Fantastic Gymnastics is probably the weirdest board game with a mass market release. It is released by Hasbro Gaming and you can probably find it in most big box stores with a toy section. The thing though with this game is it probably a huge flop for Hasbro if all the negative reviews you can find on the Internet is any indication. So why was it so negatively received and why do I think this game is so awesomely, awesome?
Well the first thing you have to know about this game is that it is insanely difficult. You have to press a button to rock the gymnast back and forth until it picks up enough speed and then when it goes round and round the bar you have to release him with another button just right so he can stick the landing. The game is not intuitive. Unfortunately it is marketed as a kids game and most kids (and probably most adults too) will probably lose interest fast especially since you won’t see much progress until you spend A LOT of time with it. But this game is wildly addictive and it SOOOO rewarding when you finally do stick the landing.
Similarly, is this game a dexterity/ party board game or is it an unusual puzzle to be solved? I really think this is not a board game you can bring to your next board game meet up since if you don’t practice the motions you definitely won’t score. So you will probably end up scoring 100 points while everyone else will be waiting for game to be over. But when you finally “solved” and “mastered” Fantastic Gymnastics, it has the same a ha moment that you get when you solve a good puzzle.
So I wonder if Fantastic Gymnastics was marketed as a solo puzzle and not a kids/ party game, will it help with the image of this game? Fortunately it has often been compared to Looping Louie, a kids game that eventually had a cult following. I wonder if Fantastic Gymnastics can do the same years down the road. Anyways it is listed as a board game and I love, love Fantastic Gymnastics.
By the way if you are wondering if I am any good at Fantastic Gymnastics well I am proud to say I can stick the landing generously 1 in 5 times but I am working on it!
So a deep freeze has been settling in New York City which means I am sort of cooped up indoors with a lot of free time to kill. So with that in mind I was shopping around New York City before it got too cold for some interesting board games to try. One of the board games I picked up was Strat-O-Matic Baseball.
My copy is of the 2011 season. Strat-O-Matic is a board game I have heard a lot about. It is renowned for its accurate simulations of a baseball game and if you do enough games, a baseball season. I admit I haven’t tried it yet and it is quite intimidating going through all the pieces. There are a ton of charts to influence the result (for example, there is even a chart for the ballpark effect). Each player has his own card and with all the cards and pieces just keeping everything organized is a game on its own. Also the instruction manual reminds me of a old college math textbook…
The very short answer on how to play Strat-O-Matic is that you roll three dice. One dice determines which chart to use (pitcher’s or hitter’s) and the other two dices determines the result using that chart.
Strat-O-Matic reminds of MLB Showdown, role playing games and maybe war games (but I haven’t played any real war games). But I love statistics so this game should be a lot of fun. I am going down the rabbit hole that is Strat-O-Matic.
If you are a child of the 90’s, you probably remember those epic Crossfire commercials. I never own this game when I was a child but I have one now and wow, playing it was such a nostalgic trip.
So how was the game? Crossfire is probably best as a conversation piece. The game has fast frenetic action which is good but if the two players are about equal skill the game pretty much ends in a stalemate. Your finger also really hurts after playing with for awhile.
The components of the game is on the lackluster side. The gun jams from time to time but I like to think getting it to work is part of the skill of this game. The actual board is just a thin piece of cardboard and I am always scared one of the cheap plastic piece will break. It also goes without saying it super easy to lose the metal balls but you really can’t fault them on that.
But with all that being said, you can’t underestimate the nostalgia this brings. It just feels super 90’s (even though the original game first came out in 1971). Everyone I know from the 90’s vividly remembers those commercials. The best part of Crossfire is probably the awe people get when I first bring it out.
By the way if you are looking for variants to fix some of the problems above. The way I play now is 3 three minute rounds. You can get 5 points for get the puck across the board, 2 points for getting to the end zone and 1 point for getting to your opponents side of the board when time runs out. The player with the most points after three rounds wins.
Quick post today. Pax Unplugged was awesome! Here are some of cool games I picked up.
First off some promos and freebies I picked up.
I also won a copy of Pick the Lock, a little card game.
One of the coolest items is Zendo, signed by Andrew Looney. This game has been on my want list for a long time and they finally reprinted it.
Garbage Day is a fun, unique card game.
Finally I can’t leave a convention without a mystery bag/ box and this time around I got Battle Yahtzee Deadpool which intrigued me in the past and Are You the Traitor (not really a fan of social deduction games).
I am definitely going to Pax Unplugged next year and I can easily see it being my favorite convention.
I was recently introduced to the world of thrifting and the thrift stores in New York City. It is (in my opinion) the closest you can get in the modern world to digging for treasure. I really do enjoy the thrill of the hunt and reading other people’s thrift store hauls on reddit. So it about time to share some awesome board games I found in thrift stores.
My best find has to be Ingenius for less than $5 after discounts. It is pretty much brand new. I don’t usually like abstract strategy games but Ingenius is quickly becoming one of my favorite games in my collection. It is a tile laying game and how you place your tile each turn will score points in one or two of six colors. What is clever or dare I say ingenius about this game is you only score the points of your worst performing color. So you can’t go all in in just one or two colors. I highly recommend this game.
