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Beasts of Balance makes crazy creatures

Beasts of Balance board game

How well can you balance these beasts?

Over the last decade, there’s been a large convergence of digital and physical board games.

We’ve seen hundreds of physical board games get a digital implementation. Some of our favorite board games have been available on digital devices for many years. And we’ve also seen digital games go the other direction and take on physical form (Angry Birds: Pig Island Smashdown).

And there are a number of games that incorporate both physical and digital – where you need both to even play the game (Mansions of Madness 2nd edition).

Well, hybrid physical and digital games continue to evolve even further.

Today we’re taking a look at the latest evolution of such games by diving into dexterity games!

In Beasts of Balance, by Sensible Object, players stack physical animals and items to create all sorts crazy creatures.

It’s a cooperative dexterity game where players make the best world they can by adding animals, evolving them, and nurturing them before the tower falls down.

Beasts of Balance board game

Let’s start stacking these animals and see what we create.


How to play Beasts of Balance

Beasts of Balance board game

The order you stack determines what creatures you make and the scores you get.

Beasts of Balance is super simple to play.

So simple that there isn’t really much for us to explain.

The first thing players do is download the free game app to their iOS or Android device and plug some batteries into the plinth (platform where everything gets stacked).

Players then dive right into the superb tutorial in the app.

It takes players through all the steps they need to know about playing the game.

The basics are this: The player holds the item they want to place next to the symbol on the plinth so it can be recorded in the app via bluetooth. Then stack the animal wherever they can on the growing stack on the plinth.

Then watch the screen to see what concoction they’ve created.

Beasts of Balance board game

Hold the symbol on the piece to the symbol on the plinth before placing.

Depending on the order players stack the pieces, different creatures will evolve and different things will happen.

Cross-breeding animals results in some crazy creatures.

Beasts of Balance board game

What have we done?!

But players can’t go forever because there’s still a big dexterity element to the game. Eventually the pieces are going to fall.

When the pieces fall, a timer begins for the player to try to re-place all the pieces on the plinth before their world ends.

Once it ends, players are rewarded with a score as to how well they’ve evolved their world. Of course, this also presents a new challenge for the players to reach even higher scores.

Beasts of Balance board game

How high can you score?

One of the cool things is that players are challenged to explore. By taking a look at the Bestiary compendium, players can see the variety of creatures they’ve created so far as well as empty spaces where more will appear.

For those who love to complete things, this is a great challenge because it means there are still combinations yet to be discovered.

Beasts of Balance board game

So many different combinations of animals to create.


Can the whole family enjoy Beasts of Balance?

Beasts of Balance is targeted directly at families with young kids.

It has so many things kids love: animals, stacking, exploration, cooperation, creation, and digital devices.

Beasts of Balance board game

Created animals take their place in the digital world.

Kids will intuitively take to Beasts of Balance as soon as they open the box. They’ll naturally notice how stackable the animals are and will be fascinated by the life they take on in the app. They’ll place a new piece and watch the animations in the app to see what they’ve created and what happens next.

As creatures are created, they’ll also overpower some of the other animals created in the app – driving some to extinction. But that’s all part of the creature evolving process and getting higher scores as well.

Beasts of Balance board game

Some animals just won’t make it until the end.

Kids won’t care when the tower falls because they’ll happily build again in new and different ways every time.

Beasts of Balance board game

Time to get back to creating even more creature combos!


How does Beasts of Balance score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Beasts of Balance board gameSince our youngest is now in high school, our family doesn’t fall into the target category for Beasts of Balance. So this typical ending question for our reviews doesn’t apply very well.

That being said, Caleb has still played over and over trying to get a super high score and complete as many spots in the Bestiary compendium as possible.

However, if you’ve got young kids in your family, we predict they’ll have a hard time putting Beasts of Balance down.


5 Fun Games for You and Your Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day

Play some fun games with your Valentine.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Since our site is totally focused on fun family games, we’re guessing if you’re visiting you’ve got someone special to celebrate today with.

Either you’ve already tied the knot, you have kids, and you’re looking for games for the family or you’re on the road to starting a family and looking ahead to playing games with your kids. At least, that’s the majority of visitors to our site.

