Addicting Games News

November 2009

Atmosfear – The Gatekeeper and I spent Halloween together!

That’s right. I don’t know what it is about Halloween that makes me get out this great addicting game and play it...over and over again!

Since 1995 when they updated the VCR game to the DVD, I’ve been hooked...ok, since way before then...since the 1st edition Video of Nightmare rolled out in I dating myself yet? But I really love all these Horror and spooky games...they bring out the beast in me! (At least I think that’s the ‘B’ word my fellow adversaries use whenever we play...)

Anyway, through all of the various boosters and versions of this addicting game, me and my fellow 'maggots' or 'harbingers' as the Gatekeeper fondly refers to us, write our worst feat on a piece of paper which is collected and held in the “Well of Fears”. We then have exactly 49 minutes (give or take a few :) to collect six keys from each of the regions of the game board. Then, if we actually manage to get them all, we have to head to the centre of the board to the dreaded “Well of Fears” and try to draw our opponents fear to win the game.

If I manage to be the first to do this, I win! If, however; the 49 minutes are up before somebody manages to do so...we all lose – to the Gatekeeper...that gloatful s.o.b.! He really is my worst nightmare!

At random intervals, he stops the game and The Gatekeeper (he being the Gatekeeper - as portrayed by Wenanty Nosul in the English language version and by David Whitney in the DVD version...sorry, couldn’t resist...). Anyway, The Gatekeeper randomly appears throughout the game to either taunt, reward, or punish us in a surprisingly stressful and problematic variety of ways. All random, all time delaying, and no matter how many times you play...addictingly funny!

Did you know that at one time they actually tried to make a TV show out of this game? Fact. In late 2007, Flying Bark Productions announced that a series was being has since been removed from the website, which of course means that the series was cancelled. The show would have had students get sucked into their TVs by The Gatekeeper. They would have to avoid all kinds of suitably creepy undead creatures to escape.

Now this may sound easy, but believe me...that bloody gatekeeper makes it difficult!

So you see, Atmosfear is a game that combines speed, strategy, suspense, and it's a game you shouldn't play alone!


Mexican Train – Dominoes with endurance

Mexican train is a really fun countdown version of Dominoes that up to eight people can play. Anyone who has ever played this game is right now running for their dominoes set! That’s because its a perfect family game to spend an evening on the boat – at the cottage – or sitting around the coffee table at home!

Just a word of warning...this game is one of the most addicting games you’ll come across and you will enjoy it thoroughly!

You can play Mexican Train dominoes with your regular dominoes set, or you can get hold of a special Mexican Train game set. Either way is good but the original Mexican Train sets come with a center hub, plastic trains and pre-printed score pads to make your life just that much easier and the game just that tad more exciting really. Otherwise, monopoly tokens or different colored game pieces, or even coins will work with the regular dominoes sets.

How do you play you ask? Well, the rules are simple. Grab your double-six set (28 dominos – good for 2-4 players), a double-nine set (55 dominos – best for 4-5 players) or a double-twelve set (91 dominos – go crazy with up to 8 players). The double 12 tile is placed in the centre hub. Then, to start the game, everyone draws from upside down tiles or tiles placed in a bag (like scrabble) and sets up their tiles so no one else can see them. Then you begin creating your personal train by matching dominoes end to end from the center hub towards you. The trick is you have to have a 12 tile to start your train with (or an 11 if the second round, or a 10 if the third round...down to a 1 tile in the last round)

You add to your own train, or 1 player can start the Mexican train, if you have the correct tile to start it (a 12 at the beginning of the game), that anyone can build on. If you ever can’t match your or the Mexican train’s tile you have to put your train piece up on your train – and that opens it up to other players to get rid of their tiles on. The train has to stay up until you can again play a tile on your train.

The object is to be the first player to get rid of all your tiles! Sounds straightforward, yes? Hah! Not when every player is out to get you! And the rules are working against you! Wait ‘til you have to play a double tile and your train branches...

Now Run - don’t walk - to get your Mexican train set out and get playing!


CHICKENFOOT – An original, and single patented, DOMINOES SET

Chickenfoot – the dominoes game (not the Firefox extension of the same name) is a fascinating game for everyone to play. Like its counterpart, Mexican Train, Chickenfoot uses dominoes. Brightly colored dominoes with jumbo dots. This, plus the fact that it starts with a double-nine, rather than a double-twelve (although you Chickenfoot diehards can use either) makes it a truly fun and addicting game for all ages.

