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Subject: [Dooof Review]: Candy Land rss

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Angus G
Canada
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(with the exception of the German, our copy looks just like this)

Game Overview
Candy Land is probably one of the first games that comes to mind when you think of children`s games.

Game play is very simple. The game is a race to see who will be the first to get his gingerbread man to the castle and become the King of Candy Land. There is a board with a long winding path of coloured spaces that leads to the castle. On their turn, the player picks a card which typically shows a coloured square. The player then moves his gingerbread man to the next space of that colour along the path. Some cards show 2 squares, in which case the player moves to that colour twice (e.g., if the card shows 2 purple, you move to the next purple, and then to the next purple again).



There are also a few special candy spaces on the board (cupcake, lollipop, etc.) If the player chooses a card that has a candy on it, he moves his gingerbread man directly to the matching space on the board.

The path has couple of shortcuts on it, allowing lucky players who land on them to take a shorter path, and also has a few spots on it that force players to lose a turn.

The game has no strategy to it. It has no decisions (in the basic game). The deck of cards is essentially a fate deck that you reveal and execute.


Components
The board has nice artwork. It is a little busy, which helps to keep the attention of children, however, it can also be a distraction at times. The gingerbread tokens are good quality, and the board is OK. The cards are pretty cheaply made, simply printed on very thin cardboard, which was a little disappointing when first opening the game; however they are functional. All in all, the components will look a little cheap compared to your typical Euro game, but the price is also very cheap compared to your typical Euro. Given that your child will probably outgrow this game in a year or two, the components do the job, and help make the game affordable.



Infinity Problem
I have discovered that far too many children's games suffer from what I call "the Infinity Problem", that is that the game can theoretically go on forever. As a 2 player game, Candy Land scores well here. The main factor here are the candy spaces on the path. You can almost get to the castle, then pick a candy as your next card, and be forced to jump way back to the beginning. In a 2 player game, we typically don't go through the entire deck of cards, so each candy comes up only once. You generally go back once, maybe twice in a game. In a four player game, I could see going through the deck twice, which could theoretically mean you could get pushed way back in the first deck cycle, then reshuffle the deck, make more progress on the track, and then get pushed back again. However, if someone is getting this much of a beating with the candy cards, then someone else is probably doing well, so they should finish the game. See the Home Variants section for some potential solutions to this.


Frustration
I thought that the candy spaces would be very frustrating, especially when you are so close to winning and then you have to move all the way back to the beginning. This is compounded by the fact that there was nothing you could do to prevent it. However this hasn't been the case with my 3 year old. At this age, I don't think they can really appreciate the fact that they almost won, and they accept it as just another thing that happened during the ride. I think an older child might have a harder time with this.

Similarly the licorice spaces that cause you to lose a turn could also cause some frustration for older children. In my case, my 3 year old hasn't experienced this yet since we have played without the licorice spaces (see the Home Variants section). In our case, the notion of losing a turn seemed a little complex. We might try this as some of the other rules get mastered, however since the game is really just a series of taking turns and seeing what happens, it seems a little unfair that don't get to do anything on your turn just because you landed somewhere.


Standard Variants
The game comes with two out of the box variants.

No moving back
In this variant candy cards can only cause you to jump forward; they can never cause you to move back. My 3 year old has a hard time with this rule, since it requires doing something only if a particular condition is met. Since he hasn't gotten frustrated with moving back, we don't really need this rule anyway. However, this rule can solve the Infinity Problem and can prevent the game from going on too long.

Choosing two cards
The game comes with a variant for older children where you can pick two cards and then decide which one to use. Sounds like a great way to introduce decision making in games. Still too advanced for us, so I can't comment on how fun the game is with this.

Home Variants
No losing a turn
At 3 years old, my child does not understand losing a turn. It's confusing to him (we have just mastered the fact that everyone alternates and takes a turn one after another). We simply ignore the licorice space; landing on them is the same as landing anywhere else. We might re-introduce losing a turn in a few months.

No candy cards
If sudden jumps to the candy spots are causing a lot of frustration (or confusion for very young children) you could simply remove the candy cards altogether. We haven`t needed to do this.


Game Learning Skills
I have two reasons for playing games with my child. The main one is obviously to have fun together. Another one is to help him develop his skills... skills for life, and also skills for playing games with Daddy Here are some of the skills Candy Land helps to develop:

Taking turns
It seems so simple, but the concept of taking turns is not easy for a 3 year old. Like many games, this game helps children understand how to take turns.

