Thursday, 7 April 2016

Blokus {game review}

(this post contains affiliate links)

I have been intending, for a looooong time, to share with you about some of our favourite games around here.

We are a family who LOVES games, and I am sure there are other families out there like us - always looking out for new games to enjoy!

I am going to start with our most recent addition - one that we got for Susie for her birthday.  Susie is one of our children who especially loves games - particularly ones involving logic and strategy. She's very much like me, in that sense.

She's very much like me in many ways, but that is another story.

Susie was 9 this week. NINE. (We differ in age - definitely - add another nearly THIRTY years to mine... yikes) Last year of single digits. And yet, she seems so much older than that in many ways.

Again, another story.

Back to games.

I asked her what she would like for her birthday, and she thought she'd love a new game. I researched a few options, and she liked the look of this one.

Good choice, Susie. Good choice!

It wasn't one I was at all familiar with, but the rating on Amazon was fab, and it looked like our kind of "thing".

So, what is it?

I'm guessing the pronunciation is block-us - as in trying to block?

The game consists of:

- a special playing board - a grid with ridges you can place tiles in. (You couldn't play it without the board.)

- 4 sets of coloured, clear tiles, of various shapes, made up of squares.

- an instruction booklet

It's a simple game with one simple "move" - place your tile on the board touching ONLY at a corner with another of your tiles. It sounds simple, but the further into the game you go, the harder it gets! You can have your tile touch the edge of a different coloured tile, but not of the same colour.

That's it.


You can play with 2 to 4 players. Rule play is slightly different with 2, 3 or 4 players. If there are only two of you, you have two sets of coloured tiles each, with a set order of play, rotating through the colours. If there are three of you, you split the third colour (red), but we played it without doing that, and it still worked.

Best, and most challenging play, is with 4 players.

For all the games I review, I am going to give you a list of Pros and Cons. I will also tell you why we loved it, or not!

So, why we love it! It's different every time you play. There is a compelling desire to get your pieces down and fit them in SOMEWHERE. You end up sitting and saying "I must be able to get this down?"  As you play it more you realise certain pieces are harder to place further through the game, but because it varies each time you play, sometimes you end up placing tricky pieces further through the game, even when you couldn't another time. I guess you could say we love it because of the endless possibilities?  We also love it because any child who understands the basic rule could play it. We haven't tried yet (because every time we've played the older children have all been wanting to play!), but I even think my nearly 6 year old could play, although the box says 8+.

PROS - bright; fun; engaging; challenging

CONS - lots of pieces that could potentially go "Missing", and the game wouldn't be so good without them all there; no bag to keep the game pieces in once you take it out the box

This is us playing with three. As you can see, the pieces only touch at the corners of the same colour.

This is the birthday girl playing. Smiling Susie.

This is us playing again in the evening, with 4 players. You can see here that pieces are now touching along the edge of OTHER colours, but not of the same colour. 

I find the game rather therapeutic and pretty. Lots of coloured pieces, fitting together neatly. This, from the lady who loves sorting newly sharpened pencils, by colour. 

Another couple of great points. It's not overly expensive. I wouldn't say it's a cheap option, but it's certainly not extortionate. It's currently just under £18 with Amazon Prime.

Another plus is, that, although it is only 4 player, you could easily turn it into a "tournament" type game play, with knock out rounds leading to a grand final. That way, everyone gets to play, but the best players get to have an equally challenging opponent for the final. Win-win! (because we all know that it can be a little frustrating playing with a younger child who hasn't got quite the same strategy and logic skills!...)

So, there we have it!  Blokus - a fab game for all the family, that's easy to learn and simple to play. What's not to like?

(I'm thinking I may come back and do a star rating for various aspects of each game I review, but that's too much for my sleep deprived, Mummy brain right now.)

If you have played this before, please share what YOU think, in the comments! 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Digging for gold {how to make the most of Church, when you don't always get to listen}

It was happening again.

I was at a Church meeting, and my baby needed my attention. Not just my baby, but my toddler. And then the next child up.

If you are also a mother with small children, I can guarantee one thing - when you go to Church, you don't always get to hear all of the sermon. In fact, sometimes you may do well to hear anything at all!

The thoughts of "Why do I even try?" can so easily try and push into your mind.

It would be very easy to become disheartened, and discouraged, but we mustn't allow that to happen. We need to to look at the situation with the right perspective, and yesterday I was reminded of WHY I have the perspective I have.

What is it?

Well, for a start, we don't just go to Church to benefit ourselves. We should be there, first and foremost, to worship God. It's about giving, not receiving. We also should be there to receive teaching. But, when we have children, we are also there to TRAIN them to sit. That, invariably means that we don't get to concentrate, in order to try and teach the CHILDREN to concentrate!

What I try and consider is that if I just take ONE thing away with me, that I can remember and put into practice in my life, or encourage someone else with, then it's been worth being there. In the moments between telling a child to sit quietly, and sit still, we hopefully get to hear SOMETHING of the sermon! I pray that the Lord will give me a "golden nugget". Just a little precious truth to take away with me. That's my "golden nugget" perspective!

Well, I was at a special Easter convention yesterday, where there were three sermons. One in the afternoon, and two in the evening. Needless to say, by the time we got to the third one, I heard little. I had just the baby through the first sermon, and that was my "golden nugget" moment. I actually was able to take away several things from THAT sermon.  The next one I heard even less, with my toddler there too (the first sermon my hubby had looked after the children, the second sermon was HIM preaching, so that didn't happen!), and by the third sermon my three year old had also come out the back! Quietness just wasn't happening, as they were tired and it was into the evening. I was so glad to have taken something away from the earlier sermon!

But, the moment that gave me joy was when I was able to so very quickly apply what I HAD heard. Speaking to various friends who I met at that Church, I was able to refer back to the sermon we had just heard, when trying to encourage them in their lives. THAT is what God wants. He wants us to hear and to put His Word into action - to be able to apply it to our lives, and to encourage each other with it. God's Word is LIVING! It's powerful. It's able to teach and guide us. It's certainly not something that should go in one ear and out the other, never to be thought of again.

Better still, the verse then came up in my everyday life in the days that followed. More opportunity came to apply those words to my heart and life, and the Lord engrained it further into my mind. He is faithful and good, and His word does not return void.

Take heart, fellow mother of small children.  Try and listen out for that "golden nugget" when you are in a Church service. Amidst the training of small children, which is very time consuming and can be distracting, we CAN take away precious truths and apply them to our heart and lives!

(I know this isn't a long post, but I am desperately trying to get back into blogging, even if my posts are short. Life isn't quite returning to the way I had hoped, as fast as I would like - a whole lesson on its own....bear with me, please? I trust that my words, though few, will still bless someone's heart, as much as the Lord blesses them to mine)