Thursday, June 22, 2017

Problem Picnic: Attack of the Ants (Kids Table Board Gaming)

Everyone loves a good picnic. There's something about eating outdoors on a blanket and not bolt upright at a table or vegged out on the couch. The food just tastes better and you can have fun and play outdoors while or after eating, without having to worry about making a mess. Unfortunately, we all know the one thing that ruins a picnic...ANTS! Kids Table Board Gaming has recently published a game with just this theme called Problem Picnic: Attack of the Ants. The game plays 2-4 people, ages 8+. It takes approximately 30 minutes to play and retails for $26.
Setup
1. Shuffle the Picnic cards into a face-up deck. Create a Picnic Area based on the number of players (five in a 2-player game, seven in a 3-player game, and 9 in a 4-player game). Make sure to leave a space between each card that is as big as the biggest die in the game. Place the Puddle card near the deck of Picnic cards and out of the way.
2. Have each player pick a color. Give them the Anthill card and six Ant Dice of their color, which are placed on their Anthill.
3. Set up a scoring area away from the Picnic Area. Place the Majority card and a random set of Scoring cards equal to the number of players plus one. Then, mix the Reward Tokens face down, randomly placing one on each Scoring card and six on the Majority card.
4. Shuffle the Round cards face-down and deal five into a pile near the Scoring cards. Lastly, place the Action Tokens (shoe, honey on a stick, etc.) near the Round cards pile.
Game Play - The game lasts six rounds with each round having the following three parts:
1. Send out the Ants - Starting with the first player and going clockwise, if you have any Ant Dice left on your Anthill, you must pick one and roll/toss it into the Picnic Area. (Note: You want your Ants to land on Picnic cards that you are trying to collect.)
2. Bring back the Food - Once all player have run out of Ant Dice, you do the following:
a. Return all Ant Dice on the Puddle and not touching any Picnic cards to their owner's Anthill.
b. Resolve each Picnic card by tallying the number of ants shown on the dice face for each player. (Ties are broken in order of most dice on the card, biggest die on the card, and then no winner.) If you lose the Picnic card your ants are returned to your Anthill. If you win the card, all your Ants(except your Soldiers are placed on the Puddle.
c. After all the Picnic cards have been resolved, add them to your colony by placing the Plate icon (located in the corner) over an ant on another Picnic card.
3. Get ready for the next round - Add new Picnic cards to the Picnic Area in the same manner as initial setup. The new starting player is the player with the fewest Picnic cards in their area. They flip the Round card over and claim it for a unique power to use later.

Once the sixth round has occurred, score the Picnic cards from step 3 in the setup. Reward Tokens are awarded to the player who achieved the goal. Tie Tokens are awarded when multiple players accomplish the goal. Highest score wins!
Review
A dexterity game that involves rolling dice... It's like everything I'm horrible at in games bundled into a cute package. With that being said, I would highly recommend this game! For starters, you have Scott Almes who designed this game. Anyone who is a fan of modern board games knows that Scott Almes is a genius who keeps producing hit after hit! Pair the awesome game design with the beautiful art of Josh Cappel and you get a game that you want, no need to have in your collection. These two men are the gold standard of the board gaming industry, and I would buy almost anything with either/both of their names on the box.

However, the game is more than just names on a box. There is solid game play that is easy enough for a child to learn but hard for even an adult to master, so the playing field is always level (or in my case skewed towards my son, because like I said earlier, horrible at this game). There is also high replay value in the game. There are six round cards with only five being used in the game, so you will never know which one is not going to show up in your game or in what order. There are also sixteen scoring cards, meaning you'll have three to five per game creating great variability by themselves, but even more so with the reward tokens.

Owning both the games from Kids Table Board Gaming, one thing I have noticed is their attention to detail. There are a lot of great games out there that I enjoy, but their components leave a lot to be desired. Problem Picnic shows game publishers how little things can go a long way. The dice could have been beautifully colored and that would have been enough, but instead they went the extra mile and made the pips ant shaped. The cardboard punch-out for the shoe could have been the same image front and back, but they actually had the top of a shoe on one side and the sole on the other side. It's nice touches like this that make the game stand out for all the right reasons. If you have kids in your household or grandkids, then you should really pick up their games, so they can continue to make more great games that are fun for the whole family.