Bananagrams: Quit Monkeying Around!

Bananagrams is one of those classic word games that almost everyone has an edition of sitting around somewhere in their closet. With the trademark little felt banana bag and those user-friendly letter tiles, you can easily mix and match words to create your own crossword and be the first to shout out “Bananagrams!” If you’re a fan of classic word games like Scrabble or Boggle but are looking for something a little more fast-paced, you’ll love Bananagrams.

Arranging the Tiles

Bananagrams is an incredibly simple and fast-paced game that uses small tiles to form words in the shape of a grid. In this sense, it is incredibly similar to Scrabble, although Bananagrams gets rid of the game board and speeds things up by allowing each player to make their own grid. To make their words, players get to use 144 tiles that all come in a cute little bag shaped like a banana.

Bananagrams begins with all of the tiles being flipped and placed in the center of the table. Each player then takes 12 tiles and begins arranging them into words in the form of a grid, similar to the way a crossword is set up. Once a player uses up all of the letters in their bunch, they shout “peel!” and everyone has to take a new tile from the pool in the center.

If you’re stuck with a bunch of bum letters that you can’t place, then you can dump one of your tiles and draw three more. While this can help you dig your way out of the hole, beware! You may only find yourself deeper in the pit with more tiles you can’t use. Once the pool in the center of the table is almost empty, then the first person to use all of their tiles shouts out “Bananagrams!” and wins the game.

Variant Rules

Bananagrams is incredibly simple, with hands usually taking as little as 5 minutes. However, there are different variant rules within the game itself that you can use depending on where you are and how complex you want the game to be. The Banana Smoothie of the board game gives everyone their own bunch of tiles right at the start of the game, dividing it equally among everyone. This allows you to plan out your whole crossword right at the beginning.

The Banana Cafe version of Bananagrams is meant to be played in public when waiting for service. Players play with 21 tiles and are allowed to dump tiles and draw more if they need to, but they don’t have to “peel” and force anyone else to draw more tiles. You can also play the Banana Solitaire version of Bananagrams to play the game all on your own, competing against your own best time.

Bananagrams Sequels

There are several sequels to the original Bananagrams board game that allow you to play it with new and complex rules. Bananagrams Duel! turns the board game into a two-player word game that uses both letter cubes and Banana cards. Players use any side of their 12 letter cubes to try to create a crossword grid, competing for Banana cards to see who can win the most rounds.

Bananagrams Party adds 14 more “party power” tiles to the original game. These tiles range from The Re-Gifter to The Thief to Switcheroo, with each giving you a special power to use against your opponents. Bananagrams WildTiles adds 6 wild monkey tiles to the game, each of which can be used as whatever letter you like. This is similar to the wild tiles in Scrabble, which can help you make a new word when you can’t seem to find the letter you need. 

Bananagrams: Wordplay Never Tasted So Sweet

Bananagrams is playable by 1-8 players, so you can easily play it with the whole family or just on your own when you’re killing time. It’s suitable for ages 7 and up, as anyone can grasp the simplicity of the rules. Playing time lasts around 15 minutes, although you’ll definitely be playing best of 5 or best of 10.

Buy Bananagrams and add this classic tile game to your collection of word games!

 

Suburbia: Grow Your Town (and Your Reputation)

The suburbs are an idyllic slice of American life. With the charm and the simplicity of the country and the resources and connections of big cities, the suburbs truly are the best of both worlds. But as the city manager of your little suburban town, it’s your job to turn this meager little neighborhood into a sprawling metropolis!

Suburbia is a fun city-building strategy game in which players collect building tiles in an effort to build the most thriving and populated borough. One of the most dynamic features of the game is its inclusion of secret bonus objectives for each player, which change every game and ensure you’ll never play the same game twice. Suburbia is definitely one of those board games that stands up to repeat playing, as you’ll never get bored of its many twists and turns.

Building Income and Reputation

The goal of Suburbia is to plan, build, and develop your small town into a bustling metropolis. Players are given their own playing board that they’ll populate with hex-shaped building tiles. These building tiles represent different residential, commercial, civic, and industrial areas. You can buy generic buildings like factories or suburbs or buy a new building from the market with a special ability that you can take advantage of.

