Monday, August 10, 2009

Chateau Roquefort

Subject: General
Category: n/a
Ages: 6 and up
# of players: 2 to 4
Time to play: 30 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: Memory

Ratings (1 to 5)

Educational Value: 3, especially younger players
Gaming value: 4
Aesthetic value: 4
Price value: 3
Ease of play: 3 (takes a bit to learn)
Younger adaptability: 5

My comments: This is a really nice game to buy your 6 year old, and it should be for the price, though you will likely find yourself playing with friends after he goes to bed. The game comes with 4 sets of hefty, solid, good-sized mice, roof tiles, a waffle-like board, field tiles pictured with stones or cheese on them (3 of each type of cheese), 3 field tiles with holes in them, and smaller cheese markers to collect. It is interestingly packaged in that the bottom of the box is used not only to store pieces, but also to construct the board (so be careful when you first take apart the components in a new box.)

To play, you first talk everything off the plastic insert, which is a grid of deep holes, in the bottom of the box and dump out the mice and cheese markers from the holes. Next you place the field tiles in random order, including all 3 fields with holes in them; 1 stone tile is left over. Next you place the waffle-like board over all the filed tiles, and then you place the various roof tiles over everything. Don't forget to fold up and place the ramparts on each corner! Start with one of your mice in a corner.

The object of the game is to collect 4 different types of cheeses by moving 2 of your mice onto separate fields with matching cheese. Each round you get 4 actions, and your choice of actions are uncovering (removing a roof tile,) running (ie. moving through the fields, 1 action per field, or putting another mouse into a turret) or sliding (which is the big attraction.) So you remove roof tiles and move your mice to the cheese squares to collect the marks, no problem. But once a turn you can slide, in which you take that one left over field tile and insert it under the waffle-like board such that you slide all the field tiles in that row over one, causing a tile to fall out the other side--and maybe slide a field with a hole under a mouse so it drops into plastic insert and taking it out of the game.

The box and all the components are very well made--the box top even took a hit from my 6 year old when he jumped back and landed on it without tearing or bending. You have to first remove and then reassemble the entire board to put everything away, and then remove everything again the next time you play, though the game travels well. It is definitely a fun game to play with the kids! link to this game:

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Subject: Geography
Category: Maps
Ages: 8 and up
# of players: 2 to 4
Time to play: 30 to 45 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: Pick up and deliver; Simultaneous Action Selection

Ratings (1 to 5)

Educational Value: 3 (excellent map)
Gaming value: 4
Aesthetic value: 4
Price value: 4
Ease of play: 4
Younger adaptability: 3

My comments: This is a cut-throat game, no doubt, fitting in well with the pirate theme. Players bribe (with barrels of rum) six pirate ships (their names beginning with the letters A through F) to capture and deliver treasure chests. Players have bidding tiles, one each from -1 to 5. Each round players decide how much rum to bid for all the ships by placing each card rum barrel card in a tray labeled with all the ship names, leaving one tie-breaking tile left over. Starting with A (for Aribba) players reveal their bid, and the highest bidder gets control of that ship. You move the ship as many spaces as barrels of rum you bid, minus any -1 cards your opponent may have played. You pick up treasure by sailing to a port, or by stealing it from another ship. If the ship moves into a square of your color, you get the gold. After A ship is moved, bids for the B ship are revealed, and so on. The first player to capture so much gold (based on the number of players) wins the game.

The game not only involves anticipating what other players might do but also a lot of abstract strategy to figure out if it is better to do a straight move to a harbor and then to your color, or to use a less-sought-after ship to steal it off another. The gaming value will far outlast it's educational value.

The board is an attractive, realistic map depicting the Caribean and all the major port cities, although countries are not named, nor are their boarders shown. The ships are neat and can be taken apart for flat storage but they do not always stay together well. The treasure chests are very small and can be difficult to read. They are thick cardboard, as are the rum barrel tiles, with colorful designs.

Minimal reading is involved, but the bidding process makes the game are to adapt to younger players, though they'll want to play with the ships. You can get this game for just under $20, making it a good value given it's attractive components and long game life. link to this game:

Friday, January 9, 2009


Subject: Geography, Science
Category: Major World Cities, Epidemiology
Ages: 10 and up
# of players: 2 to 4
Time to play: 45 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: Cooperative

Ratings (1 to 5)

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

My comments: If you are not a fan of cooperative games, this one will likely change your mind.

Four "viruses" (colored cubes) are spreading around the world and the players need to work together to stop them. There is one way to win: collect the cards needed to create cures and eradicate the 4 diseases. There's three ways to lose, however: too many outbreaks, too many virus cubes on the boards, or running out of cards. I have played this games four times now; I have seen all the ways to lose and have yet to win.

Each player is randomly dealt one of five roles. The Medic, for example, can remove all virus cubes on a city instead of one; the Scientist only needs four cards instead of five to create a cure. Players move around the board trying to remove virus cubes, collect cure cards, and build research stations. Meanwhile, more cities are infected at the end of each turn. If more than three virus cubes come up in a city then an outbreak occurs, spreading the virus to adjacent cities. Pick a dreaded epidemic card and not only do more virus cubes appear, but the cards with the cities that already have infections get shuffled and placed on the top of the pile to be drawn again!

There's no need to hide cards or create strategies alone--this game is challenging enough to win--so it is great for younger players or those who generally shy away from complicated board games. The board displays the world's major cities, though you have to look carefully to see the actual location of that city. The pawns, virus cubes, and research stations are made of wood. The cards are a nicely sized and drawn with geographic and population information on them.

This has become one of my favorites; I've been won over to this cooperative game. link to this game: