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Jorge Montero
United States
St Louis
Missouri
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I'll take Manhattan in a garbage bag. With Latin written on it that says "It's hard to give a shit these days"
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El Juego de la Oca: The review

This ancient game is the reason that games like Candyland and Snakes and Ladders don't sell all that well in southern Europe. It's traditional roots and cheap price make it the most common kid's boardgame in Spain.

The game's designer is unknown. Some historians claim that the game originated during the crusades, and was originally played on a nautilus shell. The numbers where the negative actions are placed match numbers with special significance to the Templars, so this theory might not be far from the truth. What is well known is that Phillip II of Spain brought the game to the Iberian Peninsula, where it still as popular as it ever was.

Components
When referring to game components, I will be referring to the traditional copy of the game that you can find in 1 euro stores in Spain.

The board is a big, made of wood, about 40 cm square and 1 cm wide. One side of the board is used to play La Oca. The other side can be used to play Parchis(a.k.a Pachisi). The game's colorful art has not really changed in the last 40 years: The only difference between the newest boards and the one my grandmother used when she was a kid is that the newest versions have a few color changes to make the game more appealing to kids. Every single space in the board has its own unique picture: there are no boring, single colored spaces here.The board is too big to carry on trips, but the construction is sturdy enough that it will survive the clumsy hands of a toddler. It might be too sturdy: I've seen it used as a weapon by malicious 6-year olds.

The playing pieces, on the other hand, tend to be rather flimsy. Small, non descriptive plastic discs that come with a Parchis set. The box that holds the counters should probably be kept away from children: My sister ate more than a few pieces when she was 4. The dice are also choking hazards, having the same size as a the dice from those 32-D6 blocks you can find at most game stores.

Gameplay
This is a roll-and-move, zero decissions 'game'. The players roll the die, advancing the specified amount of spaces. There are many special spaces in the board that can make you go forward, allow you to roll again, skip your next turn, be unable to move unless you roll a certain amount of pips in the die, or even send you back to the beginning. Most of this special squares have a small rhime associated to them, that the players recite as they perform the special actions.

The most common of those special spaces has a goose, or in spanish, oca. Whenever someone lands in that space, he is moved to the next goose on the board, and can roll again. Other special spaces include, among others, 'La Muerte'(Death), that sends you back at the beginning, a Maze, that sends you to to square 30, two bridges that connect to each other, and let you roll again, a Jail, and the most feared of them all: the Well. In the cruel variant I was taught, if you fall into the well you lose your turn until somebody else falls into the well, to the desperation of the poor toddler that chances are he won't be able to even roll a die for the rest of the game.

Whoever lands exactly in the last square, number 64, is the winner, and can claim that his wonderful die rolling skills and mastery of the game's strategy are inferior to none. Laughing whenever you beat your son/little sister is not just allowed, but expected.

Why should I buy El Juego De La Oca?
To begin with, it's really, really cheap. The Spanish board also doubles as a Parchis board, so you really get two games for the price of one. Also, it's the best first boardgame that I've ever seen. It doesn't just teach how to take turns, and some basic arithmetic, but the rhimes and multitude of different pictures make this a much more interesting game than the competition. Also, there are few squares that send you backwards, so it is shorter and less frustrating than chutes and ladders. Only 64 spaces as opposed to 100 makes the game end much, much quicker, so even the smallest of kids won't get bored before the end of the game. After the kid outgrows the game, you can just flip the board over and play Parchis instead.

Why could I hate this game?
Thera are no decisions to be made in this game, so few adults ever want to play this. It's short enough that one playing is tolerable, but I don't see any serious gamer wanting to play this, ever.

Conclusion
In my opinion, this game has the privilege of being 'The Best of the Worst'. If I'm stuck playing a roll and move game with a little kid, I'd pick this one over the abysmal competition. Still not a game any serious gamer would ever want for himself.
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J Boyes
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Quote:
The board is a big, made of wood, about 40 cm square and 1 cm wide.


I'm guessing you mean 1 cm thick here?

Nice review!
 
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Philip Thomas
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mm, I have a commercial version. Some of the squares charge a 'toll'...I think everyone starts with some money tokens or similar.

The need to roll exact to land on 64 is very frustrating and was transferred by Waddingtons to their GO!The International Travel game, which is not very good...
 
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G. Gomez
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Goose squares: 5, 9, 14, 18, 23, 27, 32, 36, 41, 45, 50, 54 y 59.
"De oca a oca y tiro porque me toca"
(From goose to goose and I throw because I choose.)

Bridge: 6
"De puente a puente y tiro porque me lleva la corriente".
(From bridge to bridge and I throw because the current takes me.)

Hostel: 23

Well: 31

Labyrinth: 42

Dice: 26 y 53
"De dado a dado y tiro porque me ha tocado."
(From die to die and I throw because I might.)

Death: 58

I also looked for the explanation on the bettiong and found this:

Alternate Rule: At its height, the game became a gambling game. Each player made an ante, then each time any player landed on a special-marked space, each player added to the ante. The first player to be borne off, won the pool.

ADULT VARIATION: Goose can easily be converted into a gambling game. All players agree on whether to start with a predetermined amount of money. Players place a coin on the final square whenever they land on The Bridge, The Tavern, The Well, The Maze, The Prison, or Death. Whenever a player lands on another player and sends them back, the backwards moving player places a coin on the final square. If a player runs out of money, they're out of the game. First player to reach the final square collects the kitty.
 
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Mark Crane
United States
Orem
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One of the ravensburger editions has a very beautiful board and giant goose meeples, or "Geeples" that would be fun to own.
 
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Sander
Belgium
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This + Monopoly are the 2 main reasons why board games aren't popular around here.
 
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Reinhard S.
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Philip Thomas wrote:
mm, I have a commercial version. Some of the squares charge a 'toll'...I think everyone starts with some money tokens or similar.

The need to roll exact to land on 64 is very frustrating and was transferred by Waddingtons to their GO!The International Travel game, which is not very good...


One rule, to correct that, is the following:

If You can reach the final space 63 (not 64!) with the roll OF ONE of the dice, than You can do this.
If You cannot, then You have to move the combined number (meaning You have to count back after 63)
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