Inspired by the fascinatingly twisted minds of Betty and Louis Howsley back in 1990, in a cabin in west Texas no less, it has since grown into a highly popular pastime. Interestingly, it is still owned, licensed and copyrighted by them (even though Louis has since passed on to his thoroughly just reward) and is totally worth having a set to play on.

Younger kids will enjoy the crazy Chicken feet that are created by the play of the dominoes, and they will like the 10 round limit, so that the game doesn’t go on and on like other versions such as Mexican train can do. It can, in fact, be played in as little as 10 or 15 minutes. And a round ends only when you can’t play any more of your you’re not restricted to playing just one tile at a time. This makes the game go much quicker and is way less restricting and way more fun too! And you get Crowing rights when you can play 3 or 4 or 6 tiles in one turn!

According to the rules of Chickenfoot, if a double tile is played, it must be satisfied 3 ways so that the matching ‘toes’ each start a new line of play. This makes it easier to get rid of all those tiles you had to draw (without peeking) from the Chickyard in the beginning! Sometimes.

The object of this addicting game is to play all your tiles and have the lowest score at the end of the game. Your score is counted by the number of dots on the tiles remaining in your hand. But watch out! If you’re caught with the double zero tile you get an extra 50 points added to your score...and remember, a high score is bad in this game.

But if you want to win you must get out the game and get playing.


5 Things I Love About Board Games

Let me state it clearly and precisely. I. Love. Board. Games.

Any kind, any time, with pretty much anyone...and the older the game, the more I enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, though, I love the new games, I love the online games, and I love the card games. But Board games hold a special place in my fiercely competitive heart.

When I go into antique stores, I head to the games section. When I go to department stores, I browse the board game aisles. Auctions, second hand stores, peoples attics...and how could you not love their old, yellowed, aged, split corners, even the musty smell of the board games unearthed from garages and sheds. Anyone who grew up with family game nights remembers the noise and cheer of the evenings spent playing.

So, in trying to figure out just why board games are so addictingly fun, I have come up with the following list.

  1. Competition – I can’t help but get competitive with board games, but then...doesn’t everyone? As long as the play is good natured and fair, I’m in there. Of course, nothing is quite so sweet as when you beat a sore loser.
  2. Togetherness – Board games are great because the not only encourage everyone to sit down together, they encourage interaction and communication while you do so.
  3. Challenge – Board games challenge you in many ways. You build self-confidence as you get better and your focus and attention span sharpens as you attempt to do better each time you play
  4. Teamwork – Any game that you all get to work together to defeat a common foe is great fun – even if that foe is your favourite friend or your annoying little sister. Addicting games like Taboo, or Pictionary, are not just fun, but are hilarious and getting to know someone is way easier after they’ve seen you pretending to be an inanimate object...
  5. Therapeutic – Its so true. What better way to get someone to talk and discuss troubles or topics normally not brought out than over a great game of Gin Rummy or the addicting game of Trouble. I’ve had many conversations over things I needed to understand just by sitting and watching my older sisters play and listening – even occasionally joining in with questions while they discussed such worldly things as makeup or their latest crushes.

For all of the above reasons and more, you should get those great addicting family board games out and get playing!


How young is too young when it comes to board games?

Have you ever had the frustration of a way younger sibling trying to play your games with you? Or tried to include a young child in the game only to have everyone end up fighting and upset?

I discovered a long time ago, when my long-suffering parents decided to have yet another go at a boy that you can’t win against a cute little curly-haired sister. If she wants to play while you’re trying to play with your much older and sophisticated siblings and cousins or friends – well you’re just toast.

That is we were, until some genius (must have been me) came up with the idea of just playing with her. We figured she’d soon got bored and wandered off to find other willing victims. Imagine our surprise when it ended with us attempting to lure her back with a different game. It was so fun!

We soon learned that instead of actually playing the game – which led us all into tantrum town – we should just roll the dice (funnily enough, she was always serious about counting the spots on it), and bang the pieces, around the game board while being ultra silly or ultra serious in turn. We’d pick up a card and pretend to read nonsense or potty words. That always brought a great belly roll of a laugh – which in turn got us all in hysterics – or in trouble if an adult was in hearing distance! But usually, our combined giggles and laughter was all it took to get even the adults around happily involved in the latest classic board game. Sorry, Chutes (snakes) and Ladders, Candyland, and Monopoly were special favourites! Although we had a bigger mess to clean up after ‘playing’ with the latter game...

