As happens in the life of every board gamer who’s bothered to reproduce, there comes a time when your central preoccupation is the inculcation of cardboard and rulesets, dice and phases, punchboards and baggies. Brainwashing, to put it less nicely. All parenting is brainwashing, hopefully with more positive results than negative.
During our semi-regular visits to the local game store, Baby Cate — not rightfully baby anymore — would once upon a time beeline for the shopping baskets. Into the basket she’d climb, insisting it was a boat, and rock back and forth until it toppled onto its side, usually depositing her underfoot a passing stranger. Now her first destination is the shelf at the back, the one with the bright yellow HABA line. Somehow, against all odds, she managed to doe-eye her father into purchasing Drachenturm. Because it had a dragon on the box, you see.
Thankfully, Drachenturm has proved an apt instrument for imparting life lessons. Five of them, by my count. And Cate doesn’t even realize she’s learning.
You may have heard of Rhino Hero. One part Jenga, one part… well, it largely resembled Jenga, albeit featuring a chunky rhinoceros who had a tendency to make his tower of cards crumple to the table. It was an utter delight, the sort of game that packed a minimum of everything — size, rules, setup — except fun. It had as much of that as its titular hero’s daily caloric intake.
After its well-deserved success, HABA have seen fit to give tubby little Rhino Hero a second outing. It’s bigger, it’s brasher, and yes, it’s better. Though it makes some sacrifices along the way.
A couple years back, a pair of game designers got bonkers drunk and were determined to make famous author Dan Brown’s rabid anti-Catholic dreams a reality. Under cover of darkness, they broke into CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, loaded it up with two of their favorite games — Jenga and Uno (also one of my favorites) — and cranked it up to God Particle Mode. They expected the result would be something like Uno Stacko, but thanks to a rhino horn that had inexplicably become jammed in the flubby-dub flam shaft, the result was…