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March 2004 | Vol. III - No. 3


Adult Board Games Make A Comeback

The latest adult board games reflect a trend toward special occasions and one-time celebrations, such as St. Valentine’s Day and family reunions. And with baby boomers’ knees buckling from decades of running and jumping, new board games must offer exercise for the competitive spirit.

Filial Piety & Impropriety

Bob McClure invented a game that explores the anecdotes, achievements, scandals and cast of personalities that characterize generations of a family. FamilyLore ($39.95) (ToyShow) uses generic Story Cards divided among 20 categories covering ancestors, traditions, birth stories, pets and other ingredients in a family’s heritage. Sales of the game have already outgrown McClure’s website, so 2004 is an opportune year to branch out to retailers across the country.

Read My Mind

Twice Toyfair Game of the Year, Cranium gives birth to another riveting joyride for players, ages “8 to 88.” Cranium Conga ($19.95) is a “guess what I’m thinking game” that starts with categories of Star Performer Soundstage, Creative Cat Sculptorades, Data Head Guesstimator and Word Worm Mindreader. The difference is players answer their own questions and hope that their pals know them to the core. For instance, who else knows “How many seconds can you hold your breath?” Or, “does that girl’s boyfriend really know what her dream job is?”

Render Your Alms

Late for the Sky has updated Bibleopoly ($24.95; ages 8 and up) with even greater faithfulness to biblical times than the 1991 version. As examples, players now barter ‘offerings’ instead of money and the jail has been replaced by meditation time. The soul of the original game survives with the cities of Caesarea, Jerusalem and Nazareth assisting two to six players’ facility with the Old and New Testaments. No need to be a theologian to participate. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the company has grown and evolved from hand-assembled games to a computerized, multi-colored printing press.

Bricks & Martyrs

From Rio Grande Games (ToyShow) comes Carcassonne ($22.95), a tile-laying game that involves European history and strategy. The object of the game’s two to five players (ages 10 and up) is to build up the infrastructure of the area surrounding their city and place their followers optimally on the roads, in the cities, fields and cloisters. The city’s expansion isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Pop Trivia

ociety continues to churn out an unending supply of pop trivia. Hasbro Games has corralled much of it into Trivial Pursuit: DVD Pop Culture Edition ($39.99). Just like in the original, players move along the board until they land on a colored space for scoring pieces. Press Play on the DVD player and view one of the DVD’s 600 video questions.

Love & Harmony

Most board games stimulate the competitive gene, but An Enchanting Evening ($25) by Time for Two tickles the libido. Gently put instructions on cards encourage playfulness and intimacy. The Doubletree Inn, Holiday Inn and Hilton Hotels have made the game the center of recent weekend romance promotions.

Word Play

During the holidays, Friendly Games test-marketed Jargon ($29.95; ages 10 and up) through Barnes & Noble bookstores, which proved highly successful. Unlike Scrabble, Jargon lets players present any word they please. There are 40 Jargon cards with categories ranging from Sports to Hollywood.

Everybody Plays

Lagoon Games offers four games in tins to enliven get-togethers and parties. Its Complete Family Games ($20-$25) supplements its 25 kid-friendly games, including tiddlywinks and Yahtzee, with a kit enabling dramatic play and containing fun recipes and party invitations. Its Complete Whodunit Mysteries tin ($20 to $25) lets players choose from 10 scenarios and suggests costumes to bring realism to the crime scene.

Hail to the Chief!

Talicor (ToyDirectory) has revived sales of Proverbial Wisdom ($29.95; ages 10+), invented by ex-lawyer Jordan Pine. The card and sketch game uses a 60-second timer to push four to 16 players to draw an expression, such as to paint yourself into a corner, but that´s not all. Some of the 500 cards list proverbs with a choice of three possible explanations of their origin or meaning. As caucuses and primaries heat up, Talicor reissues Oval Office: The Race to Be President ($29.95; ages12 and up). Players earn tokens for answering American history questions and move among the map of 50 states, but the winner will be the one with a method to his madness — i.e., a campaign strategy.

Walk on High Heels, Lugubriously

Riot Act ($19.99, ages 12 and up) adds spiked punch to charades. Instead of pretending to lay an egg, players pull a card from the ‘Action’ deck, so the challenge might be to lay an egg ‘sadly,’ or two other methods listed on each card. Teams take 30-second turns acting and guessing the impersonation and its manner of execution. The game originated from Endless Games, the publishers of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon board game and the second coming of the TV-inspired Password and the Newlywed Game.


University Games has its finger super-glued to pop culture’s pulse starting with the launch of Battle of the Sexes: Simpsons Edition ($29.99). Simpsons fans answer such Homeric questions as: “How many U.S. cities are named Springfield?” A few might go on to excel at The Perfect Ten ($34.99), which will have MENSA geniuses doubting their knowledge of Keats, Kobe and Kofi.

Card Tips

Dicey ($12) is the new game from Great American Puzzle Factory, Inc. The card-stacking game has Jenga and dice games coursing through its box. Turn by turn, players battle to balance formations of cards dictated by dice without toppling over the tower. This spring, Great American also launches Imposter ($30), which has adults picking from 400 multiple-choice cards and sniff out the item on the card that doesn´t belong (for example, lightning, a bowling ball, ozone layer or bundt cake). The player will have to venture at least an educated guess, since he’ll have to explain the reason for his choice to score. (My guess: lightning, because everything else has at least one hole in it.)



Now there’s a hilarious new game by Fundex Games (ToyDirectory) that allows people to take a shot at advertising.  In AdVersity™ ($24.95, ages 18+), players must pair up popular ad slogans with products completely different than the ads were originally intended for.  The more successful ads that players can come up with, the more AdVersity™ cash they earn.  The game wonderfully combines elements of pop culture, creativity and cleverness.  Products include everything from beverages to chainsaws to underwear.  The game includes 400 ad slogans.    



Tony MaddelaWriter's Bio: Tony Maddela is a Grant Writer/Development Officer for Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. His wife is Susan, who also writes for, and they have a playful, clever daughter named Charlotte and Baby No. 2 due later this summer. He is working on another novel and is represented by the Wales Literary Agency in Seattle. Read more articles by this author



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