Thursday, April 4, 2002

Im Marchenwald

I have an eight-year-old cousin who I've been giving board games as
gifts to for the past several years. It started out with Sagaland
(Enchanted Forest) and has gone from there. Well, about a year ago,
after Essen, I played Im Marchenwald with her.

Im Marchenwald is a cooperative memory game, in which you are trying
to rescue a princess by collecting 7 items before the evil dwarves
take her away. I played this once with adults, none of whom were
especially impressed or amused. The game itself is a nice twist on a
"Concentration" style game, in which you're trying to uncover a
particular kind of item. Once you've found it, that card tells you
the next item you're searching for. In addition to items, there are
the evil dwarves and a few other mostly bad cards. Not very
interesting for adults.

With a seven- or eight-year-old, however, this is a great game. It's
surprised me how much my cousin got involved in the narrative. She
was constantly nervous about the dwarves, and excited and enthusiastic
when a item was correctly discovered. The cooperative nature didn't
phase her at all. On other players turns, advice and suggestions were
given, but given the large number of cards (49), it's unreasonable to
remember any substantial fraction of the card flips. Instead you say,
"oh, I think the glass slipper was in that corner of the forest" and
another play says "Oh, I think it was along that edge" and you pick a
card. The game has great dramatic tension, and it seems well
balanced. That is, you usually win, but only if you are attentive and
fairly careful. If all players have bad memories, the dwarves will
get you.

In the end, the really impressive thing to me was how much fun it was
to play with a kid, while with adults it was dull. Sagaland, to me,
is about as equal with kids as with adults. Zapp Zerapp, similarly.
Im Marchenwald definitely benefits from a child's perspective.

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