Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Kiddie playtime

Yes, it's a boardgame post. Wait Limpy, wait! It's a post that you might want to check out. I'll try to keep it short.

While we were visiting our families in Buffalo we got to try out the games we bought for our nieces this past X-Mas. When it comes to kids' games we have to pick them by description and reviews since we don't have any. Kids or kids' games. We got them 2 noteworthy games. The first:

Gulo Gulo: You spend most of this game trying to pull little wooden eggs out of a bowl without knocking over a top-heavy stick that's balanced among all the eggs. There's a bit of strategy as to which egg you should try to grab but it's really a dexterity game. And one that your kids will kick your butt at. The eggs were not designed to be picked up by giant adult sausage fingers. Tiny, waiflike kids' fingers however: perfect. It's fun though and it's been suggested that adults should play this game while drinking. We didn't try it that way but I can see the possibilities.

The real reason for this post:

Pick Picknic: Watch the spelling if you try to find a copy. This should make the search easier.
In Pick Picknic there are a number of chicken yards (depending on the number of players) and each yard starts out with one piece of corn in it. There are 3 different colors of corn and each color is of a different value. At the beginning of each round everyone has a hand of 5 cards. Everyone chooses 1 or 2 cards (again based on the number of players) from their hand and places the card(s) face down in front of them. Once everyone has chosen their card(s) the players reveal their choices. Here's how it works: The cards each have one of three things on them. A chicken (with a value between 3 and 6), a fox (with a value between 4 and 6), or a fleet fowl which is a special chicken with a value of -2. Each card is also of a color that matches one of the chicken yards. As everyone knows, chickens eat corn. If you're the only player to play a chicken of a color you eat all the corn in that color chicken yard. So if you're the only player to play a green chicken you get all the corn in the green chicken yard and those corn cubes are worth points at the end of the game. If more than one person plays a chicken of the same color those players can roll a die and add the value of their chicken to their roll. Highest total wins. So if I play a green chicken with a value of 4 and you play a green chicken with a value of 6 then we can roll to see who wins all the corn in the green chicken yard. As another option, instead of rolling we can make a deal regarding how to split up the corn in the green yard. For example, you might say, "How about if I take the 2 yellow corn (worth 3 each) and the 1 blue corn (worth 2 each) and you take the 2 green corn (worth 1 each)?" Since I'm probably going to lose completely if we roll for it I just might take this deal and then you don't run the risk of bad luck with the dice and get nothing for your high-valued chicken. Pretty neat and easy enough for kids to grasp.
There are foxes of each color as well. If you play a fox of a color and one or more people have played chickens of that color your fox eats the chickens. You take their chicken cards and the value of their cards is points for you at the end of the game. There's nothing better than eating a green 5 chicken and a green 6 chicken with a single green fox. 11 points for me and no corn for you! The foxes don't eat corn so the corn stays in the yard for next round. The foxes are also greedy and should 2 players play foxes of the same color they can't choose to split up their chicken dinner. They have to roll for it. Choosing when to play your foxes is a key part of the game. See, every round another corn is added to each chicken yard. If a chicken just ate the corn from a yard then there will only be one corn in that yard. Not too valuable. But if no one has played a chicken of a particular color for a few rounds or if foxes have eaten the chickens of that color when they were played then the chicken yards can get quite a bit of corn on them. So if there's a bunch of corn in the green chicken yard and you've got a green fox, this might be a good time to play your fox since someone with a green chicken is probably eyeing up the big haul of corn. Of course the people with chickens know what the people with foxes are thinking so they become a little leary about playing their chickens. It's a great little game of cat and mouse, so to speak. But sooner or later somebody will go for that pile of corn and they just have to hope nobody plays a fox.
Oh, I almost forgot the fleet fowl. These are a special type of chicken with a value of -2 on them. If you play a fleet fowl you get to grab a green corn cube from the appropriate color chicken yard before anything else happens. So if someone else played a chicken of the same color as your fleet fowl you still snag one green corn and then the other player gets the rest. If you're the only person to play on that color you still get all the corn for yourself. Even better, if someone plays a fox of the same color as your fleet fowl you get to grab a green corn from the chicken yard before the fox eats your chicken. The player who played the fox still takes your fleet fowl card into his pile of points but the fleet fowl is worth negative points to him so that's great for you all around.
In case you haven't guessed I just loved this game. I would definitely recommend it for anyone with kids about 6 and up. Little ones will need help with the adding up of the corn cubes and eaten chickens at the end since totals can get into the 50's or 60's. Kids that young won't get the strategy of it but the cards and chicken yards are really cute and the rules are easy enough for them to get the hang of quickly. The game only takes about 15 minutes so even their limited attention spans can stay with the game from beginning to end. I would also play Pick Picknic with adults. It's a light game but there are plenty of decisions to make and you can do a bit of card counting to help minimize your risk when you want to play your chickens. And since it's so short and silly you'll probably want to play again. I know I do. I'm definitely going to buy a copy for our collection.


limpy99 said...

Those do seem to beat another night of Sorry! and kid's monopoly. I'm going to check that web-site out and see if we can replace some of our other games.

Phollower said...

I really do recommend it. Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to shudder and pretend to have some project to work on when the kids said, "Daddy, can we play a game?"

limpy99 said...

I usually just say "Daddy's too drunk" No sense lying to them.

Phollower said...

Good idea. Rather than shudder and pretend to have a project, you can shudder and get the shakes as if you lived in the projects. I get it.