The Easter Bunny must be sick of delivering choccy eggs because this year they’ve got something different in their basket. Still small, still delicious, but 2022 is all about games! And here at Zatu, we bloggers have a sweet tooth that can only be satisfied with some seriously fun gaming. So, if like us, you like some table tussle with your treats, here are 5 great budget-friendly gaming gifts this Easter!
Okay, so first up, none of these things are made from chocolate. But that isn’t going to matter a dime when you start playing this crazy card game! And when I tell you I know someone who broke a finger playing it, you know you’re in for some seriously good fun!
The idea in Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is to be the first one to lose all your cards. So, each round, you lay a card face up into the central pile. No matter what that card shows, you have to say the next word in the Taco/Cat/Gat/Cheese/Pizza sequence. If what you say and what is shown is a match, everybody has to slap their hand on top of the pile.
The last person to get there has to take all the cards and they start the sequence again. In an even crazier twist, there are three special action cards – Narwhal, Gorilla, and Groundhog. When any of this shows up, you have to perform the required action first before slapping the pile. And if I tell you you’ll be making air horns, beating your chest and drumming the table like mad, crazy friends, you get the picture!
We have played Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza at home, in the pub, in restaurants, and even at a wedding! And everybody we have played with has loved it. It’s one of those games where the noise and laughter level raises as the cards in your hand decrease.
Age doesn’t play a factor – big gamers are just as invested in the win as the youngest ones. It’s also cheaper than your average chocolate egg. And with a rule set that can be learnt in less time than it takes to shuffle the deck, this is a portable, replayable, party game perfect for Easter and every other day of the year!
In the small and discrete pantheon of campfire-building, dexterity games, Tinderblox is probably the leading light. It’s also packed in a neat tin for about £8.
Simply put, it’s a block stacking game – think Jenga in reverse. Here you are adding (tiny) blocks and cubes to a pile rather than taking them away. Start by laying three logs on the campfire card in one of two patterns. Players, it says 2-6 but really could be any number, draw a card to show what they must add to the fire without disturbing what’s already there. This is done by means of a dinky pair of tweezers.
You may add one item straight on the fire or you may have the trickier task of pre-assembling up to three bits into a construct and then adding it all en masse. This is difficult! For added complexity, you can be asked to use your non-favoured hand (if you’re truly ambidextrous, good luck!).
And that’s it. If you cause a piece to tumble, you’re out and the game continues until there’s just one dextrous pyromaniac left standing.
Now I’m a big lad and to picture me being dextrous conjure up the image of those tutu-wearing hippos dancing in Fantasia. The nearest I come to grace is before a big meal. Yet even I managed to get my towering inferno up 7 or 8 levels.
The pieces are well engineered giving you every chance at stability. It’s simple and quick to play. I’d possibly find it most fun after a bit of refreshment which would also, sadly impair my dexterity. So, there’s another balancing act to consider. Finally, we’re led to believe the designer’s name is Rob Sparks! Really?
Easter has become a time synonymous with chocolate, and Easter egg hunts are one of the holiday’s staple past-times. But what can you do for those who can’t eat chocolate or for those who simply don’t like it? Well, as with everything else, the answer is board games. My answer to this is the super-compact Bandida, from Helvetiq. This pseudo sequel plays in a similar way to its predecessor Bandido, but it also introduces new rules and allows for different ways to play.
The first of these is items. These can be found on the tunnel cards and grand effects such as letting you draw more cards or having to play your entire hand in one go. The second way Bandida shakes up play is through the new end of game triggers. Whereas before the goal was to trap the bandit, now you can work together to help her escape. If you have a copy of Bandido you can even bring the two together and try and reunite the two in the tunnels instead.
This half-pint packs a real punch and can be taken pretty much anywhere thanks to its diminutive size. The only thing you really need to play this game is table space… a lot of table space. With a range of ways to play and a price that is easy on the wallet, Bandida is the perfect chocolate egg substitute this Easter.
