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Frugal Catholic Mommy says, “You’ve been Sentenced! and Twisted Fish? Great stuff — keep it coming!”

March 22, 2010

In addition to the fantastic review, below, Frugal catholic Mommy is also offering a giveaway — a prize pack of all Mcneill Designs’ products! To enter, visit Frugal Catholic Mommy.

“Like many of you, I’m sure, our family loves playing games.  We always try to squeeze in a few games on the weekend.  If the little ones aren’t old enough to play the game, they are our “helpers” and spin, roll, and move pieces for us. Everyone has their favorite game, but my oldest daughter and I have a particular fondness for word games so we were thrilled when we received a box of items for review from McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds, including the award winning You’ve Been Sentenced! and Twisted Fish.

You’ve Been Sentenced! is a downright hilarious game, perfect for playing with family or friends, kids or adults.  To play, every player is dealt 10 pentagon shaped cards.  On each of the 5 sides of the card there is a word and a point value printed. The 5 words on each card are often (but not always) variations of the same word.  For example,  a card might read “hair”, “hairs”, “hairy”, “hairier”, and “hairiest”.  Each player tries to assemble his/her cards into a grammatically correct, sensible sentence.  When the time is up (timer included), players read their sentences aloud to the “jury” (the other players). If there are no objections, the player totals up the points printed with each word they used.  But–the jury can object to a sentence if they think it is grammatically incorrect or doesn’t make sense.  The sentence creator then has a chance for rebuttal and can defend their sentence.  Jury members take a vote, and if the sentence is voted in, the player earns the points. If voted out, no points.  After all players have presented their sentences and scored them, all players take 10 new cards for the next round and form new sentences.  The game ends when a player reaches 200 points.

As is, the game is addicting and hilarious (first hearing the silly sentences, THEN hearing the twisted logic behind the defense of the sentences!).   For a twist, you can add one of the themed add-on packs (Pop Culture, Sports, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and my personal favorites–Gourmet Cuisine, and The Official Readers Digest National Word Power Challenge).  Those add an entirely new feel to the game, as do the many game play variations of the game that are suggested in the instruction pamphlet.

We love this game!  It is SO much fun, and the kids are learning as we play (whether or not they know it).  In both the creation of and defense of the sentences, playing the game sparks creativity– the best benefit of play in my opinion.  Playing word games reinforces reading and language skills as the kids learn new words, see the proper spelling of words, and ask the meaning of words they aren’t familiar with.  I also appreciate that there is a mix of independent thinking/strategy and interactive play. I am VERY impressed, and already You’ve Been Sentenced has become a family favorite.

Also in the box from McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds was the Twisted Fish card game (ages 6+), which my kids are nuts about.  Based on the classic Go Fish game, players are dealt 8 cards and must try and complete a set of fish in each of the 5 colors (red, yellow, green, purple and blue).  The “fish” illustrations are very funny (ex. the Shrimp is dressed in shirt and tie and is holding a cup of coffee).  Twisted Fish includes 8 “Zinger” cards which add a strategic spin to the game.  Each of the Zingers lets the player perform a specific one-time action that may help yourself or hurt another.  With the “Game Warden” card, for example, you can pull one card from any opponent and toss it back into the fish pond (LOL!). When someone is out of cards and the round ends, players total up the points of their completed sets (some fish are worth 5 points, others are worth 10–that in itself adds some strategy!) and then subtract the value of the remaining cards in his/her hand.  The first to reach 400 points wins the game.  Twisted Fish is easy enough for younger kids to play together, but is also very enjoyable for family play.  There is a very funny little “bonus” toy in the box, too, that cracked me up when I read about it in the instructions, but I won’t tell you what it is…

The last item in the box has quickly become “Mommy’s Little Helper”.  It’s the Wheel of Chore-ture (GRIN).  The Wheel of Chore-ture is a magnetic backed card with a spinner on it that sticks to the fridge.  We let the kids spin for their chore for general helping around the house, and we have been also using it when the kids misbehave–they have to spin and do EXTRA chores (insert evil laughter here).  The kids love spinning for their own fate, and I like the extra help…

I really appreciate the humor in these games–not only of the games themselves, of course, but of the illustrations and even printed instructions.  When is the last time you cracked up while reading instructions?  Little gems like “Pick a dealer in a way which seems fitting to you and the people of your culture” and “…we encourage exaggeration, annoying quips, disparaging remarks etc.” are tossed in here and there.  I also appreciate that the games are versatile and can be adapted to suit multiple ages, abilities and personalities.  As a parent, I like that the games have some educational components like vocabulary building, sentence structure, and reinforcing basic math skills by totaling up earned points.  I’m very impressed with all the items from McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds.  It’s no surprise they have won a ton of awards.

Great stuff–keep it coming!”

Want to learn more about McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds’ award-winning games like You’ve been Sentenced!, Twisted Fish and more? Visit McNeill Designs for game rules, printable score sheets, or even order online!

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