Called to Serve!

LDS Missionary

Trevor finds out where he’ll be serving as a missionary.

We’re so excited today that we can’t help but share our happy family news…

(It’s not a post about games today. So if that’s what you’re after, feel free to skip this one about family events.)

Our oldest son Trevor has been called to serve a church mission in New Jersey, USA, Spanish speaking!

This year we’ve written a couple times about the changing family dynamics as kids start to leave home. It’s a new and exciting time in our family.

The first to leave is always a new experience. Even though Trevor left for a semester at college recently, we’ve been able to see him often for family activities or college football game days. But leaving on a 2 year mission is a different story altogether.

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Mark 16:15

LDS Missionary

The world guessing board.

Missionaries are one of the more recognized characteristics of our faith – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (often referred to as Mormons). Many people are familiar with seeing two young men in white shirts, ties, and name tags. With more than 83,000 LDS missionaries currently serving around the world, you may have seen them as well.

Without going into too much detail, for those less familiar, here’s a quick overview of LDS missionary work:
First and foremost, missionaries take the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ into all the world. They spend 100% of their time focused on sharing the blessing of the gospel with others. This involves gospel study and teaching as well as humanitarian and community service.

LDS Missionary

No one guessed where he’s going – New Jersey, USA!

Missionaries serve on a volunteer basis and pay their own way (or with help of family, friends, and other church members). Young men and women spend many years preparing to serve as missionaries. And it’s been great helping and watching Trevor prepare himself for this great opportunity.

It also means we won’t see our missionary son for 2 whole years!

Of course we’ll stay in contact. But it will be through one-a-week emails (or letters) and twice-a-year phone calls (Christmas and Mother’s Day).

Fun with Family and Friends

LDS Missionary

Trevor and Mom enjoying the moment.

So last night we had a gathering of family, friends, and neighbors to open Trevor’s missionary call (packet) and find out where he’s been asked to serve.

Everyone that came (and those that texted in beforehand) got to guess where in the world he’d go. The person that guessed closest would even win a gift card – donated by grandma. (I guess that could officially count as a game.)

It was a fantastic night.

And all the support is wonderful to feel.

He’s super excited.

We all are.

Having served as a missionary myself, I know that amazing experiences are headed Trevor’s way. And I’m super excited for both he and the people he’ll meet and get to love on his mission.

Congratulations Trevor!

 

More information on LDS missionaries and their preparation, assignments, and daily routines can be found here:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – Missionary Work

Wikipedia – LDS Missionary

 
 
 

Timeline: Americana – putting history in order

Timeline: Americana card game

Timeline: Americana is another great Timeline card game.

Earlier this week we shared our lists of great 5-player card games and board games. One of those lists was “Quick” 5-Player Card Games – games that can be played in less than 15 minutes. And included in that list is “Timeline” – a fun game about putting history in order.

One of the things we didn’t mention in our original review of Timeline is that there are multiple editions of the game.

And Asmodee recently released a new card set in the series, Timeline: Americana, that’s specific to America’s history and pop culture – adding another fun challenge to the Timeline series.

How well do you know your American pop culture events?

Which came first:

  • “The Twilight Zone” premiers on television or the first skateboard is sold?
  • Opening of the Guggenheim Museum or the Opening of the Pentagon?
  • M&M’s Candy first sold or Barbie’s first appearance?
  • Founding of the city of Hollywood or the Process for making peanut butter patented?

I’m sure you’d love to know the answers, but we’re not going to spill those beans.

Timeline: Americana card game

Timeline: Americana is another great Timeline card game.

How to play Timeline
Timeline is a simple and quick card game. Players just need to determine where the events they hold go in the Timeline. Be the first to correctly place your events and you’ll win.

The tricky part is making that determination.

Every player is dealt a starting hand of cards. On each double-sided card is a historical event. It could be an invention, a creation, a publication, the establishment of a city, or other popular historical events. On one side is just the name and an image of the event. On the other side is the same information but with the year that the event took place. The cards are dealt so players don’t see the side of the cards with the year printed on them.

