Cranium Brain Breaks Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 4 and up (publisher suggests 8+)
  • For 2 or more players (publisher suggests 2 to 6)
  • Variable time

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Reading & Writing
  • Memorization & Pattern/Color Matching
  • Visuospatial Skills
  • Cooperative & Team Play
  • Imagination
  • Reflex & Speed

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • None

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Cranium Brain Breaks challenges your left and right side of the brain with 200 1-minute activities that can be played with 2 or more people. All your favorite Cranium friends are here: Creative Cat, Word Worm, Star Performer, and Data Head! The activities are allocated a single minute to complete and then it’s off to the next one as fast as you can! Challenging and fun, make your next downtime into a fun time with this short and sweet party game!

Cranium Brain Breaks is comprised of 100 double-sided Activity cards, six multi-colored six-sided letter dice, 1 six-sided die, a small container of clay, a small pad of paper, and a 1-minute sand timer. All the components fit into a purple human brain sized box. The only thing missing is a pencil or two for illustrations and writing.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, grab a couple of pencils and place the open game box in the middle of the playing area. Game set up is now complete. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done! All the game components have their own spot in the box and are easy to remove when needed.

You will also need some players. This game can be played with a group of friends or two teams who might or might not be your friends. The number of people who are playing is based on your popularity. If two teams are created for competitive play, divide the players as evenly possibly without actually cutting any in half.

That’s it, you’re done. Let’s get to the game.

Playing the Game

There are two ways to play the game.

If playing in a single group, each player takes a turn selecting an Activity card and selects one of the two activities described. The Activity card is read out loud and any instructions followed. When ready, the sand timer is started and everyone must chip in to complete the activity within the 1-minute time limit. If the activity is completed successfully, the Activity card is kept. If not, the Activity card goes back in the deck.

If playing with two teams, each team randomly draws 5 Activity cards and picks 7 of the 10 activities to complete (remember, each card has 2 activities on them). Each team takes a turn selecting an activity. The Activity card is read out loud and any instructions followed. When ready, the sand timer is started and everyone must chip in to complete the activity within the 1-minute time limit. If the activity is completed successfully, the Activity card is kept. If not, the Activity card goes back in the deck.

Some examples of the activities included are:

  • work together to find 10 things that are blue
  • roll the letter dice and name a dessert for each letter rolled
  • every person completes a five moment handshake correctly
  • one person sculpts “something” and all the other players have to guess what that thing is

Winning the Game

If playing in a single group, the goal is to collect 4 Activity cards in a row, and then 5, and so on. The group should try to break their record each and every time. There is no hard-set win condition for Cranium Brain Breaks when playing as a single group.

If playing with two teams, the winning team is the one who wins by having 2 or more completed Activity cards than the other team. When the 7 activities are completed, the teams should continue to draw and  play activities until one team has at least 2 more Activity cards scored than the other team.

Prediction

Sometimes my little geeks want me to play a game with them when there simply isn’t enough time. Little geeks can be spontaneous and flexible. Sadly, adults seldom have that luxury. I do all I can to accommodate their requests, of course, but when there is only 15 minutes before bed time, I won’t be getting out Heroscape.

To be certain, my sons enjoy games a great deal. The bits and pieces and the challenge is wonderful, but what they (and I, for that matter) really enjoy is the interaction. Doing anything with your kids is a great deal of fun…most of the time. I remember hearing that a child’s favorite toy is their parent. I believe this to be true and awfully heartbreaking at times, as I am not always available to play with them. It’s a horrible feeling to see disappointment in your child’s eyes.

I believe Cranium Brain Breaks will be a very welcomed game in my house, but not often played. When time does not allow for a larger game, Cranium Brain Breaks will be perfect for the family. A few quick activities before bedtime could be a great deal of fun! Add in the many different ways the activities are completed (acting, drawing, spelling, and counting just to name a few) and you have a wonderfully short little micro game that can be played on demand with very little time spent.

