is published in Finnish as La Cucaracha Loop by Ravensburger, and I received a free review copy.

The game: Kakerlaloop by Inka and Markus Brand, published by Ravensburger in 2015.

Elevator pitch: Roll and move your bugs across the board, but watch out for the Hexbug Nano cockroach that tries to bump the bugs off the spaces.

What’s in the box? This is a standout game: the box includes two see-through plastic loop tubes, one green and one orange, to be installed at the ends of the board.

The board is placed over a pool in the insert, so that the cockroach can run underneath the board, appear from the loop tubes to run on the board, then get back to below the board. That looks great. Other than that, there are some bug pawns with bright, vibrant colours and a die.

This game looks really attractive, and it’s easy to get people to try it based on the looks alone.

What do you do in the game? It’s a simple roll and move thing: take turns rolling the die and moving your pawns across the board. First player to get all three pawns to the other side wins.

The cockroach provides a small twist. When it appears from below the board, the players stop rolling and moving. Once the cockroach is back below the board, players continue, but first they check all the bugs: if the cockroach has kicked a bug off the track, the bug returns to the beginning.

If a bug touches a square, it’s returned to it, so it’s possible the cockroach will set a bug back just a space or two, or even move it forward.

Lucky or skillful? Almost completely lucky. It’s really up to how well you roll the die and how merciful the cockroach is for you. There are some safe spaces where the cockroach can’t touch the bugs, but there’s little strategy in using them.

Abstract or thematic? The Hexbug Nano electronic cockroach is nice and does feel somewhat like a real insect, so the theme works and is fun.

Solitaire or interactive? It’s pretty much a pure race game, so while you may root for the cockroach and cheer when it pushes your opponents off the spaces, there’s nothing you can personally do to hinder the other players.

Players: 2–4, better with more.

Who can play? Age recommendation is 5+, but with adults helping, even four-year-olds or bright three-year-olds should be able to play – this is a very simple game.

Length: 10-15 minutes, though if the cockroach is very stubborn and doesn’t want to go below the board, you can spend several minutes waiting for it to move so you can continue the game.

What’s to like: Simple game; looks really attractive; the cockroach is lovely.

What’s not to like: The game is too simple; there’s not much depth in it; the cockroach is kinda annoying.

My verdict: This game looks stunning and it’s really easy to get kids excited about it. If you’re mostly familiar with simple roll and move games, Kakerlaloop will deliver an exciting experience full of thrills.

Well, at least most of the time: sometimes the cockroach spends ages whirring around the board kicking the bugs and when it finally dives under the board to let players actually play the game instead of just watching the cockroach, it may reappear right away. Sometimes it doesn’t really surface at all, and then the game is quickly over and boring. The cockroach is unpredictable, in good and bad.

However, if you expect more than just roll and move with a little twist and pretty setting, Kakerlaloop is a disappointment. Despite the flashly looks of the new game, the original Kakerlakak is still the more interesting game.

On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Kakerlaloop gets Indifferent from me – but if you are looking for a really simple roll and move game with a flashy twist, do check it out.

Kakerlaloop contents

Fashion Show

Fashion ShowFashion Show is published by Finnish Peliko, and I received a free review copy.

The game: Fashion Show by Theora Design, published by Peliko in 2016.

Elevator pitch: A simple tile-laying pattern recognition game with a Top Model -like fashion theme.

What’s in the box? A large board checkered with different cloth patterns, a bunch of thin cards. The cards have images of girls and boys, with the clothes cut out. When the card is placed on the board, it’ll get clothes from the patterns. There’s also the Style Mixer, a plastic gadget with four dice.

What do you do in the game? The Style Mixer is mixed so that is shows four random patterns. Each player is assigned a side of the board and when the Style Mixer is placed on the board, each player gets two of the dice. Those dice determine the pattern combination players must hunt for.

If you can find two adjacent squares on the board with the designated pattern combination, place a card on those squares. There are no turns, so everybody plays as fast as they can. Because the Style Mixer only has four dice, in four-player games players are sharing each dice with one opponent, so there’s guaranteed to be conflicts even if nobody else is looking for the exact same combo.

The round is over when nobody can place any more cards. The game is over, when somebody places their eighth card. This takes three or four rounds, maybe more with four players.

Lucky or skillful? Quite a bit of luck, as the die rolls can determine a winner. If one player has four matching combos on the board and the other has one, being fast doesn’t help. That said, if you’re fast, you will win more often. The level of luck seems quite suitable for such a short, quick game.

Abstract or thematic? Abstract, could be any patterns. The fashion theme is refreshing, and while it’s clearly an attempt to sell the game for girls, I think it’s fine. My daughter, whole loves the Top Model line of products, found this immediately attractive.

Solitaire or interactive? There’s competition for the spots, so you need to be fast. However, there’s no intentional cruelty towards other players.

Players: 2–4. The game works with all player counts, but is the most exciting with four.

Who can play? Age recommendation is 6+. This seems correct. Six-year-olds can easily play the game without adult assistance.

Length: Box says 25 minutes, our games took few minutes each. However, it is impossible to play just once, so a total of 25 minutes per sessions sounds reasonable.

What’s to like: Simple rules; unusual fashion theme and look; the cards are nice.

What’s not to like: The game is a bit easy; the cards may not last long in use (but can be replaced easily, if necessary).

My verdict: My daughter took one look at the box and immediately loved the game. The first time we played, we did seven rounds and she would’ve wanted more. So something’s done right here.

