Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kid Game Review: Robin Hound

Robin Hound
  • designer: Eugene Wyss
  • publisher: Haba
  • date: 2010
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/6.33
  • olayers: 2-5
  • ages: 6+
  • playing time: 20 minutes
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $10.79 (
It appears we've been sold a bill of goods when it comes to the legend of Robin Hood. Evidently, he is not a human (as portrayed brilliantly by Errol Flynn & much less brilliantly by Kevin Costner) nor is he a fox (as the Walt Disney Company tried to convince us)... he's a dog. A hound - Robin Hound.

And if he's going to loot the castle at Nottingham, he's going to need to gather a band of merry, um, animals. Or, in the case of the game, you're going to have to gather five of them with the help of your fellow players.

The "board" is actually a layout of tiles - a circle of forest tiles with a larger castle tile as the start space/goal. Players place their hound markers on the space, the card deck (with 6 different kinds of animals) is shuffled and two cards are dealt face up in the center of the table.

In turn, players pick up one of the two face-up cards and either
  • keep it in their own hand (if it doesn't match anything they already have) OR
  • give it to another player

A number of the cards have shields on them which denotes that they can only be given to another player.

If you give a card to an opponent that doesn't match any of his cards, you get to move your hound through the forest as many spaces as he has cards in his hand. If, however, you give a card to an opponent that matches one of his cards, the card is discarded and you get nothing.

When a player's hound passes the castle on the forest track OR a player collects a set of five different merry animals, they immediately draw a treasure chest card - which has one, two or three bags of gold on it. The first player to either (a) collect five treasure chests or (b) get 10 bags of gold wins the game.

This is the part of the review where I strongly recommend that you skip to the "professional rules" with all but the youngest players, which are:

  1. There is a penalty for giving another player a duplicate animal - they get to move their hound!
  2. You can choose to discard a card rather than giving it to another player.

Both of these rules make for a more interesting game by giving you choices... and giving your choices a consequence.

This is a light, fast game of memory with a nice blending of cooperative & competitive elements. The art is very cute, the box size is perfect for making it a stocking stuffer, and all the members of our family (ages 6 to 47) have had a good time playing it. It's not going to take the board gaming world by storm like Animal Upon Animal or Maus nach Haus (both Haba games that have very positive feedback from gamers) - it's a solid & very enjoyable game for kids & families.

The box says Robin Hound plays with 2-5 players... and I was skeptical about the lower end of those numbers when I read the rules. However, my 6 year old son & I played two-handed and had a great time, so I was forced to rethink my objections. While I like the game better with more players, it also works well as "just the two of us" parent & child game.

Finally, because there are 6 different suits of merry animals, you could increase the difficulty (and length!) of the game by requiring players to get all six cards in order to grab a treasure chest. (Note: we haven't tried this yet.)

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