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What is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness? Mind defines ‘Mindfulness’ as: ‘a technique you can learn which involves noticing what’s happening in the present moment, without judgement. You might take notice and be aware of your mind, body or surroundings.’ That’s it. There is no specific activity you have to do – I love yoga, I use guided meditation from time to time, I dance and I try to sit in the garden and drink a cup of tea most days. And, of course I play boardgames. It doesn’t have to cost the earth and mindfulness looks different for everyone. I thought I’d tell you a bit about what it looks like for me in terms of boardgames. I’d love to hear what it looks like for you.

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Eight Games

This month Ellie Dix over at Dark Imp games – ingenious creator of the fabulous Buzzle Box and the Christmas Cracker games – asked me to choose eight different games for eight different scenarios. Head over to their website to find out which ones I chose…
 
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Gorgeous Components from LongPack Games

Since I started Cards or Die I have reviewed many, many diverse games and I have never knowingly missed an opportunity to witter on endlessly about the joy of nice components. So here it is, at last – a whole blog about gorgeous components all very kindly sent to me from Long Pack Games. So whether you are looking for some design inspiration or you just fancy having a look at some lush components – here you go! They sent me a Designer Pack which showcases their products as pictured above and a massive box of games – pictured below.
I can’t claim to have played all of them…yet…. but I have assiduously examined their components.
 
Boxes
I try to avoid negative comparisons in reviews but boxes are the one area in which I fall down. When I’m judging the box you have chosen to put your beautifully designed game in I am unavoidably considering the packaging hell that is Abalone in it’s weird hexagonal box, Uno in a double width tuck box, and that one that I can never get the lid off – it involves a lot of shaking and usually takes two people. I forget the name which is why it catches me out each time – no-one wants to start a board game with a box wrestle.
 
I am happy to report that all of the boxes that LongPack games sent me tessellate pleasingly and they all opened easily (not too easily though – when packaging your game you also need to consider will it survive a Rodney Smith box toss?). The boxes for Caracho and Throw Throw Burrito even had a cut out for ease of opening.
 
Usually my favourite box type (yes I have a favourite box type – what of it?) is a magnetic closer like the one Valentine’s Day comes in but they also sent a drawer style box with their Designer Pack in that may be a contender for favourite box design.
 
The best box by far though was the Slide Quest box which is an integral part of the game. The levers, which allow you to steer your knight to victory avoiding traps and monsters, rest in cut outs on the box: ingenious.
Cardboard
The punchboards in many of the LongPack games come with a corner thumb hole so that you can easily free them from their box and get punching. These beauties are destined for Scrap Store Leeds so they can have a second lease of life. Nearly every piece popped out cleanly or with just a little wiggling.
 
In the designer pack the little press out factory had multiple layers to press out. Even though it was already 3d this added a really effective edge to the model.
 
The board for Catalyst locks together like a jigsaw enabling the game to fit in a small box and still have a thick sturdy game board. In Crown Of Emara the board joins like this and is also double sided – giving you a choice of a lighter, plainer graphic if that suits you better.
 
Slide Quest comes with a clever little gadget for saving your game so that you can pack away mid way through and not lose your progress. What a brilliant idea, especially for younger players and for games that require a lot of setting up. You can see it in the picture above.
Playing Pieces.
They offer a variety of quirky pieces – the small shiny hearts in Valentine’s Day, the cool cardboard cars in Curacho, the double sided islander and boat pieces in Blue Lagoon. In Happy Bunny little plastic carrots of varying lengths are ‘planted’ in the box – you work co-operatively to bring the biggest and best carrots home for the bunny’s family. Nemo’s War has actual jewels – which always makes me want to play a game! While Just One comes with wipe clean plastic easels and whiteboard pens with attached rubbers.The chunky wooden components in Crown of Emara are particularly lovely. I love wooden pieces in a game – tactile pieces are a feature of many of my favourite games and wooden pieces transport me straight back to childhood – the little huts in Blue Lagoon are a particular favourite.
 
