Machi Koro


This one was a video review, done amid the winter storms. I apologize for all the cutting, but between kids and pets, a lot of editing was needed.

Here is the site for donations.

A brief recap of the storm

So, the South was hit really hard from Winter Storms Uri and Viola. Over 4 million were without power, almost as many without water because most of the water. People were and are still starving because grocers and restaurants had to throw out their stock due to power failure.

Donations for foodbanks are still being accepted. The link is posted above. I still strongly encourage watching the video.


A little birdy…

Our water issue

As I stated, we were lucky and only lost power for a couple of hours. If you are wondering why we lost water, the water froze leading from our well into our tanks. We did catch it early and set out a heater, however, the expanding water busted the pressure valve so the PSI was stuck at 40. I’m sure it didn’t help that it was old. Thankfully we had a spare in the garage and my husband got it replaced, but not after we were without water for a majority of the week.

Like many others, we were shoveling snow for use as toilet water. We have awesome neighbors who sent over several 5 gallon buckets for us with water when they found out. They still had running water.


Obviously, this didn’t work…

The game!

Not mentioned in the video, but Machi Koro is Japanese for Dice Town. Machi being town or city and koro being the sound the dice make when they clack together in your hand.

The game was originally released in Japan in 2012, 2014 in the US and has several expansions.

The base game is for 1-4 players, ages 10+

“You’ve just been elected Mayor. Congratulations! Unfortunately, the citizens have some pretty big demands: jobs, a theme park, a couple of cheese factories, and maybe even a radio tower. A tough proposition since the city currently consists of a wheat field, a bakery and a single die.

Armed only with your trusty die and a dream, you must grow Machi Koro into the largest city in the region. You will need to collect income from developments, build public works, and steal from your neighbors’ coffers. Just make sure they aren’t doing the same to you!”

from the Machi Koro rule book
Stand alone games:
  • Machi Koro: base game
  • Machi Koro: Deluxe (includes base game, Harbor, and Millionaire’s Row).
  • Machi Koro: Bright Light, Big City (has cards from the base game and both expansions, but not all)
  • Machi Koro: Legacy (It’s the mechanics of Machi Koro, but has a story line… includes 10 story scenarios)
Expansions:
  • Harbor Expansion: (gives 2 more land marks (needed to win) and allows for a 5th player. New supply cards
  • Millionaire’s Row: New supply cards, renovation ability added (very cut throat)

For detailed how to play info, please visit Machi Koro (look for us on Boardgaming.com) or watch the video above.

Pros:
  • Doesn’t require hand use
  • No negative balance (think Monopoly)
  • Math stuff
Cons:
  • Requires strategy (Brains!!!)
  • Games are long, avg is 30 min

House rules!!

  • Small table rule: Rather than have ALL of the supply cards on display like the rules state for your marketplace, put all your supply cards into a single pile. Deal only 5 cards face up into the marketplace. Place any duplicates in the bottom of your supply pile. This will also prevent “certain people” from buying all the same property. If you have the expansions, make this number 10.
  • If you accidently purchase or are gifted more than one of the stand alone games, rather than return it, put a permanent marker dot on the second copy cards in one of the corners (for separating in the future for 1-4or 5 players) and combine them for party fun. Using the renovation ability is a lot more fun in a group of people than when you have to see the “puppy dog eyes” they give you when you’re all close and cozy.

Unique Review: Plague Inc.


This review is based on the video game version and NOT the board game version. I have prioritized this over other reviews because of current events.

Firstly, I prioritized this because Plague Inc in on sale for a limited amount of time. On Steam, it is 60% off until Feb 4, regularly $14.99, now $5.99. The DLC for Plague Inc: The Cure just released on Jan 29. The game creators are including this for free across all platforms until the COVID pandemic is under control. In March of 2020, they donated a quarter of a million dollars (split) to the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. They previously worked with fundraising for Ebola in 2014. Your purchase will likely go towards another donation, its a win win.

