Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Growly in the Garden

For lunch I had a guy and his three kids (ages 14, 9 and 7) and a single woman. The guy and kids (and his wife, who couldn't come) are homeschoolers and game lovers. They are hoping to have me over some time to play Settlers with them 4-player. The 14 year old was suitably impressed with the game collection and took some time to look through some of my Magic cards.

After lunch, I taught them Pit. The woman (who is not really a gamer) didn't care for it, and the youngest one had some trouble with it (actually, all of them kept forgetting that you couldn't pass the bear alone). But the others really liked it.

The family then taught me a game that they had brought over, A Growly in the Garden. It's a cooperative kid's game with some interesting risk calculation. There is a 4x4 grid you have to fill with flowers (tiles), and a ring of spaces for tiles around the grid. You gradually flip tiles, and must place them as they appear. Some of the tiles are growlies who eat flowers in a row or column, unless they are scared away by scarecrows or get the special item they need to go back to bed. Your job is not only to preserve as many of your flowers as you can, but also have the growlies get their items without going away sad. I told them that I thought it had a subtle ecological theme.

Like most coops, it's easy for one player to dominate with his suggestions to the other players. Unlike most co-ops, or any games, for that matter, there is no clear win or loss at the end, only a final score.

As kid's games go, it's pretty good. Still, I wish there had been some more tension. Co-op games have become more interesting since Dr Knizia tinkered with them, and there's no reason that kid's games can't adopt a bit more of that interest.

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