Throw, Throw Burrito, which involves collecting a matching set of cards so that you can launch squashy Burritos at each other, comes with super soft squishy Burritos. After numerous outdoor games and people with questionable aim, I have had to wash these with soapy water and they’ve come up great! So, I’m optimistic that they will stand the test of time!
 
Many of the games also included ample plastic bags to sort your pieces into. This is something that Weird Giraffe Games and some others always do and although I imagine it is a low cost addition I love the fact that someone has thought of it. It makes a difference and is definitely worth considering.
I am very conscious that a lot of the parts I have mentioned have plastic involved. It is possible to avoid plastic completely as Blue Orange have demonstrated in many of their games and some of the games here have managed. LongPack games do use eco-friendly raw materials too as well as using non-toxic printing ink, non-toxic play mats etc. They have said that they are working closely with their clients and suppliers and producing more green products than ever before. They have also planted lots of trees around the factory to contribute towards offsetting their carbon emissions. The plastic pieces do seem well made and I would hope that they will be usable for a long time. Of course to properly test that I would have to schedule this review for when I’m passing the games on to great-grandchildren. When I look at the components in some of my retro games I am amazed how long they have remained intact and I hope that these games will have long and productive lives.
LongPack of course produce cards of various thickness and finish and dice with all sorts of designs as well as standard dice. The picture shows the dice that come with the car racing game – Caracho. LongPack also offer consultancy so you can always chat to them about your ideas. I know that the fact I haven’t played all of these means that there will be parts that I have underappreciated, that play into the mechanic or work really well but I hope this has given you some ideas whatever stage of design you are at.

You can try out these fab games at a Cards or Die event.
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C*****mas Cracker Games from the Dark Imp

I know you don’t want me to use the C word. Even though I absolutely love and embrace it, even I normally wait till Halloween is over before I start shopping and incrementally bedecking the house! But you can always rely on those Imps at Dark Imp Games to mess with the natural order of things and here they are with a Christmas Cracker so packed full of sustainable, eco friendly, gamey goodness that it’s impossible to avoid talking about CHRISTMAS! There I said it!
 
Christmas Crackers are an intrinsic part of many people’s traditional celebrations – even if the tradition involves forgetting to put them out and then opening them all on boxing day like we did so many times at my parents’. Over the years I have tried to avoid all the plastic throwaway junk that come with them – the tiny comb, the golf tee, the fortune fish, the moustache. While these small gifts are entertaining for a few minutes, sometimes longer with the little legs in the family, they inevitably end up in landfill. I have bought more expensive crackers but even the higher end of the cracker ‘gift’ range includes a lot of useless tat. The Dark Imp Christmas Cracker offers an impressive solution to this quandry.
 
The cardboard cracker contains 6 games and while it doesn’t bang or contain hats it does come with 6 puzzles and cheesy jokes that no Christmas Cracker would complete without. The whole package is eco-friendly – no plastic novelties here and no sneaky plastic coating that makes otherwise recyclable materials head straight to landfill. Instead you get sturdy cardboard and wooden pieces and an ethically produced cotton drawstring bag.
 
All the games play up to 6 people. The games are quick to learn, fun to play and are strategic enough to entertain all abilities making it a brilliant gift for any family. There is a variety of complexity so you can choose the perfect game to match your mood, alcohol level or food coma status! While you could just leave it on the games shelf and play these clever little games all year round, ours is going to live with the Christmas decorations and become part of our traditions on Christmas day.
 
IMPrudent
The aim in Imprudent is to win the most cubes by playing cards with matching features. When you play cards you either draw up and/ or take cubes depending on the number of cards you play. The more cards you play, the more cubes you get and the fewer cards. The tricky part is you don’t just draw up cards, if you can’t go or get low on cards you need to buy them from the draw pile with your cubes. The first to get to 15 cubes triggers the end of the game.
 
We loved balancing trying to gain cubes with having enough cards in hand. It took us a couple of rounds to get our heads round which strategies to implement and we’ve had fun trying different ones out.
 
