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Subject: Gulo Gulo – A testament rss

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Stephen Brewbacker
United States
Long Island
New York
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Gulo Gulo – A testament

Preamble:

When my now 4+ year old daughter was approximately two years old, a good friend of mine suggested I buy her Go Away Monster! because it was a good first game. After some discussion, he sent me a link to list of recommended ‘first games’ for children. I logged on and found several recommendations for ‘first games’. I was looking at something called a geeklist. It was all terribly confusing - what with all the crazy pictures and symbols and what not – turns out they were Avatars and badges.

The point being that I tracked down and ordered some games based on those recommendations. Aside from Go Away Monster and Snails Pace Race, one of those games was Gulo Gulo. When the package arrived I went through the games and opened each one to familiarize myself with the rules and the content and to determine if they were age appropriate for my then 2 year old.

Of the lot, the one I most excited about was Gulo Gulo. (I was sold on the game when I read the components listed ‘wooden cup’. A wooden cup! )

Components:

I carefully inventoried the components: the brightly painted wooden eggs reminiscent of candy-coated peanut M & M’s; the curious orange egg-on-a-stick alarm device; the brilliantly colored plastic wolverines, the beautifully illustrated tiles – as thick as toaster strudel! (I had several tiny orgasms as I punched them free.)

I wanted nothing more than to start playing immediately. I glanced over the ample rulebook, and then sighed. There was no way. She was only two. I carefully packed it away and vowed not to take it out until she was old enough to really play it – not until my ‘princess’ was age four.

The wait:

For two years I waited. Sometimes I could hear the muffled voice of Junior Gulo calling out to me from the attic (I stored the unopened games in my office in the attic). I frequently heard the woeful cries of Junior Gulo over the course of the next two years, but I refused to cave in.

Finally, a few weeks after my daughter’s fourth birthday, in the late autumn, when the days get shorter and the nights grow colder – it was time to break it out.

The payoff:

It was well worth the wait! The game might be able to amuse children younger than 4 – but I don’t think a three year old would appreciate it to the extent a 4 year old would. It took about six sessions - spread over several nights - before I had fully implemented all of the rules. But by game 7 or so she knew and played all the rules - unabridged.

The rules:

They’ve been done before – and quite well - in other reviews so I’ll be brief here.

I taught my daughter the rules gradually:

First the basic game mechanics: Flipping the next tile, pulling eggs from the nest, tripping the alarm.
Second: The penalty of tripping the alarm: moving your Gulo back to the last colored tile matching that of the egg that you were attempting to steal.
Third: You only move to the next tile of the color of the successfully stolen egg – not the one furthest down the path.
Fourth: The end game. How the last stack of tiles works and the search for the winning egg.

The game is one part strategy, two parts luck, and one part skill (dexterity).

Skill – the pulling of eggs from the nest without tripping the alarm.
Luck part one – the random filling of the nest with eggs.
Luck part two – the layout of the tiles.
Strategy – regardless of the luck factors one can make poor choices that will preclude winning the game.

The strategy:

To flip [the next tile] or not to flip – that is the question. Clearly the most egg-citing choice is to reveal the unknown [next] tile by flipping it over. However, if you are far behind the leader(s) this is a foolish choice and you are only helping them, unless of course the combination of tiles that have already been revealed is such that you are relatively sure that the newly flipped tile is not going to be the same as any of those between you and the leaders, then, it would be advisable to reveal a tile - catapulting your Gulo into the lead upon a success egg-snatch. There are other considerations that factor into the decision to flip or not: Is there an egg on the nest that would be particularly easy to take; and would the corresponding tile be advantageous to advancing your Gulo? If there are already one of each color between you and the next uncovered tile then under no circumstances should you flip the tile – it won’t help you.

If you are fortunate enough to be in the lead – the very first Gulo - with no tiles revealed on the path in front of you - then you have no choice and must flip.

For the four year old player these basic ideas present a challenge and with some sessions under their belts they can be learned. For younger children I think the strategy would simply be lost.

The theme:

The theme is the only place this game suffers. It’s simply nonsense and not worth getting into when teaching your little ones. There’s the ridiculous nature of the egg alarm, there’s the immortal question about stealing eggs when you are really looking for Junior Gulo. And of course there’s the penultimate question: Why is Junior Gulo a purple egg?

None of this should dissuade you from playing the game, but you should be prepared to answer questions that your 4 year old will inevitably ask.

For the most part, I explained the rules in terms of game mechanics and ignored the theme as described in the instruction booklet. Stick with: The tiles, the eggs, the Gulos; keep moving up the path with the ultimate goal of retrieving the purple egg.

As for: Why is Junior Gulo a purple egg? There are two plausible explanations:

First: Junior Gulo was trying to steal the purple egg and got caught in the nest. We (the players) are looking for the purple tile so that we can filch the purple egg, which is Junior’s favorite, and which he will no doubt be clutching just like it shows on the tile.

The second answer is more Zen-like in nature and should only be used for older kids, hippies, and adults. Simply stated: Junior Gulo IS the purple egg and the purple egg IS Junior Gulo.

Trivia: The original lyric to the Beatle’s classic was: He is the egg, man; Junior is the egg, man; I am the Gulo; Gu-gu-Ga-Gulo. However, during recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios, John Lennon, on a bad acid trip, changed it to “I am the Eggman, You are the Eggman, I am the Walrus. Ko-Koo-Ka-Chu.” True story.

In conclusion:

This is the perfect game for four year olds and older. I cannot give this game enough accolade. Non-gaming adults will love it as well. We have played this game over 50 times – in the first two months that we had it – almost every day - but no more than twice in a single evening. It’s usually just me and my daughter, but there have been many sessions with other family members as well (grandmas, aunts, uncles, friends and cousins). It is egg-cellent, egg-citing, and not egg-sclusively for kids.

-BrewB
(Real men play board games with children)
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David Hawkins
Australia
NSW
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Re: Gulo Gulo – A testament
Nice review Stephen. I too have read the same/similar geek lists for children time and time again and Gulo Gulo seems to come to the fore.

Alas, I have not found the A$85 to spend on it just yet (yes games cost waaayyy toooo much in Australia), hence my treasured 5 and 8 year old have not gone on the search for the purple egg.

There's always next month..............
 
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DavidhGeek wrote:
Alas, I have not found the A$85 to spend on it just yet (yes games cost waaayyy toooo much in Australia), hence my treasured 5 and 8 year old have not gone on the search for the purple egg.

There's always next month..............


$60 at milsims

http://www.milsims.com.au/

And well worth it IMO, a great kids game that adults won't get too bored with in a hurry.
 
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Giles Pritchard
Australia
Shepparton
Victoria
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Re: Gulo Gulo – A testament
Another good source of games for kids in Australia is

www.caterpillargames.com.au

Very friendly people.

Cheers!

And - great review - thanks very much!

Giles.
 
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John Guest
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
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Great review from a parent's point of view, Stephen. It seems it was worth the wait. What I particualrly liked was the idea of introducing the different rules of the game in stages. I've only more recently found this out by trial and error when working with young children. And if that also leads to slowly appreciating the tactics and the decisions that present themselves in Gulo Gulo then that's even better. I sometimes talk through the different chances/possibilities of what may happen, but in the end let them ultimately decide - and I can see some of them having a difficult time. Its a great (and safe) lesson in life.

Thanks again!
 
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