Kayak Chaos and Turtlemania are the two latest games from Simply Fun. I met up with company CEO Gail DeGiulio at Gen Con for a demonstration, after which she sent me complimentary copies of each.
Turtlemania is a Mahjong-inspired game with 136 tiles in a variety of colorful patterns. There are no turns in this fast-paced game. It’s essentially a race for players to grab as many tiles in matching pairs as possible. The winner is the player with the most pairs when the stack of tiles is completely cleared. Turtlemania is also a very tactile game and the thick, solid plastic tiles definitely add to the experience. At $49 this is not an inexpensive game, but it’s a great example of what a publisher can accomplish when the focus is on a quality experience for the whole family (10 minute playing time, recommended for ages 6 and up).
As to Kayak Chaos, my family played it just yesterday, and I’m sure the game will see a return to the table many times. This one involves a bit more contemplation, but still works well for the kids and parents both (30 minutes, 2-4 players ages 8 and up). Each person receives a hand of five cards, playing three per turn in an attempt to move a kayak downriver past obstacles and out front of the other players. The first person to the finish line at the end of the race is the winner. Besides the paddle and swerve cards for simple maneuvering, Kayak Chaos incorporates weather-shift cards for sliding river tiles out of alignment, tip-the-kayak cards for rotating river tiles, and whirlpool cards for switching the positions of two adjacent tiles. There’s a bit of strategy involved, but the rules are simple enough to give young players a chance. And with the ability to alter the course of the river around other players’ kayaks, the fun continues throughout the game until the very end.