Friday, 31 August 2012

Tsuro, Hamsterrolle, Dixit with kids

During the school holidays I brought the children to Meeples Cafe again. They always enjoy such outings. The first game we played was Tsuro. It is a very simple tile-laying game that definitely can be played with children. The board is initially empty, and everyone places his pawn on a path at the edge of the play area. Everyone has a hand of three tiles, and on your turn you must play a tile in front of your pawn, extending the path before it, and move it along the path. The objective is to stay on the board as long as possible. If your pawn exits the board, or meets another pawn, you are out.

Throughout the game you basically try to avoid other pawns, and try to linger in areas with more empty spaces for you to place new tiles. You need to look at your tiles in hand and plan ahead how to play them. There is some strategy here. Since you always have to play a tile in front of your own pawn, you don't get to interfere with others often (or maybe I am not very good at this game).

There is a rule about the dragon tile which I didn't understand, and when I asked the staff, I was told they don't play with that rule so they don't know it either. I wonder how big a difference it makes. The game seems to work fine without it.

Tsuro is quite good-looking.

I think I have played Hamsterrolle before, about 9 years ago in Taiwan. It's a dexterity game. Everyone gets a same set of wooden pieces, and takes turns placing pieces onto the inner surface of a wheel. The wheel has dividers breaking up the space into sections, and you cannot place a piece of the same colour as another piece in the same section. Each new piece you place must be further along in one direction. That means the wheel will gradually roll in that direction. Eventually someone will cause some pieces to fall off. If you are that someone, you have to claim all such pieces. The objective of the game is to be the first to get rid of all your pieces.

Chen Rui (5) is new to Hamsterrolle.

Shee Yun (7) had just successfully added a piece. We were quite early so the cafe was still quite empty. In the background you can see the Meeples team enjoying a quick game before the crowd arrived.

The wheel is rolling towards the left. So you can see we have been placing pieces far apart initially (those on the right), and when things start to get iffy, we become more conservative and place new pieces right next to the previous pieces.

The black cone piece in front of Michelle (left) is a start piece which starts the game already in the wheel. Once the game starts, it is treated as any other piece. If you cause it to fall off the wheel, you claim it just like any other piece.

Michelle being extra careful. The blocks are about to come tumbling down.This is a game of brinkmanship. You want to go just far enough so that by the next player's turn he would cause pieces to fall off.

Chen Rui had just caused a major collapse. Look at all those pieces.

Hamsterrolle is a simple and fun family game. Good for casual players. It would work as a drinking game too. But please don't teach children drinking games.

I taught the children Dixit (my previous write-up here). Naturally I didn't expect them to be able to tell complex stories or come up with fancy poems or idioms. I just told them that when they played the storyteller they were to give a clue which should not be too easy or too hard. During the game our clues were mostly single words. Some of the clues the children gave were too specific and thus too easy to guess, because other players did not have cards that matched such specific clues. However generally the game worked reasonably well with the kids. They enjoyed it. Adults would have an advantage over them though.

Shall I try my luck in getting my photo into a government exam paper again?


Anonymous said...

The Dragon card in Tsuro isn't really as difficult as the rules make it out to be. Think of it as representing the first person standing in line waiting for the next available tile.

When the Dragon is drawn, there are no more tiles in the stack so whoever has the Dragon will receive the first tile when someone is eliminated and their tiles are shuffled and placed in the stack.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Aah thanks. So the dragon tile is always at the bottom of the draw pile and is just a reminder of who's next to draw a tile when some are returned to the draw pile. When we played, we didn't know eliminated players need to return their tiles to the draw pile. So I guess our games ended slightly earlier than they should.