IMPressive
In IMPressive you need to collect the most sets of imps with matching features by selecting cards from the draw pile or the row of cards to the right of it. You can take the furthest card for free or you can pay cubes to take a different card. They become more expensive the closer they are to the draw pile. When you choose a card that has cubes on already you gain those too. But as you start with only 5 cubes it’s important that you choose carefully. You also need to watch out for what others are collecting to make sure you can get what you need to win.
 
IMPetuous
IMPetuous is a game of speed. Turn over cards and race your opponents to shout out which is the most common feature visible. This is brilliant with 6 – loads of chaotic shouting out and the pressure to be the first to shout out the right answer makes this a great laugh for everyone.
 
IMPassive
To win IMPassive you need to manipulate the value of the imps and select the right score cards. The game takes place over only 4 rounds so each play must be carefully considered – it’s imperative in fact! From your hand of four cards you select 2 scoring cards (these allow you to score the number of cubes next to that colour imp at the end of the game). By playing cards from your hand you can either move the imps (using the colour) or place cubes (next to the screen of the matching number). You can also swap which cards it is you will score for. In this way you can manipulate your imps and your score cards to make sure that at the end of the game you have score cards which match the imps with the most cubes. But you also need to consider that you score additional points for the screen number your imp is next to – so the higher the number, the higher the score.
 
There is a tremendous amount to consider in this quick, little game. On top of weighing up what you are going to aim for you also need to consider your opponents – will they be trying to get their imp to the high scoring screens or will they stick to the lower scoring ones but try to get more cubes behind them? What strategy lies behind their impenetrable facial expression? Should you focus on achieving your goal or try to mess up your opponents? So many choices…. so little time…. which leads me neatly on to …
 
IMPatient
IMPatient is a racing game where by voting for your imp you can watch as it hurdles its way to victory. But if two people vote for the same imp, it doesn’t move and if three people vote for it, it goes backwards. Before revealing our voting cards we scrutinised each other’s faces in an effort to deduce what had been played. I wouldn’t fancy playing Derren Brown at this one!
 
IMPulsive
Each player shows how many cubes they are placing behind their screen and then you choose whose cubes you will try to claim. Win cubes by being the only person to lay claim to a set of cubes. You could play it safe or take a risk but whatever you do you are banking on no-one else doing the same. I love this mechanic. It makes me wish I’d invested more time honing my mind reading skills.
 
We have really enjoyed learning all these new games. So many of them encourage you to have fun trying out various ideas and strategies and the reliance on that unpredictable human element makes them different every time.
 
Will this replace crackers in our house? While it isn’t exactly the same as 6 crackers with snaps, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with wasting money on something each year that impacts the environment so negatively and I’m more than happy to have this as a replacement. I’m amazed by the diversity in these games – with just some cubes, 6 screens, 6 imps and one deck of cards Dark Imp games have created something impeccable. So, whether you are looking for something to replace your crackers or something additional to add to the table – this is a fabulous idea.
 
Give it a try at one of Cards or Die’s events – it’s always in the bag over the festive period.
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Quirk! Now with added mischief!

Quirk! is a quick to learn and play card game for 2 – 6 players aged 5+. You can adjust the level of challenge and the length of play from 15mins to up to 60mins. It contains two decks which makes it super flexible.
The object of Quirk! is to collect the most sets of three cards (called Quirks) – you do this by acting out the creature on your card and taking cards from your opponents.
 
How to Play
You start with three character cards, if you fall below three, you draw up. Character cards form sets of three and the person with the most sets wins! So just remember that three is the magic number and you are half way to learning how to play!
 
Now for the fun bits! On your turn you choose a card in your hand, choose an opponent and act out the creature on your card. You can use sounds and actions but you mustn’t describe the character or say its name. If your opponent has one or two of that card they must give them to you.
And if they think your pirate is a parrot and give you the wrong cards? That’s their loss – you get to keep the cards. But maybe rethink your plans to audition for the next Pirates of the Caribbean film.
 
