Reviewed by Deborah Banasko
The Enchanted Forest Game is certainly one which grabs your attention; the front of the box is covered with brightly coloured Fairy Tale characters and scenes which are impossible for any young child to tear themselves away from. My 9, 6 and 3 year old children swarmed around the box, desperate to play, so it certainly has shelf appeal!
Set in the land of Fairy Tales, once you take out the game board you will find the instructions printed onto a gorgeous scroll, challenging you to embark on a quest to find three treasures and become successor to the throne. It is a pretty exciting introduction to a kids game, a good premise and shows lovely attention to detail.
In the box you also have 13 treasure tiles, 13 treasure tokens which are inserted into the base of the 13 plastic trees, the game board, dice and six different coloured wooden play pieces. The game pieces were excellent quality, particularly given that the game RRP is only £14.99. The game board is beautiful, with the journey between the village and castle sprinkled with various iconic Fairy Tale houses and locations. This quality continues inside the game box with a gorgeous picture to remind you which story each of the treasure tokens relates to.
Looking at the instructions there is a basic set up for younger players, as well as additional rules for a longer game to incorporate more strategy. On first reading the instructions I have to admit I was a little confused, but if you set the game up in the described stages and work through each point then the rules become clear pretty quickly and you can get on with the game without having to refer back.
Each treasure token is inserted into the base of one of the trees and positioned in one of 13 set locations on the board, in random order. The treasure tiles are placed in a pile beside the key icon in the castle, with the top one turned over. Players take turns to roll the dice and move around the board, secretly looking underneath any tree that they land beside to identify the hidden token. They must remember that token, and if it matches the upturned treasure tile they can make their way to the key icon, recall which tree contains the matching token and claim that token. The next card is then turned over. The first player to claim three treasure tiles is the winner. It really isn’t as complicated as it may sound.
This game is a real memory test as all of the trees look the same, and we soon realised that you need to plan every move to improve your chances of uncovering the trees and also calculate the best time to move to the key position. This isn’t just a “who can get to the finish line fist” type of game; it makes you think and has a real STEM focus with the logical thinking and maths skills.
If the basic game is too easy there are some suggestions to extend the game and make you think that bit harder; for example you can send an opponent home if you land on the space already occupied by them, or upon rolling a double you can use magic and choose from three possible game moves.
The target age is 4 plus, which is accurate although I would imagine a child between the ages of 5 and 8 would get more from it in terms of strategy. I like that two dice are used as that’s great for key stage 1 counting skills.
My 6 year old is appalling at keeping his “poker face” on so we all knew by his gasping and giggling when he’d found the token to match the tile currently in play; great for the rest of the players but not always for him!
My 9 year old felt that the contents didn’t completely reflect the box cover; she expected more of a Fairy Tale focus with the play pieces and was hoping for some Princess characters. I felt that they resembled the good Fairies from the Sleeping Beauty movie but she wasn’t especially impressed with them. (Editor’s note – this is the reviewer’s opinion)
A slight niggle from my point of view was that the trees didn’t always stay in position if they got knocked by a dice or someone nudged the board as children do. Perhaps a groove would have been better locked them into position.
We also changed the rules slightly and allowed a player to look under a tree if they moved past one, just to keep the game flowing. We are a family who like to adapt many games to suit us, although you could describe it as cheating!
It is a really quick game to set up, and can occupy a good 20 to 30 minutes on a weekend, after school or in the school holidays. It is a good one for all of the family and the educational aspect is a real appeal. My children were so excited each time that they won a tile, and the pictures are so detailed and beautiful. The additional rule were magic was used was a real hit as we all pretended to “zap” our wands.
My 9 year old felt that the game deserved 4 stars whereas the 6 year old awarded it 5; so I’ve met them half way at 4.5. This is a lovely fun family game, a great premise and uses primary level maths skills which is always a parent bonus.
This product can be purchased from Amazon here.