Thursday, March 12, 2009

#30: Pathfinder

  • designer: Edith Grein-Bottcher & Mark Berger
  • publisher: Milton Bradley
  • date: 1977
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 2578/6.03
  • age: 8+
  • # of players: 2 players
  • print status: OOP
  • cost: variable (there are 3 copies available on BGG right now in good condition for $10-$15)
Pretty much every boy in the U.S. has played Battleship at one time or another... and, at first, it's a pretty cool experience. There's some thrills involved in "seeing"your enemy's torpedoes splash harmlessly next to your boat... and who can forget this?

Of course, after you play it a few times, the new wears off & you realize that the game is either a total crapshoot or a methodical exercise in working a search grid pattern. Either way, the game continues on way past the point where the fun ends...

And that's why I'm putting Pathfinder on my Kid Games 100. It has all of the good parts of Battleship (hidden goals to find, hiding things from the enemy, the tension of blundering about in the dark) with none of the boredom.

The game comes packaged (at least here in the U.S. - I haven't seen the European editions, though I know they exist) in a plastic case that holds the maze boards for each player as well as the pieces. The cover neatly fits between the boards to provide a screen for the players.

To start, each player designs a maze and places a small yellow pawn in it as the target. Targets can not be moved - they are the object of the game! If you find the other players' target, you win!

Then players enter from the left side of the 6x6 gridded board, called coordinates as they go. If you run into a wall, your turn is over... but if you can move, you can take another turn. Players also get to track their moves on a search board.

Because of the smaller grid and the easier to visualize objective (searching a maze), this game started working well with my son when he was 5. It took a couple of plays for him to get the hang of it, but the game plays quickly enough that it didn't discourage him.

This is worth finding... keep your eyes peeled at thrift stores, as this occasionally surfaces. And avoid ebay on this one, where people charge insane prices for it.

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