The rules state 4 cards per player, but we like to adjust that number based on how many people are playing. With fewer players, we’ll start with 5 cards each so that the final timeline gets to be longer and more challenging.

A starting card from the draw pile is placed in the center of the table with the ‘year’ side face up. In turn, players select a card from their hand and place it in the growing timeline.

On their turn, without looking at the year side of the card, a player places a card from their hand in the timeline (before or after other cards already in the line). They then flip the card over to show the year. If they were correct, the card stays in place and the next player takes a turn. If the card is in the wrong place, it’s discarded and the player takes another card from the draw pile to add to their hand.

Timeline: Americana card game

Where do you think this card should go in the Timeline?

The first player to get rid of all their cards wins.

Very simple.

The challenge is knowing where to place the cards.

The great thing about Timeline is that you don’t have to know the exact date/year of something to do well. A good estimate of relative timing will get you far.

That may sound easy when you’re asking about events in the same genre. But once you start mixing books and movies with sporting events and political events, then things get a bit tougher.

At the start of the game the choice is very simple – does your card go before or after the initial card laid out? But as more cards are played and the timeline grows, the number of options for card placement expands as well. And that’s where the fun is – debating where to place your final cards.

Can the whole family enjoy Timeline: Americana?
Like with the original Timeline, most of the family will be able to enjoy Timeline: Americana. Older players will typically do better simply because they will have a better context on history and when certain events occurred. But that won’t preclude kids from enjoying the game as well.

In fact, kids that are paying attention may become quite adept at playing.

At first they may not have a clue about when The Great Gatsby was written or when the US hockey team defeated USSR in the Olympics. But they’ll perk up when they find out when Mickey Mouse first appeared or when Disneyland first opened.

How does Timeline: Americana differ from the other Timeline games?

Timeline: Americana card game

Plenty of cards for many repeat plays.

As we’ve mentioned, the Americana card set is all about American pop culture events. So right from the outset you’ll be playing with a more condensed historical timeline than other Timeline games.

For example, the original Timeline game covers a huge span of years by including things like the discovery of fire, the invention of the wheel, or agriculture. You may not know exactly when writing first appeared, but you’ll have a pretty good sense that it was way before the first cannon.

But with Timeline: Americana, the time span is much shorter to work within. We don’t know the exact distribution of cards between the centuries, but it seems like most of the cards are within the 1900′s. So with a smaller range, the choices are a bit tighter. But that also means they’re more interesting.

One of the great things about the Timeline series that that you can also mix and match. Who says that you have to play the games as separate sets?

Sure, if you want to focus on a particular area of interest, you can keep your Timeline games separate. But if you want to span everything, then throw them all together and see what happens.

Or you could make your own mixes or challenges. For example, pull cards from all the sets according to century and create your own game challenge of the 1800′s or 1700′s.

There are plenty of possibilities.

The Timeline Series includes:

Timeline card gameWe only have 3 so far, but the rest are on our wish list. (Music & Cinema being the next in line.)

How does Timeline: Americana score on the “Let’s Play Again” game meter?
Like the original, Timeline: American scores well on the “Let’s play again” game meter because of how simple and easy it is to play. You don’t have to worry about set up time or remembering complex rules. Simply deal out the cards and start guessing where they go. And when one game ends, there are still plenty of cards left that haven’t been touched, so why not just keep going?

Thanks Asmodee for another fun family card game and addition to the Timeline series.

The Board Game Family Game Ratings
Caleb: 4.0 Meeples Caleb
Brooke: 3.5 Meeples Brooke
Jaden: 4.0 Meeples Jaden
Trevor: 3.5 Meeples Trevor
Mom: 4.0 Meeples Mom
Dad: 3.5 Meeples Dad
AVerage: 3.75 Meeples Average
Pick up a copy!

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Great 5-Player Board Games

A few weeks ago we received a message from a mother asking for card game and board game suggestions for her family of 5.

