Browsing Tag

Games

Gift Guides

Melissa’s Game Night: DysFUNction

March 29, 2013

Welcome to another installment of Melissa’s Game Night. Recently, I had the comical pleasure of playing Dysfunction with two of my good friends – Rachel and Bennett. These two are close to my heart, as we lived 2 blocks from each other when we all lived in San Francisco, and then I followed them out to NYC (as they like to tell everyone) and now live 2 blocks away from them here. Needless to say, I enjoy their company.

When they invited me over a couple of weeks ago to third wheel their dinner (Rachel is an amazing cook and was the star member of my SF cooking club which we are trying to restart out here), I couldn’t help but bring a game along. Once the lasagna was done and the martinis were poured, we broke out DysFUNction. Warning: this game is not for the light of heart, or for children (actually!). Here is how you play:
“Find the fun in your dysfunction! The object of the game is to be the player with the most Baggage. Baggage is claimed by having and sharing your dysfunctional family stories. The first player to claim 15 Bags and fill their Baggage Cart wins the game.”

The board had a classic, winding look – along the lines of childhood favorites – and you rolled dice to move along the spaces. Some spaces had prompts on them – for example, the one I kept landing on was “Your family joins a cult, but the food is way better there. Lose 3 Bags.” Most of the spaces have either “Dig Deep” or “Family Fun” on them, and if you land on either of these, you pull a card. The Family Fun cards are mostly cards that say something sassy (again, warning, some of these were hard hitting – hilarious, but hard hitting) like “Your roll is a disappointment to your mother and me. Roll again. Get it right this time.” The Dig Deep cards were the most intense slash hilarious slash interesting slash fun. These cards prompt you to tell a story in theme of family or childhood dysfunction, and then appoint a judge for your story from the table. The Judge of the story would give you 1 to 3 bags based on the quality of your story – the better the story, the more Bags the Judge awards. Some of our funnier stories were told in response to these cards:

All in all, we definitely enjoyed this game and were rolling in laughter the whole time, with high scoring anecdotes ranging from “my dad’s fiancée is younger than I am” (three bags) to “I monogram all my clothes so my family members can’t steal them” (one bag). That said, even with just three of us and all of us knowing each other well, the questions were still comically and awkwardly probing – the beauty and the curse of the questions is that they “dig deep” into questions and memories that you don’t typically address – which is great because you remember stories that you don’t usually tell, but awkward because they ask you to tell stories that you wouldn’t typically share.

I definitely recommend this game as a way to get to know good friends better – it might be more challenging with a group that is more on the acquaintance side.

If you revel in a little bit of awkwardness and love reclaiming old memories, this game is for you. The three of us actually ended up enjoying the game so much that we brought the cards with us on a ski road trip the next weekend and continued the bumbling hilarity.

Gift Guides

Melissa’s Game Night: Rollick!

February 18, 2013


Welcome back! This edition of Game Night actually features a get-together I had a while back. (As you can see from the shorts. One plus, though, now I’m in the mood for some warmer weather!)

I was looking through old photos, and realized that I had a hilarious photo shoot of my friends and myself trying out the game Rollick! that we brought into the assortment this past summer.


This game is like a backwards version of charades – instead of one person acting out each clue, you divide up into teams and act out the clue as a group. Being the rebels we are, we didn’t actually follow the rules, and instead nominated 2 people per card to get up in front of the group and make fools of themselves (the boys were particularly good at this).

My sister and I had a particularly special moment where we tried (relatively unsuccessfully) to act out what a magic carpet ride would look like – we eventually got people to guess it when we cheated and hummed the song from Disney’s Aladdin, and then she jumped into my arms at the end.

The gameplay was definitely hilarious and highly interactive – we were giggling (ok, more like rolling with laughter on the ground) the entire time, and even though we didn’t play by the rules or even keep score, we still managed to get competitive over who was the best actor. Hint: it was not me.

I think this is a great game for a span of ages – it is something that the young and the old can get involved in together, and I can see this being great for a family game night.

I’ve had a few game nights since, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share this one with you, so stay tuned for those posts to come! I am always playing the games that I’m considering bringing into the assortment, as well as sometimes grabbing the ones we already have on site, so please feel free to leave a comment below and let me know if there is any particular game you want to see played.

