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I brought out Match of the Penguins to play with my wife and 5 oldest children on a recent cold Sunday afternoon. I had overseen the first time my children had played it when some friends with several kids of their own were over a couple of days before, and it was pretty raucous to say the least. There was enough shouting, knocking and hands flying everywhere that we succeeded to mortify the childrens' two mothers, who are very used to noise believe me. They were not impressed with my choice of a game to play. Suffice it to say that the little ones didn't quite "get" the idea that silently reaching for a black pawn is usually better than yelling out each and every item on the cards that matches.
I was determined that my kids would understand how the game was supposed to work this time. I went over the rules again, stressing the superiority of grabbing pawns.
I decided I would do the flipping of the cards throughout the whole game to keep things organized, but kept things fair by sitting farthest from the pawns. I also made the rule that I had to bring my flipping hand back to my side before I could reach out again and grab a pawn if the situation called for it. My wife had our 4-year-old on her team, but we were both trying our best to win. I was very curious to see how we would do matching our pattern recognition skills with our kids.
The game began with a fair bit of shouting once again, but we took the game at a slower pace, and the kids started to realize the significance of the pawns as my wife and I took them with some regularity. Things actually started getting quieter. The air grew more tense as we progressed through the deck. The other thing that helped the noise level stay down was when the children realized the penalty for shouting out a match incorrectly. We played as it states in the rules that that person had to give up one of their cards. Believe it or not, all it took was for this to happen once.
Besides the 4-year-old girl, my 6-year-old twin boys, 7-year-old boy, and 9-year-old girl were playing with us. The oldest two did a pretty good job of keeping pace with us adults. I was a little worried that the twins wouldn't gain any cards, but they both managed to call out a single match once or twice each, and felt like they were participating. The most cards we had laid out face-up on the table at one time was 5, and my wife was able to get a couple of those big sets of cards to put her in the lead early.
The 7-year-old developed his own unique strategy. He decided to focus on looking for the two fish in a pail while everyone else was searching for colors. As a result, he was the first to knock and get all the cards almost every time the two fish showed up. He ended up leading the rest of the kids by a good margin.
Meanwhile, I did not do nearly as well as I had thought I would. I could blame it on the fact that I had to view the cards upside down, but I would be a total loser if I did that - so I won't. This is a game where children that get the hang of it can have a pretty good chance of keeping up with their parents. A good time was had by all. When played at a lower decibel level, it’s a big hit with mom too!
My wife and the 4-year-old: 16
The 7-year-old: 14
The 9-year-old: 8
One of the twins: 7
The other twin: 2
This is definitely the best matching game I know of for kids, and I highly recommend it.
I like this game, too, and so do my kids.