For over a century, board games have been the one toy that both children and adults can enjoy. While the board game market is dominated by Hasbro, which owns both Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers, there are several entrepreneurs who have created their own board games with hopes of leaving a lasting mark on America’s leisure time. Here are a couple worth exploring:
Not at all based on the song by YES, this board game, made by Otero Games of San Diego, California, is a basic strategy game, sort of like a cross between Chess, Chinese Checkers and Roller Derby. The object is to move your pieces one full rotation about the circular course. This goal is complicated by the fact that you, and your opponent, have pieces that move in both directions, and you can block each other’s path. Having completed one full rotation, you remove that piece. This continues until one player has no pieces left, and is declared the winner. It’s simple, yet challenging. It reminds me of Sudoku, in that respect. The rules are easy to understand, and their are all sorts of different ways to play. Two-to-four players can while away the time with this fun little diversion. While the game is rated for ages 10 and up, some younger children can probably grasp the mechanics of Roundabout.
You can order Roundabout directly from Otero Games. They’re still trying to build a network of retailers, and haven’t yet reached our area. For 15 bucks, it’s a great value.
No, not real politics. I’m talking about a board game. Employing a game concept not unlike Monopoly, Charles J. Smaltz, the game’s inventor and founder of Chum Chum Games (gotta love that name) have developed a board game for ages 8 and up that allows you to experience the highs and lows of a political career. From mayoral races to the president, the game of Politics lets you act on your delusional ambitions for power without actually doing any real damage. Think how much better off we’d be if some of our current leaders had gotten their political ya-yas out with this board game, instead of buying their way into office for real. This is a great way to pass an evening with friends, especially if they are of a different political persuasion than you, as the game allows you to needle them about it all night.
You can order POLITICS directly from Chum Chum Games on their website, or call 1- 888-542-5925. The game costs under $40, but you can also get a deluxe edition, autographed by the inventor, as well as T-shirts. One other nice feature of the game is that you can download additional scoresheets, rules and other paper items directly from the website, so you don’t wind up having to make your own scoresheets when you run out, like you do with Clue.
That wraps up Toy Week, where I tried to bring you some of the real “best toys” available, instead of the same paid endorsements that the rest of the mainstream media passes off. This year, if you saw any Toy Fair coverage, I’m sure you saw the same items: The Dancing Barbie, the inflatable Superman outfit, the robot horse and the radio controlled bug-car. Since the coverage of the toy industry has become so predictable, I’ve decided to do what I can to rectify that. Starting next week, I’ll bring you a new regular feature, “PopCult’s Cool Toy Of The Week,” spotlighting the smaller toy companies that can’t afford to pay for media coverage. Check back next Friday to see what I pick for the first installment.