I think the game’s a bit too fast and bit too simplistic, it’s over before it really begins. But I can understand why it feels addictive. It looks cute and stands out – and while it looks like a proper mass market game, the game play is decent.

On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Fashion Show gets Indifferent from me – but if you have a six-year-old girl who loves Top Model, they’ll love this.

Fashion Show content

Out of Mine!

Out of Mine!Out of Mine! is a tile-laying game from HUCH! & Friends. I did the Finnish translation and got a free copy because of that.

The game: Out of Mine! by Martin Nedergaard Andersen, published by HUCH! & Friends in 2014.

Elevator pitch: A tile-laying game like Ubongo where you must fill your board with tiles as fast as possible.

What’s in the box? Bunch of rectangular boards for the puzzles, lots of cardboard tiles to cover the boards with, a deck of cards and rules. Components are nice, simple and work well enough. The art is cute.

What do you do in the game? The goal is simple: a card dictates which tiles to use, and your goal is to pick the tiles from the middle of the table and cover the puzzle board with the tiles. The colours of the tiles determine their sizes, but it’s up to you to choose the shapes of the larger tiles so that you can complete the puzzle. Once the first player is done, everybody else must quit immediately.

The results are scored. Everybody gets ten points, the first one out gets a two-point bonus and everybody else loses a point for each uncovered space on their boards (boards have 20 spaces, so you need to cover half to score any points). There are also more complicated scoring rules, which add bonuses or penalties for placing particular tiles.

Repeat for a total of seven rounds, and you’re done.

Lucky or skillful? Too much skill. The fastest player will win, always. Since there’s no mercy and the round is immediately over when the first player is done, the fastest player will win.

Abstract or thematic? The game is quite abstract. The theme is just decoration. It’s a game about mining crystals, yet what do you actually do? You try to fill the mine with crystals. Go figure.

Solitaire or interactive? There’s some competition as the tiles come from a common pool, but that’s it.

Players: 2–4.

Who can play? Age recommendation is 10+. From the rules, it’s too high. It’s a simple game, six-year-olds can play. However, in order to have fun, everybody needs to be equally skilled in the game. This just doesn’t work with mixed-level groups.

Length: no more than 20 minutes.

What’s to like: Simple rules; cute art; nice little puzzle.

What’s not to like: The puzzle is too easy; faster player will always win; the advanced scoring feels a bit inconsequential.

My verdict: Ubongo does this much better. Out of Mine! is not a bad game, but I’m not sure who I’d recommend it to. It looks like a family game, and the puzzles are very easy (especially compared to the more difficult Ubongo games), yet this just doesn’t work when adults try to play with children.

With just children, sure, why not – but even then you need to have children of equal skill, otherwise you’ll get tears and hurt feelings as the slower players just don’t have a chance.

I like the puzzle in the game, but I just can’t play it in a meaningful way. Ubongo is a much better game, and I can’t play it enough to justify owning it, so Out of Mine! just doesn’t have a chance.

On the scale of EnthusiasticSuggestIndifferent or AvoidOut of Mine! gets Indifferent from me.Out of Mine! content

Gaming Year 2015

2015 was a solid year. Numbers-wise, no complaints, and quality has been excellent. I played lots of good games with my son, who has continued to be an active member of the cult of the new. A new game for us to try? He’s game. My daughter is also growing up and we’ve been moving … Continue reading Gaming Year 2015

November 2015 new and noteworthy

November is usually the best month for me when it comes to new games. This is not unusual, as Essen games trickle to us non-visitors. This month, in order to try something new, I’ve grouped the games in three groupings: buy, play or pass. Enjoy! Buy Cthulhu Realms sounded like a good deal to me. Star … Continue reading November 2015 new and noteworthy

Allies: Realm of Wonder

Allies: Realm of Wonder is a Finnish card game from Mindwarrior Games. I got a review copy of the game to try. The game: Allies: Realm of Wonder by Mikko Punakallio and Max Wikström, published by Mindwarrior Games in 2015. Elevator pitch: A quick two-player card game, with tug-of-war mechanics based on rotating cards. What’s in the box? Smallish box (could … Continue reading Allies: Realm of Wonder

October 2015 new and noteworthy

October was a busy month, lots of games. That’s good! I didn’t attend Spiel at Essen, and only followed the Essen game flow superficially. I did join the Finnish Board Game Society Secret Santa, which forced me to create a wishlist and got me thinking about new games. I now have a small notebook at … Continue reading October 2015 new and noteworthy

September 2015 new and noteworthy

September wasn’t a bad month. I played quite a few games, and updated my Top 100 list. Race to the North Pole is a Finnish game that debuts in Essen this year. It’s a nice little race game, where you have to get to the North Pole before the other players. The trick here is that … Continue reading September 2015 new and noteworthy

Race to the North Pole

Race to the North Pole is a Finnish game from the new-comers Playmore Games. They gave me a review copy, which is a late prototype of the game: everything looks like it does in the final version, but the materials are slightly different. The game: Race to the North Pole by Jouni Jussila and Tomi Vainikka, … Continue reading Race to the North Pole

August 2015 new and noteworthy

The biggest new thing in August was that I started videoblogging. I decided that’s something I should know how to do, so I tried it. It turned out to be fun, so I’ll be doing it for now – I thought maybe I’ll do 100 videos and then take a look at the situation. I’ll … Continue reading August 2015 new and noteworthy