(We know there are plenty of other situations our visitors find themselves in as well.)

It’s fun to play games with your kids. But it’s also nice to get in some games without the kids as well.

That’s why today we’re going to focus on just you and your sweetheart!

Here are 5 fun 2-player games you can enjoy together.


Codenames Duet

If you followed our reviews, you’ll already know how much we enjoy playing Codenames and Codenames: Pictures. Well, now there’s a version of Codenames made specifically for 2 players – Codenames: Duet!

In all other versions of Codenames, players split into team and compete to be the first team to discover all their agents.

But in Codenames: Duet, 2 players work together to discover all their agents among the grid of words.

We really enjoy this new, cooperative version of Codenames.

It’s a great game for couples because it tests your ability to think on the same wavelength. You’re both taking turns giving clues to each other to find the right matches in the grid.

See how well you think like your Valentine with Codenames: Duet.

Codenames Duet card game

Codenames Duet is a very fun way to play Codenames with just 2 players.


7 Wonders Duel

If cooperating isn’t what you have in mind when you sit down for a game with your Valentine, then perhaps you want to switch out “Duet” for “Duel” and go with 7 Wonders Duel.

Built on the popularity of one of our favorite card games, 7 Wonders Duel uses the same iconography and basic principles of building up your civilization through various types of cards. But the game play is tailored specifically for 2 players.

While you’re still battling over who can come out on top, 7 Wonders Duel isn’t a cutthroat type 2-player game. Since you’re both building up your own civilizations, the game feels more constructive than other games. Even if you don’t win, you can feel a sense of accomplishment in how you’ve developed your world.

7 Wonders Duel card game

7 Wonders Duel is a great way to play 7 Wonders with just 2 players.


City Square Off

If your Valentine has more of a mind for puzzles, you may want to play City Square Off instead.

City Square Off is a short game where players build out their own city of Tetris-like pieces without going over the edges.

Rather than direct conflict in building on the same board and blocking each other, players have their own playing board where they place their pieces. Each turn a card is flipped over showing which shape piece players must place in their city. Players place their pieces simultaneously on their board and continue until someone can’t place a piece without it spilling over their city boundary.

It’s such a quick and light game, it’s easy to play multiple games in a row with your Valentine.

City Square Off board game

Who can build the most efficient city?


Telepathy Magic Minds

Another quick 2-player game that’s great for couples is Telepathy Magic Minds.

In Magic Minds you’ll get the chance to find out if you can read each other’s mind.

Ok, so it’s not really mind-reading.

In Telepathy Magic Minds players begin by secretly choosing a square on their 18 x 18 grid. They then take turns trying to guess the other player’s square. Each space has 4 characteristics (row, column, object, color) and if any one of the characteristics matches with the secret square, the player says, “yes”. If none match, the player says, “no”. So by process of elimination, players will work to determine their opponent’s secret space before their own space is correctly guessed.

Who’s stronger with their deductive reasoning, you or your Valentine?

Telepathy Magic Minds

How about a little deduction with your Valentine?


The Game on Fire

If civilization-building, spatial-positioning, or deduction isn’t your Valentine’s cup of tea. How about just pulling out a simple cooperative card game?

In The Game on Fire, players work together to place all 98 cards from the deck.

And it’s definitely easier said than done because the catch is in how players get rid of their cards.

There are 4 piles players can place cards on from their hand. Two of the piles will go in ascending order and the other two piles will go in descending order. The amount of numbers between the card showing and the one played doesn’t matter — as long as it’s correctly higher or lower.

The Game on Fire is a game that doesn’t require much set up and is both light and engaging — a perfect combination for a game you can play with your Valentine.

The Game card game

Getting rid of your cards is easy. It’s getting rid of all of them that’s hard.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!


3 days of gaming ahead – ready for SaltCon!

SaltCon 2017

SaltCon is a great time to play tons of games with buddies.

Once February rolls around, I get a little anxious.

It’s not because I don’t know what to get my sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. But rather because I can hardly wait for SaltCon in just a few weeks!

SaltCon is a board game convention in Salt Lake City, Utah for anyone who enjoys playing games. And it keeps getting bigger every year.

