Something we love about the hobby game industry is finding companies that know what they’re good at. Thrift shops are full of games by companies that tried to expand into areas they knew nothing about. Of course there are big-name exceptions that can afford to experiment in different genres because a failure is but an aberration on their financial statements. But we’ve found that a company that focuses on what they know consistently puts out better-than-average products. Genius Games proves our point with their line of science-related titles. And for challenging single-player puzzles, you can’t go wrong with issues by ThinkFun. This past fall at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair we discovered another company that is excelling with inexpensive and engaging card games – Grandpa Beck’s Games.
We met with Grandpa Beck himself and he reiterated one of their taglines, “We will only sell games that we have enjoyed as a family with many friends.” We enjoy hearing that they’re not there to just sell a game to us, but to offer an experience they themselves believe in. This fits right in with what we preach at SahmReviews – that family game play is an amazing bonding and learning experience for everyone. Even better than sitting down and having a meal together in our opinion (although we do this as well)! Let’s take a quick look at some of the titles offered by Grandpa Beck’s Games, all for under $13 each!
Nuts about Mutts
Of their four current titles, Nuts about Mutts is probably the most appropriate for younger ages due to the theme. It’s also the newest game in their line, and promises to be as well received as their previous offerings.
Each player has a hand of cards depicting dogs of various breeds. Each card also has a unique background color and number, which gives you additional matching options. Your goal is to be the first player to send all of their dogs home (the center of the table) by matching either the breed, color or number. As you would expect, if you cannot match the card in the center, you simply draw a new card.
There are also other special cards that give the game a fun twist. A “Mutt” card required everyone to claim a “Bone” card, of which there are fewer than players (think musical chairs). “Pedigree” allows everyone who has the chosen breed to play them all. “Dog House” not only makes you lose a normal turn, it has you drawing new cards until you find one that can be played right away. “Fleas” make everyone draw another card and the “Fire Hydrant” card lets you switch your entire hand with anyone else! (Full rules)
Cover Your A$$ets
A 2012 Creative Child Magazine Game of the Year award winner, in Cover Your A$$ets you are vying to be the first to collect a total of $1,000,000 in personal assets. Designed for 4-6 players, by collecting pairs of various collectible items, you begin to amass your fortune in the form of baseball cards, stamps, classic autos and more.
Working from a hand of four cards, you have three actions to choose from on each turn. Lay down a pair in your hand, pick up the top discard card and match it to one in your hand (and play it) or challenge another player and attempt to steal their top-most collection! Again, if you can’t do any of these, draw a card from the draw pile.
Want to see Cover Your A$$ets in action? Grandpa Beck’s Games has put together a fantastic how-to video so you can learn while you watch!
At the end of each round, total up your assets and continue to another round until one person has more than one million dollars in wealth. More than one player exceeds that amount? The person with the highest total is the overall winner! (Full rules)
Here’s our favorite of the three, and also an award winner (2013 Creative Child Magazine Game of the Year)! Skull King has everything you want in a card game: trick-taking, betting and high-quality cards that will last for 100’s of plays.
Supporting 2-6 players, Skull King is played over ten rounds. Unique to this game, each round is of a different length, determined by the round number. In round 1, every player receives one card. Round 4? Hold a hand of four cards. Round 10? You guessed it, you’ll have 10 cards to play with!
Once dealt, you must make a prediction on how many tricks you will win in that round. At the end of the round, if you were correct, you will receive 20 points times the number you guessed. If you were high or low, deduct 10 points for each trick you were off!
Tricks are won in a similar fashion to Hearts or Spades, in that the first card played sets the suit you must play to. High card wins, unless someone trumps it with a card from the Jolly Roger suit (trump suit). There are also more powerful cards (pirates, Tigress and the Skull King himself) that alter the play and provide additional scoring opportunities.
Expect each game to take around 30 minutes total, and is best with the full compliment of players. If you’re a fan of traditional trick-taking card games, Skull King should be your next purchase. (Full rules)
Grandpa Beck’s Games has one other title currently available, the simply-titled “Golf”. Yet another award winner, we have yet to get our hands on a copy. But we have no reason to believe the quality is any different from these three and feel comfortable recommending any of their products for your family!
Pick up a copy or three for yourself on Amazon for under $13 each shipped! They also regularly have specials (like buy 3 get one free) which they’ll announce on their Facebook page, so be sure to follow them! Let’s hope they continue to produce outstanding card games for the family, I know I’ll be first in line for them!
What is your favorite card game?
Grandpa Beck's Game Giveaway