So really, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no age too young. When they show an interest, that’s the proper age. When they’re tired of playing, stop or you’ll get a quick meltdown. Plus, you’ll want to be sure to have games with bigger pieces for those little hands, but with careful supervision, everyone can be involved and enjoying the togetherness that a game board brings to your ever growing family. Just keep it fun. Keep lots of games and preschool games around. And play often!


2009_Nov11_WWII – How a board game saved 10,000 POWs

To honor Remembrance day, I’d like to take you through the history of how a board game became a saviour to POWs around the world.

The story behind the addicting game of Monopoly with its real Get out of Jail Free card is almost too fantastic to be believed. But what a story!

It was during World War II, that the Monopoly conspiracy came about. As the number of airmen held hostage behind enemy lines in the infamous POW camps rose, Britain decided to do something to help them. M19, the British secret service unit – whose specialty happened to be in escape and evasion - enlisted the help of a company, John Waddington Ltd. Why you ask? Well, there were 2 very important reasons to do so.

  1. John Waddington Ltd had mastered non-smear silk printing, and

  2. They also happened to be the U.K. licensee for the not so simple board game known as Monopoly

This game was relatively unknown as it has only been since the end of World War II that people began having more leisure time and more disposable income to purchase and play board games that the board game business started really booming.

Silk was easily tucked into small places, didn’t make any noise, and didn’t smear easily (at least Waddington’s version didn’t) and Monopoly, thanks to the Geneva Convention, was allowed to be charitably distributed by the secret service masquerading as Red Cross workers (in case they got caught there would be no repercussions for the Red Cross in their mission of aide).

In hidden compartments of specially marked games (denoted by a red dot on the Free Parking Space), these escape kits allowed an estimated 10,000 POWs to escape to freedom. These escape kits included a concealed compass, tools and maps, and real bank notes hidden under the fake money. Money for the various regions like Germany, Italy, and Norway was hidden and to ensure the games were sent to the proper camps, the board games were tagged with an innocuous period after different locations on the board.

Quite ingenious…and very effective. This little known history of the role of board games and POWs is fact. It’s a story that’s too fantastic to not be true. Look for the books written on the subject by Philip Orbanes.

You will not want to miss the opportunity to own this thoroughly fascinating game with the history that will never be forgotten. And What a great dual holiday gift for the WWII and gaming enthusiasts on your list this year!


2009_Nov13_Parcheesi – Its anything but cheezy!

This ultra classic board game of chase, race and capture has a rich history. To this day, it is the national game of India. Since about 500 BC, this game, known as the Royal Game of India has been enjoyed by Sultans and Chandala alike. I think.

There are still huge marble versions of this classic game board unearthed that were used with dancers or Harem occupants as the playing pieces. Its true and in fact, there is a preserved court at Fatehpur Sikri which is a world heritage site. Far more ancient stories tell of Indian princes betting their kingdoms (which when the unfortunate one lost he then of course had to wage a huge and devastating war to try to get it back). Its so true! There is a chapter in Indian history in fact which lead to the the Mahabharata – the longest epic poem in the world (approximately ten times longer than the Liian and Odyssey combined) – thanks to Padavas losing to his cousin Kauravas at the infamous game of Parcheesi.

Parcheesi, known also as the Cross and Circle game Pachisi and Twenty-five is known in Europe as Ludo, in Spain as ‘Parchis’, Columbian as ‘Parques’, and just to be different, in Germany its known as ‘Man, don’t get mad’…go figure.

There are more great family board games like Aggravation, Sorry and Trouble that have evolved from and thus are similar to Parcheesi, but instead use cards. Also, they are simpler, whereas Parcheesi has a bit more strategy involved. One or two dice are used in play these days, but in ancient times, cowry shells were used to determine the number of places to be moved. With dice and dice cups for every player and a classic colorful game board that appeals more to adults than other versions.

Parcheesi, with its high-quality Strikingly designed and classic game board, challenging strategy and wooden pawns, dice and dice cups for every player, and even illustrated instructions printed right on the box lid (so they won't get misplaced), is indeed a classic. And this great game gives you every chance to work on your blocking skills and strategic capture maneuvers. There’s even a silly fun version called Cheesy Parcheesi that will be sure to spark interest in the younger gamers of your family.

With such a rich and colorful – and long – history, how can this great classic board game not be fun?!