Mamma Mia!

Fun and quick 5-player family card game.

“We are looking for fun, quick games to play as part of family home evening. Like everyone, we have a lot of commitments so sometimes we don’t start until late. But I would like to end it with a fun game. Our children are 2 boys, 12 and 15, and a 14 year old girl. What is your favorite, QUICK (15-20 min or less), board or card game?”

The question seemed perfectly timed because our family is recently down to 5 family members at home as well – with children ranging in age from 11 to 16.

While responding to her request, I realized it would make a great list for readers worldwide.

There are many great card games and board games that are well suited for 4 players. But what about 5 players?

Here are our lists of great games for 5 players.

“Quick” 5-Player Family Card Games

Incan Gold

A fun family “press-your-luck” card game.

These are great family card games that play in 15 minutes or less and can be enjoyed by young and old alike.

  • Spot It – fast flipping, visual spotting, many ways to play
  • Flip Out – brightly colored, double-sided cards
  • For Sale – out-bid other players for the best cards
  • Get Bit – card game at heart with awesome detachable pirates to boot
  • Incan Gold – press-your-luck race for gems
  • Skip-Bo – a family card game staple
  • Mamma Mia – mix in the right ingredients to make the most pizzas
  • No Thanks – try not to get stuck with the high cards
  • Guillotine – order the people in line to collect the most points
  • Botswana – card game driven but with animals to collect as well
  • Timeline – put history in order

Longer 5-Player Family Card Games

Dixit Odyssey 5-player board game

Dixit is great with just 5 players.

While these great family card games are “longer”, most can still be played in 30 minutes.

  • 7 Wonders – mom’s favorite that plays up to 7, but is fantastic with 5 players
  • Dominion – mostly suited for 4 players, but so addicting that we’ll fit in 5
  • Thunderstone Advance – closer to an hour, the boys love the hero collecting / monster slaying
  • Dixit Odyssey - good party game, but players get more turns and better guessing when played with 5

5-Player Family Board Games

Lemming Mafia board game

Don’t worry about the “mafia” name. This game is a hoot for family play.

But we can’t leave out the family board games because there are a bunch of great games that are fantastically suited for 5 players. However, these don’t fit in the “quick” category because most of them take 45 – 60 minutes to play.

  • Small World – area control game that’s perfectly suited for 5 players
  • Carcassonne – it’s hard not to include this tile-laying game in so many lists of great family games
  • Ticket to Ride Europe – another modern board game that’s becoming a household staple
  • K2 – our full review is still to come, love the battle for the top of the mountain
  • Code 777 – get your thinking caps on, it’s a fantastic deduction game
  • Lemming Mafia – make your best bets on which lemmings will make it to the end
  • Forbidden Desert – fun family cooperative game well-suited for 5
  • King of Tokyo – dice-rolling, king of the mountain fun
  • Fast Flowing Forest Fellers – race through logged filled streams to the end
  • Inkognito – another great deduction game that’s best with the full 5 players
  • Zooloretto – populate your zoo with cute animal tiles
  • Scotland Yard – let’s add one more great deduction board game that’s great with 5
  • Risk Legacy – clocks in over an hour, but it’s definitely the best way to play Risk
  • Power Grid – can’t leave of my absolutely favorite board game since I love it with 5 players. The first challenge though is finding 4 other players that can commit to a 2-3 hour game (because it doesn’t appeal to the 4 others living in our home). :)

So if you’ve got a family of 5, flip through our video reviews and written reviews of the card games and board games on these lists to find a few that will fit perfectly with your family.

What are your favorite 5-player board games and card games?
(click on this post’s title to add your comments)

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For Sale – Property flipping fun for everyone

For Sale card game

For Sale is a fun family card game.

Are your kids great investors?
Do they like to buy low and sell high?
Can they flip a property for a great profit?

The great news is that your kids don’t have to know anything about investing or Real Estate to enjoy playing For Sale.

