Author: Brandan Parsons
Fastrack Champ. Doodle Whiz. All American Pengolooer.

Die or Dice?

Die or Dice?

“Dice” in Board Games

As I write this, Blue Orange Games is preparing to debut sixteen new games at the annual New York Toy Fair. We will soon be one of hundreds of toy & game publishers filling up  New York City’s Javits Center, with giant booths showing off all our new products for the year. And if you look closely at the new games, you might notice the language we are using to talk about them has changed. Going forward, Blue Orange Games rule books will use the word “dice” to refer to both the singular and plural forms of the component.

Part of my responsibilities at Blue Orange include the writing and revising of rulebooks. And my goal in this is to effectively communicate the rules of a game without confusion or discomfort. But in the weeks since deciding to change our language standards, I must admit that I still occasionally feel some discomfort saying “dice” in the singular form, which has caused me to ruminate on the subject longer.

There is no need to say “die” in board games, and if we are to go as far as the old adage suggests, then one should in fact “never say die.” It saddens me that during my time playing board games across America, I have often overheard one person deride another’s usage, by saying something like, “Actually, it’s die”, or more bluntly, a single stern, “die,” used to chastise and correct, often accompanied by a condescending eye-roll and sigh.

As a self-proclaimed “fan of language,” it is unacceptable to me that we feel so comfortable evoking a word that is a command for death when talking about the componentry of a game. And because I specifically work in children’s games, I really don’t want the word “die” creeping into my games about adorable penguins and rainbow dice. I don’t think that any little person should be telling another that “it is imperative that death finds them.” 

Pengoloo from Blue Orange Games (2007)

Now, I suppose I should be clear that I understand “die” and “die” are homonyms. I get that they are separate words, with separate meanings, but taken out of context there is no way to tell them apart. Even taken IN context, the word still resonates in our minds with the meaning of the other sense, and this is not to our benefit.

My hope is that “die” goes the way of “whom” and “fewer” and the dreaded semicolon; hapless relics of speech long gone by. I believe the point of language is to be understood, to communicate an idea clearly from speaker to listener. I don’t think there is a single English speaker who would misinterpret the phrase “roll one dice”. But there are plenty of people who would be confused by the blunt utterance of the word “die!” 

I am also aware that the act of changing our company standard to “dice” MIGHT have the unwanted side effect of causing more people commanding conformation to “die!” But should this turn out to be the case, it is my hope that it will also conversely embolden and strengthen others to deny the die-sayers. Language is ours to do what we speak with it. There is nothing forcing us to succumb to “die” and it is for these reasons that I am happy with our adoption of “dice” in the singular, and I encourage you to join us in embracing this change.

If we follow traditional rules for English grammar, the origin of the word in the French language (des) would actually suggest that the proper usage would be “die” and “dies” (as used with the cutting machines referred to as a “die” in the singular and “dies” in the plural). There is also evidence to suggest dice be treated as a mass noun like “milk” or “oil” because very often we don’t actually care about the specific number of dice, just that a good enough amount is handed to us. But such relevant topics take us further away from the singular issue in my mind. There is simply no need to force a word for death into a children’s game.

I believe it is in our best interest to embrace language as the silly and strange experiment that it is! There is no need for it to be morbid. As an homage to the absurdism of language of the past, I leave you with a simple poem to ponder, from the poet and fabulist, Ambrose Bierce: 

A cube of cheese no larger than a die

May bait the trap to catch a nibbling mie

Gen Con 2016

Gen Con 2016

Gen Con is just around the corner, and Blue Orange Games has two exciting new games debuting at the convention: Goons of New York 1901 & Vikings on Board.

Goons of New York 1901

the Goons of New York 1901 is a promotional expansion pack for New York 1901, made in collaboration with the kids at the Brooklyn Game Lab as part of a months long game jam they did with over 500 submissions. You can read all about how the kids made the game in this article from BGL founder Robert Hewitt:

Goons of New York will be free with purchase of the base game at the convention, or $5 on its own. And, if the feedback is positive, we will release it to a wider audience later in the year. If you are interested in learning more about the BGL promo, email us at for more information.

Vikings on Board

Vikings on Board is a worker placement game from Charles Chevallier (Abyss, Masques, Wakanda). The game includes 39 beautiful 3D ship pieces that come fully assembled in the box. Learn how to play the game here:

Sales of Vikings on Board will be limited to 50 copies per day. (200 early-access units being flown into the show before its retail release in stores in September). Additionally, anyone who buys the game at the show will also receive a set of upgraded components free with purchase.


