Toy Fair 2017—Blue Orange

Dr. Eureka was a big hit for Blue Orange in 2017. The games company has expanded the line with two new science-themed puzzle games, Dr. Beaker (April, $20) and Dr. Microbe (just released, $20). Both games are shipping to stores this week. Dr. Beaker comes with four plastic Erlenmeyer flasks (not beakers) and plastic stir bars. At the bottom of the flask is a rotating ring with six colored marbles and an empty middle space; players race to match the pattern on a challenge card by rotating the ring with their stir bar, moving the “molecules” around. In Dr. Microbe, each player has a mini-petri dishes divided into sections and a big tweezer to pluck microbes pieces from a central petri dish. A challenge card is flipped over showing three different microbes; players use the tweezers to place those into their dishes, then find the one that doesn’t match any of the three microbe’s colors or shapes.

Zero (just shipped!, $10) is a card game where you’re trying to get the lowest score in your hand of nine cards by trading cards from a central tableau. When the game is over, each rank is worth only one card of that number, so if you happen to wind up with all seven 6s, that’s just six points.

Kingdomino (just shipped, $18) is a tile-laying game where you’re creating a 5×5 grid of terrain-themed dominoes around your castle. The really clever thing about this is how players choose domino tiles. Each is numbered from 1 to 48 on the back. In a four-player game, four are drawn and placed in numerical order. Four more are placed in a column next to it. Players choose which tiles they want, with more valuable tiles coming lower in the stack. The next turn, the order for choosing tiles is based on the previous turn’s order: you chose a low-scoring tile first? You have your pick of the next four. Choose that last one that’s worth a lot of points? You’re taking whatever is left over next round.

Designed by a pilot, Cleared for Takeoff (just shipped, $16) is a game about getting your fleet of planes off the tarmac and into the sky. Play matching sets of cards based on the plane you’re trying to advance through the boarding, taxiing, and takeoff process, to get all three of your planes off the ground. This game seems to have some of Take That-style of play involved.

A package of seven oddly-shaped six-sided dice are in Dice Stack (April, $10). The object? Roll and stack them in numberical order. It’s a cute dexterity game that’s easily portable (Dice Stack comes with a drawstring bag for the pieces) and can be played anywhere there is a flat surface, level or not. Plus: cool crazy-shaped dice.

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Second Look—Dragon Run

Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.This must be the week for dragons, because here comes a look at Blue Orange Games’ Dragon Run. I’ve actually had this one for a while, and now seemed the perfect time to post about it.

Designed by Bruno Cathala, Dragon Run is a push-your-luck game of escaping a dragons cave with the most treasure…and without dying. Each turn players can charge blindly into the dragons lair, sneak carefully in, or cry like a baby. Charging lets you grab the most loot. Sneaking gets you some, and calms the dragon a bit, and crying like a baby give you a pass, but you lose some loot.

Of course just running in and grabbing look would be too easy, right? Some cards give you treasure. Some let you keep drawing. One is the dragon’s fiery breath. Get that and lose one of your two hit points. Die and you’re out of the game. Have the most treasure when the dragon loses interest in everyone and you win the game!

t355_cdbb33bf3aa0d087c7662ef1bc9432deOf course there’s more to it than that, but not much. Each character has a special ability that’ll help them out in the quest for loot. Also, while there’s nothing like watching other people get toasted, if everyone dies then the dragon wins. So it’s not always in your best interest to leave the other players without a little support.

Dragon Run is light, fast, and a really fun time. While you’re not getting a ton of components for your $25, you’re getting a great game. I’m a big fan of Blue Orange, and this is one of the best I’ve played from them.

A copy of Dragon Run was provided for free for review by Blue Orange Games.

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Battle Sheep

battle_sheepOut now in stores from Blue Orange Games, Battle Sheep is an area control game featuring…sheep. I’m guessing you already know that part. You know, because of the game’s name.

In the game players split their stack of sheep and move them in a straight line as far as they will go. You’ve got to cover the most ground, block your opponents sheep, and become the king of the pasture.

Battle sheep is for 2-4 players ages 7+, and lasts around 15 minutes. MSRP is $27.99.

It looks cute. Something I think my younger kids would be totally into between the art and the lighter game play.

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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

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