Recommend
16 
 Thumb up
 Hide
4 Posts

Quicksand» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Playing with Kids: Quicksand rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: kids [+] [View All]
Isaiah Tanenbaum
United States
Brooklyn
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Explanation
So I'm an actor in NYC, which means of course that I also have five other jobs, jobs that actually pay my rent. Chief among these dayjobs is my position as an after-school Hebrew teacher. At my synagogue, before class starts, we have downtime as the children trickle in from their various schools. And what better way to fill downtime than with some good board games? This is the first in a (hopefully) ever-expanding feature where I review the games I've played with the kids (grades 3-6), specifically focused on their reactions. I hope it helps those of you out there with a child who's too old for Chutes and Ladders and too young for, say, Twilight Imperium.

Reality Check
(Comparing the manufacturer's information with the facts on the ground)

"Suggested Age: 8+"
There is no text at all in the game, which meant literacy was not an issue. The symbols and colors were easily explained and clear; after a few rounds my mixed group of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders was buzzing along with little or no input from me. So I found this assessment to be mostly accurate, although I think many 8-year-olds would have difficulty with the finer points of the secret-identity thing (one 9 year old had some trouble with it). Given the few factors in play, a precocious 12-year-old should be able to compete on the level of adults in this game.

"Playing Time: 20 Minutes"
Quick playing time is very important for the short attention spans of youngsters, and fortunately the estimation of 20 minutes is also accurate. This game sets up in no time and plays very fast. It might run a bit longer if you're not an efficient shuffler, however, since like in Ticket to Ride, cards tend to get discarded in groups and need to come out randomly. We went through the deck about twice during our five-player game.

Components
(Will the bits attract and keep children's attention? Will they stand up to the heavy use kids will put them through? Are they clear or confusing?)



The first reaction of many of these all-too-cynical NY kids was that this was clearly a movie-based game (Indiana Jones) and therefore couldn't possibly be any good. I had to repeatedly assure them that although the title font and theme were similar, the game had nothing to do with that franchise (which I still remember being cool rather than a brainless summer action flick, but that's another story). Once they got over their initial skepticism, the bright, colorful board and nifty wooden pawns quickly drew their attention. They all immediately wanted to know what this or that icon meant, and I was only too happy to explain.

I had been worried that kids might pick a favorite character (the guy with the knife! the svelte lady biologist!) and be disappointed not to get to play it, but in practice found that they were quickly mollified by the nifty idea of a secret identity; every child wants to be a spy or superhero.

The wooden pieces and strong-enough board will stand up to many plays, but young children will probably need to be told to go easy on the cards, as they tend to grip them very tightly and bend them.

Overall the components are a clear plus for this game. But does it play well?

Gameplay
(Is it too complex/not complex enough? Can you play it with your child? How does it feel when playing?)

The rules are excellently straightforward and well-presented, although it did take a few rounds for the wild-card idea to sink in -- at first, one child thought it meant he could move his piece as far as he liked. Also, the directional arrows caused trouble for many of them through the first half of the game (especially since they're hard to see when the pawns are clustered together at the beginning).

As the game went on, the children quickly realized that they should stomp the leader by playing quicksand cards on him and that it was in their interests to burn cards to move the player in last place. They also made limited use of the board to ditch useless cards, but not as much as saavy adults would.

Accusations of which character was being played by which child flew fast and furious, and were on the whole pretty accurate. Children in this age group aren't particularly good at bluffing, so this meant that luck-of-the-draw (and one kid who decided he was tired of the game and purposely threw it!) dictated the winner as much, or more, than effective playing. My guess is that as they become more experienced and confident with the gameplay, they will become better at misdirecting one another.

You can speed up this process if you play one-on-one with your child. Challenging them to guess your identity based on a specific play or series of plays is a great way to encourage them to develop their game-playing bluffing abilities, which makes this an excellent bridge from basic play-and-move games like Candy Land into more complicated deduction-and-bluff games like Inkognito, Werewolf, or (eventually) Mystery of the Abbey.

Even though (or perhaps because) strategy was a bit thin, there was a great deal of interest in continuing play until everyone had made it to the finish line, but we were out of time. Most of the children were thrilled to hear that we would be playing again in the future, which as far as I'm concerned sells me on the gameplay.

Teaching Moments
(What skills might this game help me teach my child)

I've already mentioned bluffing and deduction, which are the primary skills that this game uses and thus, can build. Learning to use the board to block opponents or allow the discard of useless cards (or best of all, both!) will help your child with pattern recognition, visualization, and short-term planning. Finally, your child will develop some light priority-setting skills when choosing between moving his pawn, another's, or quicksanding based upon the changing circumstances of play and the cards in his hand.

Concluding Thoughts
I would heartily recommend this game as a great restaurant time-killer, pre-bedtime activity, or done-with-homework reward. It's fast, light, and simple, and the secret identity gimmick pushes it past a lot of similar games.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John W
United States
Sacramento
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great to see more Playing with Kids reviews! thumbsup

From my experience, even 6 year olds can play Quicksand (mechanics). 8+ is way too high IMO.

However, the deceptiveness and savvyness of keeping your identity secret in game moves and guessing the other players based on their moves is something that probably would be much older in age - perhaps as high as 12+.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Isaiah Tanenbaum
United States
Brooklyn
New York
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Agreed. Certainly any child that can play Candy Land (match and move), and understands the concept of a wild card, can mechanically work their way through Quicksand. But the deception is the hook for this game, and that requires, at minimum, an 8-year-old's understanding of the difference between internal knowledge and shared knowledge, even if they're a bit young to manipulate the difference effectively.

They'll probably get trounced once their 12-year-old siblings (or adults, of course) get the hang of good misdirection, a layer to the game where 8-year-olds can't really compete.

The neat thing about the game is that most 8-year-olds are going to be competitive against most other 8-year-olds, while 12-year-olds will do well against other 12-year-olds. This means that a group of like-aged kids (perhaps with an adult nearby to guide them and keep them from getting sore) is a perfect audience for this game.

Yet even in a mixed-age group, luck and the stop-the-leader design will help keep things competitive.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
JP LaChance
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sounds like this one worked out well for you.
you might also want to try Heimlich & Co. and Scotland Yard if you want to stay in the "deduction game" segment.

After those maybe For Sale would work very well.

best of luck

Jon
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.