See the elephant on the cover of the game box? You’ll see 100 of them when you open the box and look at the cards. What do elephants make you think of? Forgot already? Yup, it’s a memory game. See the mouse? Small-hand-size 3-d funny-looking mouse? What do elephants say when they see a mouse? Eeek!, of course. So, it’s an observation game. See the dice? There are two of them. One has arrows and numbers on it. The other says things like “higher,” “lower,” “even” and, oddly enough, “odd.” So it’s a game of luck, too.
Re. those 100 elephant-illustrated cards. They’re numbered, from, as you might surmise, 1, to 100. Now, imagine that you’ve made a neat, 6×6 array of elephant-down elephant cards. You can think of that as your playing board, because that’s pretty much what it is.
Now, give each player (from 2 players to 6) an elephant card. That card gets placed on the table, elephant-up, so everyone can see it. OK. Put the mouse somewhere near the middle of the array, on one of the face-down elephants. OK. So it’s your turn. You throw the dice. One die, the die with the numbers (1-6) and arrows (up or down) tells you two things. First of all, it tells you how many places (turned-over elephant cards) you can move (horizontally and/or vertically). We’ll get to the arrows a little later. Once you complete your move, you turn over any adjacent turned-over elephant. Now the other die is important. It tells you what kind of elephant you’re looking for – an even- or odd-numbered elephant, or one that is higher or lower than your turned-over elephant card. You turn over the chosen card. Wait, is that a little mouse hanging from the elephant’s trunk? Quick, grab the plastic mouse and say “eeek!” Cool! Now you get to keep that card, and continue your turn. Unless someone else said “eeek!” first. And then they get the turn, and the card, and you don’t.
OK. Say the adjacent card you just happened to pick doesn’t have a mouse on it, and does have the kind of number you were looking for. Now you have this choice: a) you can take that card, or b) you can leave it, move the mouse the required number of spaces, and hope you’ll just happen to find yet another card of the collectible kind. And, if you do find such a card, you can prolong your turn yet another move. And if you don’t, you have to return all the cards you collected that round. This, in game parlance, is known as “pressing your luck.”
And then there’s the arrows. The arrows tell you whether, when you turn a card over and it doesn’t meet the criteria shown on the category die, you leave that card face-up or face-down. Having to leave it face-down is what makes Hide and Eeek a memory game.
You get a lot to think about. A lot. Not so much that the game is by any means difficult. You can be as young as 8, and still have significant fun. But just enough so you have to pay close attention, all the time. Just when you think you’ve found a card you were looking for, you miss noticing that there is a mouse on it. Just when you think you know exactly where you can find the kind of card you need, you discover you’ve forgotten where you saw it before. Every card that is left face-up lures you forward. And every player who moves after you gets lured somewhere else.
So there’s memory, there’s observation, there are numerical properties, there’s luck, there’s strategy, and, most importantly, there’s fun. Major fun. For all the complexity, the game is easy to learn. It takes maybe 15 minutes to play. It keeps everyone involved. It’s well-made. It’s cleverly designed by Peggy Brown, attractively illustrated by Kevin Whitlark. Sometimes, it’s so much fun being the one who grabs the mouse and gets to say Eeek that it really doesn’t matter who actually wins the game!