A simple concept: Use 10 blocks to assemble a structure depicted on a card. Sounds simple enough, right? There’s one small catch: you can’t see the card. Instead, your partner must describe the structure to you as you attempt to build it. OK, still not so hard. Now, here’s a blindfold. Oh, and by the way, sometimes your partner can’t say specific key words, and other times you’ll have to build a structure with no description at all.

Make ’n Break Party, from Ravensburger, is an ice-breaking, laugh-inducing, 60-minutes of team-play fun. I’ve never valued words including, “thingy,” “belly-up,” and “NO- THE OTHER ONE,” so much in my life. The game is designed for three to nine players ages 10 and up, and will be sure to pull your guests away from the chips and dip and get them bonding after the first few turns.

MakenBreakPartyHilarity ensues as a player works to assemble a structure depicted on a card in one of four game variations: building according to team members’ descriptions, building while avoiding “taboo” words, building blindly, and creating objects such as truck, elephant, clock, and middle finger. Teams work together and race against the timer, and the more structures you build in one round, the farther along the game board you move and the closer you come to victory.

But keep in mind, it doesn’t matter how good of a builder or a listener you are—your success hangs on your teammate’s ability to describe the structure to you. For example, what the heck does “put it on an angle” mean? An angle in which direction? Resting on which side of the block? How does it stay without my hand holding it together? And what happens if you put the block in the wrong place? Lots of, “No no, the other side!” “Not the square, the rectangle,” “Flip it around… no, the other way!” This game will undoubtedly improve verbal communication skills, attentiveness, and problem solving. However, it will also challenge patience, friendships, and restraint.

The crazy associations players will forge are the best part about Make ’n Break Party. Players begin adopting silly names for common shapes. When we tested the game in our office, we dubbed the half-circle “the moon.” We designated the orange bridge-shaped block “the big one.” We even had terms for common elements of structures. Two cylinders with two rectangles between them became “all four squished together.” The orange block with the half circle on top became “the moon inside the belly.” None of this makes any sense at all, but it helped each of us build the structures faster once we recognized the common combinations. Not to mention, these silly terms caused eruptions of laughter to bellow out of our conference room.

Bringing out head-smacking frustration, knee-slapping laughter, and possibly some psychological revelations derived from shape association, Make ’n Break Party is sure to bring your next soirée to a whole new level of memorable.

For more commentary from Marissa, check back weekly. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!