Chametz: The Boardgame the whole family can enjoy.

Purim is over and we are started to prepare for Passover. Cleaning the house, preparing the seders and of course activities to keep the kids engaged.

Hazakah has just come out with a great new Passover-themed board game which the whole family will enjoy &mdash Chametz: The Search is On! I play tested the game with my children ages 4 to 19, and they kept asking to play more. This game would make a great gift or afikomen ransom.

Inspired by the classical board game Clue, but instead of trying identify a murder suspect and murder weapon, we are trying to determine which character left an item of chametz in which room. Here is the premise:

It’s a month before Passover and Colonel Moti invites Rabbi Greenberg to give a Passover lecture or shiur in his home. A variety of snack are served. During the course of the evening, one of the members of the congregation inadvertently leaves an item of chametz somewhere in the house. Who left what, and where did they leave it?

More after the jump.

Chametz is Hebrew for “sour or fermented” and it refers to food that is unfit for Jews on Passover (usually derived from one of the five prohibited grains: oat, barley, wheat, rye and spelt). The chametz featured in the game includes items such as a slice of pizza, a donut and a pretzel.

Jay Falk, president of Hazakah Inc., says he formed the game publishing company in large part because he couldn’t find interesting Jewish-themed games to play on Shabbat with his children.

As an homage to the game of Clue, Falk gives his “Chametz” characters familiar names, albeit with a Jewish twist.

  • Colonel Mustard becomes Colonel Moti (decorated hero of the Israeli Navy);
  • Professor Plum becomes Professor Slivovitz (a kosher-for-passover plum brandy);
  • Mrs. White becomes Mrs. Weiss, and
  • Reverend Green is Rabbi Greenberg.

There are also two children (Colonel Moti’s twins Chaim and Tzipporah).

In keeping with the Passover theme, the Chametz gameboard features “The Four Questions” — four spaces that require a player to answer one of the 234 trivia questions.  Answering correctly allows the player to jump ahead on the board to the room of his choice.

Sample questions:

  1. The Pharaoh’s daughter discovered Moses in the river. What was her name? A) Batyah, B) Yocheved, C) Miriam
  2. Which grain is missing from this list of 5 grains that constitute “chametz” (oat, barley, wheat, rye and_________)?
  3. What is “shmurah matzah”? A) Egg matzah, B) Matzah covered in cream cheese, C) Matzah guarded from harvesting until packing?
  4. In the Passover song “Echad Mi Yo’deah” (Who Knows One), the “Eight” refers to what? A) Hanukkah, B) Passover, or C) Circumcision.

Traditional Jews may be interested in the game because it can be played on Shabbat and Holidays. The design challenge stemmed from the fact that since it’s a game that incorporates process-of-elimination, a player would normally have to make written notes to keep track of their progress. To get around this potential problem, each player is given a Note Board that holds small cardboard chips. So instead of checking off Colonel Moti when you see the card in play, you simply insert a marker in the slot above Colonel Moti’s name on your Note Board.  The markers are spoon-shaped, again to maintain the theme of Passover (wooden spoons are traditionally used in the real search for chametz).

Hazakah recommends the game for those aged 7 to adult, but I found that younger kids can participate with a little help. The clue cards all have images on them so it is easy for younger kids who can not read yet to follow along. The main problem for younger kids would be the difficulty of the questions. The rules say that the level of difficulty of the question should be chosen at random based on a die roll. However, if adults are playing with children, or older children are playing with very young children, then the you might want to decide in advance which type of question each player will get.

Chametz: the Search is On! is suitable for two to six players, ages seven and up, and its suggested retail price is $29.95 (but it’s currently on sale for $26.95 on Amazon).

Answers to Sample Questions:

  1. A, Batyah.
  2. Spelt.
  3. C. Matzah guarded from harvesting until packing.
  4. C. Circumcision.



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