This game may be out of print. But for that matter...who reads reviews for children's games anyway? In case anyone does, here is an opportunity to be introduced to this simple Ravensburger game.
Who is this game for?
Mole in the hole is listed as a children’s game. My personal opinion is that it is one of the more intelligent children’s games out there. At least I mean, when you compare this to the likes of “Hungry, Hungry, Hippos”...this game is smart. (That is not to suggest you cannot have fun with HHH, but it just doesn’t take a lot of thinking to play.) Mole in the Hole is listed as “a family game for ages 8 and up”. Younger children may struggle to play well.
How do you play?
The unique game board is made up of four large hexagons, each one slightly larger/smaller than the next. These are stacked on top of each other into the plastic sleeve inside the box, with the smallest one on the bottom. These represent different layers of soil that your moles must ‘dig’ through. Scattered throughout the hexagons are holes...just the size for your plastic mole to fit in. The object of the game is to move your moles into these holes. Once all the holes on a level are filled, that layer is removed and the game continues. Players ‘dig’ down through each layer of soil until a mole reaches the “golden shovel” at the bottom. This is the winner.
Is there any strategy?
The game does not use dice. Instead each player receives a set of “Turn Disks” (values are: 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4). These disks are shuffled and placed facedown on the table. On his turn, a player chooses a disk, turns it up and moves a mole (hopefully into a hole) the number indicated. These disks must all be used before a player shuffles and begins using them again. Knowing which disks have been used and which are to come offer the only measure of strategic thinking. For example, positioning a mole so that it is four moves from a hole will ensure that at when the “4 disk” is (finally) flipped, a mole is ready to jump into a digging hole. This shard of strategy may have to be pointed to younger children. But once it is understood, it can be helpful.
What is the replay-ability like?
The game boasts that “each digging layer can be turned in six different positions. Thus there are always new ways to dig downward.” This is a bit of a misnomer. Turning the hexes and changing the hole positions only nominally shift the game play. I would venture to say that one would not even notice that the set-up was any different from another. The bottom line: this game can only be re-played until you grow tired of it...or your children grow up; whichever comes first.
A word of caution...
Players can be eliminated from this game. Once all digging holes of a layer are filled with moles and removed, any moles still standing on that layer (that did not find a hole) are eliminated. Thus, on the next level one player may now have four moles remaining, another five, and another just one. But the fourth player (for example) may not have managed to find a hole for any of his moles. His game is therefore over. This adds a bit of fun tension for some children. Others may not be so impressed.
Mole in the Hole is straight forward and easy to learn. It is well made and it looks great. And as a children’s game, it is okay. (At least, there are a lot worse games out there.) Personally, it has never been one of my favourites, but I know of children who think it is pure fun. If you can look past the fact that potentially one might not even finish the game, there is some family fun to be had. It is not stellar, but it is not a disaster either. I give it a 6 out of 10.