Sunday, June 10, 2007

Birthday Gaming

It's not actually my birthday... it's Braeden's birthday. But, since he's the son of a gaming "addict", his birthday had plenty of game-related stuff surrounding it.

The pictures above are from his party, where we played Jewels in the Attic, a game published by Discovery Toys back in the early '90s. It's a little difficult to describe, but it's essentially a cooperative text adventure without a lot of text. Using circle-shaped "tools", the players attempt to find the best item among them to help solve the problem - whether that be avoiding a swarm of bees or trying to get out of an overstuffed chair. The notch on the tool card is lined up with the notch on the "problem" card and a small hole in the tool card reveals a letter - which corresponds to a result on the problem card. Many times, you defeat the card & get to claim a reward (which is a more powerful tool, usually)... though sometimes the problem causes the group some trouble. (Most of the group ended up asleep on the floor at one point; another time, they were all stuck to the walls of the room they were in.)

Eventually, you have enough purple (reward) cards in order to try & enter the Attic to defeat the Jewelkeeper... which, of course, requires you to defeat his minions first. (I didn't mention at the start that the game is played in five rooms: a Main Hall - denoted by a large placard - and four rooms - denoted by door hangers with the room name & description.)

As you can see, we played at the church gym - the second picture shows the intrepid band of adventurers (and their guide, me) running through "the Main Hall" on our way to "The Library" (which was actually our senior adult Sunday School classroom.)

The game works very well with ages 4-8 with an adult guide... part of the secret of making something like this really "sing" is to get the kids involved in making spooky background noises, roleplaying the various troubles, and helping them celebrate their victories. This was, according to the kids & parents I talked to today, the highlight of the party for most of the kids.

In other birthday gaming news, Braeden got three games as presents:
  • Cranium's Pirate's Passage, which is a part of their Squawkbox series, where the game box is tells you what play you can make each turn. It's a pretty simple race to the center of the maze game, with some opportunities to hose over your opponent. Still, you're at the mercy of the box - if it keeps telling you to flip cards when you need to move, you're in trouble.
  • Haba's Der Schwarze Pirat (The Black Pirate), which takes the air pump action of Akaba & turns it into a pretty interesting little game. Players roll dice to see where gold is added to the map & whether they'll be moving their own boat or The Black Pirate. Good control of your ship is necessary (which has frustrated Braeden so far) as well as planning how to cut off other players from the islands you're trying to get to. Less frenetic than Akaba (there's no timer - simply a limit to the number of puffs you can make per turn) but a bit more of a game.
  • Finally, Braeden's favorite: Kiki Ricky from Ravensburger (which goes by the American name of Chuck-It Chicken). This is a "king of the mountain" game where you climb a 3D board with three chickens (each wearing a different piece of headgear: pith hat, baseball cap or football helmet) attempting to be the first to reach the top & subdue the nutty rooster who keep throwing down eggs to knock you back. It works OK with two players but really shines as a goofy kid's game with 3-4.

And, in unrelated gaming news, I get Burg Appenzell in the mail tomorrow (yippee! Zoch-ish SdJ-&-Bruno-Faidutti-recommended silliness!) along with Lost Valley. And I played Midgard, which is El Grande with extra chaos thrown in. Eh.


Anonymous said...

Do you know where I can buy that game? I used to play it when i was little and LOVED it but then my sister lost it at her friends house!! It would be AMAZING if you knew where to get one because I have been searching everywhere and cant seem to find one!

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...


I'd check thrift stores - Discovery Toys sold a lot of 'em but since it's an odd game, it's easy to let it slip into the thrift store environment.

You might also try & see if any of the folks who own the game on Boardgamegeek would be interested in selling:

Anonymous said...

Okay thank you very much!! I will check around some more and hopefully fine it! Thank you very much!!

Anonymous said...

Pastor Guy
I recently purchase the game at a local Goodwill, but it came without the instructions. Was wondering if you could share a copy of the instructions?

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...


Drop me an e-mail at fluffdaddy at gmail dot com... I'll figure out how to get it to you.

Unknown said...

Hi! I am a teacher in Canada who teaches a "dual diagnosis" class for students with intellectual disability and severe behavioural problems. I am always looking for a good game to play with them (ie. one that will not lead to a bloodbath or major temper tantrums!) and found this game (Jewels in the Attic) in a closet at my home. Your pictures of the kids running from spot to spot brought a smile to my face and I do remember having fun with it with my own kids, but wouldn't you know it - the instructions are missing in my box! I would love to try the game out with my students (only 8 kids in the class, so it is feasible), but since I haven't played it in 15 years, I can't remember how to play! I have searched the web everywhere and can't find the instructions anywhere! I seem to have everything BUT the instructions (discs, door hangers)!Without going to a lot of trouble, could you please tell me how to play? I did read your description of the discs and the holes and have been able to do that part, but how do you decide which challenge you are facing? Or which disc to use? It is the actual steps that I can't figure out! Please do not spend much time on this - I am sure you have many more important things to do, but I appreciate any help you can give me! Pam G.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Pam G:

Send me your snail mail address to fluffdaddy at gmail dot com and I'll send you a copy - I'm already doing that for Gramma (earlier in the comments.)

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Hey, everybody... if you were looking for the Jewels in the Attic rules, I've posted them to BoardGameGeek: