Toy-Fair-2014-logo-150wideWhen I think of Blue Orange, I think of the big wooden kids games like Chickyboom or Pengoloo or Gobblet Gobblers. However, they surprised me at Toy Fair with the a larger variety of games in their catalog.

Of course, there are always the expected new variations on Spot It, like Spot It Splash, a summer themed version on plastic waterproof cards that you can toss into the mesh bag (similar to the Gobblet on the Go bag) and take down to the beach or into the pool ($14.99, boxed version).  Also, Spot It Freeze, an version with hot and cold themed icons will be available in a much larger box with an electronic timer. Spot It Freeze ($25) has multiple game modes, such as racing against a random timer (10, 20, or 40 seconds) or freezing other players to get rid of your stack.

But that’s what I expected to find at Blue Orange. Certainly not a lovely little game called Niya. Here, you play on a four-by-four grid in a Japanese garden, trying to get four pieces in a row or square. However, you force your opponent’s next move by the tile you select. Each tile in the garden has two symbols: play on the a tile with reeds and a cloud and your opponent must choose a tile with one of those two symbols. It is a clever little game that retails for $12.99 and will be available in May.

I didn’t expect to find a cute micro-card game with role selection, either. BraveRats, a $10 game, has players choosing rats from their Scottish clan to duel. The rank of the card determines the winner, but the ability of each rat may change the course of the game: You play the Princess (1) and I play the Prince (7), I would win with the higher card. However, the Princess’ ability automatically has her win the game if played against the Prince. BraveRats comes in a small tin.

Battle Sheep is an area control game. Place stacks of sheep tokens on a field, send a portion of your stack as far as it can go in a direction to block your opponents and graze as much territory as possible. It feels a bit like an inverted Hey! That’s My Fish. Battle Sheep scales nicely between two, three, and four players. This game will retail for $29.99.

Normally when I’m at shows like the NY Toy Fair, I don’t participate in full demos. I try to see just enough to inform our readers about the game. Battle Sheep — that I played through. Also Aztack, a domino stacking game where you build upwards, matching color or symbol to lay a new tile. The only other rule is the orientation of new tiles: they must cover one square on two different tiles.  We played using a prototype version shown below. The final version will have darker blues and oranges. Aztack will retail for $24.99.

The last game we looked at was Doodle Quest, which is a bit of a puzzle game hybrid. You (and the other players) have transparent overlays; everyone attempts to solve the puzzle on the sheet in the middle of the table. It might be a maze to solve, you may have to draw lines from a mermaid to her similarly-colored dolphin, or something where you’re circling some stars but not planets… Which sounds easy, except you’re drawing on your transparent overlay over here and the maze is in the center of the table way over there. When everyone is done, they place their transparencies on top of the puzzle and see how well they did. It’s a silly little game for 1-4 players, 6 and up. Doodle Quest will retail for $24.99