Why Board Games ARE That Perfect Holiday Gift

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Apples to Apples – How Far Can You Push Your Luck?

Apples to Apples really is a wholesome and fun family game where learn to you push your luck!
Help your kids (and yourself) expand their vocabulary, expand their thinking skills, and expand their subjective (and arbitrary) decision skills as they judge the best matches for the infamous green apple cards.

Apples to Apples consists of two different types of card decks, Things (nouns) and Descriptions (adjectives). The player currently selected as judge selects a description card, and the players then get to pick one of the Things cards in their hand that ‘best’ matches the descriptions. Sometimes, those adjectives get pretty ridiculous!

And with over 500 cards in the game, it has a lot of matches that can be made!

If kids younger than 10 or 12 are having a bit of trouble with the references in the game, try the Junior Edition. They’ll thank you and their teacher will thank you as their vocabulary skills and knowledge increases.

This addicting game is not only filled with adjectives, and opinions, it was given the honour of being selected in past years as a winner by none other than the Mensa organization, and The National Parenting Center.

Around since 1999, this great addictive game has had a few different expansion sets and versions published, from its German edition, to its Jewish and Yiddish editions, to its bible edition – and all the other various editions published - this game has it all!

So give it a try...come on...pick up a copy of this addicting push your luck game and find out just how far can you push your luck...or how far your kids can push theirs!


Go Gaga Over Guessing Games

Guessing games are not just for little kids. Although they love them! But so do I. Did you ever wonder why everyone believes that they are the best guessers at pretty much anything you care to test them on? I’m guessing that that’s why we like guessing games of all kinds.

Some of the best of the guessing games are the simplest. Games like

  • Guess Who – This is a two person or two teams game and has been popular for over 30 years. The more the merrier in my opinion. You’ll flip over this addictingly mysterious faces game while you flip down tiles to help find your opponent’s secret person before they find yours.
  • Charades - Guess the word or phrase that your team is attempting to act out or the opposing team will have a chance to guess and steal your points instead! Hilariously funny!
  • Pictionary – Be the first team to reach the last square on the game board with your awesome guessing abilities. And your team’s of course. Draw pictures of the word – but beware! The timer is ticking...or rather, the sand is trickling.
  • Taboo – now this addicting game will have you hooked from the get go. When you have five taboo words that you are not allowed to speak, but must help your team to guess as many of them as they can in the allotted time. Sing, act and mime your way through the words – but watch out for the evil censors (the opposing team) who are just waiting to hit the buzzer on you and your teammates.

Try one or all of these great addicting guessing games out for yourself! You’ll be second guessing yourself and everyone else silly in no time!


Chinese Checkers – The Great American Invention

Ok, so actually, this addicting board game originated as Halma in the early 1800s before it evolved to its infamous 6 pointed star as the game of checkers 100 years later. But can you believe it? The only thing Chinese about Chinese Checkers is the name. And it was given that name by the brothers Pressman in keeping with the current craze at the time for all things Chinese.

That craze was thanks mainly to the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 and then the ‘mah jongg’ game introduced the next year. So, they decided to change the boring square Halma board. They also gave it the 6 point star overhaul along with bright colors and jazzy Chinese dragons. That’s the board I grew up playing – its indestructible tin base also stored the marbles so none were lost. At least, not from the game...

Apparently, the proper opening moves can mean the difference to winning or losing this game. That and forgetting about stragglers left behind or off to the side. These can cost many wasted moves getting them back in the game. And those wasted moves will be made while you watch your sneaky opponent power jump across to your side of the board!

Learning the best moves while jumping and blocking your opponent is Chinese Checkers strategy at its best. Grab one of these great board games for yourself and you’ll quickly add sidewinder and cross caterpillar to your vocabulary while annihilating your opponents and earning bragging rights!


Candyland – the fun, non-strategic racing game

Candyland is the perfect 1st game to give and teach to your kids. And whether you’re 1 or 100, you’ll have fun playing it.

The king of Candyland is lost and you are on a mission to find him first (hint: you’ll find him on the last long as you’re the first to get there). You don’t have to worry about dice or numbers, you simply draw a card from the top of the deck and move to the next square of that same color. You can get fancier and use the location cards to send you all backwards.

