Out of the Box Publishing was a board game publisher from the Madison, Wisconsin area that specialized in simple family/party board and card games from 1998-2015. While Out of the Box Publishing started with the game Bosworth in 1998, the company’s most recognizable game was Apples to Apples which was first published in 1999. Apples to Apples had a significant impact on the party game genre with many party games to this day taking mechanics from Apples to Apples. Out of the Box Publishing ended up creating around 70 different games before going out of business in 2015.
While Out of the Box Publishing may not be the most recognized board game publisher, I think the company deserves recognition for making quality products. So far I have played eleven of their games and I have yet to find a terrible game. Some of their games can be pretty average but you can expect a solid game if you purchase an Out of the Box game.
Essential Out of the Box Games
In 1999 Out of the Box Publishing created what was without a doubt their most popular board game Apples to Apples. In Apples to Apples players take turns being the judge while the rest of the players play a card. The judge draws a card with a descriptor on it. The rest of the players play one of the cards from their hand that they think best matches the descriptor card. When everyone has submitted their cards the judge chooses which card they felt matched the descriptor the best and gives that player the descriptor card which counts as a point. The player who reaches a predetermined number of descriptor cards first wins the game.
When you look at Apples to Apples you have to acknowledge it’s impact on the board game market. While it might not have been the first party game to use the mechanic of playing cards to match a prompt it deserves the credit for popularizing the mechanic. This mechanic has driven the party game genre in recent years with games like Cards Against Humanity using a similar mechanic although in a much more adult way. Apples to Apples is one of the few Out of the Box games that are still in print since Mattel acquired the rights to the game around 2007 and has continued to add new expansions/spinoffs to the franchise.
Apples to Apples is probably one of the best party games that I have ever played. There is just something that is so simple and yet fun about Apples to Apples. The game is far from a strategic game and you can argue that it is more of an experience than a game but you can’t deny that the game is fun. I have played Apples to Apples and its many spinoffs so many times and I have never had a bad time. If you hate party games it won’t be for you but otherwise I would highly recommend Apples to Apples.
For more information on Apples to Apples check out our full review.
Other Versions of Apple to Apples:
Apples to Apples: Bible Edition (2006) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples: British Isles Edition (2007)(Board Game Geek), Apples to Apples: Expansion Set #1 (1999) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples: Expansion Set #2 (2000) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples: Expansion Set #3 (2001) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples: Expansion Set #4 (2002) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples: Jewish Edition (2007) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples Junior (2002) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples Junior: Jewish Edition (2007) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples Kids (2001) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples Ninos (2007) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples Party Box Expansion One (2004) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples Party Box Expansion Two (2006) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples to Go (2008) (Board Game Geek, Amazon), Apples to Apples: Yiddish Edition (2007) (Board Game Geek, Amazon)
Recommended Out of the Box Games
In Word on the Street, players form two teams. The object of Word on the Street is to capture enough letter tiles to win the game. Basically Word on the Street plays like a game of tug of war as you try to get letter tiles to your side of the gameboard. In each round one of the teams is given a topic card and they have to come up with a word that fits that category. Each time a letter is used in the chosen word, the corresponding letter tile is moved one space closer to that team’s side of the board. If a team can move the tile far enough in their direction they claim the tile for the rest of the game.
I have played a lot of different word games in the past. The problem with a lot of word games are that they mostly use the same mechanics and thus become very average games. Word on the Street does something new which makes it one of the best word games that I have ever played. What I like about Word on the Street is that it is easy to play and yet brings something to the word game genre that I haven’t seen from other word games. The back and forth tug of war mechanics are really enjoyable and actually add quite a bit of strategy as you try to think of words that use specific letters that will let you take letters and prevent the other team from taking them.
If you don’t like word games it probably won’t be for you but I would otherwise highly recommend checking out Word on the Street if you have never played it before.
For more information on Word on the Street check out our Word on the Street Review.
In Snake Oil you are a salesman of some non-traditional products. In each round one player takes on the role of the customer card that they draw. The other players look through the cards in their hand and choose two that describe a product that they think the customer could use/want. When everyone has created their product, each salesman gets to pitch their product to the customer. After everyone has made their pitch, the player who is playing as the customer picks the product that would be best for their customer. The player who wins the most rounds wins the game.
The choice between the second and third best Out of the Box game was a tough decision since both Word on the Street and Snake Oil are great games. I ended up going with Word on the Street since it stands out more among its’ genre than Snake Oil does. Snake Oil is still a fantastic party game in the vein of Apples to Apples. What I like about Snake Oil is that it is simple like Apples to Apples and yet adds a little more complexity since you are playing two cards and have to use your creativity to pitch your product. This does lead to dud answers but it can lead to some very funny products/pitches.
