As my kids are starting to kid old enough to sit down for a few minutes a play a game, I’m always on the lookout for great, fun kids games that aren’t too difficult but still push their skills and attention spans to the next level. So, a visit to the HABA booth to see what they had to offer was the only thing to do.
Since these games tend to be pretty simple (oriented towards kids 6 or younger, depending on the game) I’ll just do a brief rundown of all the games I encountered at the HABA booth.
A hit that sold out at the convention, each kid plays the role of a Dragon trying to collect gems. At the center of the board is a stack of rings filled with different colored gems. The goal for the kids is to guess which color will have the most gems after the parent dragon unleashes their breath, and they take the matching token to represent their claim. (An alternate easier method of play has the kids just randomly taking one of the tokens). Then, an adult dragon pulls the top ring from the stack however they choose, causing gems to fall out and scatter. Some gems might fall into holes, but any that remain are claimed by the kids per chosen color, added to their secret stash which will be revealed at the end of the game.
Cards represent dinosaurs of varying sizes and ferocities; the bigger the dino, the more types of dinosaurs it can eat. Players take turns tossing one of their dino cards on the table, and any smaller dinos the tossed card overlaps are eaten and claimed by the player. It’s simple, has a light dexterity mechanic, and what kids don’t like dinosaurs?
Rhino Hero (Active Kids)
Unlike the stacking game of Rhino Hero, this game encourages kids to get up off the couch. Using cardboard super animals, one kid must balance a bead and run laps around the table. Each lap they get to add another bead. Meanwhile, the other kids are frantically rolling dice until someone rolls 3 “Booms” which ends the round. Then it’s the next kid’s turn. Just… try not to lose those beads.
Sleepy Princess Pile Up
For the younger kids, Sleepy Princess Pile Up is an adorable stacking game based on the classic fable of the Princess and the Pea. Players take turns stacking mattresses, pillows, and downy comforters on the bed (which does indeed have a pea at the bottom). Once every soft item is stacked they can tuck the princess in and she can sleep! But, if the tower falls, everyone loses. In one variant, a die is rolled and the princess moves around a track to determine if a piece is added, or if a piece must be taken off (to be washed in the laundry, of course). A more advanced variant uses the track to determine which piece must be added, which requires some pattern recognition and makes the tower a little less stable.
Fans of Karuba can now teach their kids in this cooperative, super-simplified version of Karuba. Players take turns drawing tiles, most of which are paths, and adding them to the board. The goal is to find the treasure tiles and connect them to the paths to get the three adventurers to the treasure, but be warned – tigers might pop out of the jungle at any moment, blocking the path. Also, if you draw a pirate tile, the pirate ship moves closer to shore. Find all 3 treasures before the pirates land, and you win! If all the paths get blocked or the pirates arrive, you lose. It’s a fun and colorful way to start teaching your kids to think ahead and maximize their path options without requiring too much strategy for a 4 year old.
King of the Dice
In this simple pattern-matching game, players take turns rolling the dice which feature both numbers and colors, then claim a villager with a pattern (either color or number) they can match with their dice. Some cards give you points, some you give to other players and they lose points. If you claim a villager that is in a matching color village, you also gain the village card, which is even more points.
This is a very straightforward, simple game that requires thinking ahead (how can you get the villagers aligned with their village so you can claim more cards) and dice rolling, so you can start leveling up those board game skills while again not overloading them with information.
In this visual/spatial game, you’ve got to play cards so they overlap the previous cards in a way that matches. Each card has multiple ways it can be played, but you can’t overlap a card that doesn’t match what’s above it – so as the game grows, playing cards gets more and more tricky. Each card you plays earns you points, and the first person to reach the end of the scoring track wins. It’s a colorful and neat-looking game that starts to give kids more freedom in how they play, taking a step or two out of the random-tile-draw zone.
I definitely need to look at a couple of these. I really appreciate that HABA makes games for kids and their parents to play together. Karuba, Jr. and King of the Dice look particularly interesting
For real, I have a big stack of HABA games that my kids love. I actually bought Karuba Jr. and so far my 4 year old really likes playing!