Meeple-Sized Reviews #2: HABA Special EditionMarch 18, 2016
We review 7 HABA games .
Editor Note: We have edited this article to fit the new Inquisitive Meeple format (and web address) and well as some grammar issues. Originally Rhino Hero won the Seal of Excellence from The Inquisitive Meeple, however that award is now defunct. We have edited out the mentions of it, with the exception of this note.
Animal Upon Animal 10 Year Anniversary Edition (2-4 players, Ages 4+) There is a reason that Animal Upon Animal is still in print after 10 years and after selling over 600,000 games, to be frank, it is HABA’s evergreen game. It is what they are known for. Is there anything new in the 10-year anniversary edition? This new edition comes packaged in a sturdy tin and includes a nice insert. It also includes a silver alligator instead of the normal green one. However, the gameplay is the same found in the cardboard box edition. If you already own a copy – it may not be worth picking on this new edition. If you don’t own a copy of Animal Upon Animal –then what are you waiting for? Animal Upon Animal is a game that not only makes a good game for children to play on their own but also works with mixed company of adults and children. And if we are being honest even adults may find this a good little filler game. I will close by saying that if you are only going to be playing 2-players, you may want to look into Animal Upon Animal: The Duel, instead.
KARUBA (2-4 players, Ages 8+) HABA has recently released three new games that are more labeled as family games then say their normal children’s games. Of these three games, Karuba seems to be the break-out hit. In the game, everyone simultaneously places path tiles on their own boards working to get their adventurer meeples to their respective temples and to collect points. The catch is – everyone has to place the same tile. They are chosen by one player whose tiles are facedown and the number called out “Bingo” style. Another catch is that you can only move your adventure along the paths you make when you discard tiles instead of placing them. The game ends when all tiles are drawn or someone has gotten all 4 adventurers to their 4 temples. Of course, the highest score wins.
So what are our thoughts? Well, I can tell you off the bat, that HABA hit their mark. While my kids love HABA games, this is one where they will outright ask “when are we gonna play it again?” at random points during the week. That said, there is enough going on in the game that this game could easily be kept with the “adult collection” and not relegated to the children’s board game shelf. The first game you may find you (or your kids) having a tough time with placing tiles in wrong places and maybe feeling a little frustrated. I can say by your 2nd or 3rd turn you (or the kids) should be doing much better with that as the gameplay “clicks” into place in your mind. There is one issue with the game that I can see. If you are playing with 4-players the “bingo caller” may be at a disadvantage. You see they have to choose from facedown tiles where everyone else has face-up tiles. Thus the caller may not know this is the only tile left that turns the path a certain way – thus they are at a disadvantage to those that have that open information. Overall, I wouldn’t let that deter you as that can be fixed with something as simple as drawing numbers from a hat. In the end, Karuba is a solid game that adds some new twists to tile-laying games.
Adventure Land (2-4 players, Ages 10+) Adventure Land was designed by the famous Euro team of Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer ( Tikal, Torres, That’s Life, etc.). That right there may be enough information to tell you whether or not you will like the game. With Adventure Land, it is hard to go over the details of play – as there are some base rules, but there are 3 different ways (the game calls it “Scenarios”) to play the game. However, one thing they have in common is you can only move your meeples either right or down (never up or to the left) and before every turn, you have to pick some cards with coordinates and place things on the board game grid (i.e. A-4 and I-6). I feel like I should preference that I haven’t played all the Scenarios, I have only played the first 2. However, I think family wise I can see Scenario 2 being the sweet spot for the game, as the 3rd one adds minus points for not completing objectives and the 1st Scenario when we played overstayed its welcome by 15 minutes or so. I am not really sure my whole take on this game, it can be entertaining and fun – but not enough to run out a buy a copy. Thankfully, my copy was provided by HABA. Only time will tell how often this comes off the shelf.
However, for fans of Kiseling and Kramer that are going to get this game – please be aware the English rules have some issues. One is a bad translation that has confused even season reviewers on how the pieces moves and you can find the correct understanding of the basic movement rules on BGG by clicking here. Also, the English rules left out a rule that you may want to be aware of and you can find that on BGG by clicking here.