The more buildings you add to your board, the more income you’ll take in. This is the amount of money you receive each turn, which allows you to then buy even more buildings from the market. The longer a building is on the market, the cheaper it will be, so you may want to wait for the price to drop. Just make sure someone else doesn’t steal it out from underneath you first!

You’ll also build your reputation whenever you buy buildings, which earns you a certain number of victory points each turn. These victory points move you along the victory track and develop your community. However, you’ll encounter certain speedbumps on the victory track, which can negatively affect your stats and reduce your reputation and income.

Bonus Objectives

Suburbia has both public and secret bonus objectives that you’re trying to reach in order to earn points. Bonus objectives usually require you to have either the most or the least of a certain kind of building, which forces you to closely watch your opponents in order to see what they’re building. This makes the board game much more competitive and ensures the players are interacting a bit more.

In addition to adding building hexes to your board, you can also add lake hexes. These will earn you cash based on how close they are to other pieces on the board. Lastly, you can use investment markers to repurchase buildings you already have in order to reuse their special ability. You’ll have to navigate between buying building hexes, lake hexes, and investment markers if you want to win the game.

Suburbia Expansions

Suburbia comes with several expansions that move you out of the suburbs and into uncharted territory. Suburbia Inc allows you to define your borders in a new way, earning you additional benefits that can help you jettison ahead in the development of your metropolis. The expansion also comes with over a dozen additional buildings that you can buy as well as new Bonuses and Challenges to boost your income and reputation.

Suburbia 5 Stars turns your bustling town into a tourist destination, allowing you to build landmarks, monuments, and tourist traps in your city. These 50 new building tiles can all increase your reputation and income, while having an additional resource to manage can make the game more complex. This expansion to the original board game also allows an additional fifth player to take part in the fun.

Suburbia

Suburbia is playable by 1-4 players, which is perfect for either small families and friend groups or single-player fun. It’s suitable for ages 8 and up, so younger players can learn more about resource management and set collection with this fun board game. Playing time lasts around 90 minutes, so it’s definitely the kind of game you’ll want to make the centerpiece of any game night.

Buy Suburbia today and enjoy the power and fun of city management!

 

Mahjong: The Perfect Blend Of Luck, Skill, and Strategy

Mahjong is a game of great fun that requires more than just skill. Players will draw tiles to try to complete matching sets, drawing and discarding them at will until they have a perfect mahjong. While Mahjong is similar to the card game Rummy, its use of traditional Chinese characters,  symbols, and its focus on the directions of the wind elevate it beyond just your average game.

Mahjong goes all the way back to the Qing dynasty in China, but it’s since spread throughout the world. For every country in the world that Mahjong is played in, there is a unique regional variant. But while the rules and scoring methods may differ slightly, Mahjong always relies on the same blend of luck, skill, and strategy to win.

Simples, Honors, and Bonus Tiles

The goal of each round of Mahjong is to get what is called a mahjong, which is when you get four sets of three tiles and one pair of matching tiles. A set of three is called either a “pung,” which is three of the same tile, or a “chow,” which is three consecutive numbers within the same suit. The pair, however, must always be two identical tiles. Because you start the game with a hand of 13 tiles, you must achieve your mahjong by drawing the 14th tile you need to complete your set.

Although different regional versions of the game may vary, Mahjong is normally played with a standard set of 144 tiles or cards. The tiles are split into three separate categories: simples, honors, and bonus tiles. Within the category, there are three different suits that are each numbered from 1 to 9. The simples suits are dots, bamboo, and characters.

The honors tiles have two different suits: winds and dragons. Winds are separated into the four compass directions, while there are three different colors of dragons. Lastly, there are two suits of bonus tiles: flowers and seasons. These have four of each. The bonus tiles are special in that, any time you draw a bonus tile, you don’t add it to your hand, but set it aside to be used to boost your score in the event that you win a hand.

Hands, Rounds, and Matches

The game of Mahjong begins with all the tiles getting placed face down on the table and shuffled. Players will then stack a row of 18 tiles with two tiles in each stack in front of them. They then push the rows together to form a square wall, after which they cut the deck based on the role of a die and each takes their hand of 13 tiles. Players then go around the circle drawing tiles from the wall and discarding their own tiles into the center of the table for other players to draw.

