Santa’s Bag is an incredibly simple game of building toys for the good little children on Santa’s Nice List. It’s simple enough that it’s rated 7+ which is interesting given 8+ is more standard, but it definitely works as a family game with younger players.
At the start of the game, each player draws a hand of four Part Cards. These are the items you, as an industrious Christmas Elf, are going to use to build toys with. Next, draw four Kid Cards and place them in the middle of the table, then draw a Toy Card for each of them.
On each player’s turn, they can take three actions:
Step 1, they can trade a single Part Card in their hand with another player, or with the top card of the Part deck.
Step 2, lets the player Make a Toy by discarding the appropriate Part Cards from their hand that match the ones listed on a Toy Card on the table. If you don’t have all of the proper cards you can use a Stardust Part Card as a wild card, or use “Elven Magic” to transform any two matching Part Cards into a different Part Card. When you Build a Toy, you take the Kid and Toy cards and will score points for them at the end.
Step 3, lets you draw a card. There is no hand size limit so you always draw a card even if you couldn’t, or didn’t, build a toy in Step 2.
For a short game, you play until a total of 10 Toys have been built. For a longer game, you play until 20 Toys have been built. If you are playing with five or more players, the longer game is obviously recommended. Kid Cards are all worth between one and three points, depending on how “nice” that kid is. For the record, I am a grinch most of the year and am therefore only worth one point. My friend Emily is a much better human being and is worth three points. Similarly, Toy Cards are also worth between one and three points, theoretically based on how tricky the Toy is to make. Most of the time this makes pretty good sense, but not always. For instance, the Fancy Tea Set that needs Paint and Clay is worth three points, yet the Piggy Bank that also needs Paint and Clay is only worth two points. Since there are only 3 Clay cards in the 96 Parts, either of them would be fairly hard to make based on available resources, too. There are only two single point cards, so most of your Toys will be of the two- and three-point varieties. I do appreciate that the three-point Candy card takes two Stardust cards. Candy is made of magic.
This is a great game for introducing younger kids to the world of games beyond Candyland. If you need, you can remove the Elven Magic rule to make playing a bit easier to understand, and just make all the Kids and Toys worth a single point, making the final scoring math an easy count. If you need a easy filler game for grown-ups, this will work in a pinch. But it really is better with kids.
By now you have hopefully noticed that I like end my holiday reviews with some music. This week I’m putting in Jonathon Young’s full Young Does Christmas EP.