Sure, the theme of this family card game is about buying and selling property, but that doesn’t mean it’s a boring, number crunching exercise.

Instead, For Sale is a great family card game that’s simple to understand and fun to play.

See all about it in Brooke’s short video review of For Sale.

Can everyone in the family enjoy For Sale?
Read more »

 
 
 

Gaming helps Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

HeroAd_03_300x600_V4This year I, dad, am joining in the Extra Life event and I’d love your support!

I’ve been intrigued by the Extra Life charity event and written about it in years past. But this year I’m diving in!

It’s no Ice Bucket challenge, so you won’t see a video of me dumping water on me head.

Instead it’s a drive to help Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. All the money raised for Extra Life 2014 will go directly to a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

I’ve selected Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City.

We have a number of friends whose lives have been blessed because of the tremendous care their children, and they, received at Primary Children’s Hospital. We’re excited to pledge our support to the hospital.

What is Extra Life?

Read more »

 
 
 

Coup – a fun, quick, bluffing game

Coup card game

Coup – Fun and quick bluffing game.

A new game has hit the top of Trevor’s favorite games list – Coup.

But Trevor isn’t the only one. Brooke loves Coup too!

I think it’s because it has such a similar feel to The Resistance – another one of Brooke’s favorite games. It’s also published by the same company, Indie Boards and Cards, and references The Resistance in the flavor text of the game rules.

It’s a game full of bluffing, guessing, eliminating other players, trying to be the last one standing, and it can be played in under 10 minutes – leaving plenty of time for multiple rematches.

Because you’ll definitely want to play again.

Brooke tells you all about it in her video review of Coup.

Can the whole family enjoy Coup?
Read more »

 
 
 

Are you quick enough for Ratuki?

Ratuki card game box

Ratuki is a fast-paced, race to collect the most cards.

Card games are a favorite pastime of many families the world over.

Imagine a nice, leisurely, Norman Rockwell type setting with family members kicking back, holding their hand of cards, taking turns, and visiting the night away.

Of course, if you’re imagining a leisurely game of taking turns, then you’re not imagining a game of Ratuki.

Because Ratuki is anything but leisurely.

Ratuki is a fast-paced, race for cards.

How to play Ratuki
Ratuki is extremely simple to play.

It’s all about being quick to place and collect cards. The more you collect, the more points you get. And the first player to 100 points (over several rounds) wins the game.

Ratuki consists of 175 cards – 35 in each colored set (red, blue, yellow, orange, green) – that are numbered from 1 to 5. Players race to place their cards on piles in the center of the table in ascending order (1 to 5) and collect the pile if they place the top card (#5 or a wild).

Since there’s no taking turns in Ratuki, players play simultaneously as fast as they can to get rid of their cards.

Very simple.

But there’s a catch…
Read more »

 
 
 

100 Best Board Games – What’s your vote?

Dominion card game

Dominion is my most played card game. Tons of fun.

“What’s your favorite board game?”

When people find out that we review family board games, this is the first question they ask.

If not that question exactly, then something along those lines.

And I usually answer back with a question.
Not because I’m being rude, but because the answer to my favorite board game depends on the setting – how many are playing? what ages? how long? how much strategy? etc.

Or I may cut to the chase and rattle off 5 or 6 games that I love.

Power Grid board game

Power Grid is a longer game that totally pulls me in.

But this time around, I’m not going to stop with 5 or 6. And I won’t even stop at my Top 14 (like I did with our favorite games lists 2 years ago.)

This time around, I’ve made my list of my favorite 100 board games!

What finally got me to make my Top 100 Board Games list was voting in The Dice Tower 100 Best Board Games – People’s Choice list. Every year, The Dice Tower publishes the Best Board Games of All Time list. And it’s open to anyone who wants to participate.

And you can participate too!

You don’t have to list 100 games though. The tool lets you submit your top 20 games. But if you only want to give a shout out to 5 games that you think are the tops, then just vote for those 5.

My Favorite 100 Board Games
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