The way that this tile or card game is played is through a number of hands, rounds, and matches. There are at least four hands within each round and four rounds within a match. During each hand, one of the four players gets to take the position of dealer. If the dealer wins their hand, then they get to go again as dealer for an additional hand. Once all four players have taken their turn as dealer, then the round ends.

Explore the Beauty of Mahjong

Mahjong is playable by 3-4 players depending on which rules you’re playing with. It’s suitable for ages 8 and up, so it’s an excellent tile or card game to use to teach younger players about strategy. Mahjong has a playing time of around 2 hours, so it’s definitely a special event any time you sit down to play a match with friends.

Because Mahjong requires you to have a bit of luck, many players think that where they sit, how they hold the pieces, and even what they wear can influence the outcome and help them win the game. Whether you’re an experienced Mahjong player or you’re learning it for the first time, you’ll be sure to appreciate the rich and beautiful history of this game. Buy Mahjong today and may the winds blow in your favor!

Calico: Calling All Cuddly Cats!

Board games offer us the opportunity to see who can be the most strategic, the most conniving, and the most knowledgeable. But have you ever played a board game that required you to be the coziest? Calico is a tile-laying board game that gives you the goal of sewing the coziest quilt possible in order to attract some super cuddly cats.You’ll sew in patches of various colors and patterns in order to earn the most points and win the hearts of felines everywhere.

Sew It All Together

Each player begins Calico with a playing board that represents a quilt that they have to sew. The patches of the quilt are arranged in hexagonal spaces, which come in six different colors and patterns. Players begin with two random tiles from the bag, while three tiles get laid out in the center of the table for players to choose from.

Three spaces on your quilt will be used to place scoring tiles. You get to draw four out of six scoring tiles, selecting whichever three you’d liked to place on your board at the beginning of the game. These scoring tiles will set your objective for the rest of the board game, giving you unique placement rules and patterns to follow. 

You can earn extra points for the way you place the surrounding six tiles, earning points for things such as having three sets of two matching colors or patterns. If you satisfy both of the conditions on the scoring tile, then congratulations! You’ve just earned extra points. However, there will be some overlap with the six tiles that surround the other scoring tiles, so you’ll be hard-pressed to make too many of those combinations.

Attracting the Cuddliest Cats

In addition to the three tiles that sit in the center of the table as a central market, you also get three little cat tokens. You’ll pick these randomly from the twelve cat tokens of the game, and each will come with its own scoring rules and patterns. In order to attract these cuddly little cats to come take a rest on your quilt, you’ll have to satisfy their conditions.

As you go along in the game, you’ll place one tile and draw one tile each turn, always keeping a hand of two tiles. You must always draw from the three tiles in the center, replacing them from the bag as you go along. There isn’t much competition with the other players until the end of the game, as you’re mostly focused on sewing the best quilt you can rather than disrupting the other players.

Buttons, Patterns and Cats Galore

You earn points throughout the game by satisfying the requirements of your scoring patterns, attracting cat tokens, and earning buttons for your quilt. In order to add a button to your quilt, you must place three of the same color in adjacent spaces, which earns you a matching colored button. If you manage to get a complete set of six buttons, then you earn a special rainbow button for your quilt.

There are some hexagonal spaces that are built into your Calico board on the surrounding edges of your quilt, which can help you to make matches and attract your furry feline friends. Once everyone’s quilts have been completed, you’ll tally up the points from the scoring tiles, cats, and buttons to determine the winner.

Embrace Your Cuddly Side with Calico

Calico is playable by 1-4 players. It’s just as good as a single player game as it is a game for small groups since your main objective is simply to earn the most points. Calico is suitable for ages 13 and up, so teens and adults alike can enjoy the fun of the cuddly little cat tokens. Playing time for Calico lasts around 30-45 minutes, which makes it a decent board game for weeknights or parties.

Calico is a great pattern building game for people who are more into abstract strategy than crushing the competition. The cat tokens are obviously the selling point of the game, as you’ll do whatever it takes to fill your board with these cute creatures. Buy Calico today and enjoy the coziest board game you’ll ever play!

 

Azul: Channel Your Interior Decorator

If you’re a fan of art or interior design, then Azul is the game for you. Set in the lavish palace of King Manuel I of Portugal, Azul puts your interior decorating skills to the test to see who can build the best pattern for the palace walls. You’ll have a blast with the delicate, intricate little tile pieces as you pick and choose which ones will help you make the best design. An expert combination of aesthetic appeal and complex strategy, Azul is a masterpiece of a game.

