This is a little different as this time we’re going to talk about two games at once. Why? Well, Jazz: The Singing Game and Them’s Fightin’ Words! arrived together on the same day, are from the same (small, British) publisher, and are, at heart, basically the same game. As a result, Miss B and I figured that we could discuss them both in one post.
I also mentioned Them’s Fightin’ Words when it was running on Kickstarter, so I figured it would be good to report and let you know that the product was delivered. A little late, but still pretty quickly after the end of the Kickstarter.
So, you may remember playing a game as a kid (or, more recently, with the kids) where you build a list and have to remember all the items on that list.
“I went on holiday and I packed a toothbrush.”
“I went on holiday and I packed a toothbrush and a comb.”
“I went on holiday and I packed a toothbrush, a comb and a cuddly hippopotamus.”
…and so on until someone loses track.
Well, both of these games are built on that foundation, with a different theme and slightly different scoring mechanisms in each.
In Jazz, you take it in turns to play cards bearing nonsense scat words and try to remember everything played so far (“Bip doop badda bop scoodily yeah!”), if you fail, you take the pile of played cards and play restarts. Whoever has the fewest cards when all the cards run out wins. Plus you can play “extended solo” cards to get out of trouble and reset the pile.
In Them’s Fightin’ Words! the cards have parts of a Wild West insult which steadily gets longer and more ludicrous (“You dirty, milk drinkin’, dung smellin’, son of a milk drinkin’ snake oil salesman!”). This time there is no get out of jail free card, and anyone who goes wrong three times is out of the game.
The important thing with games like these is to accessorise so, for our plays, we both wore sunglasses or cowboy hats as appropriate to the theme.
We played Jazz first and it went well with lots of smiles, though at a couple of points Miss B got frustrated by the ever-growing list of nonsense to remember. The Extended Solo cards in this game are a serious boon, though, allowing you to take a break when things are getting really tough. Maybe they make it too easy for adult play, but you can easily remove them if you prefer.
The next day we tried Them’s Fightin’ Words. Whereas Jazz has you choosing a card from your hand, TFW just has you flipping a card from your deck on each turn, which leaves you feeling that you don’t have any choices to make. But on the other hand, Miss B just found the game hysterically funny. This did mean that the game got louder and shriller as we progressed (especially when we started calling each other a low-down biscuit) but rarely have we had as much laughter in a game. In fact, where we usually end up shortening games, this time we extended play by going to six points instead of three.
We’re really happy with these games, and I look forward to using them as a filler with adult players (especially late night, with booze involved). I don’t think we really need to have both in the collection, but we will keep them just for the fun value. All very silly.
The verdict from Miss B (aged nearly 7): “I liked wearing my sunglasses indoors. That was silly as well, but not quite as silly as Them’s Fightin’ words! This time I gave it an 18 out of 20.”
The game: Jazz the Singing Game (7/5 games), 1 to 10 players aged 8+.
The other verdict from Miss B (aged nearly 7): “It was a really good game because it was really funny. I really liked the Cow Pie card. Here’s an example of what it could have been: You son of a milk drinkin’, dung smellin’, namby pamby, lily livered cow pie! I give it a 20 out of 20.”
The other game: Them’s Fightin’ Words (7/5 Games), 2 to 6 players aged 8+.
I picked up a game called Enuk at The Works just before Christmas. It is supposedly about a little Eskimo (that’s the term used in the game, even if it isn’t correct) boy helping his parents build an igloo while looking out for arctic wildlife. It looked cute and the reviews and ratings on The Geek weren’t bad for a kids’ game, so I picked it up.
This very much is a kids’ game. But what stops this from being a tile-matching memory game is a really neat little press-your-luck mechanic. You see, you turn over tiles and can keep turning over tiles until you choose to stop, you find a piece of the igloo, or animals start scaring each other off. Herring flee from salmon; salmon flee from seals, seals from polar bears and polar bears from reindeer accompanied by humans. So when you have turned over a few tiles you have to decide whether to claim those for your scoring stack, or turn over another and risk losing several tiles due to one of these fleeing issues. I really rather like that. And Miss B, after a little confusion for the first couple of times, got to really enjoy this aspect of the game.
Our first game was over remarkably quickly — when eight reindeer tiles have been drawn, the day ends and there is a special memory round for people who have managed to find bits of the igloo. So we had a second game, which used up pretty much all the tiles. Miss B won comfortably in both games.
I quite like this. The game is very random indeed, but due to it rewarding some memory, it is less so than most dice games, and that press-your-luck aspect makes the game feel rather more meaty than I had expected. It’s not enough that I would play this with an all-adult group, but it’s definitely a worthwhile purchase and Miss B is keen to play it again.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 6): “Really good because of the way things ran away from each other.”
The game: Enuk (Queen Kids), 2 to 5 players aged 5+.
We seem to have a lot of games that have been published under many different names. This one is, as far as I can make out, most recently published as Paternoster, while I was first introduced to it as Comings and Goings and the version we have is called Vanished!. In this case, the game is not even slightly rethemed: the games are just the same.
So, this is a memory game where you have various people moving round in a bizarre paternoster lift and you have to get rid of a hand of cards by matching them to the people in the lift compartments. This is very much easier said than done, and can make for quite a little challenge (particularly as a drinking game, but I’m not going there with Miss B). It is also possible to earn “tempo” counters which allow you to nudge things and have some control over which compartment comes up next, thus introducing a little more tactical play to the brain bending memory challenge. It’s quite fun, even with a lame memory like I seem to have. I figured Miss B would be in with a good chance on this one as her memory skills are becoming quite impressive.
As it turns out, the constant shuffling of people in the lift proved to be a significant challenge for Miss B and tracking who was where was even tougher for her than it was for me. Another additional bit of challenge comes from the fact that the cards in hand do not exactly match the figures in the lift compartments. This is intentional, but it took a little while for Miss B to get used to the pairings, leading to some frustration early on.
Still, we went on to play for a second time and Miss B has been talking about playing this with other folk too, so I figure it went pretty well.
The verdict from Miss B (aged nearly 6): “I did like the game but it was quite hard to win it. Daddy won both times we played it.”
The game: Vanished! (Gibsons Games), 2 to 6 players
Another Christmas present, this one, and it’s a Rio Grande boxing of a little kids’ game from the always charming Doris & Frank stable, with the somewhat lame title of By Golly. Basically, this is pelmanism (i.e. “pairs”) with a little added cheese. A load of animal cards are placed face down in the middle and you have to match the cards you have in your hand using a combination of luck and memory. Some additional silliness is that among the face down animals are a couple of cards depicting piles of animal poo. If you turn over one of these you need to then turn over a shovel card to avoid a penalty.
I must admit that I rarely get on well with these memory games. I can either concentrate hard and do OK, at which point I don’t have as much fun, or I can just go with the flow and generally do badly. Enchanted Forest has enough “other stuff” to it to be more amusing, particularly with a table full of players, but even so, memory games aren’t my first choice. Miss B seems to have similarly mixed fortunes and feelings. Generally she enjoys herself with this sort of game, but can get frustrated after a while. Still, the theme is fun, the art is (thanks to Doris) charming, and it’s fairly quick even given our incompetence in play. Plus it’s a heck of a lot better than some of the other pair matching games out there.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 5): “It was rubbish!” Me: “Why was it rubbish? I thought you liked it.” B: “I did like it but we were rubbish at it!”
The game: By Golly! (Rio Grande), 2 to 6 players, age 5+.