Trou­ble in the ’ hood

Play as ei­ther Lit­tle Red or the Big Bad Wolf in a thrilling race to Grand­mother’s House.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - NOVEL GAMES - re­view by TER­ENCE TOH star2@ thes­tar.com.my

IT’S a pity there are no pizza de­liv­ery ser­vices in fairy tales. Given how so many of th­ese sto­ries re­volve around food or the lack or it ( see The Ant And The Grasshop­per, Hansel And Gre­tel,

Jack And The Beanstalk, etc), most fairy- tale pro­tag­o­nists could solve their prob­lems by just order­ing a nice big pep­per­oni pizza at the right mo­ment....

This is es­pe­cially so in the tale of Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood. The poor girl ( who ap­par­ently doesn’t even have a proper name!) has to wan­der through a dark, wolf- in­fested for­est by her­self, to de­liver a bas­ket of food to her granny. Not only is she not given weapons, she’s also wear­ing a bright red hood that makes her ex­tremely con­spic­u­ous to preda­tors. I sus­pect her par­ents were de­lib­er­ately try­ing to get her killed. How use­ful a pizza guy on a bike would have been.

Board game fans can ex­pe­ri­ence Red’s thrilling jour­ney into the woods for them­selves with Lit­tle

Red Rid­ing Hood ( LRRH), a fun lit­tle fam­ily game that com­bines both luck and strat­egy. Of­fer­ing two modes of play, LRRH is sim­ple yet en­gross­ing, and can be en­joyed by young ca­sual gamers and ravenously com­pet­i­tive play­ers alike.

LRRH is the fifth game in Pur­ple Brain’s Tales And Games se­ries, which adapts pop­u­lar chil­dren’s sto­ries into board games for the whole fam­ily. De­signed by Annick Lo­bet, with il­lus­tra­tions by Jeremie Fleury, ev­ery game in the se­ries is charm­ingly de­signed to look like a tome of fairy tales, and con­tains a book with the story the game is based on.

The game has two modes: Mode 1 is com­pletely co­op­er­a­tive, with play­ers help­ing lit­tle Red to reach her grand­mother’s house be­fore the Wolf does. To­kens rep­re­sent­ing both Red and the Wolf are placed on one end of the game board, and four desti­na­tion to­kens ( one show­ing Grand­mother’s House and the oth­ers blank) are placed on the other.

Game­play starts with the first player draw­ing a Path card, which have flow­ers drawn on them and a num­ber at the top. The player takes Gath­er­ing to­kens based on how many flow­ers are de­picted on the Path card ( from one to three).

He or she then has the op­tion to stop Gath­er­ing: if he or she does, the Gath­er­ing to­kens on the Path card are flipped over. To­kens which show flow­ers al­low Red to move one step for­ward; to­kens which show peb­bles have no ef­fect.

Al­ter­na­tively, the player can choose to con­tinue Gath­er­ing: if so, an­other Path card is drawn and placed next to the first card. Play­ers then note the num­bers on both cards; if the se­cond card has a num­ber lesser than the first card, that turn is over, and all Gath­er­ing to­kens pre­vi­ously gained are lost. The Wolf To­ken then moves one step for­ward.

On the other hand, if the num­ber on the se­cond card is equal to or greater than the num­ber on the first card, the player can then take more Gath­er­ing to­kens based on how many flow­ers are on the se­cond card. The player can keep Gath­er­ing un­til he or she chooses to stop, or the num­ber on the next Path card drawn is smaller than the pre­vi­ous one.

Play­ers then take turns Gath­er­ing, and the goal is to let the Red to­ken reach the Desti­na­tion tile with Grand­mother’s cot­tage be­fore the Wolf. There are also spe­cial powerups and spe­cial cards that ei­ther has­ten or slow your jour­ney, and must be used wisely for suc­cess.

Part of me is dis­ap­pointed at how tame the game’s premise is, con­sid­er­ing the dark el­e­ments in the fairy tale. I mean, think about it: the story of Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood is a vi­cious preda­tor stalk­ing an in­no­cent girl through the woods, and it cul­mi­nates in cross- dress­ing, peo­ple- eat­ing and vi­o­lence. It’s The Si­lence Of The

Lambs for preschool­ers! Taken on its own mer­its, how­ever, LRRH was sur­pris­ingly fun. The fun comes from col­lect­ing as many Gath­er­ing to­kens as pos­si­ble in a sin­gle turn, and the chal­lenge comes from know­ing when to stop: one bad card can end a whole streak of progress.

Mode 2, which is slightly more com­pli­cated, is just as en­joy­able. This mode is played sim­i­larly to Mode 1, ex­cept one player plays the Wolf and the oth­ers move lit­tle Red. This mode uses spe­cial cards that have two sides: a Char­ac­ter side and an An­i­mal side. The game starts with the play­ers mov­ing Red re­ceiv­ing the cards on the Char­ac­ter side; each has a spe­cial abil­ity. The Hunter, for ex­am­ple, forces the Wolf player to dis­card all cards with the num­ber zero in his hand, while the Lit­tle Thumb card ( ar­guably one of the most use­ful!) al­lows the Red to­ken to be moved even when Gath­er­ing to­kens show peb­bles.

Ev­ery time a Char­ac­ter card is used, how­ever, it is given to the Wolf player and turned over to the An­i­mal side, which also has spe­cial pow­ers. The Hunter card, for ex­am­ple, turns into The Goat, which eats two Gath­er­ing to­kens in play, while the Lum­ber­jack turns into The Snake, which moves the Red to­ken one space back­wards.

Once the Wolf player uses the An­i­mal abil­ity on a card, it is flipped back to the Char­ac­ter side, and then given back to the player he or she orig­i­nally took it from. Us­ing a power is there­fore a dou­ble- edged sword, as it gives your op­po­nent a spe­cial bonus too. Played wisely, th­ese can make or break a game!

Game­play wise, I have lit­tle to com­plain about in LRRH: I do, how­ever, have some is­sue with it’s pre­sen­ta­tion. The rule book for this game, oddly, is rather vague; some rules, like those per­tain­ing to cer­tain cards, are not ex­plained well enough, and I had to look up web- sites for fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tion. A shame, as pre­vi­ous games in the se­ries had very clear in­struc­tions.

All in all, though, LRRH was a lot of fun, and is prob­a­bly my se­cond favourite of the Tales And Games se­ries ( af­ter The Tor­toise And The

Hare).

Novel Games is a monthly col­umn in which we re­view board games in­spired by books, read­ing and sto­ry­telling.

1 The game board.

2 The slightly more com­pli­cated Mode 2 game­play uses spe­cial cards that have two sides: a char­ac­ter side and an An­i­mal side, each with spe­cial pow­ers. Pic­tured are the char­ac­ters of Lit­tle Thumb, Lum­ber­jack and Peter.

3 Th­ese An­i­mal side cards show the crow, Snake and Fox cards. An ex­am­ple of a spe­cial power: The Snake moves the to­ken one space back­wards.

— Pho­tos: SA­MuEL OnG/ The Star

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