The Beauty of Azul

Perhaps the best part of the game of Azul comes from its origin story. Azul is based on azulejos, which were white and blue ceramic tiles introduced to Spain by the Moors. When the Portuguese King Manuel I was on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, he couldn’t help but be captivated by the beauty of these dazzling tiles.

In fact, he was so overcome by the beauty of these azulejos that he instantly ordered for his own palace back home in Portugal to be decorated in the same way. This is where our game begins, as you the player become the tile-laying artist charged with embellishing the king’s royal walls.

Collecting the Tiles

Azul is incredibly simple to learn, setup, and play, so you’ll be able to dive right in. Players start with their own individual boards and scoring markers. A ring of discs sits in the center of the table, each holding four randomly drawn tiles and one white tile for players to choose from. Players will take turns pulling tiles from one of the discs and adding them to their boards.

When you select the tiles, you must choose all of the tiles of that color from the disc to add to your board. You’ll fill in each row of your board with one color at a time. If the row is full by the end of the round, then you can move it onto the patterned scoring wall on your board.

Building Your Pattern

This is where the game gets interesting. You get to choose how you place the tiles to decorate the palace, with certain patterns and sets scoring you extra points. This part of the game allows your inner artist to come out as you try and earn as many points as possible while still building something of beauty.

Beware of taking tiles you cannot use, however, as this will harm your score. If there are no free rows in which to place your tile or you’ve already completed a row with that color title, then you’ll earn negative points. 

The key to the game is to make sure you’re able to fill the rows on your player board while planning out your long term strategy for decorating the palace. The game ends when the first player completes an entire row in their patterned scoring wall.

Azul Spinoffs

Azul has two spinoffs that have similar gameplay but employ different yet equally beautiful components. Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra turns you into a window-builder as you craft an elegant stained glass window of your own design. This game comes with beautiful double-sided window panels that offer an infinite number of potential combinations.

Azul: Summer Pavilion tasks you with decorating the king’s summer pavilion, a task which was never actually completed in real life. This spinoff offers a bit more complexity to the game that can make it a worthy upgrade for fans of the original Azul.

Azul: Embellish To Your Heart’s Content

Azul is playable by 2-4 players, so it’s definitely best for small groups or for one-on-one games. It’s suitable for ages 8 and up, mostly because of how simple the game is to play. However, it’s definitely got enough complexity that adults won’t tire of it.

Playing time for Azul lasts 30-45 minutes, which allows you to get a hang of the game in case you’re interested in playing multiple rounds. All in all, Azul is the kind of game you’ll want to play multiple times in order to nail down your winning strategy. Buy Azul today and let your artist be free!

 

Dive Into the Beauty of the Moors with Azul

Azul is the perfect game for art-lovers and strategists alike.  Set in the royal halls of a Portuguese palace, this game pushes you to embrace the interior decorator inside of you in an effort to please King Manuel I with your tile-laying skills.  With gorgeous tiles and fast-paced gameplay, Azul is a beautiful game that you won’t soon forget.

The Story of Azul

The highlight of Azul comes from its wonderful theme and intriguing backstory.  Azul is named after “azulejos”, the beautiful white and blue ceramic tiles that were first introduced by the Spanish Moors.  When the Portuguese king Manuel I visited the Alhambra palace in southern Spain, he was captivated by these stunning tiles and demanded that they be used to decorate his royal palace back home.  As the player of the game, you’re one of the tile-laying artists tasked with the challenge—are you up for it?

Pieces of the Game

Azul also stands apart from the crowd thanks to its gorgeous playing pieces.  Each player gets their own playing board fitted with a tile wall and score tracker.  The tiles are made from a shiny and attractive resin that makes placing them on your board incredibly satisfying.  The game also comes with several different tile repositories, which are cute little decorated disks that hold the tiles you have to choose from.

All of the components of the game are made from sturdy and attractive materials that make Azul a game of supreme elegance.  Instead of using flimsy cardboard or peeling stickers, Azul really invests in the visual and physical elements of the game.  You’ll remember Azul for years to come thanks to their impressive attention to quality and detail.

