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Embracing the madness of Pucket

Pucket is one of the craziest games we’ve ever played. It might also be the funnest.

The goal, on paper, is utterly simple: be the first player to rid his or her side of pucks. In practice, though, this is much more easily said than done!

Getting a puck to the other side of the board requires you to fling it with the use of the string catapult at the back of the board, through an insidiously tiny aperture that is designed to be just large enough for one puck to get through at a time. Quite the problem, then, considering there’s two of you.

As you can probably imagine, the result is complete chaos. There are no turns in Pucket; this is a race, pure and simple. Victory usually comes down to who has the most speed and determination – or even endurance, in the best matches we’ve had! Your goal is to have no pucks on your side, and this includes any new ones that the other player manages to squeeze through as battle goes on.

And “battle” is right. There’s a fantastic moment that comes in Pucket with new players, as they realise, mid-game, the reality of what it means not to have to take it in turns. That it literally just comes down to how fast you can do it, and, should the other player have time to realise the same thing, then all bets will be off. No, that cannot be allowed to happen. This is war. Crush or be crushed. No longer just a game of little wooden pucks, but a full-blown battle for survival. I will win, and my foe will know destruction.

Or that’s my own experience with it, anyway.

Put differently, Pucket is just a thoroughly entertaining game of dexterity and hand-eye co-ordination, which never seems to fail in eliciting a great deal of laughter from the people we’ve seen play. It’s easy enough that just about anyone will be able to pick up and play it for five minutes, and have a good time at that.

But in the hands of competitive people its also phenomenally skilful, exciting not just to play but also for others to just crowd around and watch. I wasn’t kidding about endurance before; if you find yourself equally matched, and a game goes on for long enough, you’ll find that your arm actually starts to ache. When people start switching arms and rolling up sleeves, assuming a more martial stance with their feet, you know you’ve found a game that’s going to be a favourite for years to come.

Add to this Pucket’s gorgeous wooden aesthetic, a handled case for easier travel, and even the optional extra of ridiculously shaped, awkward pucks for the most dedicated (masochistic?) of players, and Pucket becomes a game I really have no difficulty at all in recommending.

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Have yourself a Klask tournament

If you still haven’t heard of Denmark’s brilliantly fun – and fiercely competitive – Klask, then we think it’s high time you were introduced.

 

 

Klask is proof that tabletop gaming doesn’t have to be all rulebooks and maths equations – it can be a downright sporting event!

This is a high-energy game of hand-eye coordination and swift reflexes which may only take five minutes to produce a winner. But, at the same time, there’s potential there for motivated players to continue honing their skills, to discover the surprising new techniques that give them the edge in battle, which cause Klask to become so much more than the sum of it’s elegantly minimalistic parts. 

At it’s core, the basic objective is one with which we’re all surely familiar: ball goes in player’s goal, other player gets a point. Where Klask’s brilliance comes in is the way in which it combines the old with just enough of the new, a sprinkling of bells and whistles that don’t overshadow that core goal but mix seamlessly with it.

It’s the biscuits.

 

 

Biscuits are what Klask calls the little white magnets forever journeying back and forth across its pitch. Accidentally get too close to one with your player pawn – which is in itself driven by the use of a magnet you hold in your hand beneath the board – and the biscuit will latch on. Should this happen again and you find yourself carrying two biscuits, then that’s one point to your opponent!

This simple addition transforms an otherwise straightforward game of goalkeeping into a hotbed of hazards, as players desperately attempt to balance dodging with blocking, all too aware that diving out of the way of a rogue magnet and leaving your goal completely wide open usually go hand in hand.

Any concerns that this is starting to sound a little too chaotic can be swept aside, though: Klask proves ever more to be a game about skill, geometry and precision. As the game board is just the right size for you to take in all the information, Klask rewards your ability to make quick reads of the landscape and adapt to it on the fly. And since the ball itself won’t stick to any magnets, the game invites you to take careful aim at the biscuits as much as the opposing goal – usually with the intention of relocating the entire minefield to the other player’s side of the pitch!

