It’s been more well than a week since the Chicago Toy and Game Fair ended so I’ve had a chance to review what I saw there and I’ve chosen five games as my favorites from the show. In no particular order (because they’re so different!), here they are:
Ice Cool • Brain Games, 6+, ~20 minutes, 2-4 players, $37
As I’m sure many of you are aware, Ice Cool won the Kinderspiel des Jahres earlier this year and I was delighted to see so many people playing it at their ChiTAG booth. In fact, it took me a few trips back around to be able to try my skill at shooting the penguins because it was so busy! (Should have grabbed a mid-game pic but I was involved). Still, they were awesome enough to let me take a game home to try out and I’m just smitten. I love the box-in-a-box-in-a-box game board. When you take it out it really creates a massive play area. Additionally, I feel like there’s quite a bit of repeat play value because it’s so much more than a dexterity game. The idea is that everyone is a penguin in an ice school and they’re out looking for a snack. One player is like a hall monitor trying to catch the other players and in turn taking their student IDs. It’s a cute theme with a great board and fun dexterity mechanic. Really enjoyed!
Who’s the Dude? • Identity Games, 16+, time depends on number of players, 3-8 players, $20
Who’s the Dude? is just ridiculous! (In a good way!) It’s charades with a blow up doll. Some of the clues are easy where as some are totally absurd — overall, who wouldn’t get a bunch of great laughs out of watching their friends with a blow up doll?!
And as a fun side note. The people they get to work the Who’s the Dude? booth are always outstanding. I mean — look at this outfit! The woman at New York Toy Fair was rocking it too. I just wish I saw more fairgoers doing it… really hilarious to watch!
Truck Off • Adam’s Apple Games, 8+, ~20 minutes, 2-6 players, $25
Truck Off was successfully funded Kickstarter and has some of the most eye-catching artwork! It’s about food trucks and while I’m a sucker for great artwork, I think that this game was much more than a pretty box with pretty pieces. Players compete to be the food truck titan by getting the most sales over 5 days. You secretly send out food trucks to different venues and then a different sized die (D4-D20) is rolled to show how many people have showed up at that venue. Use cards to move around the food trucks or re-roll the dice and at the end of the round, all food trucks at a venue split the number of customers (sales). Truck Off is quick, easy to learn, and so yummy looking!
Soggy Doggy • Spin Master, 4+, ~10 minutes, 2-4 players, $15
Soggy Doggy is a fairly simple roll and move game where you land on a spot and press the button to see if the doggie will shake. Sometimes it’s just water shooting out but the magic is really when the dog shakes. They had an OUTSTANDING giant Soggy Doggy at ChiTAG but the little version is just as amazing. The material of the dog’s coat really makes it. And I’m not the only one who thought this was a stand out game — it also won the TAGIE award for the inventors, Don Ullman and Steve Calhoun.
Valence • Self published by Nathan Schreiber, 8+, ~15 min, 2-5 players (more fun with more), $25
As some of you know, I used to write for the Games for Educators website and this is a game I would have RAVED about on that site. It’s an amazing game to teach chemistry — you’re matching element cards to make molecules and using chemical reactions to break apart your opponents. If you’re a science geek it’s pretty awesome! It’s also in-your-face science but there’s this nice added ninja theme with nice artwork so it makes it enjoyable. I will say that playing it only a few times will definitely increase your understanding of chemistry whether you’re just learning it or if you need to brush up on the classes you took a decade or two ago. And yeah this isn’t an at-the-fair shot but I didn’t one that showed off the cards, only the box and that isn’t as cool.
That’s it! Cannot wait until next year!