Review: Brilliant Boredom Busting Games from John Adams

#AD. Over the last few weeks I have spent an unprecedented amount of time at home with my family. Trying to work, manage the children’s learning and keep on top of the housework has created friction and frustration, but we were sent the perfect antidote from John Adams: a box packed full of brilliant boredom buster games. The time spent playing board games have helped us to reconnect as a family, laugh and relax.

We were lucky enough to be sent a huge box of Ideal games from John Adams filled with classics I played as a child, new versions of old favourites and games I haven’t heard of before. The games ranged from the classic single player Rubik’s cube to Think Words which can be played with up to 8 players. Read my reviews of: Rummikub, Rubik's, Othello and Trominos and see my suggestions of which games to buy for your family at the end of the post.

Post contains affiliate links.

A huge pile of John Adams Ideal family games on a table between 2 children
So many brilliant games to help beat boredom



Brilliant Family Games from John Adams


Rummikub and Rummikub Junior


We received both the Prime version of Rummikub (aged 7 plus) and Rummikub Junior which is great for children aged 4 plus, both games are for 2 to 4 players. My 4 year 1/2 year old is starting to recognise her numbers and was able to play the junior version with the assistance of one of us and I’m sure she will be able to play on her own in 6 months to a year. In both games you want to try and get rid of all your pieces as quickly as possible by laying down or adding to groups (the same number, but different colours) or runs of 3 or more. Runs have to all be the same colour and consecutive numbers.

What is the difference between Rummikub and Rummikub Junior?


Aimed at families with slightly younger members Rummikub Junior is a simplified version of the classic game. There are less pieces, the counters only go up to 10 and scoring involves star counters. You get one or more stars every time you place down pieces, you pay a star for each piece you need to pick up (when you can’t go) and you are penalised a star for each piece you have left on your rack at the end of the game. Who ever has most stars wins.

In Rummikub the pieces go up to 13 and you aren’t penalised during the game if you can’t go, but at the end of the game (which finishes when someone clears their rack) your score is minus the total of all the pieces you have left including a massive -30 if you retain the joker. This involves more tactics because you want to make sure you get rid of your highest value pieces asap.

I find it hard to choose which version of the game I like best, but I would probably pick Rummikub Junior because both my daughters can play it with me. Since we have received the games I have played both versions as 2, 3 and 4 players and I find the game takes longer to get going when playing with just 2 people, but it’s still good fun. Adults can enjoy the junior version just as much as children so either version are a great purchase.

The prime version we received is the same as the classic version, but it comes with premium tiles, tile racks and fabric bag. If you already have and love the game you might want to check out: Rummikub Travel, Rummikub X-Press (which uses dice), Rummikub with a Twist (which has 3 new types of Joker) and Rummikub Word (where you try and make the longest words possible).

Racks, pieces and star counters on a rug as four people play rummikub junior to help bond and have fun as a family
Playing Rummikub Junior with my family

Rummikub has lots more tiles and bigger racks than rubbikub junior, this image is of me playing it with my eldest daughter on the floor
Playing Rummikub with my daughter for some calm time before bed

Rubik’s 3x3 cube


I have memories of my Dad’s Rubik’s cube from when I was very little. I have NEVER been able to solve the original version and I’m one of those people who would look at peeling the stickers off in desperation. We were sent the original 3x3 cube version which is great quality and the stickers have been replaced by plastic making them much more hardwearing. Online you can find guides to teach you how to solve any mess you get your cube into, but to be honest I don’t think I have the mindset to do it so I’ll leave these for my children to play with. The cube comes with a display triangle so it can be popped on the shelf like a work of art to show you have solved it, or when you have given up!

Rubik’s Cage


There are now lots of variations on the original 1974 Rubik’s cube with lots of different games inspired by the original, one of these is Rubik’s Cage. This game for 2 to 4 players aged 8 plus is a bit like a 3D noughts and crosses game where you have multiple ways of stopping other players win. The aim is to get 3 of your coloured blocks in a row in a 3 x 3 cage. Players take turns to either add in one of their blocks, turn the cage upside down or to rotate one of the layers. 

