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To quickly remind the context of this review: I recently came back from working abroad, and in a weeks time I introduced my kids to 4 games: Gulo Gulo, Sorry! Sliders, Animal Upon Animal and Villa Paletti. I'll try to review all for of them separately, but with comparisons to each other to better show their advantages and disadvantages. Time for Tier auf Tier, the third game in this series of reviews.
Gulo Gulo review: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/447756
Sorry Sliders! review: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/448042
Did my kids liked the box and the stuff inside? ANIMALS !!! - 'nuff said. You just can go wrong with any kind of animals for 3-years old kids. They have a number of sets of animals: started long time ago with animals from Little People series (cuties!), now switched to more real-lloking figures of animals (and of course are in constatnt love with My Little Ponys). They immediately liked the animals from the game as well and would love to play with them all the time (but daddy forbids, afraid they will loose them somewhere). The quality of the wooden animals is great.
Rules are easy to guess and very easy to follow, even for 3-year old kids. The only small problem are the question mark and hand signs on the dice which they (and me) always confuse. Well, you can easily play without the dice, just placing one animal per person. Still, they liked the dice as well, since it was their first game with any dice.
The biggest surprise this time for me was the fact, that the game is not easy. The suggested age for this game is 4 and my kids are struggling often to place animals on the stack (particularly in the latter turns). I was surprsised since they started playing Villa Paletti at the same time (with Mfg suggested age of at least 6) and have less problems with pulling out the columns than playing Tier auf Tier. It gets particularly tricky when the crocodile is not thrown for a longer period of time. On the other hand it's good that it's not too easy, since it demands the kids to practice their manual skills. I also notices that from time to time they tend to stack their other animal-toys and are very proud when they manage to build a high tower.
My kids obviously don't think even one turn ahead and don't care whether the piece they put on the stack will e.g. completely block the next players. Also, sometimes I have to remind them that you can put the animals on the back, since they always try to put them in propers position on legs (and not upside down). They also don't have the feel for gravity/symmetry thing and sometimes try a move that is obvious (for the parent) to collapse the whole thing.
The time needed to play a game is 15-20 minutes, perfect for my kids. They rarely ask for another game, but they usually keep concentrated for the time needed to play this one game. Due to the difficulty of the stacking they are not really able to beat me. However, kids with slightly better skills should be able to beat their parents, since a lot in this game depends on lucky throws of the dice.
I like the game in the parents-kids environment, it's fun (also for parents) and interesting. I have never tried playing it with adults only but I can imagine it may be also a lot of fun, since the game is not that easy at later stage, when the stack is pretty high.
How do my kids rate the game? They like it a lot and never refuse to play one game, but it's a notch lower than Gulo Gulo. They definitely love the artwork and the concept of the game, which doesn't make much sense, but it's silly in a good way. I would definitely recommend it to parents of kids of ANY age, but it should be perfectly suited to kids age 3-6.
I bought this when my kids were 5 and 3, and neither wanted to play it the way it should be played. They liked stacking, to a point, but lacked the dexterity to make a stack stay stacked for long. I really think if the pieces were just about 50% thicker and 50% longer, this game would be better for that 3-5 range.
As it stands, they're at that age now where they can handle the dexterity that Tier auf Tier requires, but they think it's a bit too "cutesy" for them. They prefer Gulo Gulo by far.
Syracuse / Utica area
One of my fondest memories as a child was visiting a friend at holiday time when his folks pulled out a box of scrap pieces of wood for their homemade "Blockhead" set.
With a new child of my own, I think it might be time to head out to the woodshop myself and check out the scrap bin.