Interested in winning free copies of these new games? We’re handing them out as prizes for our tournaments!

More info here:

Making Games with the Children’s Creativity Museum

Making Games with the Children’s Creativity Museum

Working at a children’s board game company, we get a lot of opportunities to work on cool projects that inspire and uplift kids. Most recently, we partnered with the San Francisco Children’s Creativity Museum, as part of a 6 month exhibit they were doing on games. We donated several of our giant-sized games for free play in the entry room and they made big, instructional signs for us. It was fun to see the games in a structured exhibit environment — as opposed to the usual chaotic, high-energy events I attend (I’m talking about you, Gen Con). The CCM certainly has a high level of energy too, but its more focused on the act and artistry of creation.

In addition to the games donated to be put on exhibit, we also put on a two part workshop based on two of our most popular titles: Rally Up! and Fast Flip. During this workshop we helped kids at the museum create their own games with only paper, markers, scissors and stickers. The goal of the project was to inspire kids, and to show them how easy and fun it is to make their own games.

Our table at the Museum.

Our retail version of Fast Flip, features a deck of 54 cards with 15 pictures on each card. The goal is to find the right match between the back of one card and the front of another card. For our simplified DIY version, we reduced the number of pictures on each card from 15 to 3, and we gave the kids a set of stickers to put on.

Kids used donated stickers to make their own Fast Flips.

While some kids worked on making their own Fast Flips, we had two other tables set up for the Rally Up! project. Rally Up! is a game of categories, where each card has a picture of something from a specific category. When two cards (or more) that show the same category are flipped up, the first player to call that category scores them.

Drawing on blank Rally Up! cards to make the   downloadable game.

For our Rally Up! project, we had kids draw their own cards. They were allowed to come up with whatever category they chose and then draw pictures that fell into those categories. It was interesting to discover that many of the categories chosen by the children were categories in our retail version of the game as well. Like…


Fruits fruit2




Candies candy1

After combining all of the drawings from the two workshops (and removing some categories that only had a few images), we were able to create the final game by adding titles to each card + creating category cards that showed all the different images of each category (to help with identification during the game).


Here’s the completed game:       Rally Up! Museum Game          Category Cards


And some of our favorite contributions:

peacock Cheese

alien scribble


If you want to create your own games at home, just print the blank sheets in the materials section and follow our instructions!


DIY Rally Up! Instructions


Rally Up! Blank

Colored Pens or Pencils



  1. Pick a category (ex. Fruit)
  2. Draw a few pictures of objects that fall in that category (ex. Watermelon, Pineapple, Cherries)
  3. Do this for as many categories as you like, we recommend doing at least 5 categories with about 4 objects in each category
  4. Cut out your cards, shuffle and play!

*Download the rules from our website if you don’t already know how to play Rally Up!



DIY Fast Flip Instructions


Fast Flip Blank




  1. Cut out as many cards as you want to make (we highly recommend you do this first)
  2. Put one sticker on each card
  3. Match it, put the same sticker on again
  4. Put a new, different sticker on each card (Now that you have 3 stickers on each card, flip them over!)
  5. Put one sticker on the back of each card
  6. Make sure all your cards face the same way, shuffle and play!

*Download the rules from our website if you don’t already know how to play Fast Flip

Gen Con 2014

Gen Con 2014

For the first time, I attended the annual Gen Con 2014 convention which is America’s largest “table top” focused convention (with more than 60,000 attendees every year).  “The best 4 days in gaming” is the slogan, and it certainly lives up to the hype.  The halls are flooded with people all gathered together to celebrate gaming culture in all its forms.

Gen Con crowd
Gen Con crowd

It’s not just board games. It is also the larger “table top” community, which includes Role Playing Games (like Dungeons & Dragons and Shadowrun) as well as miniature games (such as Warhammer and War Machine). There is even a costume parade, where people dress up as their favorite characters. Other notable events are “Card Halla” a life size kingdom of towers built entirely out of playing cards. That is then crushed by objects dropped by con attendees from the floor above.

I spent most of my time in the exhibit hall, playing Blue Orange Games with our community of fans in the Family Pavilion. I got to see many of the friends that I have made at New York Toy Fair and Origins Game Fair earlier this year. I also got to meet several internationally acclaimed game designers, Bruno Cathala, Bruno Faidutti, and Charles Chevallier — all of whom have games coming out for Blue Orange next year. Of course many know that Bruno Cathala already released 2 games for us this year (Niya and Longhorn).

