Monday, October 07, 2013

Essen 2013: Best. News. Ever.

Yes, yes... there will be lots of cool new games at Essen this year - the "official" Geeklist on BGG runs 19 pages as of yesterday. (For the math-challenged among us, that's over 450 board & card games being released.) But the most important board game news is not a new game - it's a reprint. 

Haba is reprinting Kayanak!

To understand why I think that's so cool, you need to know that:

a) it's been out-of-print for quite a while
b) it was the #1 game on my Kid Games 100 back in 2009

Here's what I wrote about it back then - and while there's been some good kid games since (Monster-Falle, for example), it's still #1 in my book.
Yes, my friends, we’ve finally reached Number One on the Kid Games 100. The Numero Uno, the Big Kahuna, the game that I believe is possibly the best kid game ever. 

Or at least that’s what I think today – and for the past year or so. (I actually made the Kid Games 100 list in May of 2008.) It’s possible something better will come along – but for now, this is my favorite. 

Sadly, it’s out of print… which I know (from your emails) makes some of you a bit testy. Sorry about that – but I think two of the best race games on the planet are Entenrallye & Um Reifenbreite… and both of them are OOP as well. 

But why do I like Kayanak so much? In the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “let me count the ways”:
  • the theme (ice-fishing) and the mechanics (using a wooden stick to poke holes in the [paper] ice and fishing out small metal balls with a magnet) work together perfectly
  • the components are, as is typical for Haba games, top-notch. In this case, they not only look good but are extremely functional.
  • The game plays well with 2, 3 or 4 players… and with children as young as four & adults as old as dirt.
  • It's freakishly fun - I mean, seriously - you get to poke holes in paper (what kid hasn't spent most of slow school morning doing that?!), play with magnets, and pretend to be an Inuit out on a frozen lake. (OK, I have no desire to ACTUALLY be on a frozen lake, but the pretending part is fun.)
The gameplay is dice-activated: what you roll tell you what you can do (cut holes, fish, move or a combination of things) as well as how many times you can do them. The dice also give you opportunities to ice over other players fishing holes and "melt" portions of the board (making them impassable). 

There's a lot of ways to play tactically - and yet, part of the charm of the game is that the fish (little metal balls in two sizes: regular & "fish story") sometimes clump together so that make an amazing haul... and sometimes you fish in an area that is, sadly, fishless. (Is "fishless" a word? I'm not sure that I care.)

I never refuse to play this with my boys... or at game conventions... or wherever. And that's why Kayanak is #1.

1 comment:

Mikko said...

I have to disagree here... I think Kayanak is one of the coolest gimmicks, but the game play leaves much to hope for. The dice are just awful: on many turns you don't get to do anything meaningful. The game play is basically frustrating as heck.

Monster-Falle, for example, is a much better game.