Nexus Ops Lava Leaper

So it’s Monday. But it’s also magically… Leap Day. What should you do with it? Forbes tells us, don’t waste your extra 24 hours! Whatever you do, you probably want to watch out for “Leap Day William” from 30 Rock who apparently trades children’s tears for candy…

GAME ON! Feb 29

Here’s what I say we do with this rare gift. Play games! Because, you know – we don’t get enough games, right? Right! But what games would be appropriate for an impromptu Leap Day gaming Extravaganza? Read on, and find 10 examples. Some might be a stretch, but hey – that’s what we’re doing to February.

1. Nexus Ops

Lava Leapers! One of my favorite units in any board game has to be the lava leaper in Nexus Ops. All the monsters (you hire ’em to fight for you) can move on the lava tiles, but those lava leapers can hit better there AND leap 2 spaces from the magma to drop in on an unsuspecting enemy.

2. Checkers

King Me! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this classic. But don’t settle for a basic set. Go for the Luxury Pirates of the Caribbean version, or other unusual checkers set. I remember as a kid having a version with bunnies and squirrels. I jumped over my sister’s animals, and voila – a gaming addict was born.

3. Lift Off!

Lift Off Trampoline

The League’s own Eduardo Baraf has you covered for Leap Day. How so? Well, you see if you happen to be on a planet with an unstable core and you’re yelling, “Get Me Off this Planet!” – you might look around for something – anything that will do. That’s where the trampoline comes in – just one of the wacky ways you can jump ship in this fun family game.

4. Cartegena

Nothing says jumping over pieces like… pirates? Jumping over other pieces on a track is found in plenty of kids games – Candyland, Hoot Owl Hoot – whereby you get to advance a space if your space is occupied. But there’s a strategy version for adults too. Yep, this Italian game ported by Rio Grande back in the day is a race to a sloop with a bunch of booty, and you can move pirates to the next vacant space on the track, jumping over other pirates in your path.

5. Tokaido

Tokaido Leap

In Tokaido players move along a line from the start to the end. There’s a neat mechanic where it’s always the furthest back player’s turn, but they can move as far forward as they want. But you can’t land on the same spot as someone else, so you’re constantly leaping over the other players.

Apothecary Merten

6. Apotheca: The Secret Potion Society

Lucky Leap! Coming soon From Knapsack Games (fresh of a fantastic Kickstarter) is this fun potion crafting strategy game, full of 15 unique magical apothecaries that grant powers – asymmetrical options in the game, which allow you to move in unexpected ways and around pieces that would normally block you.

Sure enough, there is a character perfect for Leap Day – Merten. He has a fun backstory – apparently he’s a gentlemanly fellow who cannot hop to your aid without giving you warts. Poor Merten!

7. Pandemic

Ok, I know this is stretching the concept of leap day, but what better way to play into it than by leaping around the globe, hopping from city to city via charter flights, (get it?) fighting to save the planet from deadly diseases. Pandemic is a great cooperative game and is a fun challenge to figure out the right moves before the disease jumps to outbreak levels.

8. POOP: The Game

SKIP-A-TURN fans! This is your day! That’s right. Reverse, skip – it’s all fair game on Leap Day. You could play Uno, but a far funnier version of this style game can be found in POOP: The Game where you are trying to get out of cards and avoid being the one to clog the toilet. Fair disclosure, I now work for Breaking Games who publishes this one, but can confirm after a game with my 6 year old that it is indeed laughs a minute as a kids game. It is made to be a drinking game as well. Just not a kids drinking game…

9. Glen More

Rondels! Talk about your perfect mechanism for Leap Day. According to BGG, “Glen More offers a unique turn mechanism. Players take territory tiles from a rondel. Picking a tile has not only influence on the actions you get by the surrounding tiles in your territory, it also determines when you’ll have your next turn (and how many turns you will have in the game). But having a lot of turns is not always the best strategy for a successful chieftain.”

10. China Moon

We’ll end with a leap-frog race from renowned designer Bruno Faidutti

BGG description: “Once upon a time, in far-off China, there lived a mandarin duck. This duck was very sad because he wanted to give his sweetheart a special gift, but didn’t know what would please her. One night, when the moon was full, the frogs that shared his pond decided to help him by gathering a beautiful bouquet of water lily blossoms (the rare and beautiful lotus flowers) for him to give his beloved. The frogs divided into teams of 3, and hopped frantically from lily pad to lily pad, each team trying to gather the most beautiful lotus blossom bouquet.

Relive this loony leap-frog race and lead your team to victory by aiding your opponents’ frogs – who can’t help but do the same for you. Well, let’s hope so, anyway!”

Enjoy Leap Day everyone!

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Peter Vaughan

Game Developer at Breaking Games

Peter eats games for breakfast! Founder of First Play LA, Squirmy Beast and League of Gamemakers, and Director of Development for Breaking Games. First published designs include What the Food?! and Nightmare Cove, and development credits include Letter Tycoon, Boomtown Bandits, Sparkle*Kitty and Rise of Tribes.

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  1. John Shulters on March 3, 2016

    Thanks for pointing out the special-ness of Lead Day, Peter! Sarah and I knew it was magical, which is why we got married that day four years ago!
    We spent a day of adventure in Chico…visited 3 FLGS’s and came away with a bunch of organizer bins and baggies, 5 new X-Wing Miniatures ships, and Roll Through the Ages (which we’re instantly addicted to).
    Also wanted to share some games from a local Placerville designer, Jonny Pac Cantin, who creates beautiful and exceptionally well-designed games with Leap mechanisms like you described in your article. Check out his Hangtown ( for some rondel action selection and worker placement goodness, and be on the lookout for Echo Locations, a new space race game based on a local artist’s IP with lots of leaping elements like you mentioned from Cartagena and Tokaido. And the new idea he was drawing on the table at game night last night has a bunch more leaping! Whoda thought Leap Day could inspire its own game genre! Thanks for the inspiration to play more…Leap Day and every day!

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