Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kid Game Review: Moo & Baa

Moo & Baa

  • designer: Thomas Liesching
  • publisher: Haba
  • date: 2009
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/6.00
  • age: 3+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $17.99 (Maukilo)
The shortest way to describe Moo & Baa is to simply say that it's Go Away, Monster! with some actual game added. (Not to bag on Go Away, Monster!, mind you - we played a LOT of it when our boys were young.) But the folks at Haba have managed to take the simple "draw from the bag & fill your board" mechanic and tweak it in ways that make for a more enjoyable gaming experience for those over the age of 4.

For some reason, the farmers (that would be the players of the game) have managed to mix up their animals: cows, sheep and - because this is not your average farming community - frogs. There's even a few wild animals (beware the free range frog!) thrown in for good measure. The first player to retrieve his set-up for a very odd joke ("A cow, a sheep & a frog walk into a bar...") wins the game.

The animals are placed in three cloth bags (conveniently made from different prints):
  • with younger players, all the animals of the same type go in a bag
  • with older players (4+), the animals are mixed & placed randomly in the bags

Each player has 2 of each animal in their color... and then there are 3 blue-colored "wild" animals which don't belong to any player.

In turn, players draw an animal from the bag - if it is their animal, they keep it. If not, it goes back in the bag it came from. (With very young children, you could simply have them give the animal to the correct player to promote color matching & speed up the game.) Blue animals always return to the bag. The game is quick - someone usually wins in about 10 minutes.

That's it... my 9 year old son described it as "kind of like Bingo" which I guess I can see - but both he & my 5 year old play it gladly. Add to that the enjoyment my wife & I have playing it with our boys and you've got yourselves a really nice family game.

Two final notes:

  • Because the entire game focuses around drawing from the bags, there is a possibility of cheating (peeking in the bag when you're taking your animal). We've used this game to deal with those kinds of issues with our younger son.
  • I've brainstormed (but not tested) a variant for the game in which you would be allowed to put animals that are not your color back in ANY bag - thus making the memory component tougher & allowing for some tactical moves to "hide" an opponents piece and/or "clear" out a bag so you can find your piece.

Addendum: my mini-review of Go Away, Monster! (for comparison purposes):

This is BARELY a game... but for younger kids (3-5 years), it's one they will play over & over & over again. I wish it was more difficult to tell the good things & monsters apart in the bag - but the opportunity to throw a monster tile into the box & yell "Go away, Monster!" at the top of your lungs is an awfully strong selling point.

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