Blackout Review
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Players: 2-4 (ages 8+)
Playing Time: 10-15 minutes

ďReady, Roll, Bingo!Ē Thatís the tag line for Fundexís Blackoutóbut this dice-rolling, card-collecting family game isnít just the stuff of senior centers and Bingo halls. Itís a simple, fast-moving game that the whole family can enjoy.

Before you begin, you place three Blackout cards in the center of the playing area (along with the Dice Slice, which is basically just a fun way to roll the dice). Each card shows five numbersóa combination of the numbers 1-5, with the occasional Free space.

When itís your turn to play, you start by rolling the three dice (again, numbered 1-5óplus special symbols, including Wild and Reroll). Then, for each number you roll, you place a chip on the matching number on one of the three cards.

If you place the last chip on a card, you get to keep it. You remove the chips from the card, place the card in front of you, and replace it with a new card in the center of the playing area.

The object of the game, then, is to be the first player to collect five Blackout cards.

Although itís likened to Bingo, Blackout doesnít really have that much in common with the classic number-matching game. Both games are easy to learn and play. In fact, although Blackoutís suggested minimum age is eight, players as young as five or six should have no problem keeping up. And both games involve matching the numbers called (or rolled) with those on a card. But thatís pretty much where the similarities end.

Bingo is a pretty slow-moving gameóand thereís very little interaction between players. Blackout, on the other hand, takes just a few minutes to playóand itís much more head-to-head than the classic game that inspired it. Players work with the same cards to match the same numbersówhich means that if one player places the fourth chip on a card, it creates a golden opportunity for his or her opponents.

Since each player is dependent on the luck of the roll, though, the gameís strategies are pretty basic. You can try all you want to keep from placing the fourth chip on a card and setting up your opponent, but you canít control the numbers you roll. Of course, your opponent canít control the dice, eitheróso thereís a chance that play will return to you before that fifth chip is placed.

Blackout is definitely more about luck than it is about skillówhich may be a turn-off for some players. But itís anybodyís gameówhich makes it fun for the whole family. Itís easy to learn and quick to play, and it comes in a cool fold-up container that you can easily throw in a backpackómaking it a great (portable) way to pass the time during a flight, on camping trips, or even while youíre waiting for dinner to arrive at your favorite restaurant.

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