Archive for Game Reviews

Weird Game of the Day: ‘Poison Ivy’

Published by Ideal in 1969, Poison Ivy teaches kids the hopelessness of it all—without actually managing to teach kids about poison ivy.

Kiddies take turns pulling a leaf from the grassy green pyramid of despair. If the leaf they pulled has a green stem—congratulations you have yourself a leaf. If they pull one with a red stem—they have poison ivy and must take a bandage cap and place it over one of their fingers for the duration of the game and can no longer use that finger for leaf plucking. This continues until there is only one person left who hasn’t bandaged 4 of their fingers.

If this sadistic little game isn’t a lesson in schadenfreude I don’t know what is.

“Okay Timmy, now it’s your turn to pluck a leaf.”

“But why?”

“Because you might get horribly afflicted.”

“I don’t want to.”

“You have to. It’s the fun of the game.”

Furthermore, why do these kids want these leaves so bad? Even if you’re the “winner” of this game, you end up with a pile of leaves and bandaged fingers.

In no particular order, I will now list other flaws and gripes:

  • Poison ivy has leaflets of 3
  • Poison ivy doesn’t have a red stem without getting red leaves
  • Poison ivy doesn’t grow in pyramids amongst ficus leaves
  • Slapping a bandage on poison ivy fingers is not advisable
  • The carefully planted flowerbed pyramid is labeled “POISON IVY” so ignorance is not an excuse

I expect the Poison Oak and Poison Sumac expansions to up their game.

poison-ivy-spread poison-ivy-box

Weird Game of the Day: ‘Don’t Wake Daddy’

In honor of Halloween I wanted to showcase a game that has always scared me.

In 1992 Milton Bradley published Don’t Wake Daddy. Recent enough that I remember seeing the commercials for it as a kid. I never played it, nor did I want to. Something about it always bothered me, and still does more than two decades later.

It could be the fear of the wide-eyed psycho-dad erupting out of bed with spring-loaded fury. It could be that Daddy looks like one of Santa’s elves gone postal. It could be that even while “sleeping” Daddy’s eyes are wide open and the effect is…chilling.

Then there are all the thematic and logistical questions:

Why is Daddy’s bed in the middle of the room?

Where is Mommy?

If we don’t want to wake Daddy, why are we circling him repeatedly like some twisted game of Duck, Duck, Goose?

The kids on the cover look terrified, which leads me to believe that Daddy is an abusive alcoholic sleeping one off, and the second he wakes up he goes for his belt.

What could possibly be so important in Daddy’s room to merit these nighttime shenanigans? Maybe we are robbing the old man blind and deserve to get caught?

My mind is racing and my pulse is quickening just thinking about this game. What goes bump in the night? Not Daddy’s rotten kids if they know what’s good for ’em.

Happy Halloween!


Weird Game of the Day: ‘Spin The Bottle’

This game almost flew under my radar. After all, what’s so new/different about spin the bottle? It’s been an angsty teen house party game for decades. However, this is the Spin The Bottle board game…for families of all ages. Published in 1968 by Hasbro. Now I want you to think about this for a moment. Spin the Bottle. “Fun for the whole family.”

This is a game for 2-8 players that are randomly paired and forced to do stunts for points–a majority of which involve kissing. Now if the concept of this “family” game isn’t weird enough–I ask you to closely inspect the cover.spin-the-bottleHere we have 2 creepy teens doing god knows what in the background and are likely brother and sister.

We have two parents oggling their daughter. IF they are in fact her parents, since he is wearing a wedding ring and she is not.

Then we have little Tommy in the foreground who is so distraught by the rest of his family that he couldn’t tuck in his shirt and now his tidy whities are exposed for all to see. In his defense, maybe he got this card:spin-the-bottle-card2

I can’t wait to play this with my family this weekend. Then maybe I’ll bring it to school and share with my teacher and classmates. I’m sure grandma and the nursing home would enjoy it too.


Weird Game of the Day: ‘Shmo’

This. Game. Is. Fascinating. I don’t know what the backstory behind it is, but I proudly present to you: SHMO by Remco in 1959. With the tagline “I’m a Shmo and that ain’t good” it seems to be a game about proving who is the biggest shmo. Here is a copy of the rules and a description courtesy of boardgamegeek:

Each player is provided a “Shmo” marker (a plastic boy in short pants) which is placed onto an oversized board. Players roll the dice and move along a path containing such features as “Forgets his trousers…”, “Takes wrong school bus…” or “Walks through wet cement.” Each special feature directs the player to advance a number of spaces and pick a “Shmo card”. The cards direct the player to perform some silly act and declare himself a shmo (Scratch your back 10 times and say, “I’m an itchy shmo!”).

At the end of the path is a large box declaring: “First one here is a SHMO… …and that ain’t good!”


So…what is a “shmo” exactly? I have heard of the word in the context of “Average Joe Schmo” for example, but of course the spelling is different and I wanted a clearer picture. says: a foolish, boring, or stupid person; a jerk.

Mirriam Webster says: an ordinary person who is not interesting or unusual in any way.

Oxford Dictionary says: a stupid person; a hypothetical ordinary man; a variation of ‘schmuck’ originating in the 1940’s.

Schmuck eh? Now we’re getting somewhere. What does our know-it-all Wikipedia have to say about that?

Schmuck in American English is a pejorative term meaning one who is stupid or foolish, or an obnoxious, contemptible or detestable person. The word came into the English language from Yiddish (שמאָק, shmok), where it has similar pejorative meanings, but where its original and literal meaning is penis.

