Reviewed by Louise Totton
We love a good boardgame in our house, and as soon as somebody mentions getting one out, down go the Xbox control pads and phones and the kids land at the playroom table ready to spend some nice family time together. We don’t actually do it often enough – we do try to but sometimes life gets in the way and the adults are too tired after a day of work, or the kids have homework or an after school club, so games with minimal set up time and that don’t involve tricky rules or several hours are a massive bonus. We’ve been lucky enough over the past few years to have tried out a few ‘tabletop games’ – games that we can sit around a table together to play, but that don’t require a board or any real setting up. We have particularly loved Grabolo and Pointz from Ideal, so when we were asked to try out another couple of their tabletop games, we jumped at the chance!
The first one we tried was Slam It!, which is a game for 2-8 players aged 6+. The box told us that a game would take around 10-20 minutes, which is perfect for after school whilst we’re waiting for dinner to cook!
Slam It! bills itself as a fast-paced card matching game, and fast-paced it most definitely is! The object of the game is to get rid of as many of your cards as you can by matching what you say with what you see. In its simplest form, it couldn’t be easier but there are two further game modes that add extra levels of difficulty to the game, and that’s where it starts getting really tricky!
We loved that Slam It! comes in its own self-contained plastic box which is compact, strong and secure enough to also act as a travel case for the game. The box has three fixed compartments in it for the three different types of cards which makes setting it up and switching between the game modes to ramp up the difficulty really quick. So, in its simplest mode (level 1), all of the cards are dealt out being shared equally between the players. Level 1 used the ‘core’ cards only, which are six sets of differently coloured cards numbered 0-9. To play, you take it in turns to play your card into the middle whilst counting. So player one will play their card calling ‘zero’, player two then plays their card calling ‘one’ and player three continues calling ‘two’. Once you get up to nine, the count starts again, and only stops when the number called matches the number of the card played. When a match is spotted, the players slam their hands onto the deck. The last player to slam has to take all of the cards and add to their pile, and play continues. The winner is the first player to get rid of all of their cards.
We all thoroughly enjoyed Level 1 and felt that neither the adults nor the kids were at a disadvantage. The rules were simple to understand and play, and everyone from the oldest to the youngest (aged 7) was able to fully participate. When you level up to level 2 (only when you’re confident with level 1), an extra level of difficultly is added – cards are introduced into play that either skip a player or reverse the rules of play. Finally, level 3 is where it gets really complicated and ‘bomb’ cards are introduced that add extra rules to play – fun ones like if a yellow card is played, that player has to maintain a cheesy grin for the rest of the game or having players speak like pirates to ones that make the game far more difficult like treating blue cards as twos and two cards as blues!
The game is great fun and levels two and three certainly added an awful lot challenge but a lot of extra fun too – the game certainly gets frantic and fiendishly difficult! We found that levels 2 and 3 worked a lot better when we were all playing and didn’t work so well as a 2-player game, but I think that’s always the case with games like this – the more the merrier! The kids were fine with levels 1 and 2 but I think some of the rules, and especially combinations of rules of level 3 (yes, they are cumulative) are a bit tricky for the kids and would probably be best for ages 10+. That doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a great fun game for the whole family and we had a blast with it.
As much as we enjoyed Slam It! though, Sneak Peek was the one that we all really took to! The rules for this one are incredibly easy to understand and it’s perfect for anyone aged 5+. Sneak Peek is, in its most basic form, a memory and matching game but it’s much more fun than any other memory game we have played before!
Just like Slam It!, Sneak Peek is basically a deck of cards contained in its own little box for ease of travelling. The tin contains 64 round cards with different symbols and colours on them. Play is really simple and is a combination of Snap and Patience – all of the cards are shared between all of the players but instead of playing one card at a time, three are played. If you are unable to create a ‘snap’ between all three cards (same symbol or same colour or a combination), the cards are left in play but turned upside down. The next player then takes their turn but if after dealing one or two of their cards, they think they can remember the location of another card on the table to complete a set, they can turn that over instead. Any completed sets are retained and the winner is the player who has the most cards at the end of the game.
We particularly liked this game because it was so simple and it takes no time at all to set up or to learn. The kids loved how they were able to compete on the same level with the adults; my 10-year-old had a freakishly good memory and wiped the floor with all of us!
Both of these games were really great fun and have been brilliant additions to our games cupboard. They are both ideal for either playing at home or as travel games as they come in their own cases and require no set up at all. They are a great way to fill little chunks of time with the kids without resorting to gadgets or screens and we have had a great time trying them both out!
For more information and where to buy, visit www.johnadams.co.uk.