Pro Tip – even if you know what they are doing I like to feign confusion for a good while so that they really have to work for the card. That means that even if you sacrifice a card you are laughing! This is especially satisfying if you have graduated to the more challenging deck. I’m always playing with the secret secondary objective of ‘How long can I make someone be a Bigfoot for?’
 
If you are unsuccessful and you don’t gain a card, you must ‘Go Quirk!’ – which means you pick a card up from the draw pile.
 
As soon as you get a set of three or a ‘Quirk’ you place it in front of you face up. Once 13 Quirks are face up on the table, the game ends and you count up your Quirks to find out who won.
 
Action Cards
These special cards are used once and then removed from the game so use them wisely. They allow you to disrupt others plans! You can stop someone in their tracks, preventing them from asking you for a character. There are 5 steal cards which allow you to steal complete Quirks from your opponents but only 3 block cards which prevent people from stealing. Each deck has it’s own set of these so you can play about with these balances if you want to.
 
Double the Decks = Double the chaos!
I absolutely love the fact this comes with two decks – it gives you so much flexibility. You can adjust difficulty by substituting some of the easier ones for more challenging ones or simply adding extra sets for a longer game. If it’s additional chaos you crave sling in some extra Mischief or actions. You can use a mixture of characters to up the challenge or stick to the easier deck if you prefer.
 
Challenge
The game is suitable for 5 years plus but I have played it with younger ones and just removed the action cards to make it super easy. There’s no reading requirement in the game apart from the Mischief Cards which do have visual prompts so that makes it more accessible too. The action cards are colour coded but the artwork is clear and distinctive and symbols are also used for clarity. For instance the block cards feature a large shield.
 
Mischief
You may recognise the distinctive artwork, the title or the game itself from the earlier version of Quirk. That’s because Emma May from Emmerse Studios has worked closely with Gibsons Games to bring you new characters, a simpler, clearer design, a honed mechanic and new mischief cards. The work Emmerse Studios is doing on character development is really clear from this new design and I’m loving watching Mischief grow!
 
The Mischief cards add a fun and chaotic challenge to the game making you redistribute your hard earned Quirks, passing hands on or gaining an extra card. These cards are played and come into effect immediately. My two absolute favourites are the statue still/ sounds only for a round and the actions only for a round. It is also worth noting that each deck has it’s own set of Mischief cards so you could add extras in. As if I wasn’t making you work hard enough for that Big Foot card – these are a gift!! Plus the sight of Mischief wielding a megaphone brings a smile to my face!
 
Over the year Mischief has become a character all of his own – starring in his very own book all about having the courage to be yourself. So, if you are enjoying this character in Quirk it’s worth checking out the book too.
 
Quirk is a great family game for all ages and the fact it plays up to 6 players is brilliant. And when I say all ages – I really mean ‘all’. Like many great family games, if you get a group of adults playing it, it is just as entertaining. We just need to give ourselves permission to let go, have fun and embrace our quirkiness!
Make sure you have a game when you’re next at a Cards or Die event.
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BuzzleBox – a bundle of games, puzzles and family time.

The Buzzlebox, created by Dark Imp Games is a selection of games and puzzles delivered to your door for the whole family to play with and figure out together. At the moment there are two themed choices available- Gardens and Chickens or Doughnuts and Cake. With a Space themed box on it’s way soon. Dark Imp games very kindly gifted us the Doughnuts and Cake box. There are 5 of us in my family – all with different, yet often, overlapping tastes in games. The children are 15, 13 and 12.
As soon as you start opening the box, the fun begins. There were stickers on the box which related to one of the three puzzles. These stickers were everywhere – on the back of things, on the letter, inside a packet of card games – a really simple touch that made it immediately engaging. It’s also worth noting that there is no excess packaging or plastic which is a breath of fresh air when so many companies overlook the importance of this.
 
