Monthly Archives: July 2015

Chronicles of the Mind: A real talkfest

Like most game aficionados, when I get a new game I immediately start to categorize it. There are party games, strategy games, dexterity games and so on. Some games are like one of Ron Popeil’s inventions. They try to work well in multiple categories. It’s like those late-night infomercials screaming “you get all those and more”. Most games that try and span multiple categories are like a Popeil product. They do many things but they don’t do anything very well.

When I first looked at Griddly Games’ Chronicles of the Mind I wasn’t sure how to classify it. Was it a social activity? Was it a prop for a team building exercise?? Was it a game? I had that voice in my head yelling “And More”. I’d been down this road before and it was usually strewn with potholes. However, something was different this time. The ride was surprisingly smooth.

Chronicles of the Mind takes a simple function, telling stories, gives it a little structure and wraps game around it. It centers around a deck of 119(my deck had 2 “Craving Anything?” cards, but I think I can work with 118) category cards such as “Favorite Place”, “Secret”, “Most Memorable Holiday”. Players then tell a story involving the topic. You can play the game multiple ways:

  • One person per category
  • For each category every player tells a story in turn
  • Players draw a category card and choose another player, who has to tell the story
  • Truth of Lie?. The story teller has a choice to tell either a true story or a lie. After the story, the other players use their voting cards to show whether they think the story was true or was a lie. Players that guess correctly score points.

After a few minutes I realized this would be an excellent team-building exercise. Cards such as “Most Embarrassing Moment” could get a little personal. Revealing negative things about oneself can be a excellent part of a team-building exercise.

The box says “All ages can play”. And it’s true. My 6 month old son can play. He just whispers his story to one of the adults, who then says it out loud. It is amazing how creative they can be at such a young age.

When playing with younger players, you might want to remove some of the cards like “Freudian Slip”. Other than that it’s a great way to encourage them to be creative.

The prim and proper crowd might not appreciate the “Passing Gas Story” card. It will, however, be highly popular with some parts of my family. Also, I noticed one typo. There is a card “Favorite Foot”. The German text says “Lieblings Essen” so I think they meant “Favorite Food”. Of course a story about one’s favorite foot might be interesting.

I wish Griddly had included a few blank cards, for those of us that like to create our own topics. Of course, you don’t need cards for that, you could just make up your own topics.

A neat feature is each card has the topic in English, French, Spanish and German. You might even learn a ittle bit of a foreign langauge in the process.

Price is under 15 dollars and the box is not much larger than a deck of cards, making it easy to bring along on trips.

It will take about 20 seconds to “teach” to new players.

It is very suitable for playing with both adults and kids. And when it’s late at night and the children are asleep, then the “adult” version can start.mind

Farkle Flip: A classic dice game without the dice

flipI’m a big fan of dice games. Of the 700 odd games in my collection, over 100 are dice games. Farkle is one of my favorite dice games. So when Patch Products released a version that used cards instead of dice I knew it was a game that I had to check out. I wondered if it would be like when a movie version of one of my favorite books comes out. Usually, with movies, I end up feeling disappointed. The book is almost always better. So often the story gets changed so much to fit the new medium that we hardly recognize it. We sit down to watch the movie expecting to see an old and dear friend and end up meeting a stranger. Would the card game version of Farkle be like that old friend or not? There was only one way to tell, open the box and start dealing some cards.

At first glance it looked like a very familiar face. The cards were numbered one thru six just like dice. So far it was looking good. You get points for different combinations of the dice, oops I mean cards. For example a set of three sixes scores 600 points and a straight scores 1500. You play until someone reaches 10000. It was starting to look exactly like the dice game. I thought to myself, why would I need this if it is exactly the same. I continued reading the rules and noticed the card deck also had Farkle cards. So, it did have something new after all.

The game is slightly different than the traditional dice game. Each player starts with one face up card in front of them. On a player’s turn they draw a card and can place it in front of any player. The goal is to try and create scoring combinations. If you want to score a combination then you move it to the center of the table. Combinations in the center cannot be added to. Combinations in front of a player can be added to, to increase their value, but they can’t be scored. Initially you need at least 1000 points before you can stop. On subsequent turns you can stop anytime. If you choose to stop then you bank the points for any combination in the center. If you keep going and draw a Farkle card then your turn ends and you don’t get to score points.

The game retains that push your luck element that makes Farkle so much fun. Personally, I think the 22 Farkle cards, out of 106 in total, is a few too many. That, however, is an easy thing to remedy. You can just remove a few of them. You can experiment and find the balance that you like best. I tried a few hands with only 16 and I liked it better. The ability to have your own house rules is part of the charm of Farkle. Everyone I know plays with slightly different point values for each combination. You might prefer to use the point values you normally use with dice instead of the values listed in the rules. Again, just experiment and find what works best for you. It’s not like the detectives from Law and Order are going to show up and charge you with “Playing Farkle with the wrong point values”.

Personally, I like the dice version a little better. However, sometimes cards are more convenient or sometimes you just want a change of pace. Maybe the dice haven’t been friendly to you lately and you’re hoping you’ll have better luck with cards.

If you’re a fan of Farkle, what you probably love is the push your luck aspect. After all that’s the true magic of the game. You say you haven’t played Farkle before? Maybe you have and just didn’t know its true name. Many people call it Zonk, or Zilch, or 10000. Regardless of what name you know it as, if you like the dice game you really should check out Farkle Flip.

If you’ve never played the dice game and you want a fast paced, easy to learn game, then pick up a copy ofFarkle Flip.