Name: The Kids of Carcassonne
Game Designer: Marco Teubner
Publisher: Hans im Glück
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Summary: Based on the adult board game "Carcasonne", this excellent simplified version is easy enough for young children to grasp, yet interesting enough to keep the attention of parents or older siblings; an excellent introduction to board games for young ones.
I believe it is good to get children involved in board games at an early age to get them into such things early rather than the easy way out of computer games. "The Kids of Carcasonne" is a wonderful game to that end. The box says that the game is for ages 4+. I got it when our oldest were 4 and 3. The three year-old was able to play, but our four year-old clearly grasped the concepts better -- although I think he has better aptitude for such things since even a year later he plays with more strategy and the younger one just matches up tiles although she is getting better.
The game is based on the highly popular adult board game "Carcasonne". It consists of several "landscape tiles" with images of roads, buildings, and rivers on them, and children wearing the player colours running on the roads. Each player has a collection of coloured playing pieces that look like small people carved in wood. The players in turn draw a landscape tile and place it; in normal/adult Carcasonne, these the roads will not always or easily match with another piece but in this simplified version each tile has a road exiting each of the four sides meaning that they always match.
Amongst other features, the tiles show children in the player colors on the roads. Whenever a road is "finished", every player places one of his pieces on each appropriate picture. Roads are finished when they are closed at each end by a building or dead-end. The first player who manages to place all of his pieces wins the game.
There are four colours (red, blue, green, and yellow) so you can only play with four people, which is not ideal for large Catholic families in one sense, but on the other hand, keeps it simple which is important for young children. Also, playing time is only about 15-20 minutes so children can easily rotate who plays and do several games in an hour. As mentioned in the summary, unlike some other childrens' board games I've tried, this one is actually interesting for adults to play which is important when teaching the children how to play and also to give you another reason to spend time with your children which is incredibly important (children spell love T-I-M-E, after all).
"The Kids of Carcasonne" is fairly fast-paced, making it a good fit for young minds that haven't developed a long attention span yet. It is entertaining and an excellent way to spent 20 minutes to an hour with your children. It is somewhat competitive and one of them will win the game, but it is not too competitive since all the tiles match up eliminating the intensity of the adult version. It also has a pleasant mediæval theme and children like looking at the castles and the little children in mediæval garb chasing sheep and chickens about. I highly recommend it to any parent with young children around 4-5 years of age. Older children will probably enjoy it as well, but desire more complexity ere long.
As with most, if not all, of the boardgames you will see recommended by Durendal, this board game is not available at the "big" stores like Wal-Mart or Toys 'R' Us, but is readily available on the internet or at local specialty games stores.