I played this game several times with my 8 year old and a few times as a 3 player game with my youngest daughter too. I suspect that the rounds probably last longer if you play with people with better critical thinking and planning and you have to pay close attention because just like with noughts and crosses or connect four people can get a row right under your nose if you aren't careful. 

Rubik’s Cage is a fun, compact game that would be great to take on holidays.

A close up of a black 3 x 3 cage and lots of coloured blocks including one which is being put in side the cage near the beginning of a 3 player rubik's Cage game
Playing Rubik's Cage, a multi player game based on the Rubik's cube

Othello

I spent many holidays playing Othello as a child and I love this 2 player game for how simple it is. I don’t doubt that if you have a lot of skill you can think ahead a few possible goes to consider the best places to go are, but I’m more of a have a go and see what happens kind of player.

We received Othello classic although there are other versions available including On The Move (a travel version) and ‘No Lose Pieces’ which has rotating pieces removing the risk of losing any.

You play Othello with counters that are black on one side and white on the other. The aim of the game is to turn as many counters over as possible so at the end of the game you have the most counters showing in your colour. You turn the counters over by ‘sandwiching’ one or more of the opponents counters in the grid and then turning all their pieces in between yours over. 

Othello is recommended for age 7 plus. I tried playing it with my 4 year old with her insistence and she quickly got the hang of the game, but it meant I frequently had to point out places she could go. My eldest also occasionally struggled to spot where she could go, but I think that will improve the more she plays.

The instructions suggest that you can adjust the game if playing against a less experienced player by putting counters their colour upwards in up to 4 of the corners. I’m not sure how much difference this makes if, like me, you are only looking at one go at a time, but it kept my eldest happy giving her this advantage.

An 8 year old girl focusing really hard while looking at an Othello board which has a green felt grid and lots of 2 sided black and white counters
Full concentration playing Othello

Close up of the Othello game board and a child's hand turning pieces over.
Othello is a 2 player game where you have to try and turn over as many of the other person's counters as possible

Trominos


Trominos is a variation of dominos, but with triangular pieces. We were sent the sunshine version of the game which has cheerful orange pieces and a small zip up bag making it perfect for travel. The game is suitable for age 6 upwards and 2 to 4 players. 

We played this as a 2 player game a few times and found it frustrating at times because you can end up picking up quite a few pieces before you can go. You also have to do scoring as you go along, which is great for maths, but adds an extra complication for one player. You score points by adding up the numbers on the piece you play, if you can’t go you have to pick up pieces until you can go, being penalised 5 points each time. If after picking up 3 pieces you still can’t go it’s the next players turn and you pay an additional 10 point penalty. 

I found that as a 2 player game with my 8 year old Trominos was hard work. I spent her turn helping her look to see where she could go so I didn’t have a chance to look ahead. With more players and more independent players it would be more enjoyable because you can focus on your own game play.

You can get bonus points, by making certain shapes, but we didn’t manage that in any of our games and it was an additional thing to think about so probably better for more experienced players.

As well as minor variations on the main Trominos set you can buy Trominos Junior Colour Match which is a simplified version for 3 to 6 year olds designed to teach number recognition and strategy concepts.

orange triangle shaped pieces with a number in each corner are Trominos.
Playing Trominos and keeping score

Choosing A Family Board Game 


We were sent a great collection of games by John Adams, if you are looking for games for your family or for a present then here are some suggestions of great games for each age group.

Games suitable for age 4 upwards


Grabolo - 2 to 4 players

With this fast paced game you take it in turns to roll the dice and then everyone has to try to grab the matching coloured shape first. It’s easy to pick up for young children, but works best when players are at a similar skill level. My 8 year old and I are well matched and my 4 year old is a little slower. We have had the game for a few years and still play it regularly.
Great for: playing with children once they are confident in their colour recognition.

