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Braintopia is packed with fun challenges

Braintopia card game

Is your brain ready for this?

One of the awesome benefits of playing family board games is the positive way it engages our minds.

Different types of board games create different types of mental challenges that are great for both developing and aging brains.

From visual recognition and matching to deductive reasoning and strategic planning, there are a myriad of mental skills that board games engage.

A recently released game from Asmodee packs a real punch in getting players to exercise a ton of mental skills in a single game.

It’s time to exercise our brains in Braintopia!


How to play Braintopia

In Braintopia players compete in various challenges that each exercise a distinct brain function. The first player to claim enough challenges to gain four brain pieces to assemble a complete brain wins.

The game includes 80 challenge cards that are placed face down to begin. The back of each card indicates the type of challenge the players are about to face.

One player flips over the top card and players race to complete the challenge. As soon as a player thinks they know the right answer, they quickly place their hand over the card to cover it up and give their answer.

They then remove their hand and everyone checks to see if the answer was correct or not.

If the player was wrong, the card is discarded and that player sits out the next challenge.

If the player is correct, they claim the card.

As soon as a player has 2 cards of the same type (same card back), they discard the pair of cards and claim a brain piece.

Once a player has claimed a 4th brain piece, the game ends and that player wins!

Braintopia card game

Braintopia challenges many different mental skills.


The Challenges

The 8 different types of challenges in Braintopia are:

  1. Memory: These cards contain images of 5 objects. Once a player slams their hand onto the card, they must recite the 5 objects from memory.
  2. Maze: These cards contain a maze with a center starting point and letters on potential exits. After a player slams their hand onto the card they must state the letter that completes the correct path through the maze.
  3. Color: These cards contain words of colors that are each written in different colors. The player must name the only word on the card that’s written in its own color.
  4. Coordination: The card back shows a color for each hand (blue/red) and a number for each finger. When the card is flipped over, players must place the correct hand and digits in the indicated locations on their face and slap their free hand onto the card.
  5. Duplicates: These cards contain various objects in different colors. After slamming their hand on the card, that player must name the only object that appears twice on the card.
  6. Frequency: The player who first slams their hand onto the card must name the object that appears the most times on the card.
  7. Reasoning: These cards contain different spacial reasoning challenges. The player who slams their hand on the card must say the letter that corresponds to the correct solution.
  8. Tactile: Before the game, players pass around the 10 texture cards to get familiar with them. When a Tactile challenge card appears, the player who completed the previous challenge now faces the Tactile challenge. The other players secretly choose one of the 10 tactile cards and hand it face down to the challenger. That player has 10 seconds to guess the object by touch only.

In a Tactile challenge, if the player is incorrect, they discard the card and play continues with the next challenge. If they’re correct, they discard the card and immediately claim a brain piece.

Braintopia card game

Can you complete these challenges quickly enough?


Can the whole family enjoy playing Braintopia?

Braintopia is a fun and challenging game the whole family can enjoy playing together.

The beauty of the game is the variety of challenges.

Because every type of challenge is different, players will quickly discover the types of challenges their minds more easily solve.

Some players may be quick to spot a matching object even though it’s in different colors. Others may be quick to solve a maze or pick the right object to fit in a shaped space. And still other may be quick to place the correct fingers on their face.

The fingers on the face challenge has been my nemesis. I don’t think I’ve every won that challenge. It’s tricky for a couple reasons. First is simply spotting which numbered fingered goes on which part of the face and remembering which hand goes with that color so I can slam the other hand onto the card.

The other tricky one for me seems to be the colored words. Whereas, our avid reader Caleb breezes through that one.

The Tactile challenge have proven to be tricky for almost everyone in our family. The 10 tactile cards share some similarities with a few of the others that can make them tough to distinguish by touch alone. For example, the teddy bear, peaches, moss, and zebra are all fuzzy. So it’s fun celebration when you guess it right.

Braintopia card game

The Tactile cards are very cool and can be tough to distinguish by touch.

Another aspect of the game is that players can’t keep more than 4 cards in front of them during play. So if they win a 5th type of challenge before getting a pair of the same card, they’ll have to choose which claimed challenge card to discard. Typically they’ll hang on to cards that represent the types of challenges they’re more proficient at.

Braintopia card game

One more brain piece and I’ll win!

Also, since players are racing to be the first to spot the answer, everyone is engaged the whole time.

The only downtime in the game is when a player incorrectly answers a challenge and has to sit the next one out. But even though they can’t answer the challenge, we’ve found they’re still totally mentally engaged in trying to find the solution.

That all being said, if there’s a big mental disparity between players (often by age), the game won’t be fun for those who are consistently slower than the rest. As such, the game is best to be played by those of similar capacity.

Braintopia card game

The wood Tactile card up close.


How does Braintopia score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Braintopia card gameWe’ve had a great time playing Braintopia and it’s definitely going to stay in our game collection. However, it does feel limited in it’s replay value.

