I come from a family of serious board game players. My grandparents met playing Monopoly, and my brother used a Scrabble board to propose to his fiancée. So, it is no great surprise that The Big Cheese is a big fan of board games at the ripe old age of 3.
When Peaceable Kingdom contacted us at Gen X Moms Blog to see if any of us would try out and review a new board game for kids, I jumped at the chance. I must admit, however, that I was skeptical. The game they wanted reviewed is a cooperative game, where everyone plays together, and everyone either wins or loses together. The Big Cheese gets in to her game playing, often jumping up and dancing when she wins, singing, “I won. I won. I won.” A cooperative game for this girl?
They sent me Hoot Owl Hoot!, a game for ages 4+. I admittedly worried about a January game review. After the deluge of new Christmas games and toys, I wondered how some game The Big Cheese had never seen in the store would stack up. I want to go on the record as saying this: none of Santa’s gifts came close to stacking up against this game. We played Hoot Owl Hoot! for seven straight days – at The Big Cheese’s request. She is 100% in love with this game, and Dear Hubby and I have not tired of it, either.
Let me give some examples of how much The Big Cheese loves this game. First, she gave it a nickname. Around here, Hoot Owl Hoot! is affectionately known as “The Owl Game.” On Day 4, at 5:00 in the evening, she declared “We haven’t played The Owl Game, yet.” This is how it has been every day since we started playing Hoot Owl Hoot!
The concept of Hoot Owl Hoot! is very simple. The playing pieces are owls, and they all need to make it to their nest before the sun rises. On each turn, you have a combination of color cards and sun cards. When you draw a sun card, you have to play it on your next turn. When you play the sun card, you move the sun along its path in the sky. While you play, you keep your cards face up in front of you, so you can strategize with the other players on what cards to play when.
The key to winning the game is that 2 owls cannot occupy the same space, so if an owl is on an orange space, and you play an orange card, you get to skip over that space and go to the next orange. Teaching a 3-year-old this strategy has been an adventure. She follows our strategic suggestions about half the time. But, as a typical preschooler, she often does what she wants. She completely understands that the point is to get the owls in to the nest and that it needs to happen before the sun rises. But, she does not always play the most advantageous owl or play the correct color at the right time. All of that said, we all love playing this game together.
Last week, our 30-year-old friend (who is not a parent) came over, and The Big Cheese wanted her to play The Owl Game with her. So, Dear Hubby, Friend, and The Big Cheese played away. At the end of the first game, Friend uttered, “I don’t even know why this game is so fun!” That is exactly how Dear Hubby and I feel. We have played this game so many times I cannot even count, but we still enjoy playing it. In fact, Dear Hubby gets so in to the strategy that I am actually waiting for the day I “catch” him playing it by himself.
The other thing that makes this game stand out is that The Big Cheese can play it three or four times in a row without losing interest. With other board games, even by the second time through, she tends to lose focus. Not with Hoot Owl Hoot!
You can also play the game at different levels by playing with different numbers of owls from 3 to 6; the more owls you play, the harder the game. We started at the beginner level with 3 owls and have moved up to 6 already. When Bugster gets a little older, maybe two-and-a-half, we’ll introduce it to her with just 3 owls. She already watches closely and chants “No Sun, No Sun, No Sun” with the rest of us when we’re drawing cards late in the game and are afraid of a Sun victory.
The negatives to this game are very minor. The biggest one is that Sun piece is very, very small. I am quite sure, that at some point, this Sun will get lost. Then, I will have to replace it with something that is not a sun and not nearly as cute. The board and playing pieces are rather vibrant and colorful, but the coloring of the owls is actually not distinct enough from the board, causing an owl to sometimes get a little lost on the board.
Bottom line: Hoot Owl Hoot! is fun for kids and adults alike. And, The Big Cheese is learning about teamwork and developing strategy at a young age and in a really fun way.
GIVEAWAY: Peaceable Kingdom wants to spread the joy and is giving away a copy of Hoot Owl Hoot! to one of our lucky readers. Entering is easy.
There are three ways to enter:
1) Like Peaceable Kingdom on Facebook and leave us a comment here.
2) Like GenXMomsBlog on Facebook and leave us a comment. If you’re already a fan, let us know!
3) Tweet the following sentence exactly: Have you entered the board game #giveaway at #GenXMomsBlog? http://ow.ly/3OAIu
All entries must be received by 12:00 midnight PST on Monday, February 7, 2011.
Disclosure: The Legal Eagle was given a sample of Hoot Owl Hoot! in exchange for a fair and honest review.