

Then each player draws a card. This card is their hand and is kept secret from the other players.

On a players turn, they do 2 simple things:

  • Draw the top card from the draw pile.
  • Choose one of their 2 cards in hand to play.

To play a card, the player simply discards it face up in front of them on the table and does what the cards says.

Love Letter: The Hobbit card game

The 17 cards in the game.

Here are the cards listed in order of increasing rank and their associated ability.

  • 0. The One Ring (1 card) – When you discard the card nothing happens. It counts as 0 until the end of the round when players compare ranks in which it counts as 7.
  • 1. Smaug (5 cards) – Name a card other than Smaug and choose another player. If that player has that card, he or she is out of the round.
  • 2. Bard the Bowman (2 cards) – Look at another player’s hand/card.
  • 3. Legolas (1 card) – You and another player secretly compare hands. The player with the lower rank is out of the round.
  • 3. Tauriel (1 card) – You and another player secretly compare hands. The player with the higher rank is out of the round.
  • 4. Gandalf The Grey (2 cards) – Until your next turn, ignore all effects from other players’ cards.
  • 5. Kili and Fili (2 cards) – Choose any player (including yourself) to discard his or her hand and draw a new card.
  • 6. Thorin Oakenshield (1 card) – Trade hands with another player of your choice.
  • 7. Bilbo Baggins (1 card) – If you have this card and either Kili/Fili or Thorin Oakenshield in your hand, you must discard this card.
  • 8. The Arkenstone (1 card) – If you discard this card, you are out of the round.

If a player is knocked out of the round, that player discards the card in their hand face up and doesn’t take any more turns that round.

Love Letter: The Hobbit card game

I guess I have to play Bilbo Baggins.

Once a player’s turn is over, play passes to the player on the left.

As players play cards on subsequent turns, those cards will be added to the face-up cards already in front of them. This way all cards played so far can easily been seen on the table. And by process of elimination, remaining players will have a better idea of what cards may still be in other player’s hands.

Play continues this way until the round ends in one of two ways.

A round can end if the draw deck is empty at the end of a turn. All players still with a card in hand compare cards. The player with the highest rank card wins the round. If it’s a tie, the player with the highest total value of discarded cards wins the round.

A round can also end if all players but one are eliminated. Thus, the remaining player wins the round.

In either case, the winning player claims a gem.

Once a player has accumulated enough gems (depending on player count), that person wins the game.


Differences in Love Letter: The Hobbit

With the simplicity of Love Letter game play, there aren’t a lot of ways to alter the game. If altered too much, the game won’t be as streamlined and fun. So the differences are minimal, but noticeable — because they make for some interesting twists.

Love Letter: The Hobbit card game

The One Ring packs a twist.

1. The first difference to note is that The Hobbit edition has 17 cards instead of 16. In this edition, The One Ring has been added as a zero rank card without any special abilities during play. If it’s discarded during play, nothing happens. But if held until the end, it counts as 7.

So when using Legolas or Tauriel to compare ranks of cards to knock someone out during the game, The One Ring will always be lowest rank card. But at the end of a round, it can jump a player ahead for the win.

Love Letter: The Hobbit card game

They’ve got deadly aim to knock you out.

2. The second noticeable difference is that the 3 rank cards aren’t the same. In the original and Batman editions of Love Letter, the 3 rank cards have a player compare hands with another player and the player with the lower card is knocked out.

But in Love Letter: The Hobbit, both Legolas and Tauriel are both rank 3 cards. The power of Legolas is the typical – lower rank card is knocked out. However, the power of Tauriel is that the higher rank card is knocked out of the round.

3. The last thing we’ll mention is a difference between the Batman edition and The Hobbit edition. In Love Letter: Batman, if a player uses Batman and correctly guesses the card of another player, the active player gains a Batman token. So in addition to getting a token for winning a round, a player can get additional tokens when guessing correctly.

That power doesn’t exist in Love Letter: The Hobbit. When a player using Smaug correctly guesses another player’s card to knock them out, they don’t also claim a gem.

While we enjoyed getting an additional reward for knocking players out with correct guesses, we don’t really miss it in The Hobbit edition. Because players in this edition don’t have to claim as many gems to win the game. In Love Letter: Batman it takes 7 tokens to win the game. In Love Letter: The Hobbit, it only takes 4 gems to win in a 4-player game (5 gems in a 3-player game, and 7 gems in a 2-player game).


The Fun of Love Letter: The Hobbit

Similarly to Love Letter: Batman, we’ve really enjoyed playing Love Letter: The Hobbit. And as I mentioned at the start, The Hobbit edition is now our go-to version to play.

We love the simplicity and we love the interaction.

It’s the interplay of all the cards that makes the game a lot of fun to play. And it seems to get more fun each time we play.


