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When we first meet Gandalf in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings he is known to most of the hobbits only as a magician who is adept at arranging impressive firework displays. That's pretty much the premise for Floodgate Games' Skyrockets, where the 2-5 players are magicians flipping coloured sand timers that represent fireworks.

With its various coloured sand timers, Skyrockets looks on the face of it like a re-themed version of Kites (Floodgate Games). Like Kites it's a fully cooperative real-time game where you are playing cards to flip timers, needing to ensure that none run out. Even BoardGameGeek lists Skyrockets as a 'reimplementation' of Kites. That's not entirely accurate, however. Skyrockets isn't a mere reskin of the earlier game, rather Charlie McCarron's design builds on the ideas behind Kites to deliver a constantly challenging experience.

Tho' the base game of Skyrockets is very similar to that of Kites, this game incorporates a deck of scenario cards that change up the rules and step up the difficulty. If you work through the scenarios methodically, you'll find a mostly gradual increase in complexity and/or challenge that keeps players on their toes. For example, some scenarios require timers to be placed on your draw deck, locking access to the deck until the timer is flipped... You'll especially appreciate the incremental approach: Skyrockets is still a family game, and families and less experienced gamers will be pleased to find they don't face a forbidding rules overhead before they play.

If you like Kites, this then isn't just more of the same but a game that you can play, in effect, in campaign mode. But that's not a prerequisite: you can play Skyrockets at the level that feels comfortable for your particular group of players. Games with timers can be stress-inducing, so it's a big plus that Skyrockets lets you find and play to your own level.

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