Till next time, kids!
Melissa

Check out more of Melissa’s Game Nights to see her play Kwizniac and ZinZig!

Gift Guides

Melissa’s Game Night: Kwizniac Trivia Countdown Game

January 15, 2013

Welcome to the second installment of “Melissa’s Game Night,” the blog post series where I fill you in on the behind-the-scenes product testing I conduct on new uncommon games. Basically, I force all of my friends to play games with me, then I write about it.

This time around, we played Kwizniac, “The Trivia Countdown Game.”

Kwizniac is the kind of game that is the perfect time-filler. As people trickled in for the game get-together (I have some punctual friends, and some not-so-punctual friends) I had the box sitting on top of my counter. I was whipping up some dinner for everyone–boiling pasta, and heating up canned pasta sauce. I know, I’m a culinary genius–and people kept grabbing cards out of the deck, reading through them, chuckling, and then reading out the clues to me and the others while I “cooked.” This informal play was just as much fun as when I got the whole group to sit down with their dinners and we actually played the game for real.

The way the game works is simple. There’s “a set of 10 clues provided in decreasing order of difficulty, where each clue is easier to decipher than the previous clue in the sequence.”

The scoring system is also easy to follow. If you guess the answer on the first clue that is read you get 10 points, and “the number of points a player receives for a correct answer decreases as he or she progresses through the sequence of clues. The player with the highest score wins the game.” To be honest, though, I have never even paid attention to the score while playing the game – what’s great about Kwizniac is that the score isn’t really necessary or isn’t even the most fun part of the game. It’s highly interactive, and seems to spiral off into fun conversational tangents every time I play. It’s the kind of thing that you can pick up and read through only one card and it still has that moment of competitive trivia fun, or play for an entire span of time. You can use it for a true game night with a bunch of friends, as a conversation starter among two friends or on a date, or as a fun moment of learning alone. (Yes I have done all 3, don’t judge.)

The variety of clues is also great. There were a bunch of clues about everyday objects and creatures that were great in the “wow, I had no idea!” kind of way (i.e. Did you know that giraffes have the highest blood pressure of any animal? Or that garlic belongs to the onion family?), and then clues that are a little harder to capture at first but become obvious as you go through. For example, for Barbie, the first clue is “She made her debut in 1959” (no idea), the 5th clue is “She has over 40 pets, including a horse named Dancer” (still fairly open), the 3rd is “Every second, two of her are sold somewhere in the world” (getting warmer), the 2nd is “Her boyfriend’s name is Ken” (got it!), and the last is “If she was a real person her measurements would be 36-18-38” (yikes).

I love this deck. We had a ball at game night, and my copy of Kwizniac now lives next to my couch, where houseguests pick it up all the time and flip through it. It’s a fun, easy piece to keep around – perfect for kids and adults alike. Kwizniac is destined to teach you something new!

Thanks for joining me for Game Night. See you next time!
Melissa

P.s. Our community moderator just told me that she should have read through and memorized all of these before she tried out for Jeopardy! recently. I agree.

*Editor’s Note: The quiz game fun doesn’t have to come to an end after the first deck. Kwizniac 2nd Edition is also available, so your friends can guess the answers to those countdown clues for many game nights to come! And, there’s a version for younger trivia fans, too: Kwizniac Kidz!

Gift Guides

Melissa’s Game Night: ZinZig

September 10, 2012

Hello! My name is Melissa and I am a new buyer over here at UncommonGoods. I look for product for a number of categories, including and especially games and toys. Obviously, for these types of items, the question “is it fun?” comes up every time in our decision-making process. The thing about games is that the ideal way to determine how fun a game is going to be is not in reading instructions and checking it out alone at my desk at work – but rather with friends at home. Shocking and insightful observation, I know.

So, in an effort to do my job better (take note, boss!), make new friends (I just moved out to New York City to join UncommonGoods from sunny California – or, in my case, foggy San Francisco), and generally have fun, I decided to start hosting game nights to test the new product that I’m considering. When we were chatting about this in one of our sample review meetings, someone threw out the idea of sharing the experience with our UncommonGoods community, and Melissa’s Game Night was born.

Up first was ZinZig ™:
“ZinZig is the wine tasting and trivia game that will challenge your mind and palate. So sit back, relax, and sip your wine. You’re in for a Zin-ful good time ™!”

