Posts filed under Tabletop

With Gridopolis, build and play in 3D like never before!

Educators and researchers unanimously agree on the positive impact playing games can have on the learning process. Playing games of all kinds can help young people understand new concepts, view ideas from an alternative perspective and work as a team to accomplish a mission or a goal.

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At Gridopolis Games, we too are on board with the idea that learning can be fun and engaging. A passion which led us to create the innovative educational ‘strategy game + platform’ called Gridopolis.

Gridopolis is a first-of-its-kind game where players think creatively and logically in three dimensions. Gridopolis is both a strategy game and an expandable gaming system, which is why it's such a fantastic and fun tool for STEM education.

For what we have classified more directly as ‘STEM without screens,' we recently developed our first lesson plan for use at home and in the classroom. This curriculum outlines therapeutic, knowledge, and behavioral objectives of the game system.


For the therapeutic objectives, students will practice recognizing shapes, colors and methods of assembly, addressing spatial skills, reasoning, memory and more. For knowledge objectives, students plan, move and strategize in three dimensions, teaching strategy, logic and creativity. Examining the behavioral objectives, students collaborate as they master the rules and game play, targeting socialization, collaboration and communication skills.

In addition to being a practical and fun learning system, Gridopolis would be an excellent fit in a schools and libraries setting due to its durability, simple instruction guide and vibrant color scheme.

Sign up for updates about our Kickstarter, coming July 2019.

Article by Gridopolis Games
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
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Posted on June 7, 2019 and filed under Computational Thinking, Tabletop.



Title: Unlock! The Formula, Squeak & Sausage, The Island of Doctor Goorse, The House on the Hill, The Nautalis Traps, The Tonipal’s Treasure, A Noside Story, Tombstone Express, & The Adventures of Oz
Publisher: Asmodee MSRP: $14.99 each
Recommended ages: 10+
Time: 60 Minutes
Reset: Easy
Players:  2 - 6
Recommended Players: 4 Players
App Required: Yes


Unlock! is a fantastic series of escape rooms. This series is made up of a deck of cards that can easily be reassembled after each playthrough, making them perfect for circulation. Players put cards together, such as a screw and screwdriver, adding the numbers on the cards together to check if their solution is correct. While this system sometimes does allow for accidental puzzle solving, it’s easy enough to realize if you’ve solved something out of order.

Unlock! teaches players how to play by putting them through a tutorial room. It shows players what kinds of puzzles they can anticipate as well as making excellent use of the cards by teaching them step by step with each card they pull.

An app is required to play, but does the work of a Game Master and the various locks found in a live escape room. If players are stuck then hints are given or if a sound is required for a puzzle then the app provides it. It adds a layer of ambient immersion to the puzzles that an analog-only escape room board game would not be able to provide. The one downside is that the need for an app makes the game impossible to play without a device.


The Formula and Squeak & Sausage rooms are exceptional. The puzzles are creative and intuitive without being completely obvious. They make excellent use of the app in interesting ways. Overall they have just the right kind of outside the box thinking. Unfortunately, The Island of Doctor Goorse left much to be desired. This third installment splits the party, and the puzzles feel obtuse. While the party is split, puzzles need to be simpler due to the party’s brain power being divided. Even when reunited though, some of the solutions were baffling. While we highly recommend the series, you may want to pass over The Island of Doctor Goorse.

If mobile devices are not an issue, then the Unlock series may be the best escape room game for schools and libraries.


Article by Donald Dennis & Stephanie Frey
Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
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Escape Room the Game

Title: Escape Room the Game
Publisher: Spin Master MSRP: $39.99
Recommended ages: 16+
Time: 60 minutes
Reset: Not without printing or using page protectors & dry erase
Players:  3 - 5
Recommended Players: 3 - 4
App Required: No


Escape Room the Game easily has some of the most unusual technology of any tabletop escape room experience. When you open the box the first thing you will notice is a giant plastic mechanism with codes and ciphers stamped into the side, a bunch of strange plastic keys, and several bags - each one containing their own scenario. These elements makes Escape Room the Game truly unique and worth exploring.