Doughnut Dash
I approached Doughnut Dash with trepidation. Anyone who knows me or has ever been in the car with me knows that my sense of direction is non-existent. So, when I saw the direction cards and read some of the sugar rush action cards – my heart sank. However, I am happy to report that I navigated the game successfully (multiple times) and I really enjoyed it. There are cards which clearly label the directions and the cards that allow you to change direction all contain an example which I’m sure was put there for younger players but was totally vital to me!
 
You are running a pair of impish thieves who must make their way round the factory stealing doughnuts from the shelves and from other thieves that they encounter. The theme is brilliant with lovely wooden components that are pretty and bright. We played it with 2, 3 and 4 players and it was brilliant each time. My only complaint is that it didn’t play 5. It is rare that we can get all 5 of us to play the same game at the same time – for once they were all interested in playing together and so we played in different groups but it was a shame we couldn’t play all together.
 
I have spoken to one of the Dark Imps and it turns out they have psychically resolved my concerns by designing the next box (which is Space themed) to include a 3-6 and a 2-9 player game which is awesome. I look forward to ordering one of those!
 
One of the really nice things about this game is that you can try out different strategies – there are lots of different layers to the game which gives us plenty of incentive to play it again and again. For instance the Sugar Rush cards help you out by allowing you to adjust which direction you travel in or to swap some cards but if you can save them they are worth points at the end of the game. And the more helpful the card, the higher the value if you can avoid using it. Another clever idea is the rainbow frosted doughnuts which actually start off costing you points but if you can collect a set they are incredibly valuable. It makes collecting them a risky strategy but then choosing not to collect might leave them all for one other player – do you want to give away those points? It’s questions and balances like this that make the game fun and varied.
 
Top Cake
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In Top Cake you are a hotelier competing to create the finest cake at the industry’s leading luxury trade show. You must bid against other hoteliers to grab the finest layers to construct your showstopper. But of course, it’s not so easy: bids are hidden, a reverse cards allows you to switch so that the lowest bid wins, a snatch card allows you to trump any bid but only once per game, the first player token doubles as a tantalising 1/2 point bid and if you match bid cards with another player your cards are returned to you! These are a few of the intricacies which make this such a great, thinky game. Played over 5 rounds you need to think quickly and decisively. Cake waits for no man!
 
Of course, you’ve also got the attraction of building a deliciously illustrated cake or a spooky looking cake which of course I gravitated towards. Unfortunately some swine snatched my bat cake topper. I’d have won if it wasn’t for those pesky bat stealing kids.
 
Top Cake plays 2 to 4 players and is definitely more fun with more people. Like Doughnut Dash your strategies are strongly influenced by what other people do; you need to continuously adapt. In this way the games in the box are perfectly designed. They are supposed to ‘help you reclaim family time by playing board games together’ and they definitely achieve that. There is a lot of interaction in all the games in the box, you need to be acutely aware of each other and each others’ decisions.
 
Puzzles
Even as I was still unpacking the box, I uttered the word ‘puzzle’ , pondered aloud about where all the stickers were and what they meant, and my 15 year old was immediately all over it. He absolutely loves a good puzzle. The first task of finding all the stickers in various places had him hooked. He was so keen to get going and the girls were working so rather than keep him waiting (or worse, risk loss of interest!) I actually photocopied the puzzles so he could get stuck in straightaway.
 
Despite 15s head start he graciously gave the others the thinking time they needed and didn’t blurt out all the answers so we were able to work together to get one of the puzzles completed. We don’t have a great family record in this area.
 
On recent holidays we have completed treasure hunts that you can buy from the Tourist Information shops. They are great fun and everyone loves doing them but they are always a source of contention. This fun holiday activity always culminates in me clutching the clues to me so no-one else can see and a strict ruling about not blurting out answers before other people have chance to think or speak. My son is particularly talented at both puzzles and irritating his siblings so these measures are necessary. So I was ready – hence the photocopying and the ‘Don’t tell your sisters any answers and DO NOT give them clues unless they ask for them’ ruling. However, I’m sure other (less mad) families won’t need to worry about that.
 
