The Complete 7-in-1 Magnetic Family Game

I still prefer games with Skaven.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Greek Island of Hydra. Which was very fancy. Roaming around the airport at 4am, the Lady and I found ourselves buying a 7-in-1 WH Smiths Magnetic Board game set. As we played them, I found myself examining them with my adult, videogame-warped critical mind and thought it would be a good idea to review the lot of them. Writing RPS’ most expansive review of all time for a cheap-ass magnetic box-set struck me as funny, but they became a wide-ranging series of essays about the nature of gaming. No, really. It surprised me too, as I had no idea where I was going with most of these, and was pleasantly surprised they ended up where they did. Here’s the complete index:

1) Chess.
2) Dominoes.
3) Chinese Checkers.
4) Draughts.
5) Ludo.
6) Backgammon.
7) Cards.

You can buy your own 7-in-1 Magnetic Family Game here. Hmm. It’s got no user reviews on WH Smith’s site. It is tempting to cut and paste these 8000 words into it.


  1. Rakysh says:

    Do et. Do et naow.

    Seriously though, if you don’t, I will.

    Awesome series- hope you do something similar again at some point.

  2. Clovis says:

    Ya, I really enjoyed this. Especially the part where I guessed that the solution to boring end games (Chinese Checkers) is the doubling die in Backgammon.

    You should do a series like this, but instead of board games the subject is life itself. You know, how brushing your teeth is like grinding in WoW. Has any game found a solution to grinding that can be applicable to the daily grind of brushing yer teeth? Please, find out.

  3. FunkyLlama says:

    ‘Submissions that do not follow our guidelines will not be posted.’
    Ah well, I tried. >_>

  4. AndrewC says:

    Utterly glorious series of articles. Fantastic!

    Now, life-grinding (eg teeth brushing) is grinding to NOT GET WORSE. How harsh is that?

    Put that in your next patch you Darkfall carebears!

  5. Clovis says:

    Ya, if you get good loot drops from brushing your teeth, then you are doing it wrong.

  6. General Ludd says:

    This was a great series. RPS at its finest.

  7. Tim James says:

    After the praise here I feel bad for skipping these. I’m sure it’s great writing, but I’m a PC games addict!

  8. Schaulustiger says:

    @Tim James:
    It looks at the board games from a PC gamer’s perspective. It even has lots of references to PC titles. Go read it, if you like meta-thinking about games just the sliiightest bit.

  9. yaster says:

    @Tim James
    This series IS about PC games (or video).

  10. Heliocentricity says:

    I thought the loot drops from teeth brushing was secks.

  11. solipsistnation says:

    Yeah, this was a really interesting series. All of those games have been around long enough that they’ve become part of the culture and are mostly ignored by computer game types. Looking at how board games work (or don’t work) is fascinating.
    It reminds me of the game design course (that I read about in an Escapist article a month or so ago) where the instructor started out having students design CounterStrike maps and realized that they were learning tools more than theory (and often learning tools poorly, or getting sidetracked in details not really relevant to gameplay), and decided to move his class outside and have them invent games involving running around campus. All of a sudden they started learning more about how GAMES work rather than how 3DSmax works, and it was a much more successful class…
    We can learn a lot by looking back at games we take for granted…

  12. jonfitt says:

    So does the 7-in-1 Magnetic Game set get a thumbs up or thumbs down?

  13. Bas says:

    Do more! Please!!! Classics you missed:

    – Monopoly
    – Risk
    – Clue

    And many more.

  14. BooleanBob says:

    But you don’t roll the doubling di(c)e, do you? This enrages me for some reason.

  15. dbdkmezz says:

    Awesome series of articles, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole lot. I think this has been the first time I’ve been actively looking forward to RPS articles before they come out, I’ve never thought “ooh, I hope RTS review World of Goo soon”, but I did start looking forward next one of these.

    I don’t know if just doing more board games is the answer, but more serieses (eugh, spelling) like this would be great :)

  16. solipsistnation says:

    @BooleanBob: I seem to recall a particularly perverse D&D game master using a doubling die for damage… Hope for low rolls!

  17. Wisq says:

    Most of the games were board games, so I’m curious. Did they give you a single magnetic board with multiple skins, or a whole bunch of separate magnetic boards?

  18. Kieron Gillen says:

    It was a fold out box. So you have 2 boards on the inside of the box, 2 boards on the outside. The pieces are carried inside.


  19. dan says:

    Wisq: Draughts, Chess and Checkers would use the same board, but ludo and backgammon? Maybe they were skins? so two boards?

  20. Tim James says:

    Don’t worry everyone, I’m reading it during breaks at work today. I almost gave up when I glanced through the comments about the chess game and of course someone had to mention Go. Back when I read the Slashdot Games feed, you could set your watch on Go replies whenever they mentioned some computer chess thing. Damn nerds.

    But the idea of reimagining chess as a modern game made up for it! On to the next one…

  21. M.P. says:

    Any board game set that doesn’t have Reversi is a 40-thumbs-down for me!

  22. Wisq says:

    Ah, okay, I see the image link on the product page now, so that makes sense. Most magnetic board games I’ve seen have just a single board on the outside, and they split it in two to fold into a half-width rectangle rather than a square. But if you did full-width and put boards on both the inside and outside, that’s four boards on a single set, and no ugly seam in the middle.

  23. MrBejeebus says:

    This series was the kind of thing that draws me to RPS over most gaming sites that all do the same thing – Gamespot, Gametrailers, IGN…etc

  24. Tim James says:

    Okay, I finished the series. Way too many English names instead of red-blooded American terms. Seriously, Patience? I’m struggling to remember if I’ve ever heard it called that.


  25. Colthor says:

    If it’s any help, Kieron, you can get magnetic bases for your dirty, cheating rats.

    Then all you need is a sheet of steel 4′ x 6′ and you’re set.

  26. Kieron Gillen says:

    Tim: Give us our tea.

    Colthor: The idea of playing Warhammer on a wall amuses me.


  27. Noc says:

    Or on a refrigerator. You could have scribbled crayon pictures of eldritch abominations by small children as terrain.

  28. ...hmm... says:


    to enliven the act of the brushing of ones gnashers, i find opening and closing your mouth between the two distinct points (at the base and the upper lip) creates a tone according to the distance of the interval.

    So you can make music with your toothbrush.

  29. Jazmeister says:

    Is it possible that games that rely on twitch-aiming and fast reactions are actually sports?

  30. Not Bernard says:

    Hilarious series :-)

    Hopefully WHSmith feel the same way!

  31. Kieron Gillen says:

    Jazmeister: Or, alternatively, sports are games and vice versa.


  32. toonu says:

    This series is awesome great. You should be a writer.