That this box contains not just one but four different rooms is pretty amazing for the modest price of $40. When you add in the custom plastic keys and the “Chrono Decoder,” you know you’re in for a different kind of experience. The countdown timer adds tension, while sliding the keys into place and checking to see if you’ve found the right answer adds a physical element that sometimes feels lacking in other escape room products. 

The hint system is utilizes red filter technology and players are allowed to look at hints after enough time has passed. We ended up looking at hints even if we didn’t feel like we were behind, and on at least one occasion the hints caused us more trouble than they helped. Overall it’s a great system, but it doesn’t always work.

When it works, the Chrono Decoder is a great prop that also tells you when to look at hints. Escape Room the Game has expansion packs that utilize the Chrono Decoder provided in the base box. The themes are nice, but fairly standard for escape rooms.

Sometimes the Chrono Decoder doesn’t accept the correct keys, which penalizes you time and stalls out the game play. A couple of the puzzles are very poorly designed. It’s no good for more than four players and, except for the Nuclear Countdown room, is best with three.

As much as our group enjoyed Escape Room the Game I can’t recommend it wholeheartedly. It is in turns rage-inducingly frustrating and stunningly brilliant. The Prison Break isn’t a great starting scenario and the Temple of the Aztec is the worst of the lot.  (Aztec felt like it needed a couple of extra components that were removed at the last minute.) The best scenario in the starting box set is the Nuclear Countdown room; just make sure you have a charged cell phone ready when you play it.


Article by Donald Dennis & Stephanie Frey
Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Group on Facebook 
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
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Webby's Challenge: Breadboard Puzzle


Webby’s Challenge premiered at ShushCon 2018 and we made a couple modifications from the Print and Play Model to spiff it up. The biggest modification was the Breadboard puzzle. We used some Breadboard and wires that we had laying around to give participants a more tangible experience in place of the default circuitry puzzle. The following puzzle replaces the Circuit Puzzle in Webby's Challenge, but can be used as a standalone puzzle or incorporated in a different Escape Room all together.


8x Wires
3x Green LEDs
2x Yellow LEDs
2x Blue LEDs
2x AA Battery Pack
2xAA Batteries

  • Print the Breadboard Puzzle Kit.
  • Set out the 3x Very Important sheets, Instructional sheet, Breadboard, Battery Pack sans batteries, all the wires, and LEDs.
  • Set the 2x AA batteries with one of the sets of clues that players need to unlock. Make sure it isn't the stack that unlocks from solving this puzzle (Answer:3220).
Fun Fact: The reason there are no Red LEDs in the room is due to technical difficulties we had with them burning out and smoking. Make sure to try out various setups ahead of time to make sure all of your LEDs are in working order, and be sure to keep spares on hand.

Fun Fact: The reason there are no Red LEDs in the room is due to technical difficulties we had with them burning out and smoking. Make sure to try out various setups ahead of time to make sure all of your LEDs are in working order, and be sure to keep spares on hand.

In this puzzle, participants find the LEDs, wires, Breadboard, instructional papers, and battery pack scattered in the room but not the 2x AA Batteries. This keeps participants from immediately burning out the batteries by touching the positive and negative charges together. It also gives them time to read the various instructional warnings laid out on the table before they truly get started on the puzzle.

The batteries will be unlocked with which ever answer they correctly solve first. If using lock boxes with Webby’s Challenge, then put the batteries in either the Robot Path or the Colored Shapes lockboxes.

Participants will use the parts list to make sure they have all of the pieces they need. They’ll then use the list with the various numbers and letters to place the wires and LEDs in the correct sections of the breadboard’s grid. They’ll also have to make sure to put the batteries into the battery pack. Once everything is assembled the LEDs will light up and participants will be able to see what colors the LEDs are. They’ll use this information with the colored boxes page to get a 4 digit combination either to give to the moderator or for a 4 digit lock, or if you’re feeling extra spiffy, a 4 digit color lock.