And that’s as complicated as it gets. Candlyland has been around since the late 1940s, with over 40 million games printed since the first one rolled off the production line. Its concept and was actually thought up and designed by Eleanor Abbott, while she was recovering from polio in San Diego, California. In fact it led the most popular toys polls all through the next decade afterwards. And if the game isn’t enough, Hasbro, who now own it even though it was originally Milton Bradley Company that bought the rights from Eleanor, treats it as a brand. There have been all kinds and versions of this addictingly fun board game from puzzles to handheld electronics, to a PC game. And they’re all fun!

Plus, did you know that Candyland let the pack in yet another was one of the first disputes over internet domain names. Going up against an Adult web content provider who registered the Candyland site name – of THOSE sites! And they won.

So get out and pick up a copy of one of the many versions of Candyland for the game lovers on your holiday list! Because once the movie version comes out (screenplay to be written by Etan Cohen of the blockbuster Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa fame) for sure you’re going to have a hard time finding a copy of this fun and addicting, strategic-less game anywhere)


Board Games During the Christmas Season

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SuDoku – A challenging yet simple brain-teasing game

SuDoku, not to be confused with Sodoku
(which is some weird rat-bite fever), is a fever inducing solitary number puzzle. With a fascinating history I love to add. Although the name is Japanese in origin, it actually originated in the 18th century at the time of Catherine the Great
(or Catherine II as she liked to be known), when a Swiss mathematician, Leonhard Euler
, with way too much time on his hands - thank goodness - came up with what was then known as Latin Squares. This was the infamous 9 x 9 square grid in which the number 1 through nine must appear in the grid only once, either up and down, or across. In any order, but only once in each line.

It was only in the late 1970s when US Magazine, the great Dell
, began publishing Number Place that it started becoming more widely known. Then, sometime around 1980, Mr. Maki Kaji (he was – yup, you guessed it – Japanese and the president of Nikoli, Inc. at the time) decided to talk his company into publishing a version of the puzzle that became hugely successful in Japan – but not really anywhere else.

Step into the picture some 20 years later with Wayne Gould, a retired Hong Kong judge but originally from New Zealand...go figure! He first discovered this addicting game in a Japanese bookshop in 1997 and spent more than a few years developing a computer program capable of generating the puzzles. In 2004 he convinced The Times (British) to use his software to generate and publish daily SuDoku puzzles with other British and US newspapers soon to follow. Enter SuDoku mania!

Talk about your truly cross-cultural evolution of a simple puzzle!

The popularity of this absorbing and frustrating and addicting puzzle took off and we still can’t get enough of it. Today, SuDoku is available in board game versions, handheld electronic versions, book versions, and less challenging Kids versions that are great to grow a new generation of math logic geniuses! There are even some versions offering letters and symbols now available.

Grab your favorite version of SuDoku
and get solving! This addicting brain game will reap you benefits
such as increased memory retention and improved reflexes.

Your mind will thank and reward you - so get SuDoku-ing today!


Stay Crazy and Try Crazy Eights this Holiday Season

This holiday, when the kids have all that free time on their hands, grab a deck of cards and teach them how to play Crazy Eights. This thoroughly addicting game has been around since the mid 15th century . Yes, it’s so true! Known back then as Hoc. Hoc was a supposedly French game, that in actuality was introduced into France by Signior Justiniani, ambassador of Venice in in 1674. Even better, it was an outlawed roulette game – outlawed because of the huge fortunes that could be lost while playing!

So keep that in mind while teaching your impressionable youngsters how to play crazy just might be able to win all their allowance back! would be more likely that they win your wages...not that we would teach our darlings to play gambling games...

Again, grab a deck of cards (two decks if they invite a couple more friends) and deal the cards. The rules are simple: Eight cards for everyone, and one flipped up beside the rest of the deck. You all then take turns playing a matching card (same number or same suit) if you can, picking up if you can’t or, according to the card played by the other players – either missing a turn, picking up cards if the one played just before your turn is one of the special cards that require ‘punishment’.

You can keep score too...but you don’t have to. You can just play to whoever runs out of cards first wins that round, or you can play crazy eight countdown, also a fun addicting game. Although it can last just a bit too long for the younger players...

Whatever type of card games you like, go ahead and grab the makings of a very fun evening, afternoon, and or mornings of fun and laughter!


Don’t Puzzle Over Perfect Holiday Gifts at the Office

Is it that time of year already? Has the time come that we are picking name out of hats for Secret Santa gift exchanges at the office? Are we fighting the panic of choosing the perfect gift for Agnes in accounting or Fred in janitorial? What about the new young... (Read Article)


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