If you don’t care for party games like Apples to Apples, Snake Oil is probably not going to be for you. If you are looking for a unique twist on this genre though I think you will really enjoy Snake Oil.
For more information on Snake Oil check out our Snake Oil review.
In Blink the cards are evenly split among all of the players. A couple cards are played on the table which form play piles for the game. All of players then begin playing cards at the same time trying to get rid of all of their cards as fast as possible. In order to play a card it has to either match the symbol, color or number of symbols on the card. The first player to get rid of all of the cards from their hand wins the game.
I will admit that my opinion of Blink may differ from other people. I really enjoy Blink and it is kind of a guilty pleasure game for me. Blink is your typical speed game that is similar to a lot of other speed games. Blink is a really quick and simple game to play where you can easily finish a game in a couple minutes. The game is chaotic but still fun as players are throwing cards down onto piles as quick as possible in order to get rid of them. I have played quite a few speed games and Blink remains one of my favorites.
If you don’t like speed games, Blink will not be for you. If you are looking for a great filler speed game though, you really can’t go wrong with Blink.
For more information about Blink check out our Blink Review.
#5 10 Days Series (2002-2010)
Created by Alan Moon (creator of the Ticket to Ride series), the 10 Days series of games tasks you with planning a 10 day vacation. The goal is to make a 10 day itinerary where you travel between different states/countries by placing tiles on your tile rack. On your trip you can journey in three different ways. Neighboring locations can be played next to one another on a player’s rack. To move to a location that is separated by one state/country you must play a car tile between them. Using a plane tile you can connect two tiles anywhere on the map that match the color of the plane tile. The first player to create a sequence of tiles that follow these rules wins the game.
While not as good as Alan Moon’s Ticket to Ride, the 10 Days is a simple yet fun tile game. It might not seem like there is a lot of strategy to the game, but there is more than you would think. While tile draw luck has a pretty big impact on the game, a good strategy improves your chances of winning the game. The main reason I enjoy the 10 Days series is that like Ticket to Ride the mechanics are simple and yet enjoyable. 10 Days is the type of game that the whole family can enjoy and maybe even learn something while playing.
While the game won’t appeal to people that like a lot of strategy in their games, I enjoy the 10 Days series. If you like light strategy games and think the game’s concept looks interesting I would recommend picking up a game in the 10 Days series.
Games in the 10 Days series: 10 Days in Africa (2003) (Board Game Geek, Amazon); 10 Days in the Americas (2010) (Board Game Geek, Amazon); 10 Days in Asia (2007) (Board Game Geek, Amazon); 10 Day in Europe (2002) (Board Game Geek, Amazon); 10 Days in the USA (Board Game Geek, Amazon)
Average Out of the Box Games
In Snorta! each player randomly draws an animal, shows it to the other players and then hides it beneath their barn. The cards are then evenly split with each player forming a face down stack of cards in front of them. Players take turns flipping one of their cards face up placing it on top of the card that they previously flipped over. When two cards on the table show the same animal, the two players with matching cards race to make the noise of the animal in their opponent’s barn. The player who is first to make the correct noise gives all of their face up cards to the other player. The first player to get rid of all of their cards first wins the game.
Overall I think Snorta! is a solid but unspectacular game. I would classify it more as a family game than a game for adults because it really isn’t a game you would probably play with your strategy board game group. Snorta! is an interesting blend of a matching and memory game with some speed elements. The game has little strategy but is still fun because of its’ simplicity. Snorta! is a game that I wouldn’t have an issue playing but probably isn’t the type of game that I would specifically request very often.
If you are not really into family games I don’t think Snorta! will be for you. If you are looking for a quick, fun, accessible family game though you can do a lot worse than Snorta!
For more information on Snorta! check out our Snorta review.
Cineplexity is played in rounds with one player being the “director” in each round. The director flips over two cards. The cards will have different topics related to movies like actors, scenes, genres, characters, themes, etc. When both cards are flipped over all of the players (other than the director) yell out names of movies that fit the two cards on the table. The first player to name a movie that the director accepts wins the round. The player that wins the most rounds wins the game.
Cineplexity is an interesting blend between a movie trivia game and a party game. Having knowledge of a lot of different movies is definitely important in Cineplexity but it is just as important to be quick in your responses or you won’t win many rounds. Cineplexity is an interesting trivia game in that movie knowledge is helpful but as long as you have watched a decent amount of movies you have a chance at winning the game. Cineplexity is far from a complex game but it works pretty well as a party/filler game for groups that enjoy movies.
If you are not much of a movie fan or don’t really care for party games, Cineplexity is probably not going to be for you. If you are looking for a somewhat original light movie trivia game though I think you can have fun with Cineplexity.