Laying the Tiles

The game goes on round by round, with players taking turns collecting the tiles from the repositories and placing them in a row.  Players will take all of the tiles of the same color from a repository, continuing until all of the tiles have been collected.  At the end of each round, players will then be able to take tiles from the row and use them to fill their board and win points.

You can earn points for placing the tiles in specific patterns or completing certain sets on your playing board.  You’ll have to choose your tiles with care, however, as any unused tiles will cause you to lose points and move further away from winning the game.  

Azul Sequels

Azul has come out with several sequel games that expand on the premise of the initial game without losing any of its artistic splendor.  In Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, players lay down windowpanes in a beautiful stained glass window instead of building an intricately tiled wall.  The translucent pieces and double-sided player boards are even more beautiful and fun to play with than the initial game.

Azul: Summer Pavilion is another sequel game inspired by history, although this one is based on a story that never came to be.  After King Manuel I completed his royal palaces, he ordered the construction of a summer pavilion (but died before it began).  In this sequel game, players take on the roles of master artisans who lay tiles, build stars, and earn bonus tiles for special tasks.

Build Your Pattern and Please the King with Azul

Azul is suitable for ages 8 and up, with simple rules that you can explain in a matter of minutes.  It can be played by 2-4 players, which makes it well suited for small groups and families.  Because the game has such a unique aesthetic element to it, it’s the perfect romantic game for a date night or anniversary.

Playing time lasts 30-45 minutes, but it’s fun enough that you could easily play a few games back to back without getting bored.  In a world full of unimaginative and aesthetically lazy games, Azul really stands out for its attention to detail and its unique theme.  Players will have an excellent time stepping into the role of artists and creating their own beautiful picture.  After only one play of this dynamic game, Azul will have you considering a career in interior design!

 

 

How to Play Azul

Hive: It’s Queen Bee vs. Queen Bee

Chess is a time-honored classic that pits two players against each other as they strategically move pieces around a game board in order to capture the other side’s King.  The game of Hive turns chess on its head, getting rid of the game board and replacing the pawns and rooks with spiders and beetles.  Hive lets your build the game board yourself as you deftly place these hexagonally shaped bugs in an attempt to capture the powerful Queen Bee of your rival hive. 

Insects of the Hive

There are 22 total pieces in the game, so each player gets 11 pieces for their hive.  Each of the pieces contains a colorful insect carved onto a shiny black or white hexagonal tile. Unlike a traditional beehive, both hives in this game are populated with additional insects that defend the Queen Bee and attempt to trap the other player’s Queen Bee.  Each player gets one yellow Queen Bee piece, which can only move one space at a time.

Players also get two brown Spiders pieces and two purple Beetles pieces.  While Beetles can only move one space at a time, they can climb over other pieces and prevent them from moving.  The Spider, on the other hand, can move three spaces around the outside of the layout, which tends to be more useful early on in gameplay rather than later.

The three green Grasshopper pieces can jump over pieces in a straight line, while the three blue soldier ants can move as many pieces as it likes around the edge of the hive.  Each insect must be deployed to either protect the Queen Bee or surround the other player’s Queen Bee.

Capturing the Queen

Players take turns setting down their pieces and forming patterns, allowing them to play their pieces however they see fit.  The Queen Bee piece must be played within the first four turns of the game, which gives each player a limited amount of time to develop their opening strategy.  Every turn after that forces you to decide between putting another piece on the game board or moving one of your current pieces.

The publisher recommends a couple of opening strategies, although potential strategies are limitless.  One recommended strategy is to place a Spider, Bee, and Ant in a V formation, allowing the Ant to protect the Bee while the Bee is free to roam.  Another strategy is to form a V with two Spiders and a Bee, giving you the freedom to move quickly to block your opponent.  Once a Queen Bee has been surrounded on 6 sides by the other player’s pieces, the game is over.

Hive Expansions

Several expansions to Hive have been released that add new pieces with their own unique moves.  The Mosquito piece can be used as a wild card, taking on the movement of whichever piece it currently touches.  The Ladybug expansion released in 2010 and Pillbug expansion in 2013 create additional offensive and defensive opportunities that can allow you to pick up other bugs or rescue your ailing Queen Bee.    Because the original gameplay of Hive is only 20 minutes, these expansions can extend playtime and make Hive last almost as long as a chess game.

