25 September 2017
Give these gum-sized games a deserving place in your pocket
Packed in boxes the size of chewing gum and playing in around 15 minutes, Chris Handy’s collection of mini games range from the card-dropping dexterity of Fly and wordy collaboration of Shh to the tense deduction of Spy and Lie’s spin on traditional betting favourite Liar’s Dice. All of the games feature striking artwork and make use of the compact format in ingenious and innovative ways, with Spy, Shh and dog-themed bone-collecting race Dig our favourites. Here are our bite-sized reviews of all 16 games in the series:
Hue: A colourful tile-layer where players race to form the biggest connected areas, with the dynamic twist that the last card in your hand determines your score.
TKO: Swaps rock-paper-scissors for boxing gloves. Smart use of character cards as variable health bars, but otherwise a little repetitive – it’s quicker to use your hands.
Gem: This sparkling game of bidding is one of the longer micro games, as you aim to amass the best set of jewels and manage your money. The single bid format works best with more than two players.
Fly: A very simple dexterity game that is ripe for cheap laughs as you clumsily drop swatter cards onto a picnic mat covered with flies. Harder than it seems!
Taj: Players swap the position of vibrant rugs in the aim of scoring their secret colours highest. The presence of voting and the swapping mechanic can fall flat with fewer than three players.
Lie: It’s Liar’s Dice, but the dice results are printed on double-ended cards; simple as that, but an efficient way of bringing an outstanding game with you.
Shh: Unable to communicate, players take it in turns to build words letter-by-letter using their unique hand and shared vowels. It’s tough, fun and the gorgeous letter cards can be used for plenty of other game modes.
Bus: Ideal for kids, this unassuming but enjoyable entry involves delivering passengers by moving your bus around a grid of cards. An optional harder mode adds a little more depth.
Orc: Factions of colourful orcs go head-to-head to outnumber their rivals and take control of territory. Sharp artwork complements a snappy two-player duel.
Gym: Draft the best kids in school to compete at sports, before positioning them for the best score. The more complex mechanics dilute the strong theme.
Rum: Gather sets of bottles to impress pirate captains, stealing their affection from rivals before time runs out. The use of ‘rum trio’ combos makes it a thrilling clash.
Dig: Charming through-and-through, each player’s dog sniffs out hidden bones and tries to waddle back home with as many as possible, slowing with each greedy mouthful. A wonderful hand-management game that suits the whole family.
Box: The weakest of the lot, this interesting area control concept is let down by awkward scoring and a polka-dot visual design that’s hard on the eyes.
Spy: Best of the bunch is this sneaky deduction game where players hunt for safes and top secret plans while avoiding cartoon bombs in their opponents’ hands. The variable movement and reveal rules make it more than a random guessathon, and it’s especially good head-to-head with two players.
Sow: Inspired by mancala, this horticultural effort is best with the full four players as they attempt to grow seeds into beautiful flowers to collect.
Boo: Ghosts turn each other white (and black) in this cute directional take on Reversi that uses a graveyard gate background as a neat setup aid.
There are a few weaker entries you might only try once, yet all 16 of Pack O Game’s instalments are produced with such loving attention to detail that both bundles of eight games are worth picking up simply to experience the massive variety of rapid-fire fun and tightly-formed gameplay on offer. You’ll want to stick them in your bag and take them with you.
Price: $5.99 (each), $49.99 (set of 8)
Time: 15+ mins
This review originally appeared in the August/September 2017 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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