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A game that I despised as a child was "Mother May I?", in which one player was the "mother" and basically dictated to the other kids how many steps they could take. Much arguing then would ensue over just whether Johnny was taking "baby" steps or "giant" steps. As soon as I read the rules to Step To It (Gamewright Games, 2007 – Karsten Adlung), I was reminded of this, because the argument over step size is bound to come up. Players are attempting to walk to different objects in the house in a certain amount of steps, which is action oriented yet prone to disagreement.
However, with young children, I noticed very little arguing at all and, indeed, would rate Step To It very highly for those in lower elementary. My kids loved it – it's a game in which players are active around the house. Additionally, it's a good educational tool, as it promotes shapes, colors, and beginning letters. Step To It is certainly a children's game, but it's a fun one with neat components and does well keeping the attention of young folk.
A pile of step cards is shuffled, and then twice as many as the number of players are placed in a circle on the table. A deck of goal cards is then shuffled and the same number of cards is placed randomly in the middle of the circle. The player with the most colorful socks goes first, and then play proceeds to the left.
On a player's turn, they ask the player to their left how many steps they are given. The player picks one of the outside step cards and names that number. A few of the cards say "3-20" – these allow a player to pick any number in that range. Some cards also say "hop" or "jump", which dictates HOW the player will move. After receiving a number of steps, the player then picks one of the middle cards, standing up from the table, and walking to an object that
- Matches the card
- Is the same color as a color card
- Is the same shape as a shape card
- Starts with the same letter as on the card.
The player then stands up and must walk (or hop or jump) to their goal in the exact amount of steps that are mentioned. If this happens, players keep both the step card and another step card from the leftovers. Otherwise, the player must try again, keeping only one step card if they succeed. If the player fails after the second try, they get no cards. The next player in clockwise order then takes their turn.
Play continues until all the step cards have been taken from the circle. The player with the most step cards is the winner with ties going to the player who has the highest numbered card. Players can try variations where the other player picks the goal instead of the number of steps, and younger kids don't have to jump (although why you wouldn't keep that for little kids is beyond me.)
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: Step To It box's size is set to match the other games from Gamewright, but it's much larger than necessary. Still, it's brightly colored and matches the very kid-like artwork on the cards. The step cards are shaped like the sole of a foot; and both they and the goal cards are of a very thick stock, making them very easy for young fingers to handle without tremendous mangling. The pictures are also very easy for young people to recognize and distinguish between. When set up, it's very appealing to children.
2.) Rules: The rulebook is five pages long, with lots of illustrations and very clear explanations of how to play. The game is easy to teach, especially with a visual demonstration on exactly what to do for smaller children.
3.) Physical: The game might be difficult or even impossible in small apartments or houses, where walking anywhere might be trouble. But for most people, there should be plenty of room, and kids will love the fact that they aren't stuck in a chair for the entirety of the game. Hopping nineteen steps might be a bit strenuous for Grandpa, but most of the game is easy going – fun for little child and parent alike.
4.) Ages: The rules say that the game is for ages five and up; but with a little help even younger children will do fine with the game, as long as they can count. There could possibly be some strategy when picking the step card for the current player, but most kids will simply pick a number they like.
5.) Stepping and Fun Factor: My only concern about the game is the same problem that I had with the "Mother May I" game, and that's with people who basically cheat with their steps. The rules say that a player must take even steps, but older children are going to stretch this to whatever definition that you imagine. Younger children may do this also but are also more likely to play fair, cementing Step To It solidly as a game for younger children and their parents. Of course, the actual physical movement is the most fun part of the game for the kid crowd, and having a double chance to get to the target makes the pain of "missing" not so bad.
The target audience here is obvious: kids from the ages of four to ten, along with their families. It's a great family game, as everyone identifies the target objects in their houses, and then gets up and walks to them. While the novelty factor may die out if played too often, I found Step To It to be a nice game that combines physical activity with a simple kids game.
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Another great review Tom. I would concur about this being a good game with kids. It can also work with a family full of adults (like mine) if you pre-establish that you'll be very loose on the judgement of step sizes. Of course anyone trying to "game" this system has missed the point entirely.
I really do have to applaud Gamewright's efforts to get the family up out of their seats and playing more active games. The ingrained laziness in our culture is just one of the reasons that my wife and I recently invested in the Wii (Video Games + Exercise = Perfect!)