A sweet little offering that would make a lovely addition to any Easter basket is Sweetlandia.
Sweetlandia is a card game set in a Candyland world where players collect delectable cards to build their city. Location cards on offer include Marshmallow Mountain, Cinnamon Rollercoaster and Pier Amisu and players score doughnuts (points) at the end of each round based on their collections. Only one type of card rolls over into the following rounds. And of course, that is the Gumball House because in true Willy Wonka style Gumballs are everlasting in this game!
Before each of the 3 rounds begins, players use bidding cards in order to see who gets the first pick of the locations available. This adds an interesting element as each player’s set of bidding numbers is slightly different making the outcome unpredictable. These bidding cards also pass each round so that you are playing with a new set of numbers each turn. At the end of the game, the player with the most doughnuts wins!
The doughnuts players will earn are listed on each individual card along with any special abilities also received from that location. However, the larger points come from completing incentive cards of which each player receives one private incentive per round.
Two more incentive cards are played in the open for all players to see and these cards can be scored by all players who complete them. Incentive cards include 7 points for owning 3 or more red locations and 10 points for owning no Forests, Mountains or Rivers.
Our whole family enjoys this game a lot, and the theme is a massive hit with the kids! It’s not overly complicated but it offers enough to keep adults entertained too and doesn’t take too long to play. Sweetlandia is a family friendly, a cute card game that could be a chocolate alternative, but would be even more enjoyable whilst nibbling on Easter Eggs!
If you want a cheap game that doesn’t skimp on the game but you could do a lot worse than checking out Button Shy Games Wallet Games. These 18 card games come in a small wallet (or box with the capstone versions) and are delightful experiences, often packing in more thought and decision space than their big box cousins.
Sprawlopolis is probably the cream of the crop, utilising a great theme and incredibly surprising amount of variety given the number of cards in play. Each card is quartered with scenes from an urban sprawl on one side and a scoring condition on the back.
At the start of the game, you will deal out 3 cards scoring side up and these will form your aims for the game. Each of them will have a number on it, you add these numbers together to get your target score.
Then deal out three cards to each player. Each player will take a turn playing a card and then drawing back up to three. As well as the scoring from your conditions you will score one point per quarter in each of the largest groups of type, and lose one point for each road in your city.
Card placement can be adjacent to an existing card or overlapping quarters on other cards. The game is cooperative and team talk is encouraged but you aren’t allowed to show your cards. Sprawlopolis is an excellent little game that is much bigger than its physical size and price tag. The scoring conditions are varied and together with the road rule create a push and pull tension of trying to achieve your goals while not creating too many roads.
It can also be played solo and is quite a challenge. Despite being only 18 cards is well designed and illustrated and really sets the standard for small games.
For the price of an egg, you could instead enjoy the brilliance that is Reiner Knizia's, Schotten Totten – a small box, 2 player head to head card game. As you might expect from the good doctor it is a crunchy puzzle with simple rules, bitey play, great replayability (and a pasted-on theme). In this iteration, it’s a fight between two warring Scottish clans over nine border stones separating their clan lands.
On your go, you simply play a card to one of the stones and then draw back up to a hand of six. Cards are numbered 1 to 9 in six colours, and you are aiming to get a winning trick of three cards in front of 3 adjacent stones or 5 stones anywhere. The combinations are based on cutting down poker hands: flush, straight, straight flush, three of a kind.
What could be simpler? Not this... There is constant delicious tension about what to play where, what to hang on to, and what to get down in front of you. And you are watching your opponent like a hawk: counting what cards are down to work out what you might be able to draw and what they are likely looking for. You may have a plan, but rest assured you will be pivoting as the play progresses, adjusting to what is drawn and laid, constantly making the best of the far from perfect circumstances you are presented with.
It’s whip smart, pacey and satisfying – it calls out to be played again and again back-to-back. It’s great with all comers and in a smaller deck box is my travel game number one. Chocolate is overrated – Schotten Totten is what you need this Easter.