Shake Off - 2 plus players

2 players at a time wear “shake-o-meter’s” on the specified body part and have to move in the required way more than the other player before time runs out. This game requires 2 AAA batteries for the timer (not included) and 2 x LR44 batteries for the shake-o-meters (included).
Great for: getting people moving.

Rummikub Junior - 2 to 4 players

The junior version of Rummikub is fun to play as a family. It requires both skill and luck to win which means everyone gets a chance.
Great for: children once they recognise their numbers up to 10.


Games suitable for age 6 upwards


Trominos - 2 to 4 players

This variation of dominos with triangular shaped pieces requires attention to detail to be able to spot the next place to lay a tile and care to make sure you don’t knock the pieces already placed down. 
Great for: a calm quiet afternoon.


Games suitable for age 7 upwards


The Great Game Of Britain - 2 to 6 players

In this game you have to be the first to travel around the board on the train lines visiting 6 secret locations before everyone else, this is complicated by hazard cards which will send you off course.
Great for: learning some British geography.

Rummikub - 2 to 4 players

The classic version of Rummikub is a fun family game requiring more skill and strategy that the junior version.
Great for: family game time if you have slightly older children.

Bank Attack - 2 to 4 players

This game requires everyone to work together as a team to get the gold from the bank vault. Everyone chooses a role and then follows the instructions provided by the voice (in the vault) to try and crack it open. If too many mistakes are made then the game is over. There are several levels of the game, each one gets faster. My 4 year old was able to play level 1 successfully with us. The game requires 3 x AA batteries (not included) and it’s pretty loud, I was surprised it didn’t wake the baby. We really enjoyed playing this.
Great for: working together as a team and quick thinking to get adrenaline flowing.

The bank attack game vault starting to open with orange pieces visible and some money
A family of 4 playing Bank Attack where you work together to break into the vault

Othello - 2 players

This is a great game to play for some one on one time. It requires focus and I find it quite a calming game. 
Great for: a game that is quick to learn and can be played quietly by 2 people.


Games Suitable for 8 plus


Rubik’s 3x3 cube - 1 player

The classic Rubik’s cube is a one player game which requires persistence and time to unravel whatever mess you manage to get into.
Great for: a bit of quiet time when you want to clear your head and just focus on getting each side back to one colour.

7ate9 - 2 to 4 players

A fast paced game which requires some quick thinking basic maths skills. 7ate9 is a card game where the aim is to get rid of your cards as quickly as possible, but you can only lay them down if you have the right card.
Great for: a bit of maths practice or waking your brain up.

Rubik’s Cage - 2 to 4 players

This compact strategy game is like a 3D version of noughts and crosses or Connect Four, but you can throw other players of course in more than one way so you have to pay attention.
Great for: taking away with you.


World Stare Off Official Game - 3 plus players

This game takes the principle of a staring competition and makes it a bit more interesting. There is a headpiece to keep players the correct distance apart, a red card for the referee and distractions cards.
Great for: stubborn children.

Think Words! - 2 to 8 players

With this fun game players take it in turns to beat the clock and come up with an answer using all the letters of the alphabet eg things that are red. You press down the letter your answer starts with so it can’t be used again that round. The game requires 2 x AA batteries (not included) and is pretty noisy.
Great for: children (and adults) who are quick thinkers, have a good vocabulary and are confident spellers (although you only need to know the letter words begin with and we did play with my youngest by getting her to shout out any word and then telling her what letter it began with). 

Clock it - 2 plus players 

Playing in either 2 teams (of any size) or as a collaborative game with 2 or 3 players on the same team you have to mime, draw or describe as many words as you can from cards placed in front of everyone in the provided time. Requires 3 x AAA batteries.
Great for: playing with teams


***Disclosure: we were sent these games for review. Amazon links are affiliate links.***


2 comments

  1. I thought we had loads of board games but we only have think wordsout of this selection

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  2. We all love board games in our house. God I haven't seen Othello for a very long time. I remember playing it in the caravan with my brother when on holidays. Great Post, will have to have a look into a few of these.

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