Tuesday, March 17, 2009

#29: Mäuse-Rallye

Mäuse-Rallye/Mice Rally
  • designer: Gunter Baars
  • publisher: Haba
  • date: 2001
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 2852/6.51
  • age: 5+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: OOP, according to some online stores, but still listed on Haba USA's site
  • cost: I can't find any for sale right now... hmmm.
Flicking games are tricky with small children... the fine motor skills required to play Carabande well don't kick at age 4 or 5. (A great game, btw, now republished as Pitchcar - but still better suited to the 8 & up crowd.) But your average little kid LOVES to flick stuff - they just need a confined play space in which to do it.

Which is where Mice Rally comes in - each player has a flat wooden stick & three very detailed mouse heads which they bat about the track in turn, trying to avoid the holes & the cat (more on him in a minute). Each completed lap is worth a wooden piece of cheese.

Players only race one mouse at a time - if their current racer falls or is bumped into a hole in the floor, they start a new racer on the next turn. When you run out of mice, you take control of the cat, a larger piece (he won't fall down the holes) that can travel against normal flow of traffic and work to chase the other mice into the holes.

When only one player has mice remaining OR the cheese runs out, you total up your number of cheese + your surviving mice to see who has the most. (There's also a "first player to 10 cheese" way to play, but we don't use it much.)

These small wooden pieces ricochet around the inside of the box in very satisfactory ways - but their mouse shape (they have ears!) means that those ways aren't necessarily predictable. When you're playing with young kids, that randomness makes it easier for adults & kids play together.

We often use a variant (the person who posted it on the Geek is Jason Matthews, one of the designers of Twilight Struggle & 1960: The Making of a President, no less!) to get the cat into play more quickly - the first person to lose a mouse becomes a cat. When another person loses a mouse, he becomes the cat and the first cat player starts a new mouse.

The recommended age range is pretty good - though younger kids can play (and enjoy just knocking the pieces around), age 5 is about the time that kids can begin to play with some skill.

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