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The HFoG Buyer's Guide

Children's Games

If you click on the Kids Games link on our site, what you get is a list of games that kids can play. As a general rule, if a manufacturer's recommended age range for a game dips to 10 or lower, we check the "kids game" box. But what most people think of when they think "kids game" is a game that's marketed specifically for children. And that's not quite the same thing.

So if you're specifically looking for a game that a younger player would enjoy, what should you look for? You probably want a relatively uncomplicated game. You also should look for a game that can be played in a relatively short amount of time (if your kids are like mine their attention spans are somewhat wanting). A child friendly theme wouldn't hurt. If the child has difficulty reading then you probably want a game that doesn't require much of it. But most importantly, you want a game that YOU would enjoy playing because chances are, you're going to be asked to play it a lot.

Gulo Gulo (Zoch Verlag - 2003)

Here's a game that is perfect for young fingers. Players try to steal wooden "eggs" from a nest (bowl) without setting off an alarm (knocking a stick to the table). Retrieve the egg without disturbing the nest and you get to move forward. Set off the alarm and you go back. This is one of those rare games that puts adults and kids on an even footing since their little fingers are so much smaller than yours. First rate production values and wonderful colors and artwork make it a perfect kids game.

Chicken Cha Cha Cha (Zoch Verlag - 1998)

Here's a game that is perfect for the younger kids. It's colorful and fun, simple to learn and play, and best of all, it's a game that your five year old might just be better at than you. This game rewards short term memory skills, something that most young kids are more blessed with than those of us in the older set, so it's not uncommon for a youngster to walk away with the victory.
Players march their colorful wooden chickens around a circular board (much like a cake walk) by revealing tiles that have the same picture as the space they need to move to. Whenever they pass another chicken, they steal its tail feathers. Get all the tail feathers and win the game!

Igloo Pop (Rio Grande Games - 2003)
Here is a simple game that both children and adults can enjoy. A dozen plastic igloos are placed in the center of the table. Inside each igloo is a different number of small glass beads. To win this game, players need to be able to tell, based on the sound each igloo makes when shaken, roughly how many beads are in each igloo. It's a fast and fun game that all ages can enjoy playing together.

Gouda! Gouda! (Descartes Editeur - 2002)

There are cheeses scattered about a simple board and each player has a team of mice. Choose a group of mice and roll a handful of special dice. For each green circle on the dice, you get to move a mouse forward; each red circle you move a mouse backward (you get to choose which). Collect the cheese before your opponents and you win!

This is a simple game that requires no reading. It can be quite random and chaotic which tends to be good for kids, not so good for adults. But there is also a set of tiles that you can use for a more advanced game that allows you to alter the rolls of the dice a few times during the game. This results in a slightly more strategic game.

Kids of Catan (Mayfair Games/Kosmos - 2003)

If your young children are jealous of the older group getting to play Settlers of Catan, then this may be just the ticket. Kids of Catan is a resource gathering game that retains a little bit of the flavor of Klaus Tueber's seminal game. Unfortunately, it's been really simplified. So much so that there are almost no choices that can affect the outcome of the game. Almost everything rests on the roll of a large die. But compensating for that is the fact that the game board is a very clever revolving wheel and the pieces are large colorful wooden buildings, people and resources. You may very well find your kids just playing with the pieces, constructing villages and walking their colorful people down to the town hall. There's no reading required and a game typically lasts about fifteen minutes. My kids love it!

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