The Climbing Knights – A Review

The king has issued a tournament. Knights have gathered to accept the challenge. Who will be the first knight to reach the top of the castle? Ah, do not be mislead, my fellow knight. Speed will not give you victory. Skill and strategy will decide the winner as castle guards lurk around each corner and will send you down the castle wall.

The Climbing Knights from SimplyFun has brought together the excitement of knights and castles in this game of skill and strategy. Designed for ages 8 and up, The Climbing Knights offers a fun, exciting, and engaging opportunity for children to visualize a plan of action, to not accept defeat, implement a strategy, and claim victory.

I’m reviewing The Climbing Knights; one of the four of SimplyFun new releases.

The Climbing Knights is quick and easy to set up and begin playing. As soon as our game arrived, the kiddos wanted to play immediately. I quickly read through the simple, straightforward rules and the challenge began. The game includes a base to hold the castle securely, a three tiered castles (magnetic), 4 Knights (magnetic), 8 Coat of Arms (2 for each knight), 2 Guards, and three dice.

The goal of the game is to get your knight to the top of the castle without being seen by the guards. If a guard catches you scaling the wall, you are sent down a tier or level of the castle. If your knight is the first to reach the top of the castle twice and retrieve both of your coat of arms, you are named the winner! But you must play smart.

The three dice control the guards and how many moves you can make on a turn. A good roll of the dice will cause your guards to take a snooze! Perfect time to be out in the open. The castle wall provides window ledges that hide you from the guards’ patrol which can offer much needed protection for your knight. The slow, stealthy ascent may perhaps be wiser that speed.

Our Thoughts on Climbing Knights

It can be challenging to find games for younger children that present the opportunity to build skills while also being entertaining and engaging. They most definitely are working their strategy skills with The Climbing Knights. I have yet to win!

“I really liked it. I love anything with knights and castles.  I liked how the guards circled the castle. It was nice that the castle was standing up and big. I like that you can actually move the knights up a standing castle. The yellow knight is my favorite. It is really fun to play.” Hannah, 10

While this game is geared for ages 8 and up, depending on your child, children younger than 8 can most definitely play. My son, Sam, is 6 and he had no problems at all understanding the concept of the game and doing well moving his knight up the castle wall.

“It has knights. I just like it. It was a fun, fun game. Are we keeping it? Don’t put it in the trash.” Sam – 6

The Climbing Knights would work beautifully as a fun resource if you are studying the medieval period or are doing  a unit study on knights and castles. For us, it has found a home in our game closet and has been played frequently by my kiddos. Game play only take about 30 minutes or so. We can quickly set it up and play a game before dinner, right before bed, on a rainy afternoon, or those days when we just have to ditch school for an hour or so.

“I loved it. It was great! I like moving up with the knights. The guards were fun, too. We took turns and had different winners. It is a fun game.” Sarah – 8

If you are a game playing family or want to add a bit of fun learning to your day, take a look at SimplyFun. They have a wide variety of games available from preschool to whole family fun. Make sure to see what other Review Crew members are saying!

SimplyFun Review
Crew Disclaimer

Family Game Time with USAopoly – A Review

In the hall closet, under the beds, on the bookshelves are all spots that we have games stacked and shoved. The only thing better than playing a game or two is adding something new to the stash. Recently we added two new games, Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game, to our game collection. USAopoly kindly allowed us to review these family friendly games and I am excited to share them with you.

You can learn more about USAopoly at their About page. Take a moment to watch the  Our Company Story Video. 

Tapple is designed for 2-8 players/Ages 8 and up. Game play takes about 10-20 minutes. Allow extra time for laughter.

Tapple Fast Word Fun for Everyone!  Do you enjoy word games? Can you think fast? Like to laugh? Yes? Well, let me tell you about Tapple. The simplicity of this game is what really makes it shine. A small deck of Category cards that are double sided provide for plenty of play.  Some of our favorite categories are: Historical Figures, Cities, and Fictional Characters. The Tapple wheel (two AA batteries are needed) has 20 letters and a 10 second timer in the middle. That is all you need for a quick, fun game with the family.

Game play is easy! Here’s a quick video to show how it’s done.

Creative thinking can be the key to winning those challenging categories. With this fast paced game, it isn’t what you know but how fast you can recall what you know.

