Recently we were offered the chance to try out some of Ideal Games’ family board games. This is a chance I would have jumped at anyway as I do love a game night, but with the current situation that the world finds itself in there may never have been a time when families have needed boredom busters more. When we were kids we often played a game as a family after our Sunday roast so I am keen that my kids will also enjoy playing games together; that don’t involve screens.
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PRODUCTS REVIEWED WERE GIFTED
As we, a family of 6, are having to spend all day everyday together during lockdown having new and different games to play that we can enjoy as a family is an extremely welcome distraction. Boredom busters are how I prevent my kids from irritating one another; a focused activity and a game that they can play with a structure really helps so when Ideal Games offered to send me Rubiks, Rummikub, Trominos and Othello there was a huge ‘YES PLEASE’ from me.
When the box arrived I was completely overwhelmed by their generosity as not only did they send me the games I mentioned, but also included Rubik’s Cubes, Bank, Think Words, Stare Off, The Great British Train Journey, Rummikub Junior, Shake It Off and Clock it just to mention a few.
I am so grateful for this and it really has helped me and my kids during a tricky time especially when we haven’t had sunshine so before I tell you what we thought of the games I wanted to say a big thank you to Ideal Games.
As always when we are sent a gift the thoughts and opinions I give are honest and completely my own.
Rummikub and Rummikub Junior
These are fast becoming our favourite family games. They are fun both for the kids and for the husband and I. Lets face it you can’t always say that about family games.
So often the kids are having fun and the adults are just grinning and bearing it or the adults are enjoying it and the kids are moaning they are bored. Ill bet that sounds familiar! Not ideal when games are your boredom busters. The other issue we often have is that the boys (9 and 7) can join in and play a game with us, but the girls (5) are just too young to play. That leaves the question of entertaining the girls safely whilst we are trying to do something with the boys…, but that is not the case now with Rummikub Junior in the picture. This game is a simpler version of Rummikub which our girl are definitely able to understand and play.
In fact they have even been able to join in a little bit with Rummikub itself; playing on teams with the husband and I.
I won’t lie; when we first started playing Rummikub it was not a hit with my eldest. He didn’t seem to get it.
I must admit it took me a minute to get into it. I am not sure why as it really is quite straightforward, but if you too are numbers challenged like me then I recommend persevering as as soon as I got it and got into the strategic element of the game I loved it.
Our younger son (just turned 7) really likes all things numbers so we next tried it with him and he instantly took to the game. He was having so much fun playing with Daddy that his elder brother came into the room to see what was making them laugh and shriek. He was then desperate to have another go and once he joined in the second time also got how much fun Rummikub really is. Now the boys always want this to be the game that we play whenever games are mentioned! The husband and I even had our own Rummikub night with a couple of glasses of wine and a lot of competitiveness.
Rummikub is in essence very simple you just have to create runs of of numbers in the same colour or sets of the same number across the colours. The first person to get rid of all their tiles is the winner. That is it at the heart of it so it doesn’t sound that riveting, but there is all kinds of ways to make the sets and you are not just playing on your own sets, but on the other player’s sets too. You can manipulate runs and sets to your favour as long as you always leave intact sets by the end of your turn and that is really where the fun lies. You have to be strategic to win this game. You have to be looking at all of the tiles down on the table and working out the consequences of any action you take. It is the strategy bit and outmanoeuvring your opponents that make it interesting. You are also given a time limit in which to operate which we actually never needed to enforce, but I know when we play with my dad will want to ruminate endlessly over his next move so the time limit will keep the game moving and the pressure on.
We were very impressed with the quality of the tiles in Rummikub and Rummikub Junior. It feels well made and I am sure it will last the test of time and 4 kids!! The tiles are very tactile and one of the boys keeps walking off with them as he likes the feel of them All in all, as a family, these are our favourite games within the boredom busters bundle. There are some other really great ones in there too.
Triominos is like dominos, but with triangular playing pieces and the addition of scoring for completing certain shape patterns; bridges and hexagons.
