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Subject: The Legend of Landlock - A Mini Review (Children's Game) rss

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All of my reviews aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.

As this is a game based on educational principles I am also able to draw on my experience as a primary school teacher (Australia) when reviewing them. I hope you find this insight useful.

If you are reading this review then there is every chance that Landlock was one of the first games that caught your eye on the store shelf. Like most Gamewright titles, Landlock is a colourful and vibrant game that sets a tone and grabs the imagination, taking children to a faraway place as they get immersed in the action.

Two players or teams are set the task of creating the land of Landlock by placing tiles (there are 40 in all) that connect to one another. One player or side takes the role of water within Landlock and the other the role of land. With each tile that is laid, the players are not only creating the land of Landlock, they must also try to make a continuous stretch of road (or river) that connects as many of the 4 sides of the game board as possible.

The varying levels of success earn players points at games end (5, 7 or 10), which comes about when the players have completed a square of tiles 6 x 6. Each tile that is drawn from the facedown piles will have some amount of water and land on it, and most tiles are usually dominant in one or the other. So it is possible for a player to draw a tile that is either advantageous to them or their opponent. In the case of the later they must then decide where to place the tile so it does as little damage to their cause as possible.

Strategic complexity is then added to the game through the use of other scoring means. If a player can completely surround their opponent’s terrain with their own (create a small island by surrounding land with water, or create a small pond by surrounding it with land) then they earn four points. Some tiles also include land or water gnomes. If players can place these in such a way that two or more gnomes are adjacent to each other, then further points are scored.

Finally the game also has three bridge tiles that when drawn can replace any other tile on the board which is then removed from the game. This can aid a player in linking their streams or roads to other board edges, remove a player’s gnome or even break-up their well-connected stream or road system.

Landlock plays very much like a junior version of Carcassonne (see the review) and would be a great way to develop children’s thinking and strategic comprehension with a view to moving them onto games like Carcassonne at a later date.

The Final Word

Landlock is a great little game that can be played on a number of levels. Younger children just love the thrill of turning over tiles to discover the gnomes and other creatures and they enjoy creating the land. Older children get fully involved in the scoring aspect of the game and can begin to grasp some of the strategies that the game fosters.

From an educational viewpoint it is a valuable resource in the promotion of visual\spatial recognition and strategic thinking. Simple rotations of a given tile can bring about major changes to the board and make players re-think their strategic direction. But the final word comes down to a three letter word – Fun. Landlock offers it in spades and for this reason you should be warned that your children will nag you to death to play with them!
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