Kids’ Board Game Review: Gobblet Gobblers
When you think of GenCon, you probably think of hard-core gaming such as role playing, miniatures, collectible cards, and cosplay. But off to the side of the vast vendor hall is a secret gem for those with children: The Family Fun Pavilion. As you might guess, bigger company products, such as LEGO® are there, but mixed in are many small game makers with some incredible offerings.
Having a game-loving five-year-old son, I was drawn to the area in a quest for new games for us to enjoy. By the time the convention ended, I had acquired seven games from three companies, and plan to slowly dole them out to him over time. It is nice to have a stash now for a rainy day, birthday, or holiday.
The first game we have been playing is Gobblet Gobblers from Blue Orange Games. This all-wooden game is based on tic-tac-toe, but certainly with a proverbial twist. Each player has six pieces with two of each size—small, medium, and large. They work like nesting dolls in which a larger gobblet can cover, or gobble, a smaller piece. When you take your turn, you can choose to put a new piece on the tic-tac-toe board or move one that is already there. You can place the piece in an empty space or gobble a smaller piece in that space. This adds new levels of strategy to an old game. The features of the game challenge the child’s spatial recognition, problem solving, and memory. While the game is a nice challenge for kids alone or with parents, it scales to be a fun party game for adults as well. Watching is almost as fun as playing!
The game, created by Thierry Denoual, has colorful blue and orange pieces with fun faces and felt leaves on top. The traditional tic-tac-toe board is created by two red and two green interlacing wooden slats. This makes for very quick setup and tear-down of the game. The box notes that they plant two trees for for every one they use, and the company is a winner of the Dr. Toy Green Toy Company Award. At $20 USD direct, it is deal for a well-made game with much replay ability. The game is rated for ages five and up, but if your child understands tic-tac-toe, I believe he or she can grasp the additional aspects of this game.
When I demoed the game at GenCon, I immediately felt like we had a winner for our home. My son really enjoys tic-tac-toe when we’re dining out, since all the kids’ menus seem to have it on there. The only problem is that since he was about four or so, the games haven’t been as much fun due to all the ties. The strategy of Gobblet Gobblers takes this out. There has always been a winner and not always me. He loves the gobbling feature of the game and provides his own sound effects each time. The game pieces being of wood will make for a long-lasting game. I have concerns about how long the felt accents might last before being plucked out, but that won’t affect the games playability far into the future.
I also like the speed of set up and tear-down on this game. So many children’s games take so long to set up that the child has wandered off to bigger and better things. The rules are also very simple, another plus when you have an excited child bouncing around wanting to play “Right now, Mommy!” The all-wood pieces make this game very appealing as well. So many of the plastic games and toys break very easily, but this one is almost certainly going to be very durable. While it seems there are a lot of pieces, it doesn’t hold a candle to some of the more complex games out there, so there’s not a lot to be scattered and lost. It’s very easy to count and be sure all the gobblers get back in the box. If, however, one is lost, Blue Orange Games offers replacement pieces. Strategy games are not as easy to find for the kindergarten set. So many of the games we have rely on the luck of the draw for a winner. This one actually takes skill, and as we said earlier, it does challenge the child in different ways. I honestly can’t think of anything negative to say about the game other than the concern for the felt “leaves.” I think encouraging players to grab the gobbler itself rather than picking it up by the leaf could help ensure the life of the felt pieces. Overall, this game is very likely to stay in the rotation for a long time.
Five-year-old’s Take (as dictated to Mom)
I like this game. You have to try to get three in a row, but you can move your gobbler. You can even gobble yourself. Other kids would like this game because you can gobble all the other gobblers. The game is a little easy, but it’s also a little hard. I also like that I can beat Mommy and Daddy at it sometimes. The gobblers also have very cool mouths! I think I’ll play Gobblet Gobblers a lot!