NAPPA Top Toys for 2009: Board & Card Games

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NAPPA Top Toys for 2009: Board & Card Games
As families get back to basics, games are among the best basic entertainment around. Board games bring friends and loved ones face-to-face better than TV, movies and video games do — and the price is right, even in tough times. Put game night on the schedule, zap some popcorn and play, because games make you learn and laugh. They can be the glue that pieces family time back together.

For Preschoolers

Counting Rainbows, Dowling Magnets, $19.95; www.dowlingmagnets.com; ages 4 and up. Practice counting by moving various colored rainbow, sun, bluebird, squirrel and pot-of-gold magnet pieces on the magnetic board (included) or even the kitchen fridge. High-quality pieces offer a fun and charming introduction to computation.

For Ages 5 & Up

Ticks Tacks Toes, Educational Insights, $24.99; www.educationalinsights.com; ages 6 and up. This tricky twist on the traditional tic-tac-toe game uses funny playing pieces that look like actual ticks (bugs), tacks (pushpins) and toes (toes)! Take turns placing your piece on the grid to get ticks, tacks and toes in rows.

Gobblet Gobblers, Blue Orange Games, $19.99; www.blueorangegames.com; ages 5 and up. Tic-tac-toe meets the dog-eat-dog world. Your play pieces, depending on their sizes, can be gobbled up by your opponent’s play piece … or you can gobble his! Played in pairs, children easily grasp the simple and fun strategy.

Sherlock, Playroom Entertainment, $10; www.playrooment.com; ages 5 and up. In this clever update to standard memory games, cards are laid in a circular pattern and dictate the direction in which Sherlock moves. The Sherlock card, itself, indicates what you need to remember, which makes deduction “Elementary!”

“I never played cards this way before. It’s cool.”
— Child Tester, age 9

For Ages 7 & Up

Exago, Goliath Games, $29.99; www.goliathgames.us; ages 7 and up. This game combines abstract strategy with a blissfully simple goal: get four hexagonal tiles in a row on the honeycomb-like game board. You’ll be surprised at how much suspense builds as you decide whether to move offensively or defensively.

Squiggle Connect, RandomLine, $19.99; www.randomline.com; ages 8 and up. In this dot-to-dot drawing game, the first roll of the die tells how many dots to draw; the second tells what kind of line to use to connect the dots. Create a picture and then make up a story to go with the picture!

Ages 8 & Up/Family Fun

Telestrations, USAopoly, $29.95; www.usaopoly.com; ages 13 and up. This hilarious game is played like the classic party game of “telephone,” in which misinterpretation down the line elicits laughs. Player 1 might draw a word card that says “kickball,” and sketch a man kicking a ball. Player 2 looks at the drawing, writes “soccer ball” and shows his word card to the next person. Player 3 draws a soccer ball and shows his picture to Player 4, who writes “pepperoni pizza” on his card … and on it goes.

Quelf, Imagination, $29.95; www.imaginationgames.com; ages 12 and up. Quelf gives the idea of “random” new meaning with its combination of stunts, quiz questions, show-offs, custom rules and ridiculous topics. Never the same game twice, it’s simultaneously bizarre, perplexing, occasionally embarrassing and generally silly.

“This game is soup to nuts in the kitchen sink!”
— Adult Tester and mother