Access Webby's Challenge for free on Google Drive


Article by Stephanie Frey
Stephanie Frey can be found roaming Twitter. She can also be found selling goodies on Society6
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Group on Facebook 
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
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Posted on May 8, 2018 and filed under Libraries / Ready to Code, Tabletop, Escape Rooms.

Gravity Warfare

Gravity Warfare box.jpg

The table top and jumbo versions of Gravity Warfare were featured at ShushCon2018 earlier this year, and was a huge success. The game entertained and amazed gamers and attendees of all ages at the convention

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"ShushCon offers a lot of entertainment like board gaming, RPGs, tournaments, and Escape room events. They even had “Play to win” for the duration of the convention, offering awesome new games for attendees to take home.

We were there demoing our Gravity Warfare™ but being the avid gamers that we are, we couldn’t help but try other games after our shifts. We played a few different games and had so much fun! The group that we played with was very friendly and the GM had unbelievable skill, offering a truly immersive experience."     -Dan M

The game that’s been keeping everyone on the edge of their seats, Gravity Warfare – Gaming on a Whole New Level™ is NOW LIVE on Kickstarter. A dexterity and strategy game like no other, you compete with your opponents to play your pieces and be the first to place them on the self-balancing board.

What sets this game apart is that you can challenge your opponents with cards from your hand, and make their turns much more difficult to complete to keep them from winning. If they make a mistake, they lose their turn; but if they make the pieces fall, they lose the match!

Gravity warfare teaches physics in a very tactile way. The unique balancing board is an excellent lesson in torque as players place pieces and the board reacts. Players see first hand how far from the pivot base they can set their pieces and how it affects the board. This game is also a lesson in friction as pieces remain on the board well beyond what players would expect. Players learn strategy and resource management as they save their cards for the perfect moment for maximum benefit.


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Gravity Warfare is a family project, created by a father of six, and developed by the whole family. Eight lives and sets of skills bring this game to life; from an artistic background, to mechanical engineering and business management everyone had an important role that fit perfectly to create this game.

Help make Gravity Warfare a reality by clicking the link below and support the project today! Every little bit goes a long way.


Posted on April 20, 2018 and filed under Tabletop.

Fiasco Playsets: Battle Pets


One of the great things about Fiasco is how flexible the system is. With no need for complex resolution systems or arcane tomes of back story and special exceptions, games run smoothly as long as all the players are engaged in the story more than they are just being a hero.

 Battle Pets, the playset we are sharing this week, is one we first crafted shortly after Pokemon Go was announced and has been used successfully at several of our Pokemon related events. Players may be Battle Pet trainers, veterans of the monster wars, hosts of Battle Pets tournaments, or even be crafty battle pets trying to avoid being captured. Win the big tournament, progress to their next evolution, or even learn where monsters come from. 

Even though we were first inspired to create this set because of Pokemon Go, we play with the "boy and his battle pet" theme so you may find hints of other monster capture games like Monster Rancher, Jade Cocoon, or Digimon. We even previously discussed the long history of this theme on the Inverse Genius podcast IG 008: Pokemon Battle Friends. If you listen you'll hear just how much we love the whole genre, not just Pokemon. 


The important takeaway is, if you can't find an existing playset you like, or modify one to meet your needs, how easily you can craft a playset based on your favorite settings. Successful playsets don't need to be completely faithful to the source material, which is great because who wants to deal with lawyers anyway? 

If there is a trick to making a great playset, and I'm not saying there is one, it is just making all of the choices  interesting and open-ended. Taking the primary themes and then riffing off those to create an engaging experience is much more fulfilling and interesting than transcribing a setting point by point. Every entry in the set should be approachable and open up more opportunities for exciting interactions at the table. 

In other words: file off all of the serial numbers, by avoiding setting specific names and places whenever possible, so players don't need to be adepts in the lore. You can count on the players to fill in the name of the headmaster for your school of wizardry, or expand on the big conflict, as they need them. You don't need to spell out everything for the players; it isn't that kind of game. 


Do you want to be the very best? Like no one ever was?

Well get in line kid. Everyone wants to be the best here. They’re all running around trying to shove wildlife into this newfangled pocket dimension device. The cool kids call it the Podide. Or at least I do.