The first time I played this with one of the boys I slightly misunderstood one of the instructions (there is a theme developing here so I think it is safe to assume I am the problem rather than the instructions – lol) so we weren’t getting it quite right with the shapes. It isn’t complex as such, but you need to understand which shapes that you create with the Triominos mean which points values. I recommend not reading the instructions with 4 kids driving you crazy
Once we were playing properly and in fact even when we weren’t we had a great time with this one. As the parent I loved that it involves the players paying attention to detail. You can’t just have the right numbers on the Triomino you have to also have them in the right place and so there is a good bit of thinking and strategic thinking going on. Recognising patterns and using numbers is a key part of kids mathematics learning journey so this game has been really valuable during the home schooling process, but it also fun so they don’t even notice that there is any learning in play. When you are playing you also need to record scores as you go and so I get the boys to record and calculate their own score – sneaking in a bit of addition practice along the way. We have played this game loads in the past few weeks as whenever I feel the energy and attention slipping on our maths lessons we switch to playing = perfect!!
Not just a lockdown boredom buster
Triominos isn’t just for lockdown and home learning though I know this is also going to be a firm favourite for coming on holiday and camping with us once we are allowed to go again. The fact that all the pieces are in a great soft bag means it is excellent for popping in a case or travel bag and taking with you wherever you go.
Triominos is aimed at 6+ and I would say this is about right. You do need to concentrate and be looking for the opportunities to make the high scoring shapes such as the Triple Hexagon. We found Triominos to be a fast paced and quite quick game to play which I think is perfect for kids. You always want to leave them asking ‘ can we play just once more’ and not begging for the game to be over. With Triominos my boys are always keen to play again and there is a chance for learning to take place so its a winner for this mum for sure.
Othello is a classic as with the other Ideal Games boredom busters we have been trying this feels like a quality game. It is well made. This is a game that I haven’t played before, but friends of mine were taught by their grandparents when they were kids. Its a classic, but a great classic. It is so simple in its concept. You are aiming to have more of your colour showing on the board by the end of the game than your opponent. You do this by placing your piece so that it essentially encloses ‘outflanks’ your opponents piece.
They say on the box a minute to learn – a lifetime to master and I can totally see that as you can be playing within minutes. It is very easy to understand, but it is only after you play for a while that you start to understand the strategy and how to play in order to try and outmanoeuvre your opponent. Top tip alert: go for the corners!!
So far I have played this game with my husband and we had a great evening – I won!!! It is suitable from aged 7 upwards so I will play it with the boys too so that they can then play with one another without me. Even they couldn’t argue about this one…. after all it is either black or white!
The only very small thing I would say about Othello is that it would be great if there was a little bag in the box to keep the pieces in. It is really not the end of the world and they do make a version of the game without any loose pieces, but I want to be honest about my impression of each item I review and for me this was just something I noted. It certainly didn’t stop it from being a great game and a lovely way to pass the time.
This is like my boys dream game. It is Rubiks, but not as you know it! You can twist it, flip it and open the cage… The boys are fascinated by their Rubik’s cubes, but they can’t really complete them yet without help. So Rubik’s Cage is perfect for them as it is taking the Rubiks idea and making it into a two player game.
The Rubiks cage has individual cubes that you take out and then put them back in (taking turns) to make rows, but you are allowed to twist it so you think you are about to make a row and then your opponent comes along and twists!!! You are not allowed to just undo what they have done. It is great fun.
I like the fact that the boys can play this without me being involved as it gives me a chance to focus on the girls for a few minutes or just to get some chores done. It says 8 + but my 7 year old can play it easily too. The Rubiks cage is a proper boredom buster which has caused lots of shouts of ‘oh no’ and ‘what?’ as they boys realise the other has got a one on them. They really like this game and it isn’t huge so its a great one for taking with you on visits to family (once we are all allowed again) or even on holiday.
These 5 games along with the rest of the boredom buster games that Ideal Games kindly sent us have really made a huge difference to us during this tricky time when we are staying home to stay safe, but I know that they will continue to be family favourites and give us hours of fun for many years to come. We have enjoyed so many of the games, but the vote is in and our favourite is Rummikub.
Which of these boredom busters will be your family favourite for game night?