Kosmos, 2014

Dimension is a fast-paced puzzle game where each player has three balls each of five different colors. Six rule cards are dealt into the center of the table, then all players must attempt to build a stack of balls on their player board that follows all of the rules on the rule cards.

Rules may be: Certain colors of balls must or must not be touching other colors, you may need to use a specific number of balls of one color, or colors may or may not be stacked above or below others. Players have one minute to complete their stack of spheres. Once time runs out, each player receives a point for each sphere they used, and a bonus token if they met all the rules and used at least one ball of each of the five colors. You lose two points for each rule you didn’t follow correctly.  Bonus tokens are very important becuase you receive negative points at the end of the game if you have less than two bonus tokens. Players play six rounds to determine a winner.

This is a fun, fast-paced, brain burner of a puzzle game. It’s best for quick thinkers. I really like puzzle games and enjoy this, but have some difficulty with keeping similar card types straight when trying to build quickly. The rule cards are symbols and I am most often tripped up by the above/below cards.





In the example on the left, blue must not be placed below any other spheres, so all blue spheres must be placed on a top layer. In the example on the right, orange spheres must not be placed above any othere sphere, so is only placed correctly if placed on the bottom layer. The white triangle in the background makes sure that you know which way is “up” on the card. I find it takes me extra precious time remembering which rule I am looking at. Players who play this game a lot will probably overcome this. I see this problem a lot since I am usually playing with people unfamiliar with the game.

Also, it is very difficult to watch the timer and play at the same time. I wish they could have included more of an egg timer, rather than a sand timer. I tend to use my phone’s stopwatch feature instead of the included timer. So quick play makes this game exciting, but very similar looking rule cards make it somewhat thinky and frustrating. If you like puzzling fast-paced games, give Dimension. Recommendation: not for everyone.

WhatTheFoodWhat the Food?!
Squirmy Beast, 2013

FOOD FIGHT! In this silly, fun, card game, you pick up and throw funny food combos at other kids and attempt to avoid the humiliation of getting hit yourself. Bright, colorful cards and funny food combos make this a fun, lightweight game that is great for families or the young-at-heart.

What the Food?! comes with 10 different characters, and a deck of various food and action cards. Players start with a character ID Card which comes with a specialized action card for that character. Each player also receives a targeting card in their favorite condiment flavor (ketchup, mustard, relish, etc). The condiment flavor has no game effect, but is a nice thematic touch. All the non-event cards are shuffled and 2 cards dealt to each player. The event cards are then shuffled into the deck and play begins. The player who ate last, or player with the relish condiment becomes the first player and receives the first player token. Again, in a nice thematic touch, a cute little hamburger piece is used as the first player token. Each player also receives a set of basic starting actions (duck, throw and grab).

Each round, players use their target card to point to another player, then chooses three of their actions to play that round, placing them in a face down pile in front of them with their first action on top. Simultaneously, each action is revealed and resolved with players either throwing food, attempting to duck a throw, or using a special power. Those players who get hit suffer a humiliation token. The first player to 10 humiliation loses the game. Play ends immediately and the player with the least humiliation wins.

The quality of the cards and pieces is very nice, with beautiful thematic art and funny content. On the surface, it may come across as a kids’ game, but is really great for adults and teens. It has a nice balance and the action cards give a lot of choices. Many times it comes to out-guessing your opponents and playing the right combination at the right times, which may be off-putting to some folks. I have played this with a variety of folks, many of whom were a little wary of it at first, but almost everyone has had a great time with the game.

If you are looking for a great family game, with a little complexity and a lot of hilarity, pick up What the Food?! Highly recommended and would make a great gift!

MadScientistUniversityMad Scientist University
Atlas Games, 2005

Mad Scientist University is a light, simple, storytelling party game. Each player is a student at Mad Scientist University. In turn, each player will get to be the TA. The TA will give each player an Unstable Element Card (Aluminum Cans, Penguin, Lawn Gnomes, etc). Then the TA will give the group an Insane Assignment (Take over the world!). Each player must create a story on how they will use their Unstable Element to achieve the assignment. The TA will choose the best story to win the assignment. After three rounds of play, (Each person will TA once per round) the student with the most won assignment wins the game.

We have had a lot of fun with this game. The Unstable Elements cards have just the right amount of wacky wierdness to make the storytelling easy and fun. The Assignments are general enough to be able to give players a good amount of latitude in their storytelling.  We were playing with the base game and the spring break expansion, and much fun and hilarity ensued. There are several more expansions of the game available, which will give the game more replay value.

If you like storytelling games, then you will very likely enjoy Mad Scientist University. Recommended.