Point is, go out there, catch you some creatures, and then pit them against one another in battle. What’s the worst that could happen?


Follow the link to our completely unauthorized and totally non-IP-infringing Battle Pets play-set created at the Waccamaw Neck Branch Library in Pawleys Island SC.


Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
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Posted on December 4, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

Fiasco Playsets: Dewey Decimation


One of the great pleasures of RPGs in general, and Fiasco in particular, is telling stories. Sometimes players tell tales of terror, heroics, power fantasies, or even great tragedy.  

Fiasco in particular likes to poke fun at elements from some of our favorite genres, themes, or even the pettiness of everyday day life. We thought it'd be great if we shared some of our everyday life with our patrons, and the world at large, by creating a Fiasco Playset that highlights the comically absurd of our experience working in the library.   

That doesn't mean you'll find our personal stories within this slim volume, or that the deepest darkest secrets of our patrons will be revealed, but if are in the know you may very well see the fingerprints of a librarian who is also a Welcome to Night Vale fan. In other words, imagine the strangest aspects of librarianship writ-large, with the delightful melange of smells, startlingly unorthodox patron interactions, and that one book with the red cover, all with the ability to react how you want because this is a game about bad decisions. 

We didn't get too much into the the more explicit adventures we've been subjected to as librarians, mostly because this is a YA Fiasco Playset. Though if I had to guess there is certainly room for an Adults Services version; that's a different blog entirely. 

Please enjoy Dewey Decimation, and let us know what adventures you have using the play set. 

Dewey Decimation cover large.jpg

Libraries are weird, and this one is no exception. The staff is quirky, the books are many, and something is always just the slightest bit off.

The staff manages to keep the place afloat, but with a ghost roaming the stacks, aliens abducting patrons, and the local PTA’s monthly meetings always going awry things can get... messy.

But the books are free, right?

Get it here.

Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
Games in Schools and Libraries Guild at Board Game Geek
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Posted on November 15, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

Word Games for NaNoWriMo

Almost any kind of social or hobby gathering can be boosted by having a bank of activities that relate to the theme or which can act as a launching point for discussion and introspection. If you are hosting NaNoWriMo meetup, a book club, or any game night in the library, then word games may be just what you need to spur interaction among the participants.

Posted on November 8, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

Fiasco Playsets: Natural Disaster


As I mentioned previously, we love Fiasco, but many of the the playsets aren't suitable for our Teen Room audience.  Creating your own is easy once you are familiar with the system.  We have created several playsets at our branch, and our Natural Disaster playset was created as part of an LSTA Eco-literacy grant. 

This playset has allowed us to engage in ecological topics with our patrons where otherwise they might have been more inclined to other activities. Putting the environment or endangered animals at risk in a very immediate and engaging fashion grabbed their imagination and led to discussions after play sessions about other potential threats or issues. This theme is so rich it would be possible to completely re-write it without covering the same ground.

Let us know what you think, or if you make your own variation! 


When people and nature interact there’s a lot that can go wrong: pollution, invasive species, poaching, people littering and vandalizing everything…

And that’s just the little stuff.

Here with greedy business tycoons, insane locals, and corrupt government interests, it’s not a question of if something will go wrong but when and how bad. 

When all these different interests collide there’s bound to be conflict, whether it’s park rangers chasing down vandals, or protesters trying to keep their favorite nature preserve from being plowed flat by the local tycoon. And all that’s not even taking into account the local wolf population.

Whether this fiasco is all green, or all on fire, is up to you!

Get the Natural Disaster playset.


Posted on November 1, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.

Inktober Games

Every October artists from around the world pull out their pens and inkpots to draw a daily picture and share them on social media, tagging  #inktober or #inktober2017. The staff at the library in Pawleys Island love both art and games, so this year we are taking full advantage of Inktober to expose our patrons to the joy of art games.

