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    The rules to Amazing Flea Circus can be picked up by an adult in about four minutes, by a five-year-old in about seven. This is not a terribly complicated game, but the nature of it makes it difficult for a much older (or better) player to run away with it -- most games are won by a few dogs or cats. This is good -- siblings can play and it stays relatively competitive.

    The game started with a few referrals to the rules, but for the most part all understood what was expected. The kids frequently forgot to replace their cards at the end of each turn and had to pick up multiples at later turns. Not a showstopper, but be sure to cover them or they'll quickly run out of options.

    At one point my son (5) was on the brink of victory, as there were just one dog left to be claimed. My daughter (9) was in a position where she had to take at least a cat, or maybe the last dog and give her brother the win. The game ends when all the pieces are gone, so as it ends it can become necessary to NOT take pieces in spite of needing them to win. As luck would have it my daughter was able to play the dog catcher -- a fateful arrival that forced players to return animals to the pot and she managed to keep the game going -- that is, to stay in the game.

    The strategy is extremely simple, but there's just enough wiggle to allow each player to keep a certain level of control on the action. Holding a dog catcher seems like a good strategy to cover your bases for the endgame. As the game winds down it proved important to keep close count on everyone's score and to not end the game too quickly unless you were in the lead.

    In the end my son won, but we were within three, and this on the first session. Excellent game for the under ten crowd, the rules are tight, adults can play (and help their kids during play) with enjoyment. Quick to learn, set up, break down, and the cards and pieces are VERY sturdy. This was an impulse buy that I am very happy with. Costs less than a CD or DVD; well worth the money.

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