Sep 29, 2015

Schoolhouse Review Crew: USAopoly

 USAopoly Review

Working for the Schoolhouse Review Crew is a commitment. It isn't all fun and games. But this review was both fun and games! USAopoly sent us, not one, but two games for us to play and review for you! We received Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone.

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USAopoly is a company that creates, produces, and sells a lot of different games. Many of which I had heard of before even though I hadn't heard of USAopoly! Many of these are "special editions" of popular games. My Whovian son was most interested in his favorite games offered in Dr. Who editions! I was thrilled to finally find something that we could put on his Christmas list because he is incredibly hard to buy for! But, anyway, back to the games we reviewed...

Tapple is, as the name suggests, a word game. It is easy to learn, simple to play and effortless to fall in love with. It comes with a Tapple wheel and a deck of cards. Two AA batteries are required but not provided. The wheel contains twenty letters of the alphabet on levers in a circle and a big, red, timer button in the middle. The six letters left off the wheel are the "hard" letters of the alphabet: Q, U, V, X, Y, and Z. The cards each have four different categories like: "fish" or  "monsters and mythical characters". Two categories are easy and two are more difficult, these are color-coded so it's easy to pick the one you want.

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To play, one person draws a card and chooses a category. We will go with "breakfast foods" as an example. They then start the timer, call out a breakfast food, push down the letter lever that food starts with, hit the timer again and then push the wheel over to the next player. So say they call out "cereal", they would hit the letter C. This makes it more difficult for the next player because they can only choose letters that haven't been pushed down.

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The timer buzzes after 10 seconds so if you haven't given an answer before that, you are out. The last player standing wins the round and gets to keep the category card. The game is over when one person has won three cards. If, however, the letters are all pushed down before someone has won, then you play "overtime" rules. The letters are released and each player now has to give two answers using two different letters.

Wonky is a very unique game. I haven't ever seen any quite like it before! It consists of nine cubes of three different colors and three different sizes: three purple, three blue and three green in large, medium and small. It also has a deck of 54 cards. Each player starts with seven cards. The rest of the cards are placed face-down on the table. The object of the game is to get rid of all your cards. The cards dictate the game. Some have blocks on them, telling you what to play. If only one size block is colored, then you have to play that size and color block. If they are all three colored then you can play any size block that color. If they are rainbowed, you can play any color you want. Other cards give you the chance to pass, reverse play, or make the next player draw a card. Some cards are combo cards, which means you play a block and also reverse, pass, or draw.

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You choose any card you want from your hand and lay it on the discard pile. Then you perform that action. If you play a block card, you build on the tower.

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This is where the tricky part comes in. The blocks are not smooth and even. So when you stack them, they wobble, they tilt, they slide. But if the tower falls on your turn, then you have to draw three more cards! Since you are trying to get rid them, this is a bummer!

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After you draw, you play another card and start a new tower. 

This game plays quickly and requires a lot of strategy. You want to build in such a way that the tower doesn't fall on your turn, but does fall on the next player!

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When we first got these games in the mail, I wasn't feeling well, but the kids didn't let that stop them! They pulled them out and figured out how to play right away. And they haven't stopped playing them since! They play them with friends and cousins as well, and both games have been quite a hit!

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Both games are rated 2 or more players, ages 8 and up. I think the age range is great. Abbie is eight and she plays well with only a few frustrations. But a couple of the kids have played Wonky all by themselves! :)

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Since the kids did most all the work on this review, I wanted to be sure to give you their opinion of these games.

About Tapple:

Kaytie: I like it because it's a word game and I like word games. It's definitely one of the better word games I've ever played. It's harder than most because you can only use each letter once until you use all of them. I like that there are a lot of different categories and that they are varied. As with most word games, it helps expand your vocabulary. I do wish we could choose different time settings for the timer so we could make it more or less difficult depending on who is playing.

Nate: It is an awesome game! I thought it was cool with all the different categories. My favorite category was "mythical monsters" of course. I would recommend it to people who like word games. 

Daniel: It was fun. It helped me with spelling some words. The only reason why I don't like it is because the noises of the timer and buzzer were a little annoying. I liked that the cards were color coded. 

Abbie: It's fun. It's great for learning the first letter of words. It's exciting to play because you have to think really fast in order to not be out. 

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About Wonky:

Kaytie: It's a very different game. It's unlike any game I've ever played before because it uses a combination of blocks and cards. Depending on how you play it, it can be a strategic game because some of my siblings set it up so that it is more likely to fall on other people's turns. It's better to play on the floor than on the table so the tower doesn't get accidentally shaken down. It's a very versatile game. It comes with a pouch that holds the cards and blocks so you can take it anywhere. 

Nate: It was cool! I liked how you could set it up so it would fall over on the next person. And the entire game you are trying to make it fall over on other people but not on you! I would recommend it to people who like strategizing  It is a great game and it is very fun. 

Daniel: I liked it because you could either play it competitively or you could play it normally and just stack blocks. I liked how they mixed the colors for the "place any color or any size blocks". 

Abbie: It's fun and crazy at the same time. It's scary sometimes because if it's wobbly and it's my turn, then it freaks me out! I don't want to draw three cards! 

As for me, I loved learning to play both of these games. Tapple is my favorite because I love fast-paced games and I love word games but I don't often find a single game that involves both. I like that both have handy carrying cases: Tapple has a compartment on the bottom for storing the category cards and Wonky has a cute little purple bag that holds the blocks and the cards for easy toting around. 

My only complaint about either of these games involves the letter levers on Tapple. They are reset all at once by pushing one of the yellow tabs on the top of the wheel. Unfortunately, my kids are can be very excitable. They often accidentally hit the wrong lever or hit two at a time. This makes it difficult because then we have to remember that that letter is still "in play". I wish there was a way to reset one letter at a time. But this is a minor issue. We love these games and plan to play them for years to come!

 USAopoly Review

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