Saturday, June 13, 2009

#7: Mole in the Hole

  • designer: Bertram Kayes & Virginia Charves
  • publisher: Ravensburger
  • date: 1995
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 1294/6.40
  • age: 8+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: in print (in Germany)
  • cost: 16.98 Euros ( or there are copies available through the BGG Marketplace
This is probably as close as we're going to get on the Kid Games 100 to touting an "abstract" kids game. See, I'm not a big fan of abstracts (I'll give exceptions to Zertz, Siesta & Pyraos) so you'd think this nearly perfect information game wouldn't be my cup of tea. You'd be wrong.

The game itself is simple: place your homeboy moles (seriously: the moles are wearing their baseball caps on backwards) on the highest board level. In turn, randomly flip over one of your movement tiles (the break down is 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4) and move one of your moles that far in a straight line. If he ends up in a hole, his piece is actually resting on the next board down.

When all the holes are filled on a level, the board is removed... and all the moles who aren't in a hole are out of the game (they haven't burrowed deep enough). The game continues as the moles move for the smaller amount of holes on this board... and the eventual culling of the herd. Finally, the last board contains only one hole in the center... and the mole who reaches it first claims The Golden Shovel and the win.

The boards are ingeniously set into a custom plastic insert that includes individual holding areas for the mole tribes. The hexagonal board can also be rotated from game to game to vary up the playing experience. Oh, there are few twists as well: double move spaces, reduced entrances to the final hole, etc... but the basic game itself is very easy to understand.
  1. Turn over a movement tile.
  2. Move one of your moles the FULL movement in a straight line.

Even a 5 year old can do it.

And that's one of the big questions with this game - why did Ravensburger put a "8+" suggested age on a game simple enough for the younger set? The answer is "tactical thinking." While younger kids can (and do!) enjoy playing Mole in the Hole, it will take a slightly older child to start to think in terms of available moves, remaining movement tiles, and targeting the player in the lead.

Still, I've had enough success playing this game with younger kids that gave me "permission" (technically, I gave myself permission, right?!) to put it in the Kid Games 100.

1 comment:

Todd D. said...

This sounds more fun and less solved than Inner Circle.