2 Magnetic Games for Kids

Vampires of the Night boardVampires of the Night board

Vampires of the Night: watch out for all that garlic! Photo: Jonathan Liu

Overview: In Vampires of the Night, the mean ol’ vampire hunter Knobelzobel has scattered garlic all over the old castle ruins. Down below, the vampire children are sleeping. Leo Longtooth the guardian vampire has to clear garlic from the ruins without knocking any down onto the children below.

Vampires of the Night boxVampires of the Night boxPlayers: 2 to 4

Ages: 6 and up

Playing Time: 20-30 minutes

Retail: $29.99

Rating: Wand-erful. (Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!) And repulsive … in a sense. It’s fun, but a little tricky.

Who Will Like It? Kids who like to play with the repelling ability of magnets, plus anyone who loves glow-in-the-dark stuff.

Guiding the vampire with the bat wandGuiding the vampire with the bat wand

Guiding the vampire with the bat wand. Photo: Jonathan Liu

Theme:

It’s worth mentioning here that the theme is pretty funny. You’re playing the vampires, and there’s a bunch of garlic scattered all over the hole-covered roof of the castle. Down below (on the bottom of the box) there are little images of the sleeping vampire children.

Components:

  • 1 vampire pawn
  • 1 bat wand
  • 24 garlic chips (8 small, 8 medium, 8 large)

The board is built up using the bottom of the box, an octagonal piece with lots of holes in it, and some two-part towers that form the corners. The towers hold up the octagonal roof, suspending it above the box.

The garlic chips are small plastic discs with images of garlic printed on them — the green part of the chip glows in the dark, as does the “head” of the vampire and the bat on the wand. For size comparison, the large chips are about the diameter of a nickel, the medium ones are about the size of a penny, and the small ones are … small. You’ll want to be careful not to lose them. The head of the vampire and the bat are also magnets that repel each other, so you can use the wand to push the vampire around.

My only disappointment with the pieces is that the pawn doesn’t really look like a vampire. It’s simple and abstracted, but I think they could have at least painted a face and a widow’s peak on it.

Gameplay:

You set up all the garlic chips on the roof, with the vampire in the center of the board. One thing to note is that the large chips cover up small holes. Once it’s all set up, you take turns guiding the vampire around with the bat wand.

Your goal is to push the garlic to the edge of the roof (avoiding all the holes) and shove it off the side, which gets you points. But if the garlic falls into the holes, it lands on the kids, and you don’t get any points. Your turn ends as soon as you get a chip off the edge (or more, if they fall together) or you drop one into the box. Oh, and if you push the vampire over the edge you also end your turn, and he’s placed back as close to the center as possible.

The game ends when there’s no more garlic left on the board. Everyone counts their chips, which are worth one, two, or three points, and the highest score wins.

Conclusion:

This one is fun and offers a challenge for adults as well as kids, but might not be great for the very young. Controlling the vampire with the wand is quite tricky, as you may know if you’ve ever used magnets to repel each other. The vampire doesn’t always move smoothly, but rather sticks in one place until the repulsion overcomes friction and then scoots away and stops, so it’s not easy to get the garlic where you want it to go.

My kids played around with this for a while, but even the eight-year-old thinks it’s still a little too hard at times. It takes a steady hand and a little bit of patience. They do like the glow-in-the-dark aspect, but the difficulty of playing in the dark (as the rules suggest) is that you can’t see where the holes are at all. The color of the board looks like the holes are all ringed with glowing paint, but it’s just a pale green that doesn’t actually glow. That would have been a nice touch, and I’m considering getting some glow paint to do just that.

One other thing that’s a little weird: the large chips are worth three points (with three bulbs of garlic) but the small chips are worth only one — but it seems that it’s much easier to lose the small chips down the holes. You might consider a house rule to switch that around, though I haven’t played enough to know if the smaller size makes it easier to avoid holes, too. Overall, it’s a very fun idea and I like the theme and the illustrations, but I think it’s one I’ll hang onto until my kids are a little bit older and give it another shot.

Wired: Rescue the poor sleeping vampire children from the nasty garlic! Glow-in-the-dark parts and a fun way to use magnets.

Tired: Can be a bit challenging and less-stubborn kids may give up before the game is over.

Disclosure: GeekDad received review copies of both games.

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