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It’s a tribe battle for supremacy in Ethnos

Ethnos board game

Sure Ethnos is about territory control, but the box art is a lot darker than the game really

“In the faraway land of Ethnos, a new Age is dawning. The ashes of the old Age have left the Six Kingdoms empty and the twelve Tribes scattered to the winds. Now is the time for a clever leader to unite them into a powerful alliance, skillfully using the unique talents of each Tribe to control the Kingdoms.”

That’s how the stage is set for this fun set collection and area control game to play out.

In Ethnos, by CMON, players channel the help of giants, merfolk, halflings, minotaurs, and other fantasy tribes to help them gain control of the land and gain Glory. After 3 Ages of play, whoever has the most Glory wins!

When we first saw Ethnos, it made us think about Small World – another fun area control game with a variety of fantasy creatures. But once we looked further, we realized both games are vastly different in how they play out.

It’s time to take a closer look at Ethnos, it’ll be worth your while.

Ethnos board game

Up to 6 players can join in the battle for control of the Kingdoms of Ethnos.

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Time to divide the Spoils of War

Spoils of War dice game

You’ve done your ransacking, now it’s time to split the Spoils of War.

The first time I saw a version of Liar’s Dice was in the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Will challenges Davy Jones to a game aboard the Flying Dutchman to find the location of the key to the Dead Man’s Chest.

With it being such a common game, you’d think I would have encountered it long before seeing that movie. But I hadn’t.

Since then though, I’ve come across a number of iterations of Liar’s Dice.

The latest iteration of the game was published last year by Arcane Wonders called Spoils of War.

In Spoils of War, players are victorious Vikings dividing the spoils of treasure from their exploits. There are all sorts of treasure to be had – from weapons and armor to jewelry and dragon eggs (yep dragon eggs). Plus there are magical artifacts scattered among the loot.

But to get their share, the Vikings have to come out on top in each round’s dice challenge.

It’s a game full of guessing, bluffing, bidding, and set collecting.

The real question though is, “is it fun?”

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Top 5 Family Board Games of 2017

Go Nuts for Donuts card game

Go Nuts for Donuts is one of our favorite family games from 2017.

Happy 2018!!

Ok, so we may be a little late on wishing everyone a Happy New Year since we’re already 3 weeks into 2018. But we still wish you a great new year!

I’m a bit slow on getting this out mainly because I got a new job at the start of January and it’s taking almost all my time coming up to speed on everything related to my new job. Most my time spent outside of that is trying to keep up with family duties and church service. And any little time I have for games, I’ve opted to play them instead of write about them.

Now on to the good stuff!

As I’ve done for many years on our website, I like taking time to look back at the past year of our game experiences and take stock.

Let’s start with the stats.

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Clue: The Legend of Zelda board game review

Clue The Legend of Zelda board game

Clue: The Legend of Zelda is a fun combination of two things we love.

Clue is one of the most popular board games in the world.

So it’s not surprising there are a ton of differently-themed version of Clue in the world today.

Normally we’d stay clear of various themed versions of popular board games. However, there are a few instances where we make exceptions. And this is one of those times!


First of all, because our family loves playing Clue.

And second, because all the guys in our family are HUGE Legend of Zelda fans!

(Yes, that even includes dad.)

We know it may seem strange to talk video games on a board game site, but Zelda is one video game where dad makes an exception. And it’s really okay to talk about it now, because we’re talking about a Zelda board game.

Thanks to USAopoly, we’re ready to tell you all about our impressions of Clue: The Legend of Zelda!

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Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City adds a lot more variety to an already fun game

Machi Koro Bright Lights Big City card game

Let’s head to the Big City!

Normally when you see an existing game name followed by additional title words you think it’s an expansion to the original game. However in this case, the game is a re-implementation of the original game.

Machi Koro is a family card and dice game where players compete to build their cities to become the largest in the region. Players do this by rolling dice, collecting money, buying Establishments, and building Landmarks in their city. The first player to complete all of their Landmarks wins the game.

The exact same thing can be said for Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City.

So why do we like this new game so much more?

We’re happy to tell you why.

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