Tuesday, May 12, 2009

#15: Gulo Gulo

Gulo Gulo
  • designer: Hans Raggan, Jurgen P. Granau & Wolfgang Kramer
  • publisher: Zoch/Rio Grande
  • date: 2003
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 298/6.96
  • age: 5+
  • # of players: 2-6
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $24.76 (Boards & Bits)

Dexterity games are tough with kids - they like the chunky bits & the whole "stack stuff & watch it fall over" - but younger kids just do not have the proper fine motor skills to compete with adults successfully. That puts some favorite games of mine (including the over-the-top silliness of Kapitan Wackelpudding) outside the Kid Games 100.

But it does not exclude the oddly (but correctly) named Gulo Gulo... a dexterity game in which the smaller the hand, the better the player. That's right: the younger kids have an advantage here. (BTW, "gulo" is the genus name for wolverine - told you it was correctly named.)

Seems the wolverines are miffed that the swamp vulture has kidnapped the baby gulo... so, in order to obtain his release, they begin stealing eggs from his nest. (Does this sound like a weird Jack Bauer-ish hallucination... or have I just been watching too much 24?) The first player to find the gulo and steal a purple egg wins the game.

The board is made up of a number of hefty cardboard hexes which are shuffled & placed face down. At the center of the table sits a wooden bowl filled with polished wooden eggs and the Egg Alarm, a thin stick with a bulbous egg-shaped weight on the top of it. The Egg Alarm is placed in the middle of the bowl of eggs.

In turn, players flip over tiles and attempt to steal the matching egg color. (Yes, for those of you who know the game, there's actually more to it than that - but this isn't a detailed review. Take a deep breath.) You must point out the egg you are attempting to steal and then do so one-handed without knocking other eggs out of the nest or allowing the Egg Alarm to hit the table. Success moves you forward, failure moves you back. The baby gulo tile is mixed into the final six tiles, so you're working to get there so you can take a crack at the baby first.

The game works with smaller kids (and mixed age groups) for a trio of reasons:

  • There's not a lot of difficult decisions... it's pretty easy to figure out your best move, even for younger kids.
  • The penalty for failure is not too severe... in fact, the layout of the tiles can make it very easy to catch up.
  • The tiny fingers of small kids have a much easier time getting out the eggs than adult-sized fingers.

I've seen kids as young as 3 play this game... though I'd probably recommend 4+ due to the "please don't bump the table" factor.

4 comments:

Jeff Myers said...

This is my five-year-old's favorite game. His little fingers are much better at picking up those little eggs than mine are.

I don't think I've ever won this game. :-)

Jason said...

After reading about Gulo Gulo at boardgamegeek I had to try at and have not been disappointed. Easy to learn and teach, setup is fun (this usually goes to the youngest player, my son, and he has a ball) and play is quick. And I have yet to win a game--my hands are too meaty. Great for a group of kids or a mixed group of kids and adults.

My Boaz's Ruth said...

I kept seeing this one recommended for really young kids and got it for my just-turned-2 year old -- it was a complete flop at that age for anything but a toy.

He LOVES playing with it as a toy and is completely uninterested with it as a game. (this is Candyland Castle for him as well. and he does play games, quite a bit -- Go Away Monsters, Haba Orchard, and Chutes and ladders! Just not this one)

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

My Boaz's Ruth:

First, I'm really enjoying your comments, even if I'm not responding to all of them.

Second, there really aren't any games for 2 year olds... most kids that age just aren't developmentally ready to play games in the standard sense. They can do exactly what you've said - play with the pieces. The enjoyment he derives from simple games like Go Away Monster and Chutes & Ladders is the ritual/repetitive aspect of the game... and the sheer joy of your undivided attention.