Because of that, as far as our “let’s play again” meter goes, it gets a mixed score. That’s because we have a hard time stopping play after just one game.

After a player won the game and there were still plenty of cards left in the stack, we quickly kept right on going into another game. The game play is quick and games don’t take long. So it’s very easy to keep on playing.

Which means that we rattle through the whole stack of 80 cards in a short amount of time.

And we’ve found that some of the cards are easier to memorize than others. It’s not that we tried to memorize them, but some of them just stand out in our minds more than others.

As such, repeated plays of Braintopia over a short amount of time don’t feel as challenging. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to pull out again for a quick game in a few months. By then we will have forgotten specifics and it will be fresh again.

If your family likes quick games that give your minds some rapid exercises, we recommend getting a copy of Braintopia.

We’d like to thank Asmodee for a review copy of Braintopia


Kulami board game review

Kulami board game

Kulami is a fun abstract strategy and family board game.

Today we’re taking a look at a 2-player abstract game that’s been around for a number of years — Kulami by FoxMind.

With a gazillion 2-player abstract board games available, it’s great to continue to find ones that offer unique game play and strike our fancy. And Kulami is one such game.

In 2013, Kulami was also a Mensa Select Winner along with Forbidden Desert (a family board game we also highly recommend).

Take a quick look and see if Kulami may be a great fit for your family as well.

Read more »


Build your own kingdom in Kingdomino

Kingdomino board game

Build your kingdom with dominos!

When was the last time you played Dominos?

If it’s like us, it’s been a very long time.

I remember bringing home a set of dominos from the Dominican Republic after living there for 2 years because dominos is like a national pastime. We’d often stop and watch people playing dominos on the street corners and join in when we could.

But I haven’t pulled that domino set out to play for years.

And since we’ve started playing Kingdomino from Blue Orange Games, that domino set may sit untouched for many years more.

That’s because Kingdomino hits a sweet spot with its fun and unique tile-matching play.

If you’re familiar with our game reviews, you’ll know our family loves tile-laying games. We love building and watching landscapes grow as we play.

And Kingdomino is no exception. It’s a terrific tile-laying board game for families!

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6 Games that spell MOTHER

Happy Mother’s Day mom!

Leading up to Mother’s Day this Sunday I’ve been thinking about my mother and the women in my life a bit more this week.

They bring so much richness to life, I can’t imagine being without them.

A fun note many kids write is one where they tell their mom what she means to them by spelling out the word M-O-T-H-E-R.

So I thought it would be fun to do something similar.

Not only are these 6 great board games your mom may love. But they also give a glimpse into what great moms are made of.

Here’s how I spell M-O-T-H-E-R with games.

Read more »


Best Board Games 2016 – Nominees are set!

The Dice Tower Awards

So many fantastic board games! The 2016 Best Game nominees are set!

What are the best board games, card games, and dice games from 2016?

We may not be able to say yet because many are still yet to be played. But at least we know where to start.

That’s because the annual Dice Tower Award nominees are set.

With over 4,000 new board game, card games, dice games, and party games published each year there’s absolutely no way anyone could play them all.

But there are hundreds of game reviewers around the world that give it a good shot.

Each year The Dice Tower Awards recognize the best games of the year. A jury of more than 70 Dice Tower staff, prominent bloggers and reviewers go through all the games released in English in 2016 and choose the five best in each category – with ten games nominated for best game of the year.

And we’re happy to be among those who have a voice in nominating and whittling them down.

Without further ado, here’s the list of game nominees for Best Board Games of 2016 (each listed in alphabetical order).
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Star Wars Rebellion – May the 4th be with you!

Star Wars: Rebellion board game

A massive box for an epic game!

Every once in a while a game comes along that totally captures my attention.

Star Wars Rebellion is such a game!

It was released last year by Fantasy Flight Games and once again, the completely knocked it out of the park!

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Ubongo, Tokaido, Onirim, oh my!

Normally I’d wait a while longer between reviews of digital board games. However, time is of the essence if you want to take advantage of a Free board game app.

Just last month we reviewed the very cool digital implementations of Mysterium and Potion Explosion.

Today we’ve got 3 more for you to check out!

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Immersed in Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Adventure into the madness!

The line between physical board games and digital board games is blurring more and more every day. A ton of physical board games have gone digital over the last few years to great success. Players can choose whether to play the physical version or the digital version depending on where they are or who they’re with.

Well, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition has shattered this divide!

It’s no longer “either/or” – now it’s completely both. That’s because the digital Mansions of Madness app is the only way to play the physical game. You can’t play one without the other.

And it’s wonderful!

In Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, players interact with both the physical game components as well as the digital app. Players use boards, cards, tokens, miniatures, and dice while the app unfolds the story before them.

It’s truly an immersive experience that pulls us in and keeps us wanting more.

Mansions of Madness second edition board game

Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition is an amazing blend of physical and digital game play.

Read more »

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