New co-op games for kids, by Peaceable Kingdom
Mark Christiansen
United States
Highlands Ranch
Colorado
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I recently discovered several new co-operative kids games from the publisher Peaceable Kingdom.

Always a sucker for co-op games, I got all these games. I and my girls (ages 5 and 8) have been trying them out. I appear to be the only geek who has rated these games so far, so I thought I'd pass the word on. These games were all published this year.

The artwork is simple but high-quality. The games are priced very reasonably (retail $14.99). I've seen these games in "boutique" toy stores, like Timbuk Toys in my neighborhood.

These are kids games, so not games you will probably pull out with your adult gaming buddies. But most of them I think can be enjoyed well enough by adults playing along with their kids. (See my comments below.)
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1. Board Game: Lost Puppies [Average Rating:6.27 Unranked]
Mark Christiansen
United States
Highlands Ranch
Colorado
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Lost Puppies
Publisher's game page: http://www.peaceablekingdom.com/Products/Lost-Puppies-Cooper...

In this game your task is to clear a path for the puppies to make it home.

It requires some strategizing - you won't be able to remove all the tiles so you have to use your actions wisely - and being a cooperative game, this also raises a lot of discussion. Luck can also play a role in the outcome.

The designer is Jim Deacove, the veteran co-op game designer at the publisher Family Pastimes. The game accomplishes what it does with only a few rules and some simple bits - the mark of a great game design, in my book.

Official age is 5+. Both my daughters liked this game a lot - they love puppies. In my opinion, adults can also enjoy this game with their kids. I enjoyed the game the few times I've played it although long-term replayability for an adult will probably be limited.
 
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2. Board Game: Hoot Owl Hoot! [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:5098]
Mark Christiansen
United States
Highlands Ranch
Colorado
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Hoot Owl Hoot!
Publisher's game page:
http://www.peaceablekingdom.com/Products/Hoot-Owl-Hoot-Coope...

The basic mechanic is like Cartagena by Leo Colovini. You play cards of different colors, and move a game piece to the next space of that color on the board - if that space is occupied, then you get to move to the next space of that color. In this way you can leap far down the board. This obviously creates some strategy, and some discussion among the players. There is some luck involved - each time you draw a sun card, you move the sun closer to rising and ending the game.

My 8 year old says this is her favorite among these co-op games from Peaceable Kingdom.

Official age is 4+. Despite the low starting age, in my opinion adults can also enjoy this game with their kids. I like Cartagena, and it was fun to see my kids be able to play a game like that one.
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3. Board Game: Mermaid Island [Average Rating:5.27 Unranked]
Mark Christiansen
United States
Highlands Ranch
Colorado
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Mermaid Island
Publisher's game page:
http://www.peaceablekingdom.com/Products/Mermaid-Island-Coop...

In this game you try to get several mermaids around the track, to reach the end before the evil witch. Along the way you pick up a limited number of wands that can be used to delay the witch. The track itself is simple, with a couple "chutes" and "ladders."

There is decision-making and discussion among the groups on each turn - should I use a wand or save it? Should I try to send this mermaid over the bridge, or is something else a better move? There is also tension and risk-taking, as you see the witch coming behind that mermaid and try to avoid her being sent back to square one to start over.

Official age is 5+. Despite the low starting age, in my opinion adults can also enjoy this game with their kids. My 8 year old daughter liked this game a lot.
 
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4. Board Game: Stone Soup [Average Rating:6.08 Unranked]
Mark Christiansen
United States
Highlands Ranch
Colorado
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mb
Stone Soup
Publisher's game page:
http://www.peaceablekingdom.com/Products/Stone-Soup-Cooperat...

This is like the standard "memory" game, but with a few twists. Along with the regular matching cards, you accumulate "fire out" tokens, which end the game when they are all picked up. There is also a "stone" card that lets you avoid one of the "fire out" tokens, or at least put it off until the end (assuming everyone is paying attention to where it is and they don't turn it over again - oh no!).

The co-operative aspect also adds a twist - you can help other team members remember where the pieces are, so it's "co-operative memory."

Official age is 5+. If you're like me, your kids will enjoy this memory-type game more than you will - and they will probably beat you too!

The design for this one is also credited in the rulebook to Jim Deacove, of Family Pastimes fame.
 
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5. Board Game: Count Your Chickens! [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked]
Mark Christiansen
United States
Highlands Ranch
Colorado
flag msg tools
mb
Count Your Chickens!
Publisher's game page:
http://www.peaceablekingdom.com/Products/Count-Your-Chickens...

This is a simple game for very young kids ages 3+. It's pretty much your standard roll-and-move, or in this case, spin-and-move. Although the co-operative aspect adds some interest beyond your usual roll-and-move games such as Candyland. Lots of luck and randomness, as is common for games aimed at very young kids.

It gives practice in counting up to six, as well as addition by one, turn taking, and co-operation. The board is colorful and filled with cute farm animals, including baby chicks.

Official age is 3+. Due to the randomness and the simple game play, adults will probably not enjoy playing this long-term with their kids.
 
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