Hasbro, makers of classic toys and games for decades, is no new kid on the block by any means, but they are new to the subscription box service market. I freely admit I’m not normally a fan of subscription boxes. For the most part, I feel like my money would be better spent on stuff I choose myself, rather than a random conglomeration of geeky trinkets that somebody else picks out for me. However, when Hasbro stepped up and offered GeekDad a sample unit of the new Hasbro Gaming Crate for review, I happily volunteered to check it out.
Hasbro Gaming Crate: The Breakdown
One reason I eschewed my normal subscription box stance was that I knew that this crate wouldn’t be filled with random “STUFF” that would soon find its way to the bottom of a junk drawer or help overload my already overloaded bookshelves. No, this crate is no-nonsense and only comes with three board games and a small activity book. Currently, Hasbro offers two styles of crates to choose from: a party crate and a family crate. With two daughters aged 8 and 12, I chose the family crate and was excited to take three new games with my family to test out on our beach vacation.
Unlike many other subscription box services, the Hasbro Gaming Crate spills the beans and lets folks know what games will be included ahead of time. When they first launched, two games were advertised ahead of time with the third game being a surprise so I had an inkling of what I could expect. Now, however, at $49.99 a pop, Hasbro accurately assumed most folks would not want to squander their hard-earned money on an unknown entity so currently all three titles are advertised.
When Hasbro first reached out, I was worried that the mystery game might be one of its long-running classic board games such Monopoly or Scrabble, but was assured by the company that no “classics” would be included in the crates. I received my crate at the beginning of July and it included Leo Goes to the Barber, Mask of the Pharaoh, and Tricky Wishes (the surprise inclusion). Let’s take a brief look at each one:
Game 1: Leo Goes to the Barber
Originally released as just Leo before Hasbro scooped it up, the game was a 2016 Kinderspiel des Jahres nominee. I didn’t know that going into playing Leo Goes to the Barber, I just hoped that this would be a game that would be fun for everyone, not just my 8-year-old. The concept of the game is that Leo needs to get his mane trimmed, and he has to navigate his way through the jungle in the allotted time or he has to go back to bed and try another day. Play a card from your hand and move that many spaces. Turn the tile over, and if it matches the color of your card don’t do anything. However, if it doesn’t match, you’ll need to move the hands of the clock forward that number of hours. For fans of the game Memory, you’ll find this game rather enjoyable as you’ll need to remember which spots to hit and which to avoid in order to make it to the barber in time.
This is a cooperative game, so you can help the little ones avoid pitfalls together. The box says ages 6 and up, but I think you could go even younger with help. While this game veers toward the younger crowd, and it wouldn’t be MY first choice, if you have young kids and want a game that is enjoyable to play with all ages, Leo Goes to the Barber is a great pick! Grade: A
Game 2: Tricky Wishes
A re-branded version of the game 3 Wishes, the brief description on Hasbro’s site sums up Tricky Wishes nicely: “Find three kinds of wishes in this quick-play card game: one superpower, one gift, and one world harmony. Players can take turns swapping, shuffling and peeking at card wishes to collect the highest-scoring set.” This one is advertised for ages 8 and up, but it took a little while for my 8-year-old to catch on. Fortunately, the game provides cards to remind players what to do on their turns and the rounds go quickly at only 3–5 minutes each.
With beautiful artwork and quick gameplay, if you’re looking to add variety to your normal card game repertoire, you can’t go wrong with Tricky Wishes. Grade: B+
Game 3: Mask of the Pharaoh
When opening the Hasbro Gaming Crate box, my kids were instantly drawn to the bright colors and cute characters on the Leo Goes to the Barber box and mostly ignored Mask of the Pharaoh. That all changed once I constructed the cool cardboard Anubis mask and I had to lay down the Dad-hammer to avoid a fight over who would get to try this virtual reality-based game first. In this cooperative game, players take turns looking through the Anubis mask, which houses your Mask of the Pharaoh app-enabled smartphone, to describe what paths and objects they see in the pharaoh’s tomb. Based on your description, those not looking through the mask at that time trying to construct a layout of the tomb using the cardboard tiles and markers, eventually finding the entrance to the goal.
The Egyptian theme is cool, and the virtual reality is a fun novelty. In fact, it was my kids’ first time playing something in VR, which they thought was “super cool.” That said, the novelty wears off quickly and the task of translating what others see can be more frustrating than fun. Lastly, a minor annoyance: once you construct the cardboard mask, it doesn’t break down easily, so it no longer fits in the box and can get easily damaged. I love cooperative games, and this one is worth checking out if you have the chance, but it certainly wouldn’t be a game library mainstay. Grade: C+
If you’re a board game fan, then you know many board games can cost $50 (or more) on their own. With the Hasbro Gaming Crate, you get three board games for that price delivered right to your door. One may argue that if you were to buy these in a store, it may cost the same (or less if you were to find them on sale), so what’s the point? Well, right now anyway, you can’t find these games in a store, as the gaming crate appears to be the only means of acquisition. FOMO, or fear of missing out, may drive some board game collectors to get in on Hasbro’s Gaming Crate for the chance to add these exclusive games to their collection, but I think it’s just a nice opportunity to add something fresh to your gaming closet.
Interestingly, each crate is cultivated with a theme in mind. The crate I reviewed was “staycation” themed, and the next crate has a “hands-on gaming” theme. I think the decision to show all three games that will be included in each crate ahead of time is a good idea, but with these games being exclusive to Hasbro, there’s not a whole lot of info out there about the quality of each game that folks could use to make more informed decisions before purchasing. Fortunately, you’re allowed to pause or cancel your subscription at any time. However, some surprise in your life could be a good thing!
With the board game landscape seemingly littered with a deluge of new games, it can be hard to make heads or tails of them all and know which games to buy. With Hasbro’s Gaming Crate, it’s like having a gaming sommelier customize a menu for you to enjoy. Not everything will suit your taste exactly, but you’ll have plenty of fun and variety delivered to your door from a trusted name in the industry. And since it’s filled with board games, you’ll have something you can actually use to bring your family or friends together in the spirit of fun instead of just another trinket to add to your shelf.
Disclaimer: I received a sample product from Hasbro for review purposes.