The science behind Plague Inc.
She Blinded me with Science

Plague Inc (now Plague Inc: Evolved) came out in 2012. It is a strategy game that have difficulty settings ranging from easy to mega brutal. You are the plague and you have to navigate around human intervention and nature to make your plague work, or at least this is the case with the base game…

This game is constantly updating. Most of the time, the updates in plagues and cheats are included for free as you unlock scenarios. For those who don’t want to wait and unlock them, there is the option to purchase them. (Again, your purchases are likely to go towards a charity at some point…) Special plagues are sci-fi in nature including a mind-control brain alien (think Yeerks from Animorphs), zombies, the Simian Flu (from Planet of the Apes), and vampirism. Scenarios are specific illnesses with their own data or sometimes completely random stuff. This ranges from Smallpox, the Bubonic Plague, and Mad Cow Disease to Volcanic Ash (think Mt. St. Helen), releasing your own board game, and Santa’s Little Helper (think mind-control alien meets Christmas cheer).

Plague Inc is unique because the game is based on modern and historical science, with many models from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), showing “epidemiology, disease transmissions, and diseases/pandemic information”. The CDC has spoken highly about this game and the creators since 2013 (a year after the game’s release). Teachers and professors have used this game to help demonstrate things to their students. You can read the CDC’s first review here.


“I became interested in Vaughn’s (the creator) game as a tool to teach the public about outbreaks and disease transmission because of how it uses a non-traditional route to raise public awareness on epidemiology, disease transmission, and diseases/pandemic information. The game creates a compelling world that engages the public on serious public health topics.”

Ali S. Khan, former Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR) at the CDC

The Cure: no, not the band

As I stated above, Plague Inc: The Cure released on January 29. It fully encompasses all aspects of disease control from slowing/stopping contraction to research and development of treatments to its namesake… the cure.

The Cure DLC is very unique as it was created with the help of experts from all over the world including but not limited to the WHO, CEPI, and Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN).


“Games like Plague Inc: The Cure represent an incredibly important medium for education and public awareness that can be used to show the world the steps needed to address similar global health threats and their associated complexities.”

Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI

Random Plague Inc in the news:

In February of 2020, when COVID really started spreading, China not only banned many of the media outlets and internet capabilities, they decided to place a ban on Plague Inc citing that “includes content that is illegal in China as determined by the Cyberspace Administration of China.”

Plague Inc’s multi-player servers started crashing after receiving record number of players since quarantine.

Plague Inc has dominated the charts since it’s release, however it has spikes depending on what is happening in the world. During the Ebola outbreak in 2016, the number of players using mobile devices increased from 900,000 to almost four million within two weeks. During the current COVID, global downloads of the game have increased by 123% since January of 2020.

Pros and Cons of Plague Inc
Pros
  • Very educational. Great for your kid who is interested in science.
  • The ability is there to create your own scenarios. If you have someone obsessed with Pokémon or something else, they could create an entire scenario revolving around Pokémon taking over the world.
  • Play for a good cause
  • Never the same gameplay twice (humans and the environment are unpredictable)
  • Even if your special needs person cannot play this, I recommend this for the adults as well.
Cons
  • Can be difficult. I do not recommend for lower functioning or cognitive issues.
  • The game is suggested for ages 13+. The music is dark and scary and the themes can creep people out. There’s nothing like hearing kids singing Ring Around the Rosie while you spread your plague. Photos can also be dark and graphic. I will attach examples below, link to soundtrack on Youtube. One of my kids has played it since they were 10, two of them love watching me play it and telling me what to do, and the other two nope their way out.
Purchase links:
click above for link

Available on mobile/tablet, PC/Mac, and Xbox ONE/PS4

The Games Therapists and Special Needs Parents Love to Hate:


There are a variety of games that fall into this category… some hold fond memories for us from our childhood, but unfortunately modern quality and changes have diminished so much to the point where we have lost all love for the game; some are great for children, but as adults the repetitiveness drives us crazy; and some are so bad they drive everyone involved up the wall.

This list is sure to grow. Please let me know if you would like me to add on to this list or make a new one each time.

Great Game for the Kids, but Drive Adults Crazy (aka, you should buy them, but not play daily).

Some of these games you may see in individual reviews, because they are still great therapy tools.. but they should come with a warning label.

