Category Archives: Toy Talk

Carcassonne: A Board Game Review

Carcassonne by Klaus-Jurgen Wrede

Rio Grande Games

2-5 players

45 minutes

Age 8+

Online: $21.95 (+ shipping) Local: $32.95


Last month I reviewed the Kids of Carcassone.  The Kids of Carcassonne is one of the many variants of a game called Carcassonne.  Carcassonne is one of the most popular designer/Euro games available as it is a great family game while also having enough strategy and decision making opportunities for any ‘serious’ gaming geeks, such as myself.

In Carcassonne, players create a landscape (playing board) by placing a tile.  Tiles must be placed so that either fields connect with fields, cities connect with cities, or roads connect with roads – just like a jigsaw.  When players place a tile, they then place a meeple either in a city as a knight, on a road as a thief, in the field as a farmer or on a cloister as a monk.  When a city or road is completed, or a cloister is surrounded by other tiles, any meeples connected to these areas are removed and the players score points determined by the number of tiles used in creating the city, road or cloister.  Farmers are scored at the end of the game based upon how many completed cities their field touches.  The player with the most points wins!

To those who have not yet played Carcassonne the game may seem a little complex.  This could be no further from the truth.  The game play is quick and simple – draw a tile, place a tile, place a meeple, and then score if needed.  The randomness of the tiles drawn and placed means that every time you play the game it will be different.  I highly recommend this game for everyone.  It is a new classic!

Carcassonne also has many expansions.  These expansions are add-ons that supplement the base game while adding a new twist and new rules to the game.  Expansions include: The Princess and the Dragon, the Tower, King and Scout, and the Catapult.

Family Thoughts:

Dad #1:  A great game to pull out when you have friends over.  I particularly like the fact that you create your own game board and that this changes whenever you play the game.  I would suggest getting the expansion The Princess and the Dragon for some extra fun.

Son #1, age 14:  There is so much variety in this game and it never plays the same twice.  It’s always fun to play with a lot of people.

Mom #2: I love this game!  It’s pretty simple and can be played in a friendly way or get very heated when playing, competitively, with a partner *ahem*, whoops!   A game that is loads of fun to play with friends and it’s never the same.

If you wish to try any of these games before buying then please contact Clive at


An Up-cycled Halloween

Here are some fast and fun Halloween upcycling projects from the Spark Your Imagination household!!

“We’d love to share a few of the Hallowe’en decorations we came up with using things we already had lying around the house (and in the basement, and in the garage, etc.).

Zombie Family Portrait
We took photo of ourselves (with our best crack at a zombie stare) and tinkered with the colour to spook-it-up. We had it printed poster size (Costco: under $10). Then we used a piece of cardboard (front and back) to create a frame. We spray painted the cardboard metallic gold.
Hallowe’en Tree
We had some branches kicking around and gathered them together and stuffed them into our Christmas tree stand. We strung orange lights on it and our boys decorated the branches with a variety of scary bits.

Board Games: Family Fun for Everyone

I watch too much TV!!  There is no doubt about it.  But one thing that will always get me to turn the television off is the chance of playing a board game with friends and family.  Board games bring the family together.  They create a positive environment for conversation, learning (yes, your kids will learn and they won’t even realize it!) and most importantly FUN!

Board games have seen a recent increase in popularity due partly to marketing – think the Hasbro Game Night campaign – but more so due to the increased availability of designer games.

What are designer games you may ask.  Well, they are board games or card games that give recognition to the designer.  Much like a book has an author more and more games have the designer’s name on the box.  Creativity is being recognized.  These games originated in Europe but are now being published in North America.  The popularity of these ‘Euro’ games has grown so much that now many of these new designer games are being designed and published in North America.

These new games open up new worlds of discovery.  A family can gather around a table and build railway routes across North America (or just about any other part of the world), become explorers, discover new lands, build settlements, become an archaeologist racing through a temple full of dangers, colonize Mars, try to save rats from a sinking ship, race NASCAR or Formula 1 cars and even become bean farmers.  The themes are endless!

Games are no longer about rolling dice and moving with no end of the game in sight.  They are so much more!  Many of these ‘new’ games require planning ahead, strategic thinking, cooperation, and collaboration while having a set time limit!  Your kids will have to think and it won’t even hurt!

Over the coming months, I will be introducing new games that are ideal for family game play.  I hope these games will inspire you to sit down with your family, open a box and explore the adventures within.

Clive Lovett is a husband, father, board game hobbyist, an organizer of BIGCON (Kamloops Games Convention), and facilitator of Family Games Nights that are have been held in Elementary Schools in the Kamloops area.  He has a collection of nearly 300 board and card games that he is willing to play at any given opportunity.  For more information contact Clive at

Our first game… Kids of Carcassonne
Continue reading Board Games: Family Fun for Everyone

Road Trip Survival: Traveling with Children

Elizabeth says, “Summer is a time of rest for our family.  We are together and we like to take off on adventures and check out areas around our home; camping and exploring.  We are lucky enough to get the chance to be out and about together

I am fortunate to have three children that are fairly happy when we are traveling.  They each have a stash of books that are at their fingertips for reading.  They usually bring a small bag of toys.  They like to look out the windows and see what they can find. They get bored, like any kid.  They fight, like many siblings.  They like to be loud.  Very very rarely will they ever fall asleep.  Until then, I need to have more than one “little something” for those be-quiet-or-Mom-and-Dad-are-going-to-pull-out-their-hair moments.

I like to have games for us to use when we are traveling.  We also like to use the Spark Your Imagination cards.

I Spy,  What If…,  Would you Rather…,  Scavenger Hunts, The Alphabet Game (where we look for all the letters, in order, that we can find).  This is good game to teach kids letters but it is a little challenging when the littles don’t yet know know their alphabet.

These are a few classics but they can (and do) get old.

I searched for a bit and found a few great websites sharing awesome suggestions of games to play while you are traveling, waiting or just needing to focus the attention of whomever might be needing distraction!!
Continue reading Road Trip Survival: Traveling with Children

SPARK! Your Summer

If you are a parent of any child over three, I’m sure you have been there.  The little one is wearing you out and you are looking for something new to add to the whining.  It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen (or, if it doesn’t – teach me your secrets!).
There is a terrific secret to those moments.
That secret is to spark the imagination.  And yours, as a matter of fact.

Continue reading SPARK! Your Summer