Just received a used copy of Enchanted Forest from an eBay purchase, everything complete and in good shape, so it was time to test it out and see how appropriate it will be for the upcoming after school game club. So this is a review of the game based on playing it with kids who seem to be the intended audience.
THE HEAD’S UP
What a treat! I guess I should have known that an Alex Randolph game was going to be fun (his others include Ricochet Robot and Inkognito), wouldn’t it be nice if more designers took the time to make great kid games. This game plays quick, rewards good memory, has great pieces, and is fun.
Well it’s a Ravensburger game so of course everything is way above average here. The artwork is imaginative, the plastic trees are a treat to look at and pick up, and the cards are exceptionally thick so you know they will withstand a lot of playing (which is good, because this game will be seeing a lot of action).
The king is getting old and will reward the player who explores the enchanted forest and returns to the castle and reveals the locations of three magic treasures. The story is explained in detail in the rule book, and combined with the art on the board and cards, it all comes together in a very apt theme which helps explain the game quickly to the youngsters.
From 2 to 6 players, each grabs a token and starts in the village. The board is laid out in a forest, with the castle at the opposite end. 13 trees are scattered about, each with a different treasure hidden under its base. The trees are randomly distributed at the start. The 13 cards go on the castle with the top card face up.
Each play rolls 2 dice. You get to move twice: once for each die. You must move exactly the number on each die, so you might go past a tree etc. until you land on a tree space. If you do so, you get to turn the tree over and look at the treasure underneath it, but not showing the other players. When you think you’ve memorized enough trees, you head for the castle, which you need to land directly on in order to announce which tree you think has the treasure indicated by the top card. If you’re right, you show the other players and place the card in front of you. If you’re wrong, you return your piece to the village without showing the treasure to the other players. Either way, you return the tree to its location on the board. The first player to get 3 cards wins the game.
If you land on another player, you send them back to the village.
If you start your turn at the castle, you can remain there and guess another treasure location.
If you roll doubles, you may take move as usual, or do 1 of 3 magic things: move to the bridge near the castle (or move directly to the castle if you’re already past the bridge), re-shuffle the cards at the castle, or move to any tree space and look under the tree.
You need to balance memory (which treasure is under which tree) with timing (when should you go to the castle versus stopping the other players from doing so). I tried wandering around the forest and visiting several trees before heading for the castle. The kid went to the castle as soon as she got to a tree with the treasure matching the card (which happened right off the bat, apparently). I managed to land on her piece once, sending her back to the village, but she got back to the castle quick enough and claimed the first card. Then I got two cards in rapid succession, then she got one, and we were tied. We both wandered around some more but I got the last card. So even though we tried out two differently strategies, it was neck and neck the entire game.
At first glance, the fairy tale theme makes it seem like it will be just for girls, but the competitive nature of the game makes me think that boys will enjoy this as well. Probably not as good for the 5 year olds as I was hoping, and might need to stick to 8 years old like it says on the box, because of the need to remember where you saw the treasures out in the forest.
Took us about fifteen minutes for two players, although it would most likely take longer with 3 or 4 players. Very little down time for the other players as the turns go quickly.
To sum up: A lot of fun, plays in less than half an hour, wonderful art & bits, mostly a memory game for kids 8ish and over, but strategy is rewarded as well. This game is going to work at the game club!