2010 Best Australian Game

The Judging Panel for the Best Australian Game congratulates the designers of the following games, which have been shortlisted for the Best Australian Game Award, 2010.

The 2010 Boardgames Australia Best Australian Game was won by Make’n’Break Compact.

Make ‘n’ Break Compact

Designer: Andrew Lawson & Jack Lawson
Publisher: Ravensburger
Players: 2-4
Playing time: 30 minutes
Suitable for: Families (Ages 6 and up)

Make ‘n’ Break Compact is a fast-paced, exciting game where you race to arrange blocks into the structure shown on a card, and then knock the structure down to start another one. To make it more challenging, each block is a different colour and the card usually requires a specific coloured block in each position of the structure. Sometimes to make the blocks balance, you will be required build them in a precise sequence too! All this must be accomplished under the time presure of another player rolling a die and adding a running total which determines how long your turn lasts.

Caption if you can!

Designer: Phil Harding
Publisher: Adventureland Games
Players: 4-8
Playing time: 30-60 minutes
Suitable for: Families (ages 12 and up), Adults

This is a new party game, where players compete to write ‘the best’ caption for an image. Each round one player will select an image, and then every player will try and come up with something witty, poignant, or absurd in an effort to win the votes of the other players.

The captions are read out (without identifying the author) and then the players all have one vote – every vote for your caption earns you a point! The pictures are beautiful and have a lovely range of images from the crazy or funny through to the intriguing. Our tactical hint?: when in doubt, you can always write “who f*rted!?”.

Heads of State

Designer: Peter Hawes
Publisher: Z-Man Games / Eggert Spiele
Players: 2-5
Playing time: 120 minutes
Suitable for: Families (Ages 12 and up), Adults

You represent a noble family in 16th-18th Century Europe, and must scheme to get your family members into positions such as Dukes, Earls or even Kings of England, France, Spain and Germany.

To do this you may take a regular “resources” turn collecting cards such as castles, titles and troops to help position one of your people. The alternative is to take a “treachery” turn where you remove the current occupant of a seat that you would like one of your own family to occupy.

Careful collecting of resource cards and timely alliances with other players will help you to emerge as the Head of State!

Higher or Lower

Designer: Greg Middleton
Players: 3-8 (more if you play in teams)
Playing time: 45-60 minutes
Suitable for: Families (Ages 10 and up), Adults

Higher or Lower is a trivia game with a great twist: the diverse trivia questions all have answers that are a number: “How many beats per minute does a hedgehog’s heart beat?” or “In what century did Genghis Khan live?”. If you get it right first time you advance three spaces up the scoring track. If you are wrong, you’ll be told “higher” or “lower”, and then the person to your left has a chance to answer, but for a reduced score; this continues on until someone gets the right answer.

Higher or Lower ensures that everyone has a chance, as a question may go round several times before someone gets the exact answer. The game is further enlivened with some Challenge rounds and Group rounds played against the clock.


Designer: (not credited)
Publisher: Lucris Games
Players: 2 – 4
Playing time: 5 minutes
Suitable for: Ages 6 and up

This is a fun kids memory game that you play on the floor rather than on the table!  First place the 25 stepping stone tiles in a 5×5 grid on the floor: this represents ‘the swamp’. Your objective is to cross the swamp from one side to the other. This sounds easy, but at each step you must reveal what is under your new stepping stone, and it could be quick sand, a crocodile, or the dreaded Whirlpool! The Whirlpool makes everyone shift to a new side of the swamp as well as turning all the tiles back down… and the kids laugh when the new perspective causes you to lose track of where the danger tiles are! Very simple, but you will laugh and have a good time.

Word Wrangles Game Pack

Designer: Matthew Shallvey
Publisher: Word Wrangles
Players: 1-4
Playing time: 10 – 30 minutes
Suitable for: Families (Ages 8 and up), Adults

This game pack is really 12 word games in one small box! Word Wrangles Game Pack uses letter tiles like in Scrabble, but for most of the games you play these letter tiles on your own personal game board to form words. Different games will see you compete to link two letters on either side of your board, or race to form different cross-word layouts, or to spot a word amongst the jumble in the middle. There are also several games that can be played solitaire, and most of the games feel a bit like Scrabble crossed with a puzzle, but with time pressure introduced by opponents and a sandtimer. A special feature of these games is that they have a built in handicapping system so that people with different abilities can compete, even putting children on a level playing field with adults.