Cupcake Race
Cupcake Race by Endless Games

This game is adorable and works on so many things. I also like that they have so many variety of cakes other than chocolate! (Thing 2 is allergic to chocolate). So, the primary focuses of this game are counting and fine motor skills. You spin the spinner to get the number to move AND to see the color sprinkle you will get. Easy mode, you have to cover your cupcake with sprinkles and make it to the end… (this is the mode that drove myself and the older kids crazy). Advanced mode, you have to have at least one of every color sprinkle before leaving the “top it” area and advancing to get your cherry.

I do recommend this game, but I admit I had to shelf it after several years of the beginner rules and daily play.

Poorer Quality Over the Years

Cootie
Cootie circa late 70’s and 80’s and Cootie now

I LOVED Cootie. I had the Deluxe version that came with a hard shell case. I kept it until I gave it away as a teen thinking I could buy it again when I have kids, and I kick myself to this day for that…

Let’s start with the plastic quality. It is a cheaper and lighter weight plastic than it once was. They come unassembled, as in the thorax and the head are in half and you have to put them together. The older models stayed together forever. The newer game would frequently fall apart mid play. I ended up having to glue the halves together. This same plastic issue affected the gameplay itself. The whole point of the game is to assemble a cootie. With the newer set, we struggled with parts falling out continuously leading to frustration with kids (and myself).

Having different colored legs wasn’t a design flaw, but it became a hurdle we faced with rigid Asperger’s. If any other player mixed up the colored legs to where there wasn’t a full set of same colored legs, meltdowns would ensue.

All in all, not a bad game, but they need to release a vintage version.

Bad Over-all

Candy Land
Candy Land by Hasbro

Ah, yes… Candy Land, the fantastical, colorful world of confections. I’ll admit, it is quite aesthetically pleasing and the characters are amusing. I mean, other than maybe 1%, who doesn’t want to loathe Lord Licorice? (Sorry, 3% like black licorice.)

So what makes this game a favorite among therapists to hate? Simple, the board layout. Most therapists I have spoken with said they spend more time redirecting the kids on which way to go than learning lessons like colors, “the direction goes this way,” “I know the lines are touching right here, but they aren’t really touching, you can’t jump to the other side without a rainbow,” etc.

For higher functioning kiddos, it teaches nothing, its all based on chance and the game can potentially last forever when you add in the candy travel cards.

Mouse Trap
Mouse Trap by Hasbro

This game just fuels frustration. The slightest movement and all the hard work has gone to waste. It’s similar to the feeling of setting up a bunch of dominos on their side and having them fall before your want them to.

If you have a kid who likes to build or tinker, get them something to build or tinker with. Don’t get them a game that relies on other people to remain still while they build or tinker and the entire objective is to trigger the trap over and over and over… hope it’s not allergy season.

Hungry Hungry Hippos
Hungry Hungry Hippos by Hasbro

This game has no educational value, it doesn’t help with occupational either as kids just bang it. The new design makes the hippos detachable and sometimes they come apart mid game sending marbles flying. And the noise…. this is horrible for kids with SPD and neurotypical kids will just yell at each other during the game to be heard. I hate this game.

Operation
Operation by Milton Bradley

The game of fine motor skills not ever most artists have and nerves of steel… this game is a whole lot of NOPE for special needs kids with its stress inducing, impossible tasks. I admit, they do have some interesting specialty boards that would make cool collector items. If you’re really nostalgic about the game, rather than upset the kiddos, get the Funko POP figure instead.

Cavity Sam by Funko POP
Any Game Featuring POOP!

Yes, potty-training is difficult with most special needs kids, some never do get into regular underwear… but we are also trying to teach some that poop is not paint, or issues with touching nether regions… we don’t need a game confusing the issue. So if you are a friend or family trying to help and be cutesy… no poop. Examples:

Flushing Frenzy by Mattel

You take turns plunging and hope the poop doesn’t jump out at you; one has undigested corn in it… I’m so done.

Don’t step in It by Hasbro

You get blindfolded and walk in a poop minefield. They have Doggy poop, Llama poop, and Unicorn poop versions. Obviously, the creators have a) never stepped in poop or b) have a poop fetish.

