Gaming With Kids #1: "Pique-Plume" and "Hop ! Hop ! Galopons !"

I'm beginning to get more experience in testing games on tiny human beings. Oftentimes more focus-challenged, and less interested in... tactiquery than middle-aged ones of the same species. Oftentimes. Recently we have started renting board games from a local-ish friendly game store here in Lyon. To remember what we have played and what we thought about the games we have played I started making a list. And then I figured, why not put the list on this blog, in case it can inspire others. (And so that I will be able to find the list again.) Maybe this will become a series. Who knows. Anyways, first out is a post on the two first games we rented - the grand classique Pique-Plume ("Chicken Cha Cha Cha" in English) and a game I had never heard of before, Hop ! Hop ! Galopons ! from Haba ("Hoppe Reiter" in original version.)

Pique-Plume

Pique-Plume is a game I've seen on many a list of recommendations for board games for kids. And since it has a kind of chicken-and-eggish theme, I figured it would be a perfect match for our Easter weekend. It is a really simple memory game with race mechanics. 

Overview

The play area consists of 24 egg shaped cards -- each with one of 12 different images -- that one places randomly in a circular path that the players will move on. The players' pieces are nice wooden chickens with initially one tail feather each. In the centre you have 12 face down octagon shaped cards -- one of each image that can be found on the path. On a player's turn she reveals a card from the center. If that is the same image that can be found on the first available card on the path in front of the player, the player can advance and play again. If it is another image, it is the turn of the next player. If a player overtakes another player he steals her tail feathers. The player that collects everyone's feathers win. That's all. And it's super efficient!

Components

The components are really nice. Huge wooden chicken shaped player pawns, nice playful drawings on cards of thick cardboard.

From what age?

The box says from 4 years of age, and that is probably right. The household's 3 year old was a bit overwhelmed, whilst the 5 1/2 year old had lots of fun.

Verdict

Like most memory games there's absolutely no downtime. Players have to focus all the time on what the others reveal so that one can use it on one's own turn. The really clever trick here is the race mechanics. The game is exciting till the end since a player can come from afar if he has a good memory. And this, I have discovered during my adventures in gaming,  kids excel at! (To have any chance to beat my five year old after a couple of games, I had to "cheat" by exploiting classic mnemonics...) I'd say there are great chances that this game will end up in our library... Thumbs up!

Hop ! Hop ! Galopons !

Next up is a game that I had never heard of, but were advised it could be good for the 3 year old. This is a rather classic race game with a small puzzle element.

Overview

The players control quite big wooden horses that should move 15 or so steps to the goal - their stable. But before being allowed to enter they'll have to collect all their 7 puzzle pieces - all things a horse would need; carrots, four horse shoes, etc. Each turn a player rolls two dice, one red one with numbers 1 to 3, and a blue one with the puzzle pieces. The players have to chose one of the dice to use. Should he chose to advance his horse, or fill his puzzle? Decisions! In a game for small kids. Excellent.

From what age?

The box says from 3 year and that seems quite right. It's not terribly deep, the decisions you take each turn is, obviously, not interesting enough to grab the attention of much older kids. The end result of the game is still pretty random, obviously.  (There are official rules you can add that lets you add barriers that the horses would have to jump over. This makes the decision ever so slightly more important.)

Components

Once again the components are really nice. Big wooden horses. Nice big dice. Thick cardboard board and puzzles with colorful thematic illustrations.

Verdict

The clever thing about this game is that it manages to present very young players with decision taking without making things too complicated. Most dice games for that age group is just about rolling dice and jumping. No choices, just random chaos. (Nothing wrong with that per se, of course. It still teaches younglings a lot.) This is a nice break from that. I think if we didn't have games like "Licornes dans les nuages" (even though that one, admittedly, lacks the element of decision taking) this would end up in our collection. Still, at least one and a half thumbs up!