Bruno Cathala
Bruno Cathala

I had the pleasure to meet several of the lovely people from our community of reviewers, that prior to Gen Con I had only communicated with on the internet.

Sandy Zimmerman and her 2 “geeklings” from Adventures With My Geeklings.  Always nice to meet our biggest fans, especially when they are 2 lil’ gamer cuties! Their favorite games from the con? Our giant version of Pengoloo and our new 2014 game Aztack. You can check out more of their experience on their blog here.

Forrest Bower is the eccentric YouTube reviewer who helped build up hype for our wildly popular game BraveRats. It was great to meet him, as he is one of my favorite voices in the community. His passion for games shines through all of his videos, and he and his family are huge supporters of our games! He was kind enough to do several videos with me of our new games.  You can check them out here:  Doodle QuestLonghorn and Niya.

Forest Bower interviewing me

I got to meet Dan (The Game Boy Geek) and Zee Garcia, both from the illustrious Dice Tower network of reviewers, who for many gamers are THE go to source for information on our games.

I had the chance to hang out with my friends in the Dice Hate Me / Geek Allstar collective after hours. They are a rowdy bunch of gamers mostly based in the North Carolina area who have a passion for innovative game design and clean-playing games with dirty tactics. Their podcasts are a great way to keep in touch with the pulse of the gaming scene and their “the state of games” podcast is in my opinion the best on air. Needless to say, it was a pleasure to see what the “cool kids” of board games were playing at the con.

My favorite game of the con, was the Korean smash hit “Coconuts” (distributed in America by Mayday Games). One of the purest fun experiences I’ve had in a while. And since the con, I have played it dozens of times. In Coconuts, players try to shoot rubber coconut pellets into big plastic cups, using adorable plastic spring-loaded monkeys. Pure, simple, chaotic fun.

The highlight of the show for me was getting to meet game inventor Charles Chevallier.  He taught me how to play his new game Wakanda, coming out for Blue Orange in 2015. He also graciously lost a game to me which means I got the joy of beating a man at his own game! Of course I had to capture the moment of triumph:

Charles Chevallier

Gen Con was also an opportunity for me to play with prototypes from designers (some of whom were friends I made at other cons, other of whom were new). I brought back many great ideas that we will be testing out with our community of family testers in the months to come.

Brilliant Sky Toys Wilmington – August Store of the Month

Brilliant Sky Toys Wilmington – August Store of the Month

Blue Orange Games is lucky to partner with a fantastic bunch of retailers who are passionate about their businesses and supportive of our games. We want to do more to recognize the stores and individuals that make our mission possible. That’s how our monthly spotlight on an outstanding Blue Orange Games retailer came about!

We are pleased to announce that Brilliant Sky Toys in Wilmington, North Carolina is our Store of the Month for August! Renaud, a member of our sales team, nominated the store because of their dedication to their local community and their passion for creating fun times with their customers.


Mike and his wife Annika decided to open their store (Brilliant Sky) back in 2010, because they both loved working with kids and had previously run a rental company in Cape Cod, focused on renting equipment to families during the vacation season. They decided to move to North Carolina, and transfered their passion for providing seasonal entertainment into year-long entertainment in the toys and games industry.

As specialty retailers, Mike and Annika believe that children (and families) can learn a lot together through creative, fun play. As Mike told me on the phone, he believes that our game Spot it! is the perfect example of learning through play. Before Spot it, he had many games on his shelves that were good games. But once he was able to break out Spot it! and start demoing it, playing with families and children in his store brought a liveliness and excitement that was previously missing. As he put it, “Spot it! saved my store”

The joy of playing Spot it with their customers opened Annika and Mike’s eyes to the power of demoing games. Not only did they start selling more, they also had A LOT more fun. Nowadays, their store is full of demos. They are especially fond of the giant versions of some of our wooden games. “It’s so much fun to watch customers come into the store, and see their eyes pop out when they see all the demos. Their eyes just light up!”

While they love any game that brings educational play to families, they are especially fond of games that can be explained and played in less than 5 minutes. That’s why our games like Spot it, Gobblet Gobblers, Fastrack, Niya, and Aztack do so well in their store. They can play all 3 games in just a couple a minutes, and everyone has a great time!