Thankfully, there’s a divide underneath the board which prevents players from actually crossing their pawn into the other person’s side. This ensures the other player has enough time to manoeuvre around your lovingly delivered deathtraps, and best plan out their own revenge on the return serve – lending an engaging rhythm to the whole experience.

 

 

I haven’t even spoke about Klask’s charming wooden aesthetic, or the high level tournaments I’ve watched online, in which a Danish grand champion dares to slam their pawn directly into a biscuit at an alarming speed, teleporting it onto the other player’s piece. Nor have I talked about how there’s a four player version.

 

 

But to ramble on for pages and pages seems entirely at odds with Klask’s instant, “pick-it-up-and-immediately-enjoy-it” spirit.

So, I’ll stop.

 

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Our newest resident: Tobbie!

Totally Awesome has just had a baby; he’s plastic, he’s mobile, and he’s ready to learn! 

Allow me to introduce TOBBIE! This little guy is a battery powered, artificially intelligent, robotic sensation just waiting to explore West Yorkshire! Much like any newborn, Tobbie comes flat pack in a box and requires a few basic tools to get moving. You will need 4 * AAA-Batteries  to breath life into his circuits and get him jogging about your obstacle courses. Building Tobbie under adult supervision is an excellent opportunity to teach your children about following instructions and safety using tools but without being overly complicated for either of you.I had a blast putting Tobbie together in the store and I’m 23! We believe in nurturing inquisitive minds; therefore, Tobbie is just one of many construction kits we have in store to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to children. Who knew learning could be so much fun? 

Tobbe the Robot
Tobbie the Friendly Robot

Swing by The Piece Hall in Halifax to say hello to our new little dude 🙂 

 

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The Importance of having FUN!

 

Introduction:

Seen as we sell so much fun at Totally Awesome I’ve been doing some research into some of its benefits. Turns out there’s a lot of reasons to enjoy yourself (who’d have thought?) and I’m genuinely surprised we’re not prescribed a dose of fun every now and then.

Oh and just to clarify, by “fun” we are talking about real fun: activities, trying new things, playing, completing puzzles, that sort of thing as opposed to consuming alcohol or other intoxicants that might make us feel happy. 

 

 

10 Benefits: 

Without further explanation here are some of the sometime surprising and absolutely fabulous benefits of having fun:

  1. The happy hormones secreted when having fun can boost your immune system.
  2. Having fun usually means being more relaxed, which results in better detoxification all round – from your brain to your kidneys, liver and gut will get rid of toxins so much better when you have fun often.
  3. If you have fun by moving, doing fun things, and not just sitting around you can improve your circulation, muscle function, heart function and so much more.
  4. Having fun often means trying new things or taking part in a variety of activities. This variety in life keeps your brain fit by continually building new circuits and finding new paths in its neural network. Kind of like a brain gym!
  5. Your gut ecosystem thrives on a happy and relaxed state and suffers under negative stress. Considering the fact that your gut ecosystem is the foundation of your immune system, helps you make a variety of valuable micronutrients, supports your digestion and detoxification, and has been linked to preventing health problems from diabetes to mood disorders.
  6. Having fun, together with getting some good sleep, is some of the best anti-aging medicine. The hormones that are involved in a lot of things involved in aging, including skin elasticity, skin and mucous membrane moisture, muscle and joint health, energy, concentration and memory, and more, are influenced directly by fun and stress levels. Have more fun!
  7. Having fun is great for building relationships. We need each other and we need ways to stay connected. Why not invite a friend you’ve been losing touch with to share a board gaming experience with you this week? 
  8. Having fun can help you lower high blood pressure.
  9. Fun activities during the day could improve sleep quality at night.
  10. Oh yeah and having fun is FUN, it’s kind of a no brainer.

 

 

Conclusion:

I don’t really care how old you are, or think you are, that’s a pretty compelling list of reasons to make sure you’re having a daily dose of fun. So get out there and fly a kite, build a robot or complete a puzzle. If you’re still not convinced swing by one of our shops and our staff will force you to enjoy yourself, and you can tell us if you experience any of these benefits 😉 

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What is Codenames?