When I pitched the game to my little geeks, they were very excited! The idea of lots of little games that could be played whenever they wanted sounded like a great deal to them! I might have oversold the game a bit, as I somewhat hinted that Mommy and Daddy would always have time to play for a few minutes. I’m certain, in my sons’ eyes and ears, this meant that Mom and Dad would always be available to play the game. That might not always be the case, but I can and will certainly make the time whenever I can for my little geeks. If that time is spent playing games, all the better.

After going through some of the activities, telling my little geeks to put down the clay for the 10th time, I asked around the table if they had any questions and what they thought of the game so far.

“I like it! It sounds cool that we get to play a lot of little games!” ~ Liam (age 7)

“Awesome! I have no questions, Daddy.” ~ Nyhus (age 4)

Like so many times before, my little geeks are full of energy and excitement. It’s hard not to get caught up in their zeal, and honestly, I wouldn’t want to try. It’s much more fun acting like a 7 and 4-year old than  a 36-year old guy with a bald spot, a mortgage, and an addiction to Mountain Dew he can’t seem to shake.

Final Word

Hip-hip-hurray, Cranium Brain Breaks is a success! The activities are short, silly, and fun to play with the family. My little geeks enjoyed it immensely and were sad when I said it was time to put the game away for the evening. After all, there is no real “end” to the game, so my little geeks just wanted to keep going. Sadly, Dad could not.

Cranium Brain Breaks is an interesting experience. I have never played a game that was purposely designed to be exceedingly short and yet have no real end. My shortest game to date is Tic-Tac-Toe with a completed time record speed of 1 minute, 10 seconds. Any and all activities in Cranium Brain Breaks beats this in spades.

What I really like about the game is how fast it changes gears. You’ll be drawing for a minute, sculpting with clay the next, and then playing air guitar. All in the course of 3 minutes or less. The transition from one activity to the next is rather abrupt, but it feels altogether natural as there is a brief intermission between each activity while you read the card. This allows everyone to refocus.

The only downtime any player will have will be a minute or less, but this will only happen if you are playing with teams. Otherwise, the game just keeps going and will keep you engaged and active throughout its entire duration.

Ready to play and patiently waiting for Dad to put down the camera

Gamer Geeks, take a walk. There is nothing for you here. The activities are very simple and won’t challenge you in the slightest. No strategy or tactics, no risk or reward. Just fun and little things to do in less than a minute. I wouldn’t recommend this game as even a light filler as there isn’t much in the way of real substance to begin with. At most, you’ll enjoy the fact that the game is over fast.

Parent Geeks, if you are anything like me, this game is going to make you smile. Look past the anatomic packaging and you will find a very family friendly game that can be played fast with just about any sized group. Very little set up and time commitment is needed which allows you to play games with your little geeks whenever you can make the time. If you enjoy this game’s big brother, Cranium, then you will find Cranium Brain Breaks to be an excellent “light” version. So light, in fact, you might very well use Cranium Brain Breaks as your “go to” game when at parties. The game is so very easy to play, only the very young and the very boring will be left out. There are a few activities that will require you to help your little geeks, but this can be avoided by making certain that any and all activities that require a geek skill your little geek has not yet mastered is passed to an adult. Problem solved! Game on!

Child Geeks, you finally have a game that there is always time to play! You are going to enjoy the constant change of activities and the fun chaos that it promotes. Plus, you get to draw, pretend, roll dice, and play with clay! Put this game on the table and invite your mom and dad to a few quick rounds. After all, everyone can always spare a few minutes to have some fun, relax, and laugh.

To summarize Cranium Brain Breaks, is a fast and fun family and party game. It is meant to engage and promote social interaction and nothing more. The speed of the game will keep everyone on their toes and laughing as players scramble to complete their activity. Some of the activities are absolute no-brainers while others will make you stop and scratch your head. Best of all, the game can be played as short or as long as you like. A truly unique and entertaining game for the whole family!

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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3 Responses to Cranium Brain Breaks Game Review

  1. Pingback: On Board Games | athelas

  2. Leïna says:

    Hi,
    I am a daycare provider for children of 4 yrs Old and I was wondering if it was appropriate to play with them as there are some that are quick Learners and others that are a little late in their development… Would it still work for everyone?
    Thanks for the great review

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