An Independent Guide to the "Bestest" Kid-Tested Toys

Best New Games and Puzzles in 2018

Temperatures are dropping, and some of the fun is moving indoors. So here are our favourite new games and puzzles to cuddle up with after a busy day playing in the snow.

Sleeping Beauty

SmartGames (3-7)

Includes puzzles for kids aged 3+, as well as some slightly harder challenges for kids 5+ - perfect for families with preschool siblings. The first 30 puzzles are simple maze challenges, and we love how they also challenge fine motor skills - especially that moving the figures through the maze is good practice for learning to write. The task in the final 30 puzzles is like a reverse maze and far more challenging: position the dragon to block all paths to the castle.

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Chill Out!

Gamewright (5+)

A fun adaption to the traditional Mancala game. In this version players roll a colour die to determine from which stacks of ‘ice’ cubes they may choose to distribute (i.e. from either of two colour-matched pits).

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Squirrels Go Nuts!

SmartGames (6+)

Very cool sliding puzzle. Use the guide book to position the squirrels, then slide them around the 3 x 3 grid until the acorns disappear. We love how the nut drops through the board when a piece moves over a hole – just as if the squirrel was burying it.

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IQ Stars

SmartGames (6+)

The latest in the Smart Games IQ line. In this game, players set up the puzzle configuration then fit the remaining star clusters onto the game board. A great solo brain teaser.

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Swordcrafters

Adam's Apple Games, LLC (6+)

Each player has their chance to “slice”, or split, a group of randomly laid tiles in two. Players then take turns picking which set of tiles they’ll add to their sword, which is constructed by fitting the slotted cardboard tiles together. Lots of different ways to score adds a refreshing complexity to each player’s strategic decisions.

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Team Up!

Helvetiq (7+)

Our testers love that this quality, eco-friendly cooperative game is so easy to learn and quick to play. Simply draw a card and stack the indicated block as compactly as you can. We love how the game also adapts to solitary or competitive play.

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Cat Crimes™

ThinkFun Inc. (8+)

The cats are up to mischief again! But using your logical deduction skills, cat bios, paw prints and knowing the location of key items, you’ll be able to figure out which of the six is the culpable cat.

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GraviTrax®

Ravensburger (8+)

A unique new take on building a marble run. We love how this set incorporates not only gravity, but also magnetic and kinetic forces to propel the marbles. And for some added brain challenging fun, the set includes a booklet of puzzle like challenges to solve – whether it’s how high to build the track, which pieces to use, or the order in which the balls will reach the finish line.

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Laser Chess™

ThinkFun Inc. (8+)

Enjoy chess? This game adds mirrors and laser beams for an intriguing and innovative new twist. When the red dot shines on a piece (only exception is the Blocker shield), the piece is removed from play. Hit your opponent’s king and you win.

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Long Cow™

Gamewright (8+)

This rummy-styled game breeds some pretty crazy cows, especially the extra long crossbred Franken-cows. But it’s the assortment of attack and defend cards (e.g. Manure Happens) that add extra fun. %TOY{shadows-in-the-forest

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Woodlands

Ravensburger (10+)

Using your maze tiles, build a path on your 3 x 3 grid to access the items shown on a separate grid (which is displayed in the middle of the play area). Work fast, because you’re racing against the other players who are all tasked with the exact same challenge.

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Disney - Villainous™ Game

Wonder Forge / Ravensburger (10+)

You don’t need to be a Disney fan to enjoy playing Villainous. We love that each of the villains has their own uniquely tailored game to play, along with very specific and unique goals to achieve in order to win. A fabulous game and welcome addition to any game shelf.

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Junk Orbit

Renegade Game Studios (10+)

No dice to roll, or random cards to add to your hand… This clever space-themed game is pure strategy. Very refreshing and fun to play, with wonderfully unique new game mechanics.

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Cahoots

Gamewright (10+)

In this Crazy 8s style card game, players work cooperatively towards the same goal, but since they’re not permitted to reveal the cards in their hand, collaboration is more limited than in other cooperative games.

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Squirmish™

Gamewright (10+)

A cute introduction to card battling games. In this version, game play is appropriately simplified - no complex drafting of your deck before the game, just random hands to play. Parents love that this is a self-contained game – no additional card packs to buy.

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Most Wanted

North Star Games LLC (10+)

Our favourite new game! We love how it uses basic poker hands to create an entirely unique new game. But what makes this game truly stand out is the Travel Guide booklet that offers 14 pages of increasingly complex game options

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THE NOISE ON TOYS

The Noise on Toys play testing program is unique, both in giving voice to the kids' perspective on the toys as well as offering readers easy access to the original feedback posted by each family - parent and child comments. TNOT is privately funded to ensure complete editorial independence: manufacturers pay neither an administration fee to participate, nor licensing fees to use earned award logos.

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