Is Not Geddy Lee
Meeples - It is not really enough to just describe the meeples, the entire box becomes a castle! The bottom of the box has a plastic insert that holds all of the bits, and becomes the game board. The plastic insert contains rows of small pockets or holes that can hold pieces in. These holes are very important during the game play. You also have a two sided piece of cardstock that lays across the game box, creating a roof for the castle. Each side is designed to hold the roof tiles in a different pattern to help vary the game a bit. You then get a variety of different shaped roof tiles made of heavy cardstock with a nice print job of roofing tiles. There are also four folding cardboard pieces that insert into the corners of the box bottom and these become the starting towers. The mice are painted wood, brightly colored and detailed nicely. None of these pieces have chipped or broken over the hours and hours of play so far. Then you also get little cardboard chits with different types of cheese on them, you get larger cardboard chits that fit over the holes and under the roof cardstock. These are all produced very nicely and have withstood a lot of playtime.
Theme - You are a little mouse family that has taken over the abandoned chateau of a gourmet cheese collector. The chateau is full of dangerous holes in the floor, but the cheese is too tempting. The mice must search the chateau for matching pieces of cheese without falling into the holes. The theme works great and drives the entire game. The kids love the idea and so do the adults that have played it. I have seen in come out on game nights where there are no kids!
Rules - You get four actions each turn. You can look under an adjacent roof tile, move a space onto the roof, move a mouse onto a starting tower, or (just once per turn) take a large sliding tile and slide it under the roof, changing the board around. If you get two mice onto matching sliding tiles, you win that piece of cheese. First one to get four different pieces of cheese, wins. Of course, it is not that simple. The roof pieces that are exposed go back onto the game board if there are no mice on that section, the board pretty much changes constantly and you can’t see what has changed. Plus, some of the sliding tiles are really just holes. If one gets slid under your mouse, bye bye mouse!
Game Play - This game moves along at a good pace with a lot of laughter. There are multiple things that you have to try to remember and accomplish at the same time. It is not easy by any means, but not out of reach of younger players at all. Trying to balance the idea of accomplishing your goals, but also thwarting the other player’s goals is tough to do. The first few plays you may see the children trying to mainly get other mice into the holes, but they soon learn that that will not win you the game. Sometimes it is hard for the kids to keep count of their actions as a little analysis paralysis sets in. They tend to forget that looking under an adjacent roof counts as an action.
Educational Value - There is a lot going to this game and it helps kids learn how to divide their focus. There is a memory component to the game as well as abstract thought required in moving bits around. Strategy becomes important as players have to think beyond one move. Cause and effect are also an important part of the game. Do you really want to move your mouse next to a hole? The next player can slide that right under you! There is no reading component to this game, so younger players can join in the fun.
Adaptability - There are several things that can be done to make this game easier for younger or more inexperienced players. You can differ the amount of cheese that needs to be collected, make the older player get more, or the younger get less. You can add action points to the younger player’s turn. If you have young and new players, you can even leave pieces of the roof off so they can keep an eye on sections of the roof. You can’t really limit the number of sliding tiles with holes unless you make your own tile, but for some folks out there, that is an option!
Adult Fun Factor - This game has come out for table time even when there was no under 30 around! This is an absolute blast for the grown-ups to play. The varying gameboard will make every round different and even if an adult may quickly master the strategy, there is no accounting for what your opponent will do, so look out!
If you like this review, come see what we are up to at http://beyondcandyland.wordpress.com