How does Love Letter: The Hobbit score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Love Letter Batman card gameI think it’s pretty obvious that Love Letter: The Hobbit scores extremely high on our “let’s play again” game meter.

We love how easy it is to grab and dive into playing.

Because of how much we figured we’d be playing Love Letter: The Hobbit, one of our first items of business was to sleeve the cards.

We don’t typically do that for our card games. But in a game like this, where not knowing what the other players are holding is a key element of the game, marked cards would ruin the fun.

So right from the outset we sleeved the cards to protect them from the inevitable multiple plays this game would get.

Love Letter: The Hobbit comes highly recommended from our family to yours!

At under $15, it’s a great deal.

The Board Game Family Game Ratings
Caleb: 4.8 Meeples Caleb
Brooke: 4.5 Meeples Brooke
Jaden: 4.8 Meeples Jaden
Trevor: 4.9 Meeples Trevor
Mom: 3.0 Meeples Mom
Dad: 4.2 Meeples Dad
Average: 4.6 Meeples Average


Put your Magic Minds to the test!

Telepathy Magic Minds

Let’s put that brain to work.

“I bet I can guess what you’re thinking about before you can guess what I’m thinking about.”

While we don’t actually say that at the start of a game of Telepathy Magic Minds, we probably could. Because that’s really what the challenge in this board game is all about — being the first to guess the opponent’s secret square.

If you saw our Brain Freeze game review earlier this week, you’ll already be familiar with what you’re in for with Magic Minds.

Both games are great 2-player deduction games for the whole family.

The main difference between the games is the level of difficulty.

Check out Brooke’s short video review to see how Magic Minds steps up the mental challenge.


Can the whole family enjoy Magic Minds?

Read more »


Ready for some Brain Freeze?

Brain Freeze board game

Let the guessing begin!

Are you thinking of a Chocolate Milkshake?

Or a Cherry Snow Cone?

Or a Lime Popsicle?

In Brain Freeze players are trying to guess which treat their opponent is thinking of before that opponent can guess what they’re thinking of.

It’s a great 2-player deduction game that everyone in the family can enjoy.

Check out Caleb’s short video review of Brain Freeze to see how easy it is to play and why he can’t seem to get enough of it.


Can the whole family enjoy Brain Freeze?

Read more »


Celebrating Mothers

I love seeing Mother’s Day on the calendar.

I love that there’s a special day to celebrate mothers.

But more importantly, I love all the mothers in my life.

Happy Mother's Day mom!

Happy Mother’s Day mom!

The first being my own mother.

Only now that I’m older with kids of my own can I begin to appreciate how much she has done for me. I say “begin” because I don’t think I can totally comprehend all she’s sacrificed and worked through to raise 3 kids on her own after my father died.

I’ve tried to imagine it recently as I’ve watched the young family across the street from us. They just had their 3rd child. And I can only imagine what it would be like if within the year the father passes away. What a difficult journey.

My mom’s amazing.

Read more »


Best Board Games 2015 – Nominees are set!

The Dice Tower Awards 2015

Lots of great games in The Dice Tower Awards nominees list.

What are the best board games and card games from 2015?

We’ll soon find out because the annual Dice Tower Awards are upon us.

The annual awards recognize the best board games published every year and the 2015 nominees were just announced.

Over 4,000 new board games, card games, dice games, and party game are published each year. So finding the best board games and card games takes a bit of time.

Lucky for you, board game reviewers from around the world take part in The Dice Tower Awards.

This year there are 14 game award categories with 5 games nominated in each category — except for the Game of the Year which has 10 nominees.

Without further ado, here’s the list of game nominees for Best Board Games of 2015 (each listed in alphabetical order).

Read more »


Crossing is a fun game for families

Crossing board game

Crossing is a quick and fun family board game.

If you’re looking for a light and quick game your whole family can enjoy playing together, we’ve got a game for you — Crossing.

While the name of the game may sound very generic and non-descript, the game play is rather fun.

Actually, even the objective of the game is a very common goal for games: Collect sets of valuable gems to get the most points by the end of the game.

However, the fun of the game is the way in which players go about snagging the gems — or “life stones” as they’re called in this board game.

Read more »


International Tabletop Day – April 30, 2016

tabletop day logo

Are you ready to play?

If you’re looking for an excuse to play a bunch of board games, card games, dice games, and party games this weekend, you’ve got one — International Tabletop Day.

You won’t be alone in your game day this Saturday because a gazillion people around the world will be doing the same thing.

Ok, maybe not a gazillion. But there will be a ton!

International Tabletop Day started in 2012 by the folks at Geek & Sundry and it’s caught on big time with more than 3,000 scheduled events on all 7 continents around the world!

Read more »