The problem with art games is that for years there wasn’t much depth of catalog for that type of game. Pictionary, since release in 1985, was the omnipresence art game. It reigned supreme both because of it’s familiar charade like game play and its ubiquity on the shelves of mass market game and bookstore shelves alike. Much like Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary was everywhere; when you said drawing game in the ‘90s people thought Pictionary. Now that we are in the back half of the 2010s there is a great variety in both form and function.

Fake Artist Box.png

A Fake Artist Goes to New York

Designer Jun Sasaki
Publisher Oink Games
Players 5-10
Time 20 minutes

A Fake Artist is both a social deduction game and the most colorful one-vs-many art game on the market. One “fake artist” is trying to blend in and convince all of the “real artists” that they are not the fake.

The patron player decides on a category that everyone knows, and then hands out notes to all the players with something from that category - a category might be sports, but the thing from the category could be any known sport, or even something more specific like a star athlete, stadium, or something like a football helmet. Then everyone but the patron takes turns drawing one line on the canvas tile, each player using a different color, until everyone has made two lines. Then players examine the created piece of art and then vote, trying to suss out the fake artist. If the artists don't guess who the fake is then the patron and the fake artist win the round. 

A Fake Artist is a party game that plays quickly without actually requiring any real artistic skill. It is easy, fast and fun. 

Tellestrations cover.jpg

Telestrations/Telestrations After Dark

No designer credited
Players 4-12
Best played with 5+ players
Time 30 minutes

Telestrations, also known as Eat Poop You Cat, is essentially the Telephone Game where players alternate drawing a picture of the word that was passed to them or guessing the word that the picture represents. Each player starts with a notebook, a dry erase pen, and a randomly selected word; after drawing the word they pass the notebook on and this repeats until the notebooks return to their starting players. Players then reveal their original words and show how things changed from the initial page to the last one.

Telestrations is lots of fun, and has been popular at our library with patrons and library staff alike. In theory there is a scoring system but you should ignore it, the game is much more enjoyable without it.


USAOpoly has created an adult version which is probably not appropriate for most schools or libraries due to mature or vulgar content, but you may find it an interesting addition to your home collection.



Designer Vlaada Chvátil
Publisher Czech Games Edition / Stronghold Games
Players 3-6
Time 30 minutes

Pictomania is one of the most direct inheritors of the Pictionary style of art game. Over five rounds players are dividing their attention between drawing their own pictures and guessing what the other players are drawing; players claim more points for being skilled and speedy artists or insightful guessers with the worst guesser each round being penalized. Yup, that’s right, players race each other in a real-time-simultaneous-drawing-and-guessing-activity to get points for early correct guesses and get a bonus for being done early. After five rounds the game is over.

The only problem with Pictomania is how the cards with the answers that players have to guess from may be tough to see with a full table. If the cards were double sided, duplicating the information on the back, then the clever use of card stands would do much more to facilitate the game. Other than that Pictomania is a drawing game that is as much about drawing as it is guessing and really feels like it’s a game for people who are enthusiastic about both art and games. 



Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics

Designer Jason Thompson
Publisher Japanime Games, Mock Man Press
Players 1-8
Time 30-90 minutes

At the beginning of Mangaka each player draws three theme cards which provides the themes they will need to include in all four rounds of play. Players then draw two panels of a cartoon utilizing their themes. As the rounds progress, the challenge becomes more difficult by the inclusion of more panels they must fill and and trend cards.

In the first round players must fill two panels in five minutes, with two more added for each of the subsequent rounds but the time they have to draw does not increase! When you add the trend cards to the mix later rounds can be chaotic and out of control, just like real manga. After each round players show off their creations and get points for how well they’ve included their themes and met the trends.

The scoring, like in many art games, is the least interesting part of the game. However Mangaka is a great game for artists and manga fans of all stripes. The cards play off of many familiar anime tropes and provide a great inspiration for other art activities including as inspiration for Inktober art ideas.   

Here is a link to an album of pics from some of our previous runs of Mangaka.

That’s our top four art games, let us know what your favorite art games are in the comments!

The Games in Schools and Libraries podcasts and blogs are produced by Inverse Genius in association with the Georgetown County Library System
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Posted on October 25, 2017 and filed under Tabletop.