Space Planets ( 2-4 players, Ages 6+ ) Space Planets is a game where you are rolling a die to collect different planet cards. However, the way you roll the die to collect is unique – you literally have to roll a die unto a planet card and then choose to pay the cost on the die for the planet you landed on. There is a little more to it as some of the lower victory points scoring Planets have special abilities, but that is the gist of the game. Space Planets is perfect for 6 year-old’s (5-year-old’s even if your kids wouldn’t want to put the small plastic gems that come with the game in their mouths), though I am hard-pressed to see this game becoming a cross-over hit with adults. I will say the cards slip out of place when you roll the die, so you have to fix them constantly (minor annoyance) and you will want to play on the kitchen table and maybe not a coffee table as you want to make it so the die rolls and doesn’t overshoot the cards easily. If you have children in the age range of 5 to 7-years-old, this may be a good game to look at for them.
The Treasure of the 13 Islands ( 2-4 Players, Ages 6+ ) The Treasure of the 13 Islands is not really like anything on the market, so it is almost too hard to describe. Gameplay involves moving airships around to islands trying to avoid hazards – the twist however is that you are doing this blind. The object of the game is to complete 3 missions so you can look at 3 clue cards and then fly to the island that the 3 clues describe on the card. While the game is solid and has very nice components, I cannot help but feel the older the person playing – the better they are with this game. Younger kids could possibly get frustrated playing with older kids and adults as the older kids (or adults) may find it easier to judge how to miss disasters on the board. And while you will most likely sometimes hit a few, it won’t be nearly as much as younger kids. So while this game provides a moderately fun and unique experience, the game is not one that I would suggest running out to buy for your family, though you shouldn’t pass up the experience to at least try the game out if your kids are given the chance.
UGAH UGAH! (2-4 players, Ages 5+): Ugah Ugah! is a push-your-luck dice game, where players take the role of two Stone Age Hunters named, Bone Breaker and Mammoth Masher. Players will roll 5 dice – if they roll a die with a bone on it, that die is out and cannot be used. The dice roller then has to pick one of the 5 other symbols that may have been rolled and take out ALL of that symbol and put it off to the side. Symbols allow you to move one or both of the cavemen along a path of tiles. The cavemen move in different directions around the circular path of tiles. Players collect what they land on, if you move both cavemen, the second tile you collect goes to a player of your choice (this can come in handy as some tiles are worth negative points). There are also bonus tiles in the form of a dodo bird, t-rex and mammoth. Each of these animals has a symbol on the dice – if you roll 3 or more dice with the same symbol (i.e. 3 dodos) – you collect that bonus tile – even if it means stealing it from another player. When the two cavemen meet or pass each other the game ends. Whoever gathered the most meat (depicted on tiles) wins the game.
Ugah Ugah! isn’t going to be one of those crossover games like some HABA games where adults pull it out without the kids around. That said, it is a solid game and would be a good first introductory game to the push-your-luck mechanic for children around the ages of 5-8.
RHINO HERO (2-5 Players, Ages 5+) The very basic description of Rhino Hero is it’s a dexterity game where you are building a tall building out of cards and cardboard. Players are trying to get rid of all these roof/floor cards before anyone else. Many of the cards have special powers that allow you to things like place two cards or maybe skip someone’s turn.
I have a confession to make on this one. I originally purchase Rhino Hero many years ago – yet it was not only recently (Jan 2016 I think) that I finally got it to the table. Boy, what a mistake! Not that I played it, but that we haven’t been playing this game all along. It is an amazing game – and yes despite it being a HABA children’s game, it is one you could have fun with even without kids (though I haven’t done that yet). It is also a game where you want to play another game of it, right after finishing the first. This is a great game (perhaps my favorite HABA game), and should be in everyone’s collection and would make a great gift to any family game collection.
Rhino Hero – Get it!
Animal Upon Animal and Kuraba – Games you will really want to look into adding to your collection.
Ugah! Ugah! and Space Planets – great for younger kids. I will say that my 7-year old says he finds Ugah Ugah! the more fun of the two.
The Treasure of the 13 Islands and Adventure Land – While they can be fun, they are not ones I recommend to add to your collection, but worth a try if someone else owns copies.
The Inquisitive Meeple Note: Some of the following games (though not all) were review/preview copies given to The Inquisitive Meeple. Any positive opinions/feedback on the game are our own. They were not solicited by publishers or by the designers.