Our first game was chosen by Maddie - Enchanted Forest. This is a memory game in which players move through the enchanted forest searching for magical items. The first player to successfully advise the king in his castle of the correct location of three of these items becomes the king's heir. When a player's pawn is adjacent to one of the trees the player may look underneath the tree to see what item lies beneath. The roll of two 6-sided dice is used for movement. The numbers rolled are treated separately for movement purposes but each number must be used to move fully in a certain direction. For example, if you rolled a 6 and a 4 you could move 10 spaces in one direction, or you could use them to move 6 spaces forward and 4 backwards thus giving you a net movement of 2.
As there is no reading necessary it's a perfect game to play with young children. I also enjoy it as an adult and I'm sure it would make a challenging game for a group of adults. There are elements of screwage where you can land your pawn on another player and send them back to the starting village. There is also the opportunity to bluff when you are making your way to the castle perhaps causing the other players to use magic to change the face-up magic item to one where you may know it's location. Obviously there is a fair amount of randomness in rolling dice for movement, however this applies to all players so over the game I feel it evens out. And of course memory is the most important part of this game. I won with 3, Maddie with 2 and Grandma with 1.
Our second game of the morning was Packrossli (AKA Pakkesel). This is a fun little dexterity game with lovely wooden components in which each player is attempting to stack sticks of their colour on to the back of a donkey. Each player is assigned 12 sticks in their colour. Starting with the youngest player and proceeding clockwise each player attempts to place one stick of their colour onto the saddle of the donkey. If a player knocks over the accumulated bundle of sticks then they take those sticks. The first player to place their last stick (of any colour) onto the pile of sticks on the donkey's saddle wins the game. We played one game which I won. Coincidentally, my wife bought this game at a garage sale almost exactly one year ago to the day (27 January 2007). It ended up being a fairly close game between myself and Maddie.
Our last game of the morning was Der Schwarze Pirat. Maddie chose to sit this one out but stayed to watch. This is a fun dexterity game in which players use a rubber bellows to blow their wooden ships around the board collecting treasure. The two dice rolled during the game determine which ship is moved (your own or the Black Pirate's), how far (either 3 or 4 squeezes of the bellows), how much, and on what islands the gold coins are placed.
The dreaded Black Pirate!
A cool part of the game is that on a player's turn the dice may determine that they move the Pirate ship. In this situation you may use the Pirate ship as you would your own and move it to an island to claim the gold, or you may use it to board another player by moving it to touch another player's ship. If you board another player they must take 3 of their gold coins and distribute them as they see fit in their two closed fists. The Pirate player then chooses one of the hands and claims the gold coins within. I was the only player in this game to use successfully board another ship - in both cases my mother's ship. And both times she had 3 coins in one hand and none in the other. Unfortunately on both occasions I chose the hand with no coins. However, I did go on to take the win with 23 gold coins to Grandma's 13 gold coins. The more I play this game the more I enjoy it.