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The notice of race was announced early this morning and the course was set. Only 2 competitors made it to the table - myself with a duck dressed in racing garb, and my son, Andres (7.5 years old), with a bird dog duck. Rules for this am were the basic set - touch all three buoys and head to the home drain for the victory. We got in two races at the table today. The course for both races was the first example on the back of the rulebook - sort of a snowflake type of configuration.
The first race started off with Andres on a starting ring and his duck positioned facing towards him - I think this configuration threw him off a little and sure enough he had a tough time getting going. He got himself hung up in the one arm of the snowflake to his left and this gave me the opportunity to reach 2 bouys and get the bouy tokens before he even touched one. After my second buoy, I got hung up by a wall and didn't have good cards to reverse this action, leading to a couple of wasted turns. Andres by now was moving with purpose and grabbed his first buoy, landing directly on the spot giving him another turn immediately. Now that his duck was turned in the direction that he was actually facing himself he seemed to do much better. Before I knew it, he had his 2nd and then 3rd buoy and was heading to home before I even got to touch my last buoy. Sure enough, he reached the drain and won while I was at the spot right next to the last buoy. He was excited about his win as I was really winning so early and then just got sort of stuck. It was also a relatively fast game and thus encouraging to give a 2nd race a go.
For the 2nd race, I recommended that Andres start with the duck facing the same way he was so that he would have an easier time at the start. Andres started with his duck nearly in front of him and heading towards my area (towards my left side); I started with my duck in front of me and heading up the table towards Andres (and to his left). This race started with Andres and I getting our first buoys early. We both ended up heading towards empty starting rings hoping to keep ourselves headed towards our next targets. Unfortunately for me, Andres got to move first hitting the starting ring; as I was 1 move away from mine and headed straight for it, he decided to teleport right in front of me thus causing me to get bumped and turned 180 degrees - so now he is heading back towards himself and the buoy down there, while I am now heading towards myself and towards the buoy that I already have touched. He is able to reach the next buoy on the next turn, while I have to make another 180 degree turn to head towards the buoy near him (at this point I was stubborn and trying to get that particular buoy). Andres is now heading back towards me and the buoy on my side of the board, while I am heading towards him. Again, he gets the early move and sets himself up in my path causing me to get bumped again. I now decide to change directions and head towards the buoy that is more on my left (or Andres right side - the one he got to start this race). Somehow I get lucky and get the 2nd and then the 3rd just after he reaches his 3rd buoy. So I still have a chance here, and I remind him that we shouldn't give up until it's all over.
It's a Race to the drain (uh, Finish)!!!
It takes us both about 2 turns to get close, and this time I do draw the low number, but my card brushes me by the drain but doesn't let me touch it. His card takes him across the drain for the 2nd game victory.
The 2nd game turned out to be longer than the first and a somewhat different feel, even though we didn't change the board or our relative starting positions. In this game, however, we did both use the starting rings to allow the teleportation, even if it times it was to reposition the duck to a more optimal position.
I did help Andres out at times. A couple of times he chose a card that moved him the wrong direction from where he wanted to go (it seems as if he got confused by the orientation when the duck was coming towards him) and so I let him choose a different card and sometimes even pointed out a better card to choose.
However, I did not let him win, and I don't feel as if I made big enough decisions for him to feel as if I let him win it.
I got this game for Andres on his 6th bday and our previous play didn't go nearly well as this one did. It seems he is starting to get the idea of the programmed moves.
And at the end of the morning, I think he had a good time, which leaves me with a good feeling about our contest!!