For more information check out our Cineplexity Review.
The goal in Easy Come, Easy Go is to acquire three different prize cards. On a player’s turn they roll four dice. The player can continue re-rolling some of their dice but must keep at least one of the dice rolled each time they roll the dice. The object is to roll certain dice combinations which allow the player to draw the corresponding prize card. If you roll a combination that has already been taken by another player, you steal that prize from the other player.
Overall I had a hard time deciding between games #6-8. None of the games are great but none are bad either. They all are worth playing if you are a fan of the genre. I basically found all of the games to be equally enjoyable but Easy Come, Easy Go lost out because it is similar to a lot of other dice rolling games. Easy Come, Easy Go is a fun press your luck dice game but it plays a lot like most other dice games where you have to roll different dice combinations. The ability to steal prize cards from the other players is an interesting idea though since you have to decide whether to try and steal a card from another player or if you want to try for a more difficult combination making it harder for other players to steal the card from you.
If you don’t really care for dice games or already have a lot of them in your collection, Easy Come, Easy Go is probably not going to be for you. If you are looking for a really solid and fun dice game though you can’t go wrong with Easy Come, Easy Go.
For more information check out our Easy Come, Easy Go review.
Below Average Out of the Box Games
In My Word! players are trying to acquire as many letter cards as possible. One player begins flipping over cards onto the table. Players look at these cards trying to find a word (that is at least three letters long) that uses the letters on the table. When a player finds a word they yell it out and take the letter cards used to spell the word. This is done until none of the remaining cards can be used. The player who has collected the most letter cards wins the game.
My Word is basically what you get when you combine a word game with a speed game. I found My Word! to be a pretty average word game and with how many word games that are out there, it ends up in the below average category. My Word! is probably one of the worst Reiner Knizia games that I have played. There is nothing particularly wrong with the game and the idea of combining a word and speed game is actually a pretty good idea. My Word!’s biggest problem is that is just isn’t that original.
My Word! is not a bad game but I probably wouldn’t recommend it unless you really like word/speed games and you can find it for just a couple dollars.
For more information check out our My Word! review.
In Backseat Drawing players form two teams. In each round one player for each team is the director, one player is the artist, and the rest of the players are guessers. At the beginning of each round the director for each team looks at the card for the given round. The two directors will then give directions to the artist on their team on how to draw the item/idea/etc. The directors can only use basic shapes and words that won’t tip off their team to the item that they are drawing. The first team to guess the correct word scores a point and the team with the most points wins the game.
I kind of have conflicted feelings about Backseat Drawing. I like the idea behind the game. Backseat Drawing is basically Pictionary in reverse where you have to draw the object based on clues given to you. I thought this was a clever idea and could have made for a good game. I ended up disappointed by the game though. I don’t know if it is just the word selection, which could use some work, but the concept just doesn’t work as well as it could have. There is also the fact that all you would need to play the game is a dictionary (or another way to pick words) and some paper.
If you don’t really care for Pictionary, Backseat Drawing is not going to be for you. If you like Pictionary and think the role reversal mechanic sounds interesting it may be worth picking up.
For more information check out our Backseat Drawing review.
In Shake ‘n Take the goal is to circle all of the aliens on your card. One or two of the players will be in control of a shape die while another one or two players will control an alien die. The players with the shape die roll the die and start circling aliens on their card that match the shape that was rolled. If the player wants to change their shape they can re-roll the die. While this is going on, the player(s) with the alien die are rolling it as fast as possible. This player keeps rolling the alien die until the alien face lands face up. When this occurs the player with the shape die and the alien die pass their die to the next player. When one player has successfully circled all of the aliens on their card, they win the game.
Shake ‘n Take is not a terrible game but it is not great either. Basically it is a family game that will mostly appeal to families with younger children. The game is a blend of a shape recognition, dice and speed game. The biggest problem with the game is that it actually moves a little too quickly. The game is mostly controlled by the alien die as how well a player rolls the alien die determines how much time another player gets to circle aliens. This makes Shake ‘n Take rely heavily on luck. Shake ‘n Take is a game that I would play if someone else really wanted to but I would otherwise avoid.
If Shake ‘n Take sounds interesting to you or you can find it for really cheap it might be worth checking out. Otherwise I would pass on the game.
For more information on Shake ‘n Take check out our Shake ‘n Take review.
Skip It Out of the Box Games
Nothing so far.
Out of the Box Games That I Have Not Yet Played
Harry’s Grand Slam Baseball Game – Out of the Box Heirloom Edition (2004) (Board Game Geek)
Logomachy (Out of the Box Edition) (Board Game Geek)
Nutty Cups (2008) (Board Game Geek)