Honey Bee Tree


Hi there and welcome to my first ever published recommendation! ~Hold for applause~ This game was probably the first game we got to help with therapy at home. I will not be doing a video on it as we no longer have the game due to the kids aging out of it and therefore it has been donated. And without further ado.

Honey Bee Tree as shown by I Play, also available by Game Zone

Honey Bee Tree is another version of Kerplunk (see end of review).

Objective: To collect as more sticks than your opponents before the bees drop. For solo play, to collect as many leaves as possible before the bees drop.

What does this work on: Occupational therapy, specifically for the pincher grip as they place the leaves in the hive and remove them. The child(ren) may need help putting the leaves in as that is an advanced pincher grip move.

Why I recommend it over Kerplunk: Kerplunk uses tiny sticks and marbles. For a child who has hand issues these small sticks and smooth marbles are hard to grasp and can cause frustration in the child. The sticks on Honey Bee Tree have a leaf on one end which makes them easier to grab and place/pull. The bees are textured and have wings making them easier to pick up.

My only complaints: The rules say you can turn the tree trunk on the base, there are 4 numbered trays for up to 4 players. The idea is you turn it for each player’s turn so you can keep track of how many bee’s each person has. This never worked for us. We ended up shaking the bees out on accident attempting this. Also, the leaf sticks will bend over time due to the weight of the bees, making it more difficult to place them into the hive. Keep this in mind if you are getting one used.

Kerplunk by Mattel

Recommendation – S’match


Much like my previous review, we no longer have S’match as the kids are too old for it. I have fond memories of playing it with them and often wished they had it when I was a child.

S’match by ThinkFun

S’match is a memory game a step higher than Memory Match. It can be played solo or with others. It is a very unique way of playing memory.

Objective: To remember where the matches are and get more than your friends. Sounds simple enough, but there is a catch. The spinner dictates how you have to make your match based on color, number, or category. You can find the exact same card or mix it up. Two (2) trucks and two (2) cows make a match, two (2) purple cards make a match, or even a violin and a piano. You never know how the spinner will land so parents won’t have the upper hand.

Strengthens: Cognition. This works on the eight (8) core skills of Cognitive Capacity.

  • Sustained attention
  • Response Inhibition
  • Speed of info processing
  • Cognitive flexibility and control
  • Multiple simultaneous attention
  • Working memory
  • Category formation
  • Pattern recognition

My Complains: The spinner is loud. This is a huge turn off to people with SPD. Thing 2 struggled with this game for a very long time because of the noise, however, she wanted to play it so much she would hold a stuffed animal over the spinner to muffle the sounds as it spun.

All in all, an excellent version of a pretty mundane game. I’d buy it again for a younger kid.

More to come


Please be patient as our new site gets up and running. Like any new organization or business, there are always some issues to work out in the beginning.

So far our issues have been fun! (Totally kidding on this…) My desktop was my primary computer for doing media jobs in the past. I have taken a break from media jobs due to family and didn’t realize that Windows 10 doesn’t allow my pro Corel Paint/Photoshop program, permanently disabled my Bamboo drawing pad, and ate my pro movie studio. It also ate the old program to download my videos from my old camcorder; admittedly, it was getting obsolete since they were mini dvd-r’s. The web host I had been building with for over 10 years decided to go e-commerce only. Thanks….

So, new programs, new web host, and a new camera curtesy of my awesome dad and we are ready to go… almost. The camera is awesome, but it connects to the phone. My phone has an Otter Box so the camera doesn’t fit. Lmao!!! So I’ve had to rig it with extra wires that were hard to find. Ok. Crisis adverted, now to work this baby…. instructions…. ah here we are… and they are only in Chinese and Japanese. ~face palm~ I WILL figure this out after watching endless videos in any language I can figure out. So please bear with me. I may do some test videos and I want to have all the videos have subtitles.

Subtitles are a huge deal in our house, YouTube now automatically inserts them, but I am trying to figure out how to turn them off so I can type them up myself because I know the auto generated one will get them wrong.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please check out the Links page, it’s pretty fleshed out!