Friday, December 26, 2008


Subject: General
Category: Preschool
Ages: 5 and up
# of players: 3 or more
Time to play: 20 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: dice rolling

Ratings (1 to 5)

Educational Value: 2
Gaming value: 1
Aesthetic value: 3
Price value: 3
Ease of play: 5
Younger adaptability: 4

My comments: Left Center Right is a game that requires each person to know the difference between their left and their right and that is precisely why I purchased it. While I don't think the game is intended for preschoolers, I categorized it that way because it is really great for anybody who needs practice figuring out their left from their right, like my 4yo who just received it in her Christmas stocking.

You can purchase this game in a tube or a tin although I have found the tube to be less expensive and even better, I'm sure you can figure out how to make a version of your very own for next to nothing. The components include 3 dice, each one with an L, an R, a C and 3 dots on the remaining three sides as well as about 20-25 small poker or bingo chips. There is absolutely no strategy involved in playing this game, it is merely rolling the dice and passing your chips either to the left, right or into the center pot. Again, good for the preschooler who needs directional practice and who just needs time playing something that requires him to follow instructions.

Because it is so compact and is quick to play, you can get it out while waiting at the doctor's office or the airport or while waiting for the next game to start. link to this game:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Have You Herd?

Subject: General
8 and up
# of players: 2-4
Time to play: 30 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: dice rolling and set collection

Ratings (1 to 5)

Educational Value:
Gaming value: 4
Aesthetic value: 5
Price value: 5
Ease of play: 5
Younger adaptability: 4

My comments: Unfortunately, you really have to stretch quite a bit to find the educational value in this game. I say "unfortunately" because other than educational value, Have You Herd is a great game in every other category.

There is a little strategy involved but mostly this game is based on the roll of the dice. The best time to use it is when your children are learning the concept of trading value and even dollar value although there is no money involved. One of the hardest things to get across to young children is that all coins are not created equal nor is all paper money and this game gives them a little practice in trading and learning that they have to trade more items to get a higher valued animal, ie. not everything in life has a one for one value.

Have You Herd is played with a pair of 12-sided dice and 52 animal tiles consisting of rabbits, sheep, pigs, cows, horses and two special animals: the guard dogs and the skunk. Throughout the game you roll to collect more tiles, each one representing a herd. On each turn you have opportunities to trade up for more expensive animals. With 5 rabbits you can trade up for one sheep and for 2 sheep you can trade up for one pig and so on. In the end you want to have one of each herd to win. The strategy comes in when you are trading, for example, it's a good idea to trade for a guard dog early on in the game if you can because he will protect your herds when the fox or the wolf are rolled.
This is an enjoyable game to play, requiring no set up time and is very easy to learn. In fact I'm not sure why the recommended age is 8 and up, I would gauge it at 6 and up without adapting any of the rules. The packaging is compact, everything fits into an adorable 3x6 inch silo. Finally a manufacturer that understands my distaste for wasteful, unnecessary packaging. :) link to this game:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Totally Gross, The Game of Science

Subject: Science
Category: General
Ages: 8 and up
# of players: 2 to 4
Time to play: 60 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: Trivia

Ratings (1 to 5)

Educational Value: 5
Gaming value: 2
Aesthetic value: 2
Price value: 3
Ease of play: 5
Younger adaptability: 2

My comments: Science games are hard to come by, so given the scope of what is available, this game is pretty good. Based on the "gross" theme that has been in vogue for the past few years (as if our children won't be interested in science otherwise,) the game does have a good amount of trivia covering both physical and life sciences.

You roll and move around the board and either answer a trivia question or complete a "totally gross" challenge in order to stretch a piece of "slime" 10 spaces (more about the slime later.) The challenges are as simple as showing your "abs" to as gross as making the noise of peeing, burping, and farting (I got that one and my 3 boys were literally rolling on the floor with laughter. I suppose I could have passed on that one.) Once you do that, you get to the lab so you can perform an experiment in order to answer the winning question. If you don't happen to have the materials needed for the experiment (though you most likely will) then you can just pick another experiment.

Like most educational games, the components are flimsy for the price. The board is nice, but that's all. The "slime" doesn't really stick or stretch well enough so we use other markers instead. The playing pawns are small standard pieces; nothing with a fun science theme. The cards maybe have the thickness of an index card. Really, for the $20+ price tag these companies should be able to put better components in their games. The game does provide a good amount of trivia, challenges, and experiments to make this game playable for awhile. link to this game: