PunchBoard Media: The Big List of Games
Can’t Stop published in 1980 and designed by Sid Sackson
Nominated by Brandon Kempf
Brandon Kempf (WDYPTW): Sid Sackson doesn’t get enough love when folks look at the greatest designers in history. Sure folks know the name and a few of the games, but he quickly gets drowned out by the designers of the BIG classics, the Teubers, the Kramers, the Rosenbergs. But Sackson should be mentioned, and mentioned loudly. Can’t Stop is the game that first brought his designs to my attention, as I am sure it was with many others. It is push your luck distilled into its purest form. You are rolling 4 dice in an attempt to get to the end of at least 3 different tracks. You combine two of the dice together and move up that number track one space. If you ever roll a combination and you can’t move, if you haven’t saved your spot, you go all the way back to the start. Easy as that. The trick is knowing when to stop, but much like the title of the game, that’s easier said than done. Absolutely a wonderful game and even after all these years we still Can’t Stop.
Charles Hasegawa (Things of No Interest): This is one of the most perfect games in terms of elegance of design. Even the name of the game perfectly articulates the essence of the game. I have played over a thousand games of this (which I say based on my stats on yucuata.de) and I still enjoy this game. It is almost as fun trying to taunt your opponents into rolling too many times as it is making the choice on your turn.
BJ Rozas (Board Game Gumbo): This may be my most played game of all time, at least in app form. This classic from Sid Sackson is so easy to teach! At first glance, it is such a random, chaotic game that it is hard to believe it is popular with gamers….and yet...and yet….hidden behind a veil is the hint of a strategy as to what numbers to push. The delicious decision of when to stop and when to continue will absolutely madden you and your friends! When you pull off a run of a few numbers to sneak out a win, it feels amazing -- but when you just “can’t stop” rolling, and get bounced out quickly, you can feel really dumb. Or unlucky.
Ken Grazier (Geek-Craft): I remember playing Can’t Stop when I was a kid and enjoying it. I didn’t know anything about board games like I do now, but I still enjoy the game. It’s very easy to teach, easy to play, but frustratingly hard to actually stop on your turn. It’s only 4 dice. I can get a 5, 6, or 8. Right? RIGHT?! And then you roll all 1’s and 6’s and you pass the dice, defeated. But you wait for the next turn, because no one else can stop either. It’s a very simple game, but one that can be a lot of fun for gamers and non-gamers alike.
Tsuro published in 2004 and designed by Tom McMurchie
Nominated by Doc Logan
Oscar González (El Doc Logan): I like simple games, games that can attract many, that can be teached in an easily manner and can include a lot of people from all ages and the sort. When I found Tsuro I found a game that shared all those characteristics that my boy loves to play with me and to teach when we go out. As simple as “place one tile, follow the line and don’t get out of the board”. I also liked the life relationship, if you get in line with someone who wants to harm you they can end hurted or maybe you, so you need to learn who do you want to spend your path with.
Eric Yurko (What’s Eric Playing?): I agree that Tsuro is a pretty simple and straightforward, which is always nice. It was one of the first games I got when I was building up my collection, actually. I think it got mostly supplanted by Tsuro of the Seas (since that can still play basic Tsuro), but I still remember it fondly. Nice bit of path-building with some strategy and very nice components.
Marti Wormuth (Open Seat Gaming): Tile laying/board building games are one of my favorites, so it likely isn't surprising that I quite enjoy the simple complexity of Tsuro. This, like the other games on this week’s list, is a great example of a game that all ages can enjoy. One of our good friends is a speech pathologist, and she uses Tsuro as a game that she plays with clients of all abilities and backgrounds. The accessibility and ease of play make this an essential in almost any gamer’s collection.
Brandon Kempf (WDYPTW): Tsuro was one of those early games in the hobby for me and it holds some fond memories. These days we’ll prefer to play Indigo if we want a quick route building game like this but Tsuro’s ability to play up to 8 players makes this game stand the test of time for those who like to be mean to as many people as they possibly can while trying to stay afloat.
Ken Grazier (Geek-Craft): Tsuro is one of my go-to games for introducing people to the games they’ve never heard of. It’s great for work events because it plays up to 8 players, it’s easy to teach quickly, and the games never last too long. It’s chaotic, sure, but with it being done in 15 or so minutes, you can easily set up another one and play again. I also enjoy Tsuro of the Seas, both for the bigger board and the Kaiju monsters, but it’s not a fully separate game. I enjoy Tsuro as a filler, as an introduction, and as something silly and quick.