The first puzzle we did was a good mix of clues carefully pitched to play to each of our strengths; some the children couldn’t have got and some that my partner and I had no idea of that the kids got immediately. I thought it was well balanced and we were forced to work together which is both the purpose and the attraction of the Buzzle Box.
 
Unfortunately we were stumped by the other two puzzles – they were just too tricky for us. But, by following the link on the puzzle card we got some clues which led us to our three cake related words. I’ve chatted with one of the Dark Imps and she is looking at both the difficulty level of puzzles and considering different ways of helping people to access clues in later boxes. Once you have all the clues you can unlock the secret page on the website.
 
Coaster Game
One of our favourites was the 2 player game on a coaster. The one we got was quick to learn and quite straightforward. You each choose an image on the grid and then ask questions to deduce the whereabouts of your opponent’s chosen image. The images are cute and colourful, the game is very appealing and can be played over and over again. Our 12 year old particularly enjoyed this one. It played 2 players but was fairly quick so it was fine to just take turns playing. It’s the kind of game I tend to have in my bag to whip out if anyone uses the ‘B’ word. That’s bored by the way. I’m not sure board games can stop them swearing, if anything they make my partner worse!
 
You can also buy most of the component parts of the Buzzle Box separately on the website. But honestly I think the box is such good value that the coasters and place mats are the only things I would consider buying separately. The coasters are sold in packs of 120 for only £16.99- they are perfect for weddings or for board games or family cafes. They are a perfect little gift or freebie to give to people if you’re in a games related business.
 
Game Cards
This pack of three games just needed a deck of cards, pen and paper. I really liked the fact that it included a 1, 2 and 3 player game as it meant that we could all play them kind of at the same time. I’ve had a lot of fun playing the solo game – it’s a patience type game with a puzzle element. My 13 year old really loves traditional style card games so this whole pack was right up her street. I can see the Gooseberry Fool game being a regular family games night feature and I know she’ll want to teach her friends when she can get together with them again. Gooseberry Fool uses a trick taking mechanism which is very familiar and easy to understand. But more importantly it’s a fun little game.
The instruction cards are clear and easy to follow but there is also a link to a ‘how to play’ video which is always helpful.
 
The Buzzle boxes cost £49.99 and for that you get: 6 original games; 3 puzzles all centred around an engaging theme;
as well as family time, away from distraction, screen free. We really enjoyed ours and the hours of entertainment we have had from it so far make it excellent value. There are loads of reasons to treat the family to a Buzzlebox or it would make a great gift for another family. For us it will the perfect addition next time we are going on holiday. We always take games with us and having tried one of the boxes I would be confident taking this pack of new games as a holiday treat. We usually go camping in the UK so it will be perfect for that ‘occasional’ rainy day!
 
Join us at a Cards or Die event and try out some of Dark Imp’s awesome games.
 
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Strikerz! For Footy Fans Everywhere.

Get the orange segments ready, we’re kicking off a game of Strikerz.
 
Strikerz from Caper Games is a quick, fun 2 player game based on a game of Football (or soccer as it says on the box). Just as in football you need to score more goals than your opponent to win. But unlike an actual game of football it takes nowhere near 90 minutes! It takes somewhere between 15 – 30 minutes for a game. It is a fast paced set collection game with a quirky mechanic for taking a shot at goal. And if you are stuck on a draw after the final whistle blows, you get to have a penalty shoot out.
 
The game itself comes in a tiny box, the size of a pack of playing cards. The box contains the two teams you need (red and blue – particularly pleasing for the Liverpool/ Manchester contingent!); goal cards to keep track of the score; action cards – yellow card, red card, whistle, manager & offside; keeper’s right & left glove for each team plus shoot at goal cards.
 
How to Play
  • Deal a hand of four cards to each player.
  • On your turn you draw a card either from the deck or the top of the discard pile (as long as it isn’t an action card) and either play a card or, discard one and shoot at goal.
  • In order to shoot at goal you need either four of your team’s jerseys; a set of jerseys comprising a midfielder, a striker and a defender, or a total of cards worth 30+ points.
  • To shoot, you select a ball card kicking the ball either to the left or right of the goal. To defend you select a right or left glove indicating which corner you will jump towards to save the ball. The cards are marked so that when you line them up and flip your card you can see straightaway if you have scored. See images below.
Action Cards
 
Manager – this card allows you to swap in one of your higher value substitutes.
Red Card – one of your opponent’s cards is removed from the game
Yellow Card – one of your opponents’s cards is placed at the bottom of the discard pile
Offside – draw two cards and discard two cards
Whistle – your opponent misses a turn and you go again.
If you are still on a no score draw when you have played through the deck twice (the two halves) first of all you play extra time (play once more through the deck). Still nil-nil? Then it goes to a penalty shoot out. Take it in turns to shoot at goal.
 
The shooting is my favourite part. Trying to second guess which card your opponent will play has meant that all those hours watching Derren Brown on the telly haven’t gone to waste. Although at one point I caught my son out – I believed it was the intense staring that had psyched him out but actually I had got my left and right confused. So I also offer that as a tactic. No-one can guess what you’re going to do if you have no idea yourself!
 
I grew up saturated with football (with a Scouse family it was inevitable) but I’m not the greatest fan myself. Still I really enjoyed this game and definitely if you love football this is one that has been lovingly designed for you. It is so much more than just football themed, instead it mimics a game of football using strikers, defenders and midfielders who must play together well to shoot, subs, red and yellow cards and the shoot at goal mechanism. If you want to get a football lover playing more games with you then this is definitely a way to tempt them in.
It’s a fun, snappy little game and I can’t wait to take it out to events and get people playing.
We are grateful to Caper Games for supporting Cards or Die by donating this copy of the game and also making a donation on our KoFi during this challenging time for the business.

Join us at a Cards or Die event for a game.
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Tapeworm Review.

f you’ve been to any of my events you’ll know that usually you can tell me which game you have enjoyed and I can reliably recommend something you’ll like. And, if you want to play a game but don’t have enough players I can suggest a good alternative. But occasionally my brain goes a bit wibbly. For example the people who told me they had enjoyed Ticket to Ride so I then wittered on at length about other games with trains in until they stopped me and said ‘We’re not especially interested in trains….’ Then there was the couple who wanted to play Who Did It? but you need three players for that so I recommended my two other poo themed games – Poo! or Dino Dump. They were surprised that I was able to hone in on that theme and offer alternative poo themed games. Well! Great news. There’s more where that came from!
 
Tapeworm is the new family card game from Edmund McMillen (creator of The Binding of Isaac, Super Meat Boy and more…) featuring cute, confused, gross and slightly sinister worms. The art work is fabulous – lots of gross details like worms on worms, bright colours, even the angry red worm looks quite sweet! However, google caution is advised – if you’re searching make sure you include card game and don’t, don’t click on images!
The game itself is quick to learn, quick to play and the mechanics are not difficult at all making it perfect for families with little ones. As long as you can colour match, you can play. Each player starts with 5 cards and the winner is the first to get rid of all their cards. On your turn, you draw a card and place one of your worm cards on a matching colour segment. You can keep playing matching cards until you play a card with a head on or a card which changes the colour. You can also get rid of bonus cards if you can steer your worms into a circle.
So despite the worms wiggling their way through the ‘tunnels’ it all seems very gentile. Cute even? Right? Wrong. As well as getting rid of your cards on your turn you also get to mess up your opponents’ plans using special actions. Perfect.
You can get rid of your crap cards by swapping them with others, discarding to the top of the draw pile, you can chop the worms up removing some dead ends from play, make others pick cards up. Generally dump all over their plans! And yes I’m still laughing at poo- I know I’m a rubbish adult.
 
The scissors cards (pictured left) let you cut a segment or segments of a worm of the corresponding colour away. On the right you can see the special symbols for swapping, peeking, digging and making someone pick up a card.
 