I bribed my friends over with offers of pasta & sautéed Brussels sprouts, convinced them that yes, it is a great idea to play a wine tasting board game on a weekday, and raced out of the office to get set up.
[Disclaimer: since I just moved to NY, my living room looks pretty sparse, I know — hopefully it will continue to get more interesting as these blog posts continue!]

Once I cooked dinner for the boys (note to self: make more female friends), I asked/told one of my friends to read out the instructions and help us get set up. Luckily for him, it was fairly straight-forward and user-friendly: the beginning of the game opens with drinking and testing all of the wines. We also each picked a winery as well as a figure to represent us on the board. We each started on the space of the Winery that we chose – since the board is circular, the location that you are on is not really important (until the end) – it is all about the squares that you land on. On each turn, you get a trivia card and have to try to answer correctly – once you answer, the square you are on determines whether you “Swap”, “Trade”, etc. There are a few wild squares (ie: Corked: Wine spoilage detected. Answer wrong and lose one bottle card), as well as my personal favorite – Sip and Savor – in which you “Sit back, relax, and enjoy your wine” while earning a free card.

Each trivia card has a ‘resource’ printed on the back; the point of the game is to collect one of each resource (barrel, grape, bottle, cork) to start production. Once you do that, you move to the middle of the board and go through the stages of production (crushing, fermenting, aging, bottling) by answering a trivia Card. The first player to complete production is the winner of the game. Even though I am overly competitive, I did not manage to win. The shout-out of victory goes to my friend Mike who came in from last to crush us all.

In terms of game play, I thought the range of the level of difficulty of the trivia questions was well-balanced and on the intelligent side. I am a fairly big wine geek, my friend Alex claimed to know nothing, and everyone else fell somewhere in between. All of us got answers right and wrong, which made it a fun learning experience as well. The game lasted roughly 2 hours, and a good time was had by all. This game was approved and is available now HERE.

Thanks to Barry, Matt, Alex, Gabe, Colin, Erik, and Mike for playing!

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Father’s Day Puzzle Project

June 8, 2012

Every year for Father’s Day I get my dad the same thing – a store bought tie. This year I decided not to add to the mountain of ties in his closet, but instead give him a unique gift we could create together. The vinyl collection puzzle was that perfect unique gift – what’s better than some quality father-daughter time, while creating DIY wall art!?

Background Research:
Many a family game night during my childhood was spent working on puzzles. You would think that putting together puzzles would be a calm activity; however, in my family it is practically a competitive sport. Each piece was quickly put in place as we raced to see who could put in the most pieces in our 250, 500, even 1000 piece puzzles. It was a fun challenge that we could compete in together!

Hypothesis:
The Vinyl Collection Puzzle will be not only a great father-daughter activity, but also a great DIY Father’s Day gift.

The Experiment:
On a slightly overcast Saturday – perfect for a family afternoon indoors – my Dad and I set up an old folding table in the basement, opened the box, and got down to work*. Now, I am sure everyone has his or her own unique “puzzle-ing” style. My Dad insisted (like he always does) that we start with the edges, and then work our way in.

While working on the puzzle, I got to spend some quality time with my Dad! I heard about some of his records and we even took a break to look at some of them. (Disclaimer: The Bruce Springsteen Collection is actually my Mom’s…she had a New Jersey roommate in college.) The vinyl collection of the puzzle is quite unique and diverse, but my Dad found a tape version of one of the records in the puzzle (Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits)!

My Dad and I were not the only ones working on the puzzle – we had a little “helper.” She decided to walk through the center of the puzzle taking some of the pieces with her. Beware of these four-legged “helpers!” Despite this adorable distraction, after a few hours, my Dad and I finished the puzzle. (Disclaimer: My Dad is incredibly good at puzzles!)

The next step was to create the wall art that would become my Dad’s present. I set out to my local arts and crafts store to buy a picture frame. I chose to get a nice black frame that was 18” by 24” – the dimensions of the puzzle. The tight fit holds the puzzle between the glass and the backing, which means the puzzle can be mounted without being glued together. (You never know when you might want to take down the puzzle and put it back together again!)

When putting the puzzle into the frame, make sure to take extreme care. (You don’t want the puzzle to fall completely apart and you’d have to redo it, unless you are a master puzzler who enjoys the challenge.)

