Rapid Reviews: Children’s Games

I sat down with my two girls (4 and 6) to explore a couple of games I thought would be engaging, creative and maybe even a little bit educational. All the games are fairly simple with a small rule set and played fast and easy. However, not every game walked away a winner and at least one was sacrificed to the Almighty Glow-Cloud (All Hail the Glow-Cloud!) in an arcane ritual. Today’s games are Last Letter, a word game from Think Fun, Jungle Speed Safari, a dexterity game from Asmodee, and Enchanted Forest, a memory/strategy game from Ravensburger.

Last Letter from ThinkFun

last letterEase of Play: The premise of the game is simple: from your hand of 5 cards, you need to play a card and blurt out a word associated with the card that starts with the last letter of the card previously played. So when a player lays down a card on the table and says a word related to the scene on the card, everyone scans the richly illustrated and usually rather chaotic card images in their hand to find a word (1) describes the scene and (2) starts with the last letter of the last word stated. However, if you take too long, someone else will play one and thus change the letter you are searching to use. It comes down to a quick-thinking, vocabulary and the ability to manage and focus stress into vocabulary.

Quality: The cards were over-sized and of a thick, high quality stock. Which is rather necessary for a kid’s game where players will be fumbling, slapping-down and dropping cards left and right. The illustrations are a mix between Dixit and Where’s Waldo. The cards have some wonderful illustrations from a few different artists so there are plenty of images to explore and concepts to develop. If you were looking to find some storytelling cards then these would work fine as well. In fact, my 3 and 5 year old (younger than the recommended target age for the game) were completely happy to explore the images, talk about them and then craft interesting narratives from the images.

Fun:  With the artistically rendered images, the quick game-play, small size, and fast pace, this game was a hit with my girls and with any gaming group it was introduced to.

Bottom Line:  I recommend this game and it will not be sacrificed to the Almighty Glow-Cloud. The images are not as whimsical as the ones in Dixit and provides a more obvious and less surreal narrative. I like this game as an introduction to Dixit for younger children. The game itself is not all that interesting and the mechanism of building a bank of words related to a similar theme by linking the last letter of a previous word to the first letter of a new word is relatively well known. This games succeed through the artwork. If the images were too crowded and busy, then the game would be rendered too difficult and bulky for young children. But as it stands, they are perfect.


Jungle Speed Safari from Asmodee

jungle speedEase of Play: The premise of this game is pretty basic. Set up the drum-shaped totems in the middle of the table equidistant from all the players (this is important!). Then deal the cards out equally to each player. The cards will be flipped over on the player’s turn and then resolved. Make sure the player flips away from himself so as to not tempt him into cheating through peaking (This is even more important!). Then when the cards is flipped, depending on the color of the card certain things need to happen to win the card (this is the most important thing yet!).

  • So, if the animal has a blue background, quickly grab the food it eats.
  • But if it has a red and white electrically shocking background then quickly impersonate the animal. The last person to do so, losing a card from their score pile.
  • However, if the card is a chameleon, touch the totem of the correct color (or play a different version where you touch something close by of the same color — this can get rather touchy with adult audiences).
  • If you flip a hunter, you try to slap a score pile before the player can cover their cards with their hand.
  • Finally, if the animal has a white background…do nothing.

Quality: Everything in this game is fairly well constructed. The totems are nice and sturdy but could be a bit heftier. More energetic players will easily send these things off the table, rolling across the floor, flung out of windows…

Fun: So, I have fun playing this game but I have to admit that the white cards are just dull. When these are flipped the players do absolutely nothing so it is sort of a wasted turn and a few in a row really (REALLY) ruins the momentum of the game. However, the game still functions well as both a kid’s game, a nice filler for adult, and as an awesome opener for a pub game night (although drinks are guaranteed to be spilled). The chaotic nature of the game is a blast and it is one of my favorite dexterity games since it also includes a bit of acting (with the animal impersonations). Due to the chaotic nature of the game though, it is helpful to have a moderator to make judgment calls on some of the closer calls. With kids this isn’t that big a deal…with people in a pub? Yeah, it can be a bit contentious.

Bottom Line: This game is fantastic and it has become a standard in my game bag that I take with me to gaming events (children, teens, or adults) and to the library or pub. It would not be sacrificed to the Great Glow Cloud! Another nice benefit of Jungle Speed Safari is that, for a dexterity game, it is very quick to set up for multiple plays.


 The Enchanted Forest by Ravensburger

the enchanted forestEase of Play: Players are searching for one specific magical or mystical item from a popular fairy tale. These are hidden under a specific tree in the enchanted forest. Roll dice, move your pawn and try to land on the spots marked as a tree. Then peek underneath and see what you find. Get to the castle as quickly as possible when you believe you know where it is and then make your deduction. Wait…roll dice? Yes. Roll dice. This is a roll and move game. The players roll two dice and then use each dice independently to move around the board. They don’t add together so players get, for the most part, two moves. This makes hitting the spots marked with tree much easier but still…it feels antiquated. The player to first find and reveal to the king, three treasures wins.

Quality: Meh. It has a definite mass market feel to it. The cardboard pieces are flimsy and I’d almost prefer cards. The frees are nice and the pawns are fine. It just, overall, had nothing particularly amazing about it.

Fun: It wasn’t…at all. My 3 year old left and my 5 year old barely made through one round of searching for the first treasure. The mechanism are really feeling their age and with games like Baba Yaga and The Three Little Pigfrom Asmodee or Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule! from Game-O-Gami, the Enchanted Forest isn’t feeling all that magical anymore. For example, Baba Yaga has similar memory/matching elements with the addition of dexterity elements and drops any dice rolling.

Bottom-Line: Oh dear, I feel that the Almighty Glow Cloud may have it’s first victim. This game (while a Spiel de Jahres winner) just doesn’t cut it anymore. It had a tough time keeping the kids occupied and it wasn’t interesting enough for adults.

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