Is Not Geddy Lee
Meeples – The box opens up and the game board is the bottom half of the box. The paint job is simply beautiful, the corners of the box are built up to look like little cauldrons and are color coded red. blue, green and yellow. The game board looks like a floor and there are four small holes on each side of the board to hold the colored wooden marbles. In the middle you have to insert a black plastic mold piece into the game board and over it go two pieces of painted cardboard to resemble a fire, on top of this, goes an actual flame colored marble.
The player’s pieces are solid wood carvings about 1.5 inches high with a groove in the top to hold the marble. The paint job is fantastic, you get two girls and two boys, each holding a platter above their head. On the bottom of each piece is a small magnet which is needed to connect to the hidden metal balls under the gameboard. More about that later. You move these cute little meeples around the board with a magic wand, which is a simple dowel with a ball on the end. They are all the same color, which is a surprise as I would think they could have been matched to the four player colors.
The black cauldron in the middle is molded to look like a fire pit and there are four red plastic bits in there that pop up when the marble is dropped into the middle of it to simulate the fire rising up. It works very well and looks great.
Theme - The idea here is that you are an apprentice to a magician and are trying to make a spell for your boss. You must bring each spell ingredient to the right pot in the magic kitchen in order to get the right spell together for the fire. Once you create the fire spell, you have to get it to the fire and ignite for your boss. First one to do so, wins the game.
Rules – Very simple, you pick a wooden marble and place it in the groove on top of your meeple. Using the magic wand, you then push your meeple to the same color pot. Along the floor though, there are things that may trip you up, causing you to spill your ingredients and end your turn. Once all four of the wooden marbles have been correctly placed in their pots, you may take the fire marble and try to light the fire. If you get the marble into the fire pit and it pops up, you win! That’s it. Pretty simple, right? Nope.
Game Play – The game box bottom that serves as the game board has metal balls underneath it that you cannot see. Before you start the game, shake the box around a bit to move them around. In front of each pot is a metal ball that does not move. When you get your meeple to that spot, the magnet pulls your meeple forward, putting the wooden marble into the corner of the board. What you have to watch for are the random metal balls that are around the floor, which is why you shake the box. These balls can be anywhere along the floor and will cause your meeple to spill their marble, ending your turn. The trick is to remember where these are and avoid them. Once your four wooden marbles are in the right pots, you have a straight shot to the main cauldron. This is a bit of a disappointment as it is about two inches from your starting point and is not difficult to do. The marbles will overshoot their targets though and they must go into the pots in order to count.
Educational Value – Basic turn taking, color recognition, memory and fine motor skills are reinforced here. There is also decisions to be made too. Sometimes you may want to take the long way around the board if you find that you are blocked in. The little marbles do tend to fly around a bit, so you have to go slow when you get to your cauldron. After about 15 plays, my own children started creating their own game with the board and pieces. They engaged in a solid hour of imaginative play with the game and created stories about each of the children on the pieces and what they were making for the magician.
Adaptability – As it does not require any reading, this is pretty ready to play for smaller players. The little marbles are absolutely choking hazards though and if your child is still tasting everything, this game should be heavily supervised. I have not seen a need to tweak the rules to help younger children overcome their older siblings skill set yet. Some ideas that may work if you need to adapt the game would be to limit the older children by time, or by having them maintain contact with the meeple and the magic wand. As soon as the wand no longer touches the meeple, their turn can be over. You can also have older children complete the ingredients twice while the younger ones only have to do it once.
Adult fun factor – Adults will probably not enjoy this one on its own. Playing with your children though, this is a lot of fun as your kids will laugh themselves silly when you hit a hidden magnet and spill your marble or if your marble overshoots its target.