My two oldest kids are at the verge of becoming gaming geeks like their parents before them. Finding a game that works for kids before 8 years old (when it seems every cool game is available to you) has sent my husband and I on long searches through the Internet. Luckily, with every passing year, more and more games are released that work for younger children. “Race to the Treasure!” gets high marks from my four and six year olds!
Okay, let me be honest here. I love cooperative games. Love with a capital L-O-V-E. And “Race to the Treasure!” is a cooperative game. I couldn’t believe I had found a cooperative game that my kids could play. Even though the recommended ages are 5+, my 4 year old was able to play with some assistance (which is kind of what cooperative games are all about!)
The goal of this game is to create a path that will allow you to pick up 3 out of 4 treasures and get to the end before the Ogre. If you do – victory!
To set up, you roll two dice to randomly decide where 4 keys and 1 Ogre snack are placed on the board. This element adds to the replay value.
One element I, as a parent, enjoy is the touch of puzzle-solving inherent within “Race to the Treasure!”. Similar to “Tsuro,” the group has a deck of tiles with different paths that they must place on the board in ways that will allow them to get to keys.
The creators of this game did the kids a “solid” by only requiring collection of 3 out of 4 keys. We’ve all played “Forbidden Island” where the island has sunk as one group member did something insane to collect that fourth treasure and doomed the group to defeat. But this is a very basic introduction to cooperative games. If the random paths drawn by the group just don’t work out, no worries – you don’t have to get all the treasure. It may seem like a small thing but it really helps with the kids’ frustration levels.
Speaking of frustration levels, let’s discuss the very important common mechanic of a good cooperative game: urgency. There has to be something in the game that pushes the group toward defeat and this game has that in the random Ogre cards dispersed throughout the deck. As the Ogre card is drawn and gets closer to victory, the sense of urgency and frustration levels rise.
The game gives this novice group of cooperative gamers one more tool to help defeat the Ogre. A snack. That’s right. The only thing Ogres love more than treasure is food. That’s a scientific fact, ya know. Placed on the board is one Ogre Snack. The group creates a path to the snack, picks it up and can use it to send the Ogre back one space. The group cannot use the snack again. It’s meant to provide the young players with just a bit of breathing room.
And as a bonus to all you environmentally-conscious folks out there: everything in this game is recyclable. Everything. Even the dice.
Now go out there and “Race to the Treasure!”… and make the Ogre cry as you roll around in your mountains of Gold coins.