*Helpful Hint: When beginning the puzzle find a large poster board to do the puzzle on, the sturdier the better. When you frame the puzzle, the poster board makes it easier to slide the puzzle to the backing of the frame.

Finally, we attached the framed puzzle to the wall with standard picture frame hooks. Then stood back and admired our work!

Results:
The finished product is not only a beautifully completed puzzle, but also a piece of wall art. It now hangs in my family’s basement so that my Dad will see it every time he (and anyone else) hangs out down there, which is pretty often!

Conclusion:
The vinyl collection puzzle is a great family activity for anytime, but especially this Father’s Day. Even if you aren’t able to make it home to spend time with your Dad, a DIY activity like this puzzle is a great Father’s Day gift. To all the fathers in your life, I wish them and you all a Happy Father’s Day! I hope your day is full of memories and perhaps a few DIY craft presents!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Gift Guides

Baby’s First Christmas Gifts

November 21, 2011

When our Twitter contest winner Jodie told us she’d be spending part of her $500 UncommonGoods shopping spree on her young nephews, we got excited to help her pick out some fun kids gifts!

Her youngest nephew, Mark Anthony III is 8 months old, so this will be his first Christmas. We know that parents often think baby clothes and booties are adorable, but we decided to skip the apparel and go right for the fun stuff! We thought Mark Anthony would have a better time playing with these cool toys than sitting around just looking handsome in a babysuit.

Stacrobats- These stackable acrobats are colorful, soft, and help your little one develop dexterity and coordination.

Pull Along Cowboy- A modern take on the classic pull along toy, the cowboy kicks up his boots as his trusty horse gallops along when pulled.

Lollacup- This little penguin looks like a fun toy, but it’s actually a special straw cup designed to help baby drink comfortably and minimize spills.

Organic Cotton Teethers Veggie Crate- Made of 100% hand-picked organic Egyptian cotton, these vibrant veggies help soothe baby’s gums as new teeth come in and aid in imaginative play as the little one grows!

Repurposed Sweater Animal Mittens- We know we said we were skipping the baby clothes, but these comfy mittens don’t really count. They’re pretty much stuffed animals for little hands, so even though they do keep fingers warm, we bet they’ll make baby’s list of favorite toys.

Giraffe Lovie/Blankie- Providing the security of a baby blanket and the fun of a stuffed toy, the Giraffe Lovie is made for close contact with sensitive skin. It’s made from certified organic cotton fabric and contains no chemical dyes, so you’ll feel comfortable letting baby get comfy!

Peek O Fabric Activity Box- Baby will be surprised when he opens this fun gift, and the surprises keep getting better! The interactive box includes a variety of panels featuring fun activities, and the best surprise, the stuffed dog who lives inside the box.

Indestructible Nursery Rhymes- Indestructibles ™ live up to their name! These illustrated books are tear-resistant, drool-proof, and dishwasher and washing machine safe.

Like these baby gift ideas? We have many more where these came from! And, if the kids in your life are a little older, don’t forget to check out our gift guide inspired by Jodie’s older nephews.

Need a personal recommendation for your favorite nephews? Leave a comment or tweet @uncommongoods !

Gift Guides

Last Days of Summer

September 7, 2011

The sun is still shining, the AC is still on, and we might be able squeeze in at least one more trip to the beach. No matter how you long you try to hold on to the lazy days of summer, it’s time to admit that the season is coming to a close. But don’t worry, before back to school bells ring and leaves start turning, there’s still time to have a little fun with these clever toys and activities for kids.

Continue Reading…

Design

Need a Workplace Distraction?

July 19, 2011

We have plenty of fun projects to keep us occupied here in our office, like finding clever new items for our community voting app. Although we’re busy reading your comments, tallying your votes and answering your questions, we wouldn’t mind taking a few minutes to play 100 Workplace Games & Distractions (in the name of product research, of course!). If you’d love to stash this little tin and the included 100 game cards away in your desk to offer up when your co-workers need a breather from the average 9-5, take a break from business and let us know!

Can’t decide whether this game’s for you? Here’s a sample activity (more can be viewed by clicking on the image under the main picture in our voting app).

Sudden applause: “If you have a co-worker who is fond of a favorite saying or quote, gather together a band of your other co-workers and scheme to all applaud the next time the favorite saying is used. If you’re really brave, you’ll target your boss and his or her favorite phrase.”

Pin It on Pinterest