Tapple has provided much laughter around our table. My kiddos ages 9 and up have enjoyed playing a quick game in the afternoons. It provides a great “brain break” after a day of studying. It has been interesting to see who is better at quick thinking or perhaps thinking outside the box. The oldest does not always take the easy win.

Tapple could be easily adapted to allow younger ones to play. Simple turn the timer off so the pressure of “beating the clock” is gone or perhaps give them two timer rounds to give an answer. You can also come up with your own categories that are easier for younger players or work in teams. With a large family finding games that allow for a large group to play can be challenging. I love that Tapple not only allowed up to eight players but that I could flex it a bit for my younger ones as well.

Wonky is designed for 2 or more players/ 8 year of age and up. This game is great for large families.

Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game – This game has been a huge hit in our home. Who knew that stacking wooden blocks would be engaging, frustrating, and hilarious all at the same time? USAopoly has created another game that is genius in its simplicity.

A deck of strategy cards, 9 crazy wooden cubes, and a flat surface is all that is needed for game play. Trust me. You are going to want a flat, sturdy surface. Here’s how you play:


Stacking the blocks in Wonky is challenging because not only are there three sized cubes, the sides are not even and flat. All of the cubes have curved sides. This can quickly throw towers off balance. While you definitely need cube stacking skills, the essence of this games comes down to strategy. You really have to know how to play your cards so that you use your cards up first.

Of course with a game like Wonky choosing where you play the game is almost as crucial as strategy. Especially if you have a 15 month old in the house. Ezra, our resident block tower demolition master, found the colorful cubes of Wonky too much to resist. He was more than happy to bring the towers crashing down. Perhaps USAopoly should put a warning on the box if playing near a toddler.

We have loved playing Wonky. This is a game that doesn’t limit the number of players. You just adjust the number of cards dealt according to the number of players. Perfect for the large family game night! While game play is for ages 8 and up, my three, five, and seven year olds love playing Wonky. It is stacking blocks, right? Preschoolers are masters of the blocks! Naturally, they do not have the strategic skills to use the cards to their advantage. But the cards are very easy to understand so even the three year old knows which blocks to play. She doesn’t really care if she wins or not. She is just happy to be playing with the big kids.

Tapple and Wonky have added fun and laughter to our afternoons and family game nights. We are still waiting to see who will be the one to master stacking all the Wonky blocks. A competitive spirit may run strong in the Tribe. These game would be great to add to your family’s stash of games. Perfect for a birthday gift or the holiday season.

But don’t just take my game loving family’s word for it. See what other Crew members thought about Tapple and Wonky! Don’t forget to check out other games from USAopoly!

 USAopoly Review
Crew Disclaimer

Escape from the Library

Well, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (Chris Grabenstein) to be exact.

Kyle Keeley is a twelve year old boy who loves games, especially video games. Reading a good book? There is definitely no interest for Kyle. Why read when he could be playing the latest Lemoncello game? All of this changes with a contest to play Mr. Lemoncello’s most amazing game yet: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.

Kyle’s town of Alexandria, Ohio lost their town library twelve years ago. Mr. Lemoncello lived in Alexandria as a boy and loved nothing more than an afternoon in the library with a good book. To celebrate this love of reading, Mr. Lemoncello has built a new library complete with holographic images, hovercrafts for reaching those high shelves, and an intense game room. And now the great game of escape begins…..

To celebrate the grand opening of the library, twelve 12 year old students enter and the first one to find the way out (not the door they came in) will be the big winner. Who can be the first to find and decipher the clues? Who will be the first one to find the way out that wasn’t the way in?

My kiddos and I enjoyed Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. It was a fun, lighthearted read perfect for those hot, summer afternoons. My older ones enjoyed catching literary references (and there were many) and we all enjoyed the game aspect.  My children were all trying to follow the clues and figure out the path of escape before the end. Those who are familiar with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might get a sense of familiarity. I think fans of The Westing Game would be at home with Mr. Lemoncello as well.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is an enjoyable read for ages 9 – 12. While we read it aloud and enjoyed it,  I think it is best suited to individual reading. It would make a great book club  selection as there is lots of opportunity for discussion on game play, sportsmanship, teamwork, etc. Your reader might just ask for another book or two.

And…I just discovered that Mr. Lemoncello is coming back! Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics should hit the bookshelves early 2016. I know it will be on our to read list.