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Subject: Don't Drop Anything, Little Raven! rss

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Mark Casiglio
United States
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ConnCon 2018 March 23, 24, 25 in Stamford, CT
I find it hard to write a review of a child's game because it was not designed for me. Of course, a successful children's game will hold an adult's attention too, even if for only a little while and this one did a fine job of that ... for a little while.

One of the biggest complaints about childrens games is that they lack meaningful decisions. This is with purpose, I think. Young children are already struggling to learn concepts like turn-taking and fair-play (not to mention colors, counting, reading, etc). Adding too much strategy at that level makes it a failed game in my opinion. On the other hand a game is no fun unless it is being played so the best ones will find enough balance to interest the adults without losing the child. I think this game does a fair job of that.

*Disclaimer* I did my best to translate the rules via babelfish and I feel we played something fairly close to the intended game, however there may have been errors. The course of the gameplay as we understood it involved rolling a die with six different colors on it. If a red, blue, green or yellow side came up, the player placed an item of that color onto the Little Raven. There are also a purple and black side to the die. Not knowing what these represented, we decided that we would count them as 'wild cards' and the player could choose any item.

The Bits -- the artwork on the bits is wild and colorful and cartoonish. When I brought a stack of games over to my friends' house the other day, this box immediately caught the attention of their four-year old daughter. The cardboard pieces are very sturdy, but on the other hand I can't imagine them standing up to repeated rough play, either.

The Theme -- The Little Raven is moving and is supposed to carry all his items to his new nest without dropping anything. The theme is weak by adult standards, but the four year-old who played with us giggled throughout and kept repeating "He wants to carry everything at once!!!", so it obviously appealed to her very well. She also speculated on what she would name Little Raven, so that speaks well of the attractiveness of the main game piece.

The Gameplay -- similar a number of other games, the point is to place the colored objects on the Little Raven figure without knocking the others off. It takes a fair amount of concentration and dexterity for a child and even some of us adults were given perplexing tasks at some points. The various items come in different shapes and sizes (everything from a ladder to an umbrella to a pillow to some kind of cake-like object). There is certainly a level of strategy there for a four-year old to grasp, like that certain objects (the ball, the pillow) are going to be much more difficult to place and are better left for opponents, while some items (like the ladder) can be placed in such a way as to create more spaces for items to be hung.

We played four rounds together in under an hour and none of the adults were fed up. "Thank you," her father whispered to me "this is a LOT better than Candyland." After four rounds the girls were happy to take the game over to the childrens table and continue the game and stayed focused long enough to allow the adults to play some Tigris & Euphrates. That's a winner in my book.

Over all not a bad children's game. I'm not an expert on the subject and I'm sure there are probably better ... but I most certainly know there are worse. I'm not sure the parts are going to stand up to a year or two of repeated play with kids ... but then again that can be said of most games played by children under five. You should see what her Candyland cards look like.
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