I knew it! It always comes back to the penis. This is a penis game for kids. I approve. Enjoy!


Weird Game of the Day: “What Shall I be?”

Today’s board game lesson is brought to you by the sexist 60’s.

“What Shall I be? The Exciting Career Game for Girls” arrived in 1966, and “What Shall I be? The Exciting Career Game for Boys” arrived in 1968, both courtesy of Selchow & Righter. Let’s dive in.

The premise of both games is that you go around the game board collecting School Cards, Subject Cards, and Personality Cards of a profession you want to be, and the first player to get all matching ones in a profession becomes it and wins.

Here’s the breakdown of what the girls can aspire to be versus what the boys can be:


College – Teacher
Airline Training School – Airline Hostess
Drama School – Actress
Nursing School – Nurse
Charm School – Model
Ballet School – Ballet Dancer



Law School – Statesman
Graduate School – Scientist
College – Athlete
Medical School – Doctor
Technical School – Engineer
Flight School – Astronaut


I know what you think I’m gonna say. That this is sexist and wrong and teaching girls at a young age that they are limited to a very narrow professional world and shatter-proofing the glass ceiling. WRONG. I mean for starters I don’t see an option for Beauty School Dropout, Junkie Whore, Unwed Mother, or Pole Dancer. Just like I see no option for the boys to become Deadbeat Dads, Lifelong Inmates, Gigolos, or Male Strippers.

Seriously though, the mere fact that there ARE separate boys and girls career games is sad and disappointing. And then we wonder why women aren’t getting into STEM careers and why men can feel shame about being a nurse or a dancer. To make matters worse, let’s get into the even more offensive aspect of the game: “Personality Cards.”

When you land on a space within a school that lets you draw a Personality Card, you have to hope it aligns with your future profession. They look like this:


In case you can’t see them clearly, here’s a close-up:


I bet you think you know what I’m gonna say again. WRONG. My biggest complaint is that being overweight isn’t a personality. Nor is this heart-shaped thing a card. It’s a token. Let’s get our component terms correct.

Seriously though, if the game weren’t bad enough for dictating a divide between gender and career, let’s add some fat-shaming. And some affirmation that being pretty is essential for a given profession, or that “getting too excited” or “emotional” preclude you from things. And what the hell is a “slow thinker” anyway?  I think my personal favorite might be the “You are not considerate” card because it perfectly describes these games.

Weird Game of the Day: Funny Finger

Published by Ideal in 1968, Funny Finger is a game where you stick all your fingers through something called a “Finger Fence” and the other players have to guess which finger is which. I have several thoughts on this matter:

  1. First and foremost: Why? Just, why?
  2. Why are there only 9 holes in the finger fences?
  3. It looks like a finger guillotine.
  4. Are thumbs involved? Do they even fit? How do you mistake a thumb?
  5. I’m not a germaphobe, but this raises flags. I feel the game should include a small bottle of disinfectant, and possibly a bottle of lubricant.
  6. Lastly, why do the girls have all their fingers through the fence but the boys only have one set of fingers and get to point and hail Hitler with their other hand?







Weird Game of the Day: ‘Management’

Designed to encourage suicidal thoughts by Avalon Hill in 1960, Management allows you to be the boss and all the tantalizing minutiae, paperwork and responsibility that comes with it–but none of the compensation. Who doesn’t want to come home from a long day at the office and break out a board game where we can get right back to our desks and crunch some numbers? Even the 50 shades of brown throughout the design gets me salivating for peak efficiency and maximum market value. I hear the employee evaluation expansion is coming out soon and I can hardly contain myself.

management3 management4

Weird Game of the Day: Kreskin’s ESP

Published in 1967 by Milton Bradley, I present to you: Kreskin’s ESP. Wait…did you already know I was going to say that? If so, you have the gift of extra sensory perception and should use this state of the art, scientifically proven game to hone your ESP. Dazzle your friends at parties by using a mystic pendulum to tell them their love life, aura, or next trip. Or, if all else fails, use the magic pendulum for sexy-times in the bedroom. Seriously, am I alone in thinking this is purely an “adult” game? Anyways, I predict this game will disappoint you. Give it a try and let me know if I have ESP.



Weird Board Game of the Day: TRUMP

In honor of tonight’s final presidential debate, I thought it appropriate to feature the TRUMP board game game, originally published by Milton Bradley in 1989 and continues to be republished by Parker Brothers (until such a time as Trump Publishing is done with its litigation). Don’t worry, the object of this game is simply to make the most money. The Trump 4 Prez 2016 board game is behind schedule because all playtesters been fired and declared losers.

When the TRUMP board game was first released, Donald Trump surprised Milton Bradley at the unveiling by declaring that a portion of proceeds would be going to charity. The game was intended to rival the sales of Monopoly, but instead fell abysmally flat. Trump blamed the game for being too complicated. Despite it’s failure (falling 1.2 million copies short of projections) over $800k from its revenue did find its way to charity as promised–directly into the Trump Foundation.

trump2 trumpbox1

Weird Game of the Day: The Backbone

A rare and abstract game published in 1983 by Nike and Cooper (NAC), “The Backbone” is a mystery. The box features a man playing a game by himself painted on the back of a woman. In case you didn’t already suspect the lonely, suited man was also the creator of the game, his head is conveniently floating off to the side for no discernible reason. Please take note that this game is “just only for intelligent people.” I can only assume by this statement that the creator has yet to play the game.

pic373146 backbone-board