                                                                                                                      

Overview:

Codenames is a game of word association and thinking outside the box. The multi-award winning game from Vlaada Chvátil has become one of the most popular group games around for a variety of reasons, due mostly to the fact that it’s quick and casual, it provides a superb amount of replayability, and it promotes creativity and social interaction. It’s also a great way to exercise your mind and push those language skills, and it plays well for both small groups and large parties alike. Most of all, it’s just fun. Whether you’re winning or losing, you’ll usually find something to laugh at – the ways in which the minds of your teammates work differently to yours will never cease to amaze you!

 

                                          

How to play:

Set up 25 word cards on a table visible to everyone playing. These represent agents in the world and their codenames. Split into two teams and decide on a spymaster for each team. The two rival spymasters know the secret identities (whether they are team red or team blue) of the agents, by looking at a secret key which only they can see. The two spymasters should sit at the same end of the table and agree on the correct orientation of this key, relative to the cards in front of them on the table. Work out which team – red or blue – goes first by looking at the highlighted bars around the edge of the spymaster’s key, and assign the double agent to this team – this is a special card which can function as either one additional blue card or one additional red; a small disadvantage given to the team which got to go first!

The Spymasters then take it in turns to give their respective teammates a clue which will lead them to one of their team’s agents. A spymaster is only allowed to say two things: a one-word clue whose meaning relates to words on the table, and a number, which tells his or her team how many codenames that clue relates to. Strong word association skills (and an understanding of how your friends think!) are necessary if you want to come out on top! After being given a clue, the spymaster’s team may make a guess. You fully commit to a guess by placing a finger on the word you have chosen, and the spymaster puts out a character tile (e.g. a red or blue agent) on the word to indicate whether or not the guess was right. So long as they guess correctly, the team may continue to make a number of guesses equal to the number the spymaster gave in the original clue, plus one. You could use this “bonus guess” to catch up to the opposing team by making a guess on a clue you guessed incorrectly in a previous turn. However, if you make an incorrect guess, your turn ends immediately and the next team gets to go. Sometimes when you guess wrong, a colourless civilian card comes out rather than an agent, which isn’t too bad, but sometimes you could get an agent for the opposing team’s colour! Think carefully whether you want to use all your guesses; so long as you’ve made at least one guess, you’re allowed to pass.

And finally, make sure you don’t accidentally guess the assassin. That’s like potting the black prematurely in pool – instant loss! Spymasters need to think carefully whether or not their clue could inadvertently lead to an assassin guess before giving that clue. The game ends when one team successfully finds every agent of their colour!

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What is Cobra Paw?

 

Cobra Paw Graphic

 

Overview:

Cobra Paw is a dexterity game in which you roll dice and snatch tiles. It’s quick, it’s fun and it’s for all the family. The game recommends 2-6 eager players from the age of 6+ to get competitive and show off their ninja fast reflexes. The box design and rules explanation are simple, quirky and colourful, with enough character to keep even the most impatient readers humored. 

 

How to play: 

Lay out the tiles so that they are face up and easily accessible to all the players. Decide an amount of tiles required to win, the standard amount is 6. Select a starting player and get them to roll the dice. Once the dice have landed, two symbols will be showing face up. Put together the symbols create a pattern which will have a corresponding tile in the play area, the first player to snatch that tile scores the point. You are only allowed to use one hand to grab a tile and if two people go for the tile at the same time, the person whose finger is in or closest to the circular indent on the tile gets the point! Oh and one last thing, if the pattern that comes up on the dice matches one of your tiles be sure to protect it from the other players, they’re allowed to steal them! It’s as simple as that, once you reach the decided number of tiles you win. 

Cawfuku Stones and Dice from Cobra Paw
Cawfuku Stones and Dice from Cobra Paw

 

Components: 

The components are few, but they are absolutely lovely. The domino-esque tiles are delightfully weighty and engraved with abstract symbols that match the pair of equally chunky dice that satisfyingly clunk along the table. 

 

Conclusion:

This game is a quick, intuitive game of snatching points. It is very accessible to both young and old players that enjoy partaking in a little competition. All you need to play is some space on a table or floor and due to the build quality and small number of components Cobra Paw travels really well. If you’re not convinced yet, feel free to challenge our staff to a duel in one of our stores! 

 

A picture showing Cobra Paw and components
Cobra Paw box and components