Overview: Some goblins have popped into our world through a fairy ring, and you need to send them back – using rhymes! Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule is a kid-friendly card game with some fantastic illustrations of goblins and fairies and a cute rhyme-based mechanic. The game is currently funding on Kickstarter (and has already shot past its original goal) so you’ve got about two weeks to get in on the fun. [Update: The Kickstarter campaign is over, but you can preorder the game from GameSalute.]
Players: 1 to 4
Ages: 7 and up (requires simple reading skills)
Playing Time: 15 minutes
Retail: $12 on Kickstarter
Rating: Really cute and fun to boot!
Who Will Like It? This one is a fun game for kids (particularly those who like fairies and/or goblins), but it has some fun memory-based mechanics that can make it a good short game for adults as well. And if you love games with great illustrations, you should definitely check this out.
Goblins and fairies! Ok, there’s not necessarily a strong tie between the theme of the game and the mechanics — there’s a little bit in the rulebook about ancient rhyming spells which turn goblins into fairies and vice versa, but that’s about it. The illustrations of the goblins and fairies are wonderful, though.
The game comes with 20 over-sized cards. Each card has a fairy on one side and a goblin on the other, and each card also has one of four symbols: sun, moon, frog, or mushroom. The sun and moon are always on opposite sides of a card, and the frog and mushroom are always on opposite sides as well.
The names of the fairies and goblins come in five rhyming groups, ending in the sounds oop, elly, ock, ower, and ew, and none of the cards has the same rhyming group on front and back. Also, no two cards share the same two rhyming groups.
I love the illustrations on the cards by Mike Maihack. The sample set I received only has 20 of the 40 characters illustrated so far, so there were some repeats (which is why some of the names and images pictured here may not match). The cards are almost postcard-sized to show off the artwork, and since you play with the cards face down on the table they work just fine. I can’t speak to the final quality of the cards themselves: the version I have is about like index cards and may not hold up to enthusiastic play, but it is a demo version only. The one difficulty is if you want to sleeve your cards, you may have trouble finding ones that fit exactly.
To set up, the cards should be turned goblin-side-up. Each player gets one Goblin Star Card (the rest are set aside), and then three more regular goblin cards at random. These cards are laid out on the table where everyone can see them. Four cards are placed in the center of the table, fairy-side-up, forming the fairy ring. The rest of the cards are set aside, out of the game.
The goal of the game is to collect six fairies or get rid of all of your goblins.
On your turn, you take one of your cards and add it to the fairy ring. Then, you flip over any of the fairy ring cards that rhyme with the one you just placed (but not the card you just played). Finally, you take any cards whose symbols match the card you played and add them to your area.
If you add a star card (either a goblin or a fairy) then you flip all of the cards in the fairy ring (except the card just played).
If, at the end of your turn, you have no goblins left or at least six fairies, the you win.
For solitaire, you start with one Goblin Star Card and four regular goblins, and five fairy cards in the fairy ring. You try to win the game in as few moves as possible — or you can start adding more goblins or fairies at the start.
Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule is a very simple game, but it’s a clever one. The rules are simple enough that you can set up the game and start playing in a minute, and really any child old enough to sound out the names and understand rhyming could play it. (Non-readers can play with some assistance.) There is luck involved, but I can imagine that as players become more familiar with which fairies and goblins are paired up, there could be more strategy as well.
What’s fun is that you can just play things somewhat at random, picking a card that will just help you get rid of a goblin or collect a fairy — but if you want, you can pay more attention to what things are getting flipped and what cards your opponents have in order to seed the fairy ring with things that will force them to take more goblins. Even at that level, though, it’s still a quick-playing game that probably won’t run more than fifteen minutes.
And, as I’ve said already, the illustrations are great. As much as it pains me to break this down along stereotypical gender lines, my daughters love the fairy pictures and I think the goblins are hilarious. You can tell from the Kickstarter campaign that they’ve basically decided the fairies are for girls and the goblins are for boys, which kind of bugs me a little even though it happens to be true in my family. I suppose if you have a whole group of players you could let them start with fairies and try to collect six goblins instead. Or maybe it would be fun to let people decide if they want to get fairies or goblins and start the fairy ring with half and half. Now there’s an interesting thought…
At any rate, if you’ve got kids who like fairy tales and fantasy, it’s worth looking into. The reward level to get a copy of the game is only $12 (plus shipping), and there are some other fun rewards as well. (I do wish they’d included shipping costs in the reward levels just to make things simpler, but at this price it’s still a pretty good deal.)
Wired: Great illustrations, quick to teach and play, may be excellent practice for early readers.
Tired: Maybe some girls like goblins and some boys like fairies, eh? Shipping costs not included in reward levels.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of this game.