Links to reviews of Tsuro
Ghost Blitz published in 2010 and designed by Jacques Zeimet
Nominated by Sarah Mahood
Sarah Mahood (Open Seat Gaming): Ghost Blitz is a wonderful speed and pattern recognition game that we really enjoy. You have 5 wooden pieces: the white ghost, grey mouse, red chair, green bottle, and blue book. All players are trying to claim the cards, which are pictures of two out the five items. On each card, one item may be paired with its correct color, and then players need to grab or say which piece is correct. Or, no item has the correct color, then players need to find the item that isn't shown at all, in either color or shape. Ghost Blitz is versatile with its large player count and its quick gameplay. Your mind has to be able to switch between the two possibilities. It is always fun for everyone playing, and everyone that we have introduced it to has enjoyed it. It is a non-threatening, easy to learn game that I feel should be in everyone’s collection.
Marti Wormuth (Open Seat Gaming): Ghost Blitz is one of those speed games that is fairly accessible to people of all ages. From the component quality to the quick thinking and reflexes needed for the game, I really find this to be a lot of fun. We have a handful of speed based games here at the house, and this is one that we continue to come back to again and again. If you like pattern recognition speed games, or you have kids that enjoy games and you want them to learn pattern recognition, I think that Ghost Blitz is one of the best, period.
Ice Cool published in 2016 and designed by Brian Gomez
Nominated by Eric Yurko
Eric Yurko (What’s Eric Playing?): So I’ve played Ice Cool almost 70 times (67 as of writing) and I think I’ve done it a disservice. When I first played it, I appreciated the component quality and the gameplay, as the penguins are a nice weight and flicking them around the board is a particularly satisfying thing to do. I also appreciated that the box was designed to mostly keep the pieces inside, so you’re not losing them every which way as you do with many dexterity games. Furthermore, I thought it was exceptional how the pieces could be flicked with spin or made to “hop” over walls, adding in a skill component that made the game really interesting. The major thing that I didn’t love in the game was the points cards, as it was possible upon getting a fish (your primary objective) that you could get unlucky and get the most fish and still lose the game. That hasn’t changed, sure, but given that I play it at least 10 times a year I’d say a 9 / 10 was probably unfair to the game. I think I underrated it, and I want to come clean about that. It’s far and away my favorite dexterity game -- I love the theme, I love the art, and I love the competitive aspect of it mitigated by the fact that everyone is just kind of bad at it. It’s the kind of game I’ll suggest at almost every game night. I don’t think anyone’s ever offered to play it and I’ve turned them down, and with Ice Cool 2 coming soon, it’s only going to get better. What a time to be alive, and what a game Ice Cool is.
Ryan Gutowski (One Board Family): Our family loves how dexterity games can bring generations of people around the table. Ice Cool is one of those games that just draws people in. The 5 nested boxes create an ice-filled school that is full of fun details. Players flick their penguin token through the school doors while another player is trying to collide with them to take away their “student ID”. You earn points by nabbing the fish in the doorways. Flicking these little penguins can be so satisfying, especially if you can pull of a nice trick shot. Like most dexterity games, your Ice Cool skills get better the more you play. Quick game play and simple rules make this game a great choice for a mix of young and old.
BJ Rozas (Board Game Gumbo): In the spring of 2017, I kept hearing about a family friendly dexterity game with an unusual theme. One demo at Dice Tower Con 2017 convinced me it was the perfect game for family or scout game night. We brought it to our local con, where it stayed on the table constantly being played for two days straight. Up to four players can earn points by flicking their “weeble wobble” penguins around a cardboard box dressed up as a school. It is perfect for families but gamers love it too because of the strategy, dexterity, and slap-each-other’s-hands moments. One of my favorite games of 2017!
Eric Buscemi (The Cardboard Hoard): When I first saw Ice Cool, two penguins immediately materialized, one on each my shoulders. The first, dressed like an angel, said in my ear, “This game looks so cool, your kids will love it, you should definitely get it!” The second, dressed like a devil, rebutted, “It’s a gimmick -- Just because it looks cool doesn’t mean it will be interesting or fun to play! Those plastic penguins and that complicated box will probably all get destroyed the first time you play it!” Well, I flicked that devil penguin right off my shoulder and he skittering off, ending up two rooms away, which turned out to be the right move. Ice Cool is not just a flashy gimmicked set of components, but a fantastic flicking game. It is far easier to set-up and play than either Flick Em Up or Rampage, and it’s more fun to play. And while it is not as elegant as the ultimate flicking game, Crokinole, it makes up for that with its cute theme and interesting table presence. Oh, yeah, and the components have held up just fine over dozens of plays by me, my family and friends, and my kids, so kudos to Brain Games on their production value.
Links to reviews of Ice Cool
- Doc Logan Review http://juegosjuguetesycoleccionables.com/ice-cool/
- One Board Family Review http://oneboardfamily.com/review-ice-cool/
- Board Game Gumbo Recommends Ice Cool: https://www.punchboardmedia.com/home/2018/1/16/board-game-gumbo-gumbo-guide-to-game-night
- What’s Eric Playing?: https://whatsericplaying.com/2016/11/06/ice-cool/