Sunday, 17 April 2016


Plays: 2Px1.

The Game

Sblap is a real-time children's game similar to Halli Galli. Every card in the game has two elements, a letter of the alphabet, and an alien. At the start of the game, all cards are dealt evenly to every player. Your objective is to get rid of all your cards. You shuffle your cards to form a face-down deck in front of you. On your turn, you flip over a card and play it onto a central discard pile. If the letter or the alien of your card matches that of the previous card, a race is initiated. Everyone tries to be the first to slam his hand on the discard pile. Whoever does this first is the scorer for the round, and gets to distribute the cards in the discard pile to all other players in any way he fancies. However there is a catch. Before he does the distribution, he takes a test. He needs to think of a word beginning with the letter on the card just played. In the beginning, all the scorer needs to do is to just say one word. However, in Round 2, the scorer not only needs to come up with a new word, he also needs to remember the previous word. In this way, a chain of words is formed, and every time a player becomes scorer, he must say aloud the whole list. If he fails, instead of distributing the cards in the discard pile, he must instead take all the cards myself. This is painful. Any time a scorer fails his test, the chain of words is reset. In the next round, you start again with just one new word. The game is played until a player runs out of cards. He is the winner.

I played with my children Shee Yun (11) and Chen Rui (9). Chen Rui was saying the words aloud from memory.

Chen Rui getting stuck...

The Play

Sblap is a simple game. It's a real-time game, so it is naturally exciting, and it forces you to concentrate. The memory element makes it even more necessary to stay focused. I find that reflex is more important than memory. I didn't have much problem with memorising the chain of words. It was my quick responses which won me the game. Perhaps I feel this way because our word chain never grew very long. It was always fewer than 10 words. So the memory aspect wasn't much of a challenge for me. The kids were tripped up by the memory element. I had thought children would do better at this, because they are pure and they concentrate better.

When a scorer distributes cards, it is possible to play favourites. He can decide who to hurt and who to let off the hook. If this gets out of hand, your game can end in hurt feelings or sulking. It's not a problem of the game. It's a people problem. If you are introducing this game to friends, it's something to be aware of. This ability to target one person or more can be fun if your group is of the appropriate mindset. It can introduce alliances, cooperation, threats, betrayals, revenge and politicking, and these can turn the game into much more than what its basic premise suggests. When playing with children, I suggest not to allow the game to turn into vendettas or bullying, unless it's your kids ganging up on you (like in my case). If so, take it like an adult and just have fun with them.

The Thoughts

I find the game just so-so, because I don't like memory games. I would rather play Halli Galli which has no memory element. Sblap can be educational if you have children learning English. It can be a covert operation to grow your children's vocabulary and to get them to practise English. Sblap is not purely a children's game. It can be a party game too. It is easy to teach and fast to play. You can get casual gamers and non-gamers to start playing within minutes.

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