- designer: Jurgen P. Grunau
- publisher: Selecta/Rio Grande
- date: 2006
- BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 1108/6.78
- age: 6+
- # of players: 2-5
- print status: in print
- cost: $29.22 (Thoughthammer)
Well, it certainly looks like a cute kid game, doesn't it? Pretty kid art, little wooden jockeys with interchangeable wooden horses, nifty little wooden fences... but don't be fooled. This game is "mummy, daddy, don't touch it's Ee-vil" in a box. (A very cute box, mind you.)OK, maybe it's not pure "Time Bandit-y" evil.... but this is not Candyland, people. This is a no-holds-barred steeplechase where each space can only hold one horse & landing on another player sends them back to the first empty spot.
Movement isn't determined by a die - each player has a hand of 6 cards (numbered 1-6, naturally!) which are chosen & played simultaneously. The lowest number goes first, with ties broken by which horse is farthest behind. In practice, this means that the whole Robert Burns "plans of mice & men gang aft agley" thing is in full swing here at the races. All it takes is for some plodding rider to move you one space back & your once-brilliant move now plows you straight into the river.
Speaking of the river (and the bog & the fences), if a horse ends his move on one of those spaces, it's as if his move never happened. The horse (in dressage parlance) "refused" the jump & you simply stay where you started.
With the delightful bits & simple game play, this game is easily accessible to kindergarten-age kids & up... with the important warning that the potential for hosage in this game really sets off some kids emotionally. (You know what I'm talking about... the kid who can not take something going wrong in his game & melts down like a Milky Way on a dashboard in the Mojave Desert.) I should also note that this warning doesn't just apply to kids - sadly, most of the adults who have this tendency aren't able to recognize it in themselves.
The box says this plays with 2-5 players... and while it works with all of those numbers, it's best with 4-5 so that there's a lot of jockeying for position.
One final word: this is an excellent game for kids. The bits encourage imaginative play and the simple "gotta figure out what the other guy is gonna do" process is an important decision-making skill. But it's also an excellent filler for adults, whether they're gamers or complete newbies. Simple rules + hosage + quick play = fun.