ChiTag was over more than a week ago, and I’ve yet to do a recap but it’s because I have to PLAY the games I found there before I review them to make sure I actually like them. (duh) This year there were TONS of games to play and buy at the open-to-the-public fair on Chicago’s Navy Pier and I covered a bunch of them in the preview article and I’ve also written articles about many of the games like Word on the Street, Triviathon, Blurt and Backseat Drawing. But there were two new games that stood out when I made my rounds.
The first game embodies WHY to go to the fair. The game is Eleminis and it’s the first game from a company called Smileypop. The inventor, his family and friends were working the booth teaching people how to play the easy-to-learn card game and selling it to anyone interested in taking a copy home. This kind of product is definitely going to be hard to find in stores and I often don’t review games with distribution as small as theirs because it’s too hard for you, my wonderful readers, to find and buy. And it’s just mean for me to say “it’s awesome, but good luck finding one!”
In Eleminis the goal is to collect 5 different Elimini (Plant, Air, Water, Rock and Fire). Every player can have up to 5 cards in front of them at a time and on your turn you draw a card and place an Elemini in a blank space in front of you, or you can replace one of your own or one of your opponent’s Eleminis. Each Elemini card can replace 2 other Eleminis and these icons are shown in the corner of the card. This allows you to replace one of your own eleminis if you have a duplicate or you can make trouble for your opponents and create duplicates in their set of cards by replacing one of their eleminis. In the deck there are also cards that allow you to move a card from one player to another, discard Eleminis and swap Eleminis which keeps things interesting. Then there are there are Stars which are wild Eleminis and the black sheep of the family, the Trash which you need to remove from your hand before you win. The game takes less than a minute to learn and plays well with 3-5 players (although I didn’t have a chance to test it with more than 5, I can say it wasn’t my fave with just 2 players.)
The other game I played A LOT at the fair is a game from a large manufacturer you may have heard of, Spin Master. They got back into the world of games after buying some of Imagination Entertainment’s products and adding some new stuff to their portfolio including this new game called Stomple. It’s very easy abstract strategy and the goal is to be the last player to have their Stomper on the board. The board is a 7×7 grid of marbles and players use Stompers to push these different colored marbles through the holes the marbles sit in. On your turn you push down or “stomp” a marble adjacent to your Stomper’s position on the board. If there is a marble of the same color adjacent to the one you just stomped you must do that one too until there are no marbles of the same color next your stomper. At anytime you may move to another part of the board by jumping to and stomping a marble that matches the color of your Stomper. This is particularly useful when you find your Stomper with no marbles nearby since you MUST stomp a marble on each turn. If you can’t stomp a marble on your turn you must remove you Stomper from the board and you’re done for the round. But if your Stomper is the last one on the board you get 1 point for each marble left and 3 points for special red cat’s eye marbles. You can play by counting rounds won or play to a certain total, either way it’s quick and very satisfying to stomp stuff!
Both of these games are quick to learn and play which makes them fun to play both at game fairs and at home. And a quick thanks to Greg Zima, inventor of Stomple and Matt Laird, inventor of Eleminis for showing me their games at the fair!
~$11 at Amazon
2-8 Players (not great with 2 players)
~5-10 minutes per round
Ages 7 and Up
~$30 at Amazon now and other game stores
~5 minutes per round
Ages 8 and Up