I got Rush Hour Deluxe Edition for $4. The box is a little banged up and it is missing two cards but everything else is there. This is a puzzle where you have to get you car out of a traffic jam. I got through the easy scenarios but I am having some problems solving even the intermediate puzzles. Rush Hour is probably the most well known game of the Thinkfun puzzle line and I also recommend Roller Coaster Challenge if you ever come across it.
Finally I got this party game, Emoji Cards for $3. I actually came back for it because I was surprised Tom Vasal of the Dice Tower gave a positive review for the game. It doesn’t look like much but it is Charades meets the game, Concept. I am also brainstorming a variant for this game. It is still in the testing phase but as a little teaser it can be best described as a reverse Codenames.
What have been some of your best thrift shop finds? In the past, I have also gotten Carcassonne for $5, Ascension for $5, Qwirkle for $1, Stonehenge with the expansion for $10 and Tsuro for $5 at a used bookstore but unfortunately they don’t sell games anymore.
This year, I can’t say New York Comic Con was a lot less crowded but I can say it was noticeably less crowded which is a good thing. Anyways, I went in looking for good deals for board games and I have a huge stack of games sitting right next to me.
I love mystery boxes and a booth was selling one with board games and card games. I couldn’t resist.
I got Evil Genius Deathray along with an expansion and a tiny card game called Save the Cupcake in it. Evil Genius Deathray does not look like a good game. It feels like a bad Munchkin and I hate Munchkin. Save the Cupcake on the hand looks like a good quick 2 player card game. It is actually quite fun and interestingly enough it hasn’t had a retail release yet.
You know how I said I couldn’t resist a good mystery box well… I bought another one on the last day of comic con. This one was a Carl Chudyk themed box. It had Innovation, Innovation: Artifacts of History expansion and Red 7. I don’t know much about these games but at first glance they both have elements of Fluxx. These games have a good rating on Board Game Geek so I am interested in trying these out.
I got this push your luck dice game, Dancing Dice for $3 and Le Boomb for free. It was bundled with Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate (with promos) and Tuchulcha which my brother bought. Dancing Dice is high on my to try list. I like push your luck, Yahtzee like dice games and this seems like a nice twist to the usual formula. Le Boomb is barely a game but it could be an interesting way to determine who goes first in a game. Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate is the new hotness in the board gaming world. It is a D&D reskinning of Betrayal at the House on the Hill, one of my favorite games. Finally Tuchulcha has really, really boring box. Looked it up and it is a fancy Parcheesi like game. Not really my thing.
Finally I got this copy of Tak, signed by Pat Rothfuss. This is probably the coolest item I got in New York Comic Con this year. Tak is 2 player abstract game that is quick to teach and a lifetime to master. I usually avoid abstract games but I played this game a couple of times and I loved it. Throw Pat Rothfuss (my favorite author at the moment) in the mix and it was a no brainer.
I also bought a bunch of comics but wow that is a lot of games!
I loved, loved the Legends of the Hidden Temple TV show and when the board game came out it, it was an easy buy for me. But a huge red flag for most gamers is that this board game is made by Pressman Toy which hasn’t had the best track record for board games especially after the Oregon Trail Card Game. As it, yes Legends of the Hidden Temple isn’t a good board game.
But its biggest strength is the nostalgia factor and playing this brought back all sort of warm memories of the show. All in all, I think the Legend of the Hidden Temple board game does replicate the show well… almost to a fault. The show made the contestants do some silly things so likewise this board game made you do some silly things. For example, you have to flip a cup in one challenge and play sort of a simple version of beer pong in another. I actually don’t mind this but this is why I recommend playing this with only people who have seen the show. If they never seen the show, this would just be a bad party game.
The biggest problem though is this game is too long and it kind of drags on. If you play with a large group, many of the eliminated players will have a lot of time to kill. Some of the rules are a little vague too so I recommend some house rules.
- In the first moat challenge, you have to quickly roll dice to match your team’s side and move up if you do but if you roll the opposite team’s side you lose some of your progress. I would just do away with this rule so you always make forward progress. Also it is a bit unclear but I play it as ten spaces you have complete to win and only the first two teams to finish gets to move on because…
- I only played one of the three temple games challenges which each playthrough which means you have to award the two other pendants elsewhere. The first team to finish the moat challenge get the first pendant (the next player to finish just gets to move on). The two teams then play the steps of knowledge challenge and the first team to get three questions right gets the second pendant.
- For the Smashed Printing Plate of Frederick Douglass challenge (basically the card game slap), there is no reason to play through the whole deck. I just play with 40 random cards which is a little more than half the deck.
- Finally in the temple run challenge, the silver monkey rules are a little vague. I play it as a memory game. You can only look at one card at a time and have flip the card face down before you look at another card. When you know where the base, the middle and head are, point it out and flip the cards to see if you are right. If you are wrong, flip all the card face down again and shuffle it and start over.
- This is not really a house rule but I always play the Temple Run song in the final challenge to add to the suspense. It is a good way to keep track of time too.
I think all these house rules speed up the game and gets to the good part (the temple run) faster. It also adds a little variety and replayability to the game since you can play a different temple game each time. All in all, this board game isn’t for everyone but there is something there and I wished it was refined just a bit.