Build the Hive and Capture the Queen

If you’re looking for something a little more kid-friendly than chess, Hive is the perfect option.  It’s just simple enough that kids can enjoy it while still allowing for adults to enjoy a more complex game.  The beautiful wooden hexagonal tiles are also one of the biggest standout elements of the game, creating a visually stunning board as the game goes along.

Similarly to chess, Hive is designed for only two players.  While this is not the game for family game nights or group hangouts, it’s an excellent game for couples or lighthearted tournaments.  Hive is suitable for ages 9 and up, so two kids squaring off can have just as much fun as a parent and child can.  The more you play Hive, the more you’ll begin to uncover the numerous strategies and methods you can employ to win the game and avoid the dreaded stalemate.

 

 

How to Play Hive

Qwirkle: Find the Pattern and Lay Down the Line

Qwirkle is an abstract tile-playing game that takes the concept of Scrabble and turns it on its head.  Instead of forcing you to spell out difficult words with tiles that will send your friends and family scrambling to the dictionary, Qwirkle is played with tiles bearing colorful shapes that you have to arrange in a line.  No game board is required with this simple and creative game—all you need is a flat surface and a yearning for a little competition.

High Quality Wooden Game Pieces

As opposed to the bland little brown tile pieces you use in Scrabble, Qwirkle comes with 108 shiny black tiles featuring colorful patterns in various intricate shapes.  The delightful game pieces are often one of the most memorable parts of any board game, and Qwirkle delivers in spades.  From the whimsical clover to the dynamic eight-point star, Qwirkle’s quirky tiles will be sure to build a beautiful pattern by the end of the game.  

Laying The Tiles

Gameplay begins with mixing all of the tiles in the bag and having each player draw 6 tiles at random.  Every turn, each player will place one or more tiles on the table to form a row.  The rows need to each share one attribute of either color or shape, but not both.  For example, one row can consist of clover tiles in different colors, while a different row may be each of the shapes in the color red.

Unlike Scrabble, which forces you to play with the tiles you’ve got before drawing new ones, Qwirkle allows you to spend your turn exchanging the tiles in your hand for new ones.  This can end up making the game way more dynamic instead of saddling you with a dud hand for the rest of the game.

Scoring Points

Every time you place a tile in a line, you score one point for each tile within that line.  If you complete the line with the sixth and final tile, congratulations!  You win a 6-point bonus that can jettison you into the lead.  An additional 6-point bonus is given to the first person to play all of their tiles once the bag has run out, which is just enough of a boost to keep things competitive until the very last second.

Qwirkle is simple to learn, but definitely gives plenty of opportunity to employ strategy.  Blocking other people from continuing a pattern can be just as effective as plotting out your own high score combination.  However, the luck-based element of the game will throw a wrench into even the most carefully laid plans.  This combination of luck and strategy will keep you coming back to Qwirkle time and time again.

Fun For Families And Non-Gamers

Qwirkle is the perfect game for families and kids of all ages.  It’s an excellent game to use to teach younger children about concepts like shape and color matching and counting, while older kids can learn concepts like strategy and planning.  Suitable for ages 6 and up, Qwirkle is incredibly easy to learn and will having you playing like an expert within minutes.  But just because it’s so simple doesn’t mean that it’s boring—Qwirkle leaves plenty of room for more advanced players to play the long game while novices can enjoy it at the basic level.

Qwirkle is also much more accessible to non-gamers than hardcore games like Catan.  Because the rules are so simple, even people who don’t normally enjoy board games can find themselves drawn in for a 30-40 minute game.  This dynamic game can join together serious and casual gamers, serving as a gateway game towards more advanced board games.

Walk The Line With Qwirkle

Qwirkle is a simple game with an abstract concept that can appeal to a wide variety of gamers.  Its accessibility is where it truly shines, even if that removes a little bit of the complexity of the game for people who are looking for something with a greater challenge.  Still, if you’re a visual gamer who likes building intricate patterns and playing with beautiful wooden game pieces, you’ll love the quality that Qwirkle has to offer.

 

Join Today & Get 15% Off

Join our list for discounts & new product notifications and get a coupon code for 15% off your first purchase.

Cart
  • No products in the cart.