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Subject: This Cooperative Game for Kids is a Hoot! rss

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Zack Stackurski
United States
Mankato
Minnesota
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I love almost all games, play Boardgames with my wife, have three kids, generally enjoy cats and understand and like those bumper stickers with the little fishies sprouting legs.
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Overview:

My oldest daughter turns just about any game into a co-op game. If she draws a piece you need in Go Away Monster it is yours. When we play Hi Ho Cheerio she picks cherries from everyone’s trees. And in our one game of Candyland she ended it early by picking up everyone’s pieces, depositing them at the castle and declaring that we all won together!

So when I saw a new line of cooperative games for kids from Peaceable Kingdom Press at my local pet store (Yes. My pet store has games… how cool is that! cool ) I was sure they would be a big hit. After reading over a couple of box backs it seemed like Hoot Owl Hoot would be the best place to start for my three year old’s skill set… and when I asked her if she wanted to help the baby owls find their nest she was too excited for the game to go back on the shelf!

Components:

Peaceable Kingdom is a green publishing company… so the components of their games come from recycled plastic, soy based inks and ecologically responsible foresters. Its kind of unique to board games that I know of… and there was no shrink wrap to clean up after we opened the box…



In Hoot Owl Hoot you get:

1 Game Board
6 Owl Tokens
1 Sun Token
50 Square Cards with either a color circle or a sun printed on them

Everything is pre-punched, so once you open the recyclable shipping bag you are ready to start playing the game right away!

The components are very nice. The board is solid and lays flat. The owl tokens are a good size and thickness for little hands, as are the color and sun cards. Square cards are a bit of a pain to shuffle, but no more so than any other square card. The sun token is a bit small, but so far we haven’t been in danger of losing it.

The artwork throughout is also very nice and kid friendly… it kind of reminds me of a fresh take on Eric Carl’s style (Very Hungry Caterpillar). I particularly like the board as the extra detail of the night bugs on the board really bring it alive.



Game Play:

Your goal in Hoot Owl Hoot is to cooperate to get all the owls home to their nest before the sun rises (ie: the sun token reaches the end of the Sun track). You can choose the number of owls ahead of time to make the game more or less difficult (less owls are easier to get home in time).

The rules are very simple. Draw a hand of three cards to start the game and keep them face up on the table in front of you. On your turn if you have a Sun card you must play it to the discard pile and move the sun token one step along the sun track. If the sun lands on the final space of the sun track in this way everyone loses… soblue

If you do not have a Sun card you may play any of your color cards to move any owl to the next uncovered space on the track of that color (or into the nest if there are not more spots of that color). This is important as if the next instance of your color is covered by another owl you will be able to fly much farther! If you pass over any other owls while moving an owl on the track you hoot at them (I suppose this is optional… but hey… its fun to make animal sounds in games!). If you move the last owl into the nest everyone wins!



Game Play Commentary:

So the rules are simple enough for most kids, but still provide some fun decision making for adults.

Play from the child perspective: Just about every turn I am able to ask my daughter “What owl would you like to move and what color would you like to move it to?” I found in our first couple games that Hazel would always move the first owl as far as she could… so I started emphasizing how much the owls like to hoot at each other… and that’s been a great help in getting her to utilize the strategy of using the owls in front to help the owls behind fly farther (who am I kidding… she just likes hooting!).

The only negative I can find is the lose a turn mechanic of drawing a sun… but unlike other children’s games where you lose a turn and do nothing, in Hoot Owl Hoot you at least get to move a token. This seems to be enough for my daughter to feel like she got to do something and not lose interest… and she’s always happy to suggest what color I should use on my turn… particularly if its purple!

Play from the adult perspective: I want us to win! My crazy team mate might move that first owl to purple every chance she gets and totally disregard some of the colors that would give me a really good move… but I know if I play my best and give her some good advice (that she may or may not take) we can get all 6 of those owls home by curfew! Sure I wouldn’t bother playing this with other adults… but its certainly a more interesting experience for an adult than your average game with a 4+ age range.

Conclusion:

BGGer’s in general seem to love co-ops and most of us GeekParents are always on the lookout for interesting new kids games. So it’s a bit surprising to me that Peaceable Kingdom Press’s 2011 release of a whole line of cooperative games for young children seems to have gone largely unnoticed on the Geek. Perhaps it was all the great games for adults that came out this year… or the fact that Peaceable Kingdom isn’t primarily a game publisher… but there are some gems to be found in this collection!



Hoot Owl Hoot is a wonderful experience for young children and their parents. This belongs on the list of excellent introductory games for pre-schoolers (along with Go Away Monster, Gulo Gulo and a number of Haba titles) as it manages to teach colors, turn taking, sharing, planning, hooting, teamwork and the importance of getting home on time all in around 15 minutes. For under $20 retail you really can’t go wrong picking this up as a Candyland replacement for your favorite little one!
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Dan Conley
United States
Enon
Ohio
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Zack-thanks so much for the review and making me aware of the game AND the company! Our little grandson is a couple of years away from actually playing this, but it's so good to know about it. My kids are quite environmentally conscious, so this company will make a hit with them in that area as well!

Thanks for playing games with your daughter and for sharing your experiences here. And congrats on that pending arrival!
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Zack Stackurski
United States
Mankato
Minnesota
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I love almost all games, play Boardgames with my wife, have three kids, generally enjoy cats and understand and like those bumper stickers with the little fishies sprouting legs.
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Thanks Dan! Congratulations on the little grandson! I'm sure he'll be playing games with you before you know it laugh
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Dan Conley
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Enon
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I'm counting on it!
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Dan Massek
United States
Wisconsin
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Thanks for the nice review and heads up on this game. Will have to keep it in mind for gaming with my daughter.
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