oddly enough, we have found the perfect combination of all those traits in the jakks pacific monsuno toys. the monsuno cards and toys offer a wide variety of ways to play.
you can collect the packs of cards and play just with the monsoon card packs. or, you can buy the collectible metal cores and play that way. or, our kids' favorite, you can collect the two-packs of cores and figurines and play against each other with those, or, as tate currently loves to do, act out all kinds of stories and adventures with the figurines. you can learn the monsuno story or find instructions for each of the game versions, as well as a list of retailers, on the monsuno website.
however you play, there is some math involved, as players need to figure out attack numbers and power loss, all while keeping score.
we had a gathering of the cousins this summer (all of whom were a variety of ages), and we spent a significant amount of time having a monsuno party. a good time was had by all.
if your kids really want to get into the storyline of the game, they can watch the monsuno shows on nicktoons as well.
the monsuno toy collection will make great stocking stuffers for my kids this year; i can anticipate many more hours of (quiet!) play while they play the games!
i received a monsuno party pack to share with our cousins and friends (some of whom are pictured here) in exchange for writing this review. regardless, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.