Picking cards
Again, this sounds so simple, but learning the basics of picking cards takes some time. You can only take one. You have to take the top one. You can`t put it back if you don`t like it. You put it in a different pile when you're done. Even the motor skills in taking just one card get exercised a lot.

Colours
The way we play, you have to announce what card you have picked. "I got 2 purple". This is a great game for 3-year-olds who are just beginning to master their colours.

Moving on a Board
Sounds so simple, but learning that you have to move forward on the path takes some getting used to.

Winning/Losing Gracefully
This is true of most games, but it's a very important skill. The beauty of Candy Land is everyone has an equal chance of winning. So there is lots of opportunity to watch Mommy and Daddy win and lose. Watching Mommy or Daddy win without grandstanding, and lose without making a scene goes a long way to teaching the little one that it's only a game, and paves the way for when they get older.


Conclusion
Candy Land is a great introduction to board games for children. In some ways this is more of an experience than a game; there are no decisions to make. However, there are a lot of other things a young child is learning while playing this. Add this to the fact that if you are a gamer parent, your child will probably get a big kick out of playing a game with a board and cards, just like Mommy and Daddy do.
So far it has been a hit for my 3 year old. I'm not sure how it will stand the test of time, but I would guess that a 5 year old would probably be bored with this.
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Jonathan Harrison
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Excellent review! Seriously. You wrote a really good review. And I appreciated the analysis.

Thought the 2-card draw variant doesn't really teach decision-making—just spatial thinking (which card will get me further?). There is a right choice and a wrong choice.

You put much more time into this review than the game probably deserves. I really enjoying reading it.
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United States
Middlesboro
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Great!

I actually just posted a Session Report on my first play of Candyland with my 3 year old earlier today. Candyland and how it turned my 3 year old into a growling, murderous beast.

With your "Frustration" section, I had the opposite happen, haha, my 3 year old got sent back and turned on me! But, it worked out in the end.

It was nice to read about your experience with the game. Thanks!

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Keren Form
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Forest Hills
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Candy Land » Forums » Reviews
Re: [Dooof Review]: Candy Land
I loved this review! I have a whole new outlook on Candyland now.
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David Hoffman
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Briarcliff Manor
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When I was in college, we'd play Candyland with six different colored Jello shots.

Base game rules meant you only did a shot of the matching color when you drew a double color card.

Advanced rules meant you did a shot of the matching color on ANY color card.

To this day, I can't look at a Candyland board without feeling a shooting pain in my head . . .
 
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Scott Nicholson
Canada
Brantford
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You might find this scholarly article on the history of Candy Land to be interesting:


http://reduceurl.net/o8af

The highlight for me was that Candy Land was designed as an escape for kids during the time of Polio. The original artwork showed kids throwing off crutches and the other things of polio and heading into a land of fantasy.

The infinite loop design was on purpose to try to keep children inside and playing with each other instead of going outside and getting exposed to polio via other children.


(edited with a redirect URL, as BGG doesn't parse the original URL correctly)
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Angus G
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Thanks everyone for the compliments, feedback, and information (I never knew about the polio connection)!

I'll be writing more reviews of children's games. I've had a hard time finding useful children's game reviews, so I've been buying and learning the hard way. Hopefully others can benefit from these.
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Angus G
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Thanks, Scott! Although I couldn't get your link to work. Is it this one?
Quote:

(Looks like when I prefix it with http:// or put it between a URL tag, it gets mangled.)

Fascinating stuff! (the article... the URL mangling not so much)
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Jonathan Harrison
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The best BGG can do:

http://www.journalofplay.org/sites/www.journalofplay.org/files/pdf-articles/3-2-article-polio-comes-home.pdf

Its automatic URL parsing conflicts with even correct attempts to force a good, working URL from certain patterns.
 
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Matt Pinchuk
Canada
Sainte Anne de Bellevue
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Angus, you're nuts. I'm completely amazed by this review! I will also never take you seriously when we wargame :p
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Jake K
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I picked up a copy of Candy Land for my nieces, & the "Choose Two Card" Variant sounded intriguing, but what does the player do with the extra card they drew that turn that they didn't play? Do they simply put it in the discard pile, or hold it to compare with the next card they would draw?
 
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Angus G
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I think the idea is you pick 2 cards, then decide which one you're going to use. The other goes in the discard pile.
I suppose you could have a "push your luck" variant where you pick a card, then decide whether you throw it out and choose another. For kids this age, though, I think that's pushing the boundaries too far.
 
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