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Right Turn, Left Turn by Reinhard Staupe is published by Playroom Entertainment.
On Sunday of Gencon (2006) before the exhibit hall opened, I wandered by the Playroom booth and saw another of their games that caught my eye. After discussing it and a few others, I asked about this one. After the rules explanation, I asked if Mr. Staupe had done Leonardo also, because it sounded similar to another favorite filler of ours. It turns out he had, so this was an easy purchase decision. This was true of most of the ones that I saw there. I've meant to spend time at Playroom's booth for a few cons now, but this was the first time I got a chance and it paid off for them in revenue and for me in getting some fun games.
There are 50 heavy stock standard sized cards in the box that is 5" X 6" X 1.5" deep (12.5cm X 15cm X 4cm deep). The insert holds the cards in the middle of the box very well and the rulebook is in French and English. Seven of the cards have a Traffic Officer facing either in or out of the card and a different symbol, like a traffic light, bicycle, etc. All of the drawings are easily differentiable. The other forty-three cards contain one of the seven symbols and three instructions with a number and left or right. The artwork is by Oliver Freudenreich and is simple, uncluttered and attractive in a kid-friendly way.
The traffic officer cards are arranged in a circle with their feet towards the center and one of the direction cards is flipped over into the center. Players race to find the symbol on the direction card and then follow the directions using the traffic officer's perspective for the meaning of left or right. For the officers facing away, right is clockwise and left is counterclockwise, while the converse is true for the officers facing up. The players count cards around the circle in the appropriate direction to arrive at a new traffic officer card, then apply the next direction using that officer's perspective. After applying all three directions, players call out the symbol on the card they where they arrive after processing all three directions. The first player to correctly identify the goal (when the other players agree) takes the direction card and flips the next one. The player that had the most goal cards after they have all been allocated wins the game.
This game falls in the category of games where some information is turned up and whoever processes it the fastest gets a point. This type of game is fast, fun and good as a filler. It's not a game to fill a night of gaming. It will slip easily into a backpack and doesn't take a lot of table space, so it could be played at a restaurant between ordering and receiving food, while waiting for something to open or just as a filler between games.
This one has the practical training of left and right from others perspectives and in following directions precisely, both useful skills at times.
I'd classify this as one of the easier examples of this genre, but see the next section for some ideas to increase the difficulty.
If little ones are getting frustrated, it's pretty easy to handicap by allowing the frustrated player to look at the card and find the symbol before laying it out and/or even allowing the player to process the first direction. We used this method in Leonardo when my son was younger and it worked quite well.
This is the only one that we've actually tried and it does up the difficulty level a bit. Turn some of the traffic officers so that their feet point out the circle instead of in.
Another idea would be to exclude any officer that had been consulted already from counting spaces and giving directions. This concept is used in Leonardo and adds a slight memory mechanic.
It could also be interesting to treat the symbol on the direction card as the destination and figure out where the card "started." This could lead to multiple correct answers, but would increase the difficulty significantly.
Another idea would be to place the officers in a row instead of a circle. If the directions direct a player off the row, one could "wrap around" or simply call "off the map."
The last "variant" that I will mention is to only use X direction cards instead of all forty-three and/or call it when one player reaches an insurmountable lead.