Category Archives: 15 min or less

101 Dalmations – Spoons Card Game

 

Spoons Card Game: 101 Dalmations (Friendly Games, 2008) is a licensed version of a classic card game, Spoons, of which there are many variants. The key aspects of all spoons games are fast-paced card drawing and discarding, collecting certain sets of cards, and, when one player has made his or her goal, the mad-dash grab for spoons laid out in the middle of the table, which will leave one player without a spoon and eliminated from the game.

This 101 Dalmations version has one of the simplest rule sets there can be. It consists of a standard card deck, 13 cards in each of 4 colors. There are no face cards – they are printed with different images of various dalmations from Disney’s 101 Dalmations, and simply numbered 1 – 13. In the place of spoons the game comes with five 12 cm-long acrylic dog bones, labeled with the name of the game.

dalmations spoon game layout

Each deal consists of 4 cards, and the dealer begins each round by drawing a card, then passing one card face down to his or her right. The next player picks up that card, and passes another to the right, and so on around the table. The final player will discard to a separate discard pile, and the process repeats. As soon as a player has gotten 4-of-a-kind (the same number, not color), he or she lays down their cards and grabs a bone. The rest of the players should also reach for a spoon as soon as possible. Since there should always be one bone less than the number of players, one player will always be left without a bone. That player is eliminated, and a new hand is dealt until after the final round, when there is one player left standing – the winner!

This game is very simple, and because of its theme it appeals to small kids and fans 101 Dalmations fans. It is recommended by the manufacturer for 6 and up, but any child able to read numbers can play because the rules are so straightforward. There is some strategy involved, so older kids will do better. For example, watching the discard pile is a good way to guess at what might still be coming; younger kids won’t understand this, but it is worth teaching (never too early to learn inferential logic!).

I recommend this game to any lover (or collector) of 101 Dalmations who also likes card games, but only if they’re prepared to play with children. It could be made more challenging for older kids and adults by adding variations from other spoons games; unfortunately the rules don’t come with any suggestions for doing so.

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Feed the Kitty

feed the kitty boxFeed the Kitty (2006, Gamewright) is quick and simple, and an excellent way to involve several kids in a game without losing their interest, at least for a little while.

Feed the Kitty is a themed version of the cult favorite LCR, which means you roll the dice and win or lose tokens until every player but one is out of tokens. In the case of this game, the tokens are mice. The two dice have images of mice, a cat food bowl, or a sleeping cat. If a mouse is rolled, then a mouse moves to the player on the left. If a cat is rolled, the player gets to keep a mouse. If the food bowl is rolled, a mouse has to go into the green bowl. If a player runs out of mice, they remain in the game because they might receive a mouse prior to their next turn. Only when there is a single player left with mice does the game end.

feed the kitty components

One moment a player might have several mice while a neighbor could be down to zero, yet two turns later the tables can be turned. The very quick change of fortunes actually make the game fun and exciting. In its own way it introduces the concepts of probability and luck to kids, and in an engaging way.

I recommend this game to kids who aren’t likely to sit through longer board games. It’s fast-paced, so there is no waiting long between turns, and of course the game elements and theme are fun to handle and even pretend with.

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Hisss

Hisss - boxA 4-card snake, who still lacks a tail

Hisss (Gamewright, 2006) is simple to learn, quick, and fun to play!

Easily playable by 4-year-old, fun for kids as old as 10, and parents.

Sole materials are the cardboard cards, featuring snake heads or snake tails in one of six bright colors, or else a snake trunk with different colored edges. Players take turns drawing a card and matching it by color to existing snakes. When a player completes a snake by adding the final tail or head, they win that snake, which is worth the number of cards of which it consists.

There are a few easily mastered tricks, such as linking two pre-existing snakes together; otherwise, the luck of the draw determines the winner – but since a good draw can win a long snake, it is usually the case that nobody is out until very late in the game, and tensions run high!

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