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Tapeworm is available on Kickstarter right now and is absolutely flying. Over £120,000 of a £20,000 target! Click the link to find out more.
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Death on the Cards – Agatha Christie

Unveil and apprehend the murderer in this clever sleuthing card game.
Plays 2-6
Age 10+
Playing Time 30mins
“It is the brain, the little grey cells on which one must rely. One must seek out the truth within” Poirot.
 
In Death on the Cards you must work together, exercising your little grey cells to identify the murderer! The game is well packaged with charming art work. You might argue that there are more important factors in choosing games but a literature related pun, a sturdy box with a magnetic closer and pretty cards go a long way in my book!
 
The game plays very differently depending on the number of players. With 5 or 6 players you have both a murderer and an accomplice to uncover. With just 2 players, you know who the murderer is from the get-go so it’s just a straightforward but frenetic game of cat and mouse. I was pleasantly surprised that it works just as well with any number of people. It’s a different game but just as much fun.
 
The basic premise is the same however many players you have – the murderer must exhaust the draw pile to reveal the ‘Murderer Escapes’ card which depicts them gleefully skipping off into the distance with nary a care in the world. Meanwhile the detectives try to prevent them from depleting the draw pile. In addition, should the murderer reveal everyone’s secrets the murderer wins while should the murderer’s secrets be revealed the murderer loses.
Secrets.
Each player is given 3 secrets at the beginning – you might not be the murderer but you’ve all committed various social faux pas and we all want more details on your involvement in the ‘vicarage incident’ . When all 3 of your secrets are revealed you are frozen out of the game unless you are the murderer in which case you’ve been rumbled. If the murderer succeeds in revealing all three of everyone’s cards then they have escaped. Once they’ve heard all your despicable secrets they’ll be able to set up a lucrative career as a blackmailer so you need to work together to make sure that definitely doesn’t happen.
 
You must closely observe the other players in order to work out who the murderer is. Are they deliberately drawing lots of cards? What kinds of cards are they playing? What cards are they discarding? Or are you just going to go on instinct? As Christie herself once said “Instinct is a marvellous thing. It can neither be explained nor ignored”.
 
The Detectives
There are 7 different detectives that you can use to force others to reveal secrets. To play them you need to collect a matching set or use the Harley Quinn wild card with them. And, once played you can add to an existing set in order to repeat that action. They’re all there: Poirot and Marple of course, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford and my new favourite – Lady Bundle Brent. Each detective acts slightly differently and each card has a different quotation from that character. It is nice touches like this that really make the game for me.
Other actions
The actions are cleverly balanced to benefit either the murderer or the detectives. For instance Look into the Ashes cards allow you to choose a card from the discard pile while the Early Train to Paddington allows you to move six cards from the draw pile to the discard pile: each of these affects the speed the draw pile reduces thereby either abetting or hampering the murderer’s escape.
 
The Point Your Suspicions card is a fun card which, timed well, can have a significant impact on the game. When played all players point to the person they suspect. Although it just forces the most pointed at player to reveal a secret, there is much to be deduced from people’s actions here. Remember “If you are to be Hercule Poirot, you must think of everything” No clue is too small to be overlooked by your keen detective’s mind.
 
The Not So Fast, You Fiend! card allows you to counter most actions – a very useful mechanism. Similar to the Nope card people are often familiar with in Exploding Kittens. Each player starts with one of these cards but when to play it? Do you cancel this action or wait in case something even worse is in store for you?
The game comes with player aid cards which summarise your turn for you. Plus all the cards have clear instructions on and that along with a well written instruction booklet makes the game quick and easy to learn. It’s well worth lingering over the flavour text though.
 
Agatha Christie’s Death on the Cards is a triumph – it has been a hit at home and at events. Whether you are taking tea at the vicarage, enjoying a train journey, sojourning up the Nile or simply having friends for supper – it really is the perfect addition to your evening.
 
Come along to a Cards or Die event and have a game with us.
Find out more about Agatha Christie and the game here: https://www.agathachristie.com/games/death-on-the-cards