Pickles to Penguins

Our family was first introduced to Pickles to Penguins at our local library. We knew right away that Pickles to Penguins was a game for our family. It wasn’t, however, a game to be played in a library. We played once more, just to confirm, and it landed on top of our wish list.
Luckily, not long after, we came across it in our local thrift store and we didn’t have to wait until Christmas to play again.

The Object of Pickles to Penguins is to be the first to get rid of your stack of cards. Each player is dealt a stack of 25 cards. The cards are double sided. On each side there is a picture with a description under it.
Next, each player takes five cards off of their stack and places them in front of themselves, this becomes the player’s play deck. The cards can be flipped over at anytime to see the image on the other side. This is handy if you get stuck.

A player’s set of cards is made up of five cards to be connected and a stock pile to replaced connected cards with.

When all players are ready, two cards are taken off the deal deck and placed in the middle.

Now the fun begins. To get rid of a card, you must make a connection from one of your cards to one in the middle. When you have a connection, you place your card on top of the card you are connecting with and at the same time, you must use both words in a full sentence that explains the connection.

For example, if the doll and hospital cards are used, the player would say “a child in a hospital bed could cuddle a doll,” as she places the one card on top of the other card.

Two cards are placed in the middle for players to try to make a connection with.

Now that a card is used from your player’s deck, it is replaced by the top card on your players stack (the original 25 cards).

A connection cannot be used twice in a row. For example, if your connection “toys can be packed a in a suitcase’ is used, the next player cannot say, “a hairdryer can be packed in a suitcase.”

Wild cards. There are a number of wild cards. You can play a wild card at any time, on any card and without a sentence. This can be a great advantage; however, we find that it is not necessary to have them.

To make the game fair, you can dispute a player’s connection. All play stops while everyone settles the dispute. If the connection is allowed, play continues. If it is not allowed, the player then gets a penalty of five cards being added to their stack and play continues.

The first player to get rid of all of their cards is the winner.
This family game is simple but it excises the brain–challenging it, making it work. The game comes with 528 double sided cards. That’s 10556 images to connect. With that many options no two games are the same. One game you may win by a landslide, the next you may struggle to get five cards off your stack–it happens. (I think that’s part of the reason my family like this game; it’s anybody’s game.)

If 1056 images wasn’t enough to keep the game fresh, Pickles to Penguins also comes with 5 alternative games.

Alternative Games:

Shout is the version where only two cards are flipped and the first person to a make a connection wins the trick.

In Missing Link, players have to make a connection to BOTH cards in the middle.

There is a fast play called Fast Five where players only have five cards to get rid of–without being able to flip them over.

The minute time trial version gives players only one minute and the whole deck to see how many connections they can make.

And my favorite variation is chain reaction. In this game, players are dealt five cards and you have to be the first to link all five cards together.

In Chain Reaction you have to connect all five cards together.
A seal and a horse are both animals. A barbed wire fence is used to keep horses in a field. Barbed wire and a can are both made of metal. A can and a cooking pot are both round.

For travel, Pickles to Penguins is great. You don’t need to take the whole game, only a stack (or two depending on how many people will be playing). Julia took a stack to a friend’s for the weekend and four kids played all weekend and had a great time.

Overall, Pickles to Penguins is a great family game. It’s easy to understand and quick to play. Between the number of cards and variations, there is hours of playability. The creative thinking this game promotes is great.

It is not, however, a quiet game. It’s loud and everyone talks at the same time. Great family fun, but not for everyone.

The one criticism is the game box. It comes in a standard sized box (great for stacking) but when we opened it, it was easy to see that there is a lot of wasted space. It could be a much smaller box.

The inside of the box — lots of empty space.

Our finial word is that Pickles to Penguins defiantly belongs on our Family Game Shelf.    

Pros: easy to understand, quick, hours of playability, quality, great graphics,
Cons: box size, can be noisy
Mom: speed, creative thinking, use of full sentences


Six out of six dice rating
Six out of six dice rating


Six out of six dice rating


Five out of six dice rating


Ages: 8+
Players: 2+
Time: 10-15

To buy Pickles to Penguins, click below. To read more family favorite game reviews, click here.

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