Mike’s advice to anyone starting a new toy store is to “learn the power of demoing. Have tons of demos available. Place demos on the tables, and under the tables, and on the shelves and behind the counter. And always start with the fast-playing and easy to learn games.

“Our staff does a great job of demoing and selling the games. We teach them the fast card games. It is so important that customers understand the value a game will bring to them, instead of just looking at it in the box. If someone asks how to play a game, you need to be able to break it out and start playing it. That is how you will succeed.”

“You need to show customers that everybody and anybody can play a game. Games breaks down borders, and open up fun rewarding experiences for families to share together.”

For more information, visit

The whole team at Blue Orange Games would like to thank Mike, Annika and the rest of the Brilliant Sky Toys staff for believing in our games and for creating rewarding, educational experiences for their community. Congrats!

Fun and Games – July Store of the Month

Fun and Games – July Store of the Month

Blue Orange Games is lucky to partner with a fantastic bunch of retailers who are passionate about their businesses and supportive of our games. We want to do more to recognize the stores and individuals that make our mission possible. That’s how our new monthly spotlight on an outstanding Blue Orange Games retailer came about!

We are pleased to announce that Fun and Games in Sacramento, California  is our Store of the Month for July! Xavier, a member of our sales team, nominated the store because of their love of Spot it! Party and their dedication to their local community.



Rose and the staff of Fun & Games believe that their top priority as a store is to create fun times. Then selling toys and games comes second, after making sure her customers have a positive experience. That is why the store has such a pro-play policy. Any of the games on their shelves are available to try before you buy. If they don’t already have a demo out, they are more than happy to open up a copy and play with that one. This positive attitude, and emphasis on customer experience, is why so many people return to Fun and Games — They had such a great time playing that game just wouldn’t get out of their head.

The favorite game to play with customers? Spot it! and Spot it Party! The quick-action and easy-to-learn rules makes all the Spot it games a delight for Rose and her customers to play over and over again. With such a sincere passion for the game, it’s no surprise that Fun and Games was the number one seller of Spot it Party last year. Customers couldn’t help but catch Rose’s passion.

One of the most charming things about the Fun and Games store is their signature wall in the back. If customers can beat Rose or her staff at one of their games, they get to sign the store’s wall as a reward. It is super fun to read through all of the positive comments in the back of the wall.


For more information, visit

The whole team at Blue Orange Games would like to thank Rose and the rest of the Fun and Games staff for believing in our games and for creating rewarding, educational experiences for their community. Congrats!

Imagination Station – June Store of the Month

Imagination Station – June Store of the Month

Blue Orange Games is lucky to partner with a fantastic bunch of retailers who are passionate about their businesses and supportive of our games. We want to do more to recognize the stores and individuals that make our mission possible. That’s how our new monthly spotlight on an outstanding Blue Orange Games retailer came about!

We are pleased to announce that the Imagination Station in Franklin, Indiana is our store of the month for June! Our sales rep Xavier recommended the store because they just celebrated the 10th year anniversary last month, and are always a pleasure to deal with!


The new owner Debi took over ownership of the store this spring, after the original owners decided to move on. Debi had worked at the Imagination Station for almost eight years, so it was a no-brainer for her to take over running the store she cared so much about. Her favorite part of the job? “Everyday is different. I love seeing what’s new and what kids play with most in the store. And I really enjoy helping parents and grandparents find the perfect gift for their kids.” It is this passion for her job that makes the Imagination Station standout as an example of how to turn a store into a community gathering place.

The Imagination Station is dedicated to providing their local community with fun activities beyond just toys and games. They have regular storytimes in the summer, and a special summer book club that meets in the months of June and July. And my personal favorite event – A night focused on inspiring young entrepreneurs focusing on encouraging kids to develop the skills and abilities needed to  create innovative, creative products. As part of the event, a local college professor comes into the store to talk to the kids and inspire them — motivating them to one day start their own business.

Debi and her staff treasure their relationship with their customers. “The most important thing is the relationships. We know the people, we know the children. We greet everyone. We make sure to ask why are they here? What is special about their visit today? We wamt to know what is going on in their life. Did you just ace a test? Pee on potty for the first time?  – Whatever it is, we wan to celebrate with them.”

The whole team at Blue Orange Games would like to thank Betsy and the rest of the Magic Box staff for believing in our games and for creating rewarding, educational experiences for their community. Congrats!