My Favourite Board Games

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Cranium: A Board Game with A Great Difference!

Board games come in many shapes or forms as you may have gathered by now. They can be mind teasers, individual goal-oriented (like monopoly), general knowledge (like Trivial Pursuit), or other skills (like Pictionary).

I love them all.

But one game that has puzzled me (and many others) because of the difference in approach is Cranium.

In this innovative board game, you can test how good you are in backwards spelling, humming a song, answer multiple choice questions like the one on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", drawing, or making things with Playdough.

I mean... it is truly a multiskilled game or what!? It offers a test in any of 14 skills to be played in teams.

No wonder lots have fallen in love with it!

The object of the game is to make your team win. To do that, your team has to get to Cranium Central: that is the large purple brain in the center of the board, and then successfully complete one activity from each of the four decks.

Team members use their skills and abilities to move around the board and visit the four Planet Craniums. Each planet has its own deck of cards: Creative Cat, Data Head, Star Performer and Word Worm.

The team with the best combination of skills becomes the winner by getting to Cranium Central.

Cranium comes with the Cranium rules, 800 Cranium cards, a timer, a 10-sided die, pads and pencils, tokens and Cranium Clay.

If you have already purchased a Cranium board game, you may already be hooked. If that is so, you may also want to get the Booster Box. It comes packed with extra cards, for extra fun.

Yes, winning is fun, but the real fun behind playing Cranium consist of watching the other players deal with the challenges their given in the cards they draw. And the best thing is that, if you cannot meet the challenge, somebody else in your team is likely to!

There you are... another board game to look forward to getting and playing!

Posted by Jeff

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Sex in a Box? Or just a great board game?

As I was saying the other day... Twister is a great game!

It was invented by Chuck Foley and Neil Rabens, and eventually purchased by Milton Bradley as their stellar performance, best seller game for 1966.

Who got the money for Twister, though? Well, it was a dude by the name of Reyn Guyer, who happened to be the guy who employed the inventors... Once they did the right thing by inventing such a great game, he kicked their butts off... Ahhh, the blessings of capitalism and un-unionised countries!

Nope. He did not invent Twister, but he got the financial benefits of the invention. It's not the same, but it will do just fine...


The concept of "personal space" is one that Twister had to overcome to become a "successful game". I mean, having somebody's smelly sock close to your chest is not necessarely something one would be looking forward to do.

But if you dress it up with... S.E.X. (ie, "sex"), by hiring gorgeous models in tights inviting you (as you're on your way to work, or from work) to play close to them (with the occasional body contact), you have a winner of a marketing promotion.

That's exactly what happened at first, when the person in charge of marketing Twister (Marianne "Mickey" Mackay)started promoting the game.

You would have thought that back in the 60s, Manhattan would be populated by conservative people not inclined to have any body contact with anyone. But all the opposite happened:

* People surrounded the board mats and played
* the traffic was stopped to allow the play to go ahead
* it started raining, and traffic was restored. However, players just moved the mats to the foot paths and continued playing under the rain...

... it was crasy!

Later on Mickey MacKay managed to convince John Carson's writers to include the game during the show. That did it!

The following day, lots of people were asking for "that crasy game we saw on TV last night".

The campaing went on, organising teenagers to play Twister at the beach... it was pure marketing madness... but it worked!

Despite its "sex-appeal", the game is nowadays more popular amongst kids... as they don't mind the body contact with each other.

Yet, I think adults may be inclined to play Twister after a few beers or wine (or intoxicating substance of your choice). Losing all inhibitions helps you play the game without reservations.

... and who knows? If you are available, you may get lucky in the process... hmmm?

That's all for now....


Monday, January 17, 2005

Twister: Another Example of Simple Innovation

Hi there,

It's been a month since I made an entry into this blog.

I apologise for the sporadic nature of my entries. My excuse is the end of the year festivities.

I've been very busy doing other stuff, including housework (I'm renovating the second bathroom), travelling in a weekend cruise, and writing content for a website of mine about low fat recipes (

Anyhow, life goes on, and I'm back now to talk about my favourite board games....

Today, I want to talk about Twister.

Twister was a 60s baby. According to Kaye, some small company sold it to Milton Bradley, who were looking for a game to raise their game making profile. With a significant amount of exposure, Milton Bradley made a killing in the 70s selling the game.

If you have never played Twister, you have missed on a lot of fun.

The concept of the game is not difficult to explain, but one can understand it better if one sees it being played... or even better, if you play it yourself.

A plastic mat has severeal coloured circles (blue, red, yellow and green). Two players get on the mat, and a third person spins an arrow on a wheel, and tells the players where they have to place one of their limbs (hand, foot, right, left) and on what colour.

As players play, they adopt gravity defying positions, and the one who can comply with the commands without collapsing is the winner of the round/match.

If you are not keen on human contact, you may not like this game. Kiddies like it, and so do teenangers (especially when a game involves people of the opposite sex!).

My first encounter with Twister happened about 17 years ago here in Australia. A friend of mine introduced me to the game and, I must admit, I was hooked on it for a while.

The only difficulty with this game is that you always have to find a willing playing partner. Unlike many other boardgames that have been emulated in video game versions, Twister cannot really be played by yourself (unless you use it as a yoga training mat and practice difficult yoga positions!).

Yet, Twister is easy to store, and in a rainy day when the kids are restless, I have been able to pull out Twister and get the kids having fun for an hour or so in the house.

Once it is out of the box, it seems to be an irresistible game.

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