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Subject: In praise of The Secret Door rss

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Julie Taylor
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I've been spending a LOT of money lately on games that I can enjoy with my kids (ages 4&2). I've amassed a collection of perhaps 25 games in the last two months. Most are quite highly ranked here at BGG, Gulo Gulo, Loopin Louie, Chicken Cha Cha, etc. But so far, my favourite is The Secret Door. That could be a factor of the particular personalities involved, or the limitations of my children's ages, or it could be just a good little game that, due to it's cooperative nature, levels the playing field.

You have 12 pairs of valuables hidden (images on chits turned upside down) throughout your mansion, as well as twelve clocks. Before you place them you take three (valuables, not clocks) out randomly and place them behind the Secret Door, this is what the robbers have stolen. On your turn, you turn over 2 chits, if they match, then you've found those treasures. By the end of the game you can deduce what three things are behind the Secret Door. However, as you are turning the chits over, you will come across the clocks and they get placed at the top to signify the passage of time. At either the last clock, or the solution of the mystery the game is over. If you haven't figured it out by the last clock, you get a guess at what is behind the door, and if you have any right, you have won that item back from the robbers (presumably they tripped and dropped it or something.)

-because we play cooperatively, my daughter will resist the urge to change the rules to work in her favour as she does in every other game (ultimately making every great game we own really boring.)
-because the distribution of clocks to valuables is on the board and not by luck of the dice it almost always leads to a tense game. If you do well right off the top, you know that there is now more possibility of pulling a clock. Likewise if you get hammered by clocks at the start, you know that you'll find some valuables soon.
-you can play it solitary if necessary or with a group of people.
-the theme is really fun, and you can make "Bong" noises at the clock and a "creeeeeeeak" sound when you open the door.
-my adult friends have enjoyed it just as much as the children have (because it can be quite tense.)
-it can allow for partial victories, which is really helpful for children.
-it can be tricky figuring out if the three items are each unique, or one of a kind and a pair.
-the length of the game is perfect for children or a 2am end of night filler with groggy friends.

The Cons
-the chits are kind of flimsy and the production value just isn't up to par with the other games mentioned above or something by Haba or Selecta. That said, it's $15 as opposed to $30-$40 which means that I WILL be buying it for birthday parties and for my daughter's classroom at the end of the school year.

Ultimately, it is a kids game, but one that my family and friends REALLY enjoy. The theme is immersive and we love being able to play as a team rather than in competition. And it will make your kids do that little squeeling noise that they do when they're all excited.
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Bob Kohut
United States
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The Secret Door is the best memory match-the-pairs out there. Move up now to Schlauer Bauer.
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Mark Jackson
United States
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Am I a man or am I a muppet? If I'm a muppet then I'm a very manly muppet!
BobKo wrote:
The Secret Door is the best memory match-the-pairs out there.

It's nice to see someone else who likes The Secret Door - it is, IMHO, the best of the Family Pastimes games.

BTW, BobKo is actually talking about Schlauer Bauer.

But for my money, you've got three very good choices that aren't that difficult to find here in the States:

1. Dish It Up!
2. My Haunted Castle otherwise known as Das Geisterschloss
3. Eureka!

All three use memory in slightly different ways:
- DISH IT UP has you match tiles in a tableau with orders on your cards - as you're a waiter at a diner.
- HAUNTED CASTLE has you match tiles up with pictures on the board... but the tiles move if you turn them over & haven't guessed correctly.
- EUREKA has you move a pawn across a tableau of tiles searching for 4 different gold veins - remembering what is (or isn't) at each spot can make the search much easier.

All three of them are a lot of fun!
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Sandie Fletcher
New Zealand
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marvellous little game..components need laminating, but fun fun fun.. 5&6 can get mum and dad to play this one.... and dad is a tough nut...

finally something my 5 year old who hates wining games
- she wins, 6 year old gets hystericalarrrh
can relax and enjoy.

hard to find in nz but worth adding to your kids selection..

nice review thanks!!
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