As we get into the heart of summer, more and more people have been coming into Eureka looking for games, puzzles and toys to send to their kids at summer camp. Since these sorts of games are in such hot demand, and since we have so many cool new items that fit the bill, here are my top six suggestions for great, lightweight, easy-to-mail new items in the store that are perfect for an extended stay at summer camp, to play alone or with new friends!
1) Temple Trap
Temple trap is a single-player puzzle game in a travel-size package. An archaeologist is trapped in an ancient temple, and must navigate a shifting maze of passageways to escape! The brilliant, tactile gameplay is based on the classic 15 puzzle, in which pieces bearing the numbers 1 through 15 must be shifted around the board to place them in the correct order. In Temple Trap, the pieces are sections of the maze, and the player’s character must travel through two levels of transforming corridors to reach the exit on the second floor! With 48 puzzles and a beautifully intuitive mechanic, Temple Trap is great for kids as young as seven or eight, but enough of a headscratcher to keep teens busy too!
2) Ivan’s Hinge
This ingenious transforming gizmo isn’t just a mechanical wonder – it’s also a puzzle! Bend and overlap the sections of this Mobius strip-esque loop to rearrange the color patterns and two-dimensional shape of the final structure. See if you can match the 48 unique patterns on the cards! Like Temple Trap, Ivan’s Hinge has puzzles in increasing levels of difficulty to suit a whole range of ages.
For kids 12 and up looking for a bit of strategy, Innovation is a great card game for 2 to 4 players that recreates the span of human history in under an hour! Unlock all the technological and intellectual advances of the human race from the domestication of animals to the Internet, and watch your civilization thrive. But watch out! Once an innovation has appeared, all players will have the chance to take advantage of it. A fast-paced blend of careful planning, turning your opponents’ advances against them, and fickle chance, Innovation is one of the slickest strategy card games on the market!
Part slingshot, part helicopter, part light show, the Firefly from Megatech makes a spectacular little addition to any care package. Activate the LED light, then launch your Firefly to incredible heights using the custom rubber sling. The Firefly’s unique retractable wings allow it to soar like an arrow on the way up, then catch the wind and glide gently back to earth like a maple seed pod! Quite a display at night, especially when kids launch three or four together.
5) Elk Fest
A delightfully goofy game for 2 from the ever-reliable Mayfair Games, Elk Fest pits players against each other in the ultimate test of tabletop dexterity – navigating a moose across a river with treacherous stepping stones to safely reach the opposite shore! Players flick their stones around the table, trying to line them up precisely to allow a moose to straddle them in a cautious, incremental advance. Make sure your opponent doesn’t steal a crucial stone away! The name, incidentally, is an accident of the translation from the original German: in German, moose is Elch!
Save the best for last – Friday is a sensationally original new game from the innovative Rio Grande Games. It’s a solo-player card game that’s equal parts solitaire, RPG and deckbuilding game, perfect for kids 12 and up who need to kill some time at camp and want to exercise their brains. You take on the role of Friday, Robinson Crusoe’s indigenous companion while shipwrecked on the island. You only want some peace and quiet, but you’ll never get it while Robinson is around – you’ll have to teach him the necessary skills to survive, thrive, and eventually fight pirates and escape! The bad news is, Robinson is ill-equipped to take care of himself, always doing the wrong thing in a pinch; as you brave hazards like exploring the island, fighting off animals and escaping cannibals, you’ll have to carefully build up Robinson’s abilities, sometimes tactically losing an encounter to cure your charge of his bad habits! With a marvelous sense of humor and truly challenging solitaire gameplay, Friday is a brilliant way of passing an hour between camp activities.