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Subject: lots of great ideas for a game such young children can play rss

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Dan D
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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There doesn't seem to much written in English about this game, so I thought I would provide a review. My 4-year-old son really enjoys it.

GAMEPLAY

There are six colored cars and a racetrack with ten spaces. Each player has a card -- which should be kept secret from other players -- with two race car colors on it. Your goal is to get both race cars across the finish line first.

On your turn, you roll three dice with the race car colors on them. You choose one of the dice, move that car forward one space, set the die aside, and then roll two dice. Choose a die, move the corresponding car, set the die aside, and then roll the last die. Move that car forward and your turn is over.

(You can choose a die for a car that has already crossed the finish line; in that case, nothing happens since the car has already finished the race.)

If you get both your cars across the finish line before any other player, you win. It's possible to move a car across the line which causes two or more players to win simultaneously; the game in that case is a tie.

COMPONENTS

It's a children's game by Haba. Do I need to say more? They're lovely, of course.

WHY IS THIS GAME SO COOL?

As you would expect for a Haba game pitched at children as young as 3 or 4, this game is easy and fun to play -- even for adults. I might even use this game as a filler or a choose-the-next-starting-player game.

There are a bunch of ideas involved in this game that, for any adult on this site, are nothing special, but for my 4-year-old, are amazing. Here's my list of these ideas, in increasing order of sophistication:

1. No one-to-one relationship between colored game pieces and players. There are always six race cars and any player can move any car.

2. You roll the dice multiple times on your turn.

3. Related to (1) above, your goals can overlap with those of other players. You and another player could both have the red car on your cards, so moving the red car towards the finish helps both of you.

4. You can be forced to make a move that benefits another player and not you. If the dice come up all blue and white, you have to move the blue or white car. If you don't have a blue or white car on your card, you will benefit a player with one of those colors.

5. You don't know precisely what the other players' goals are. You are supposed to keep your card secret. (With my son we sometimes play with the cards face up, though.) With secret cards, there is an element of deduction: you need to watch what choices other players make to figure out what colors they might have. (And then to try to avoid moving their cars forward!) You might even deliberately choose to not move one of your cars forward when one of your colors came up, just to confuse the other players, although the game isn't really long or complex enough to make such misdirection useful. It's also rather unnecessary when you are playing against, you know, toddlers.

To put those ideas into a game that very young children can learn quickly and enjoy playing is a mark of excellent design. If you're looking for a kids game that rises above the boring "roll and move" paradigm, try Hit The Throttle.
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