Rhino Hero

Rhino Hero is a kids’ game, unless they allow their parents to play. And then, when the kids are asleep, it’s party time.

It’s a direct descendant of playing house of cards. But it’s a game instead of an exercise in masochism. And an innovatively fun game it is.

Of the 59 cards, 31 of them are “roof cards” and 28 are wall cards. The wall cards are scored down the middle so they can fold. The cards are much thicker than playing cards, which you might consider innovation number one. The folding wall card, which, as you might expect, stands upright much more easily than a standard playing card, and is far easier to build on top of, is innovation number two – a much more significant innovation, especially in the eyes and hands of younger players. The wall cards are also illustrated, so that one side looks like the outside of a house, and the other, the inside. You could consider this innovation number three, as it adds a constructive fantasy element which playing cards lack. But it doesn’t actually affect the playing of the game.

The Roof Cards are most definitely significant, innovation-wise and game-play-wise. Hence, we shall consider them innovation number three and four. Number three because on every roof card is an outline determining where the wall cards are to be placed – there may be only one wall card in the middle, or two wall cards in a surprising variety of positions. Clearly, roof cards that call for only one wall card result in a far less stable construction and hence more tension-filled game. The fourth innovation comes from the foil-embossed symbols on each of the roof cards – symbols which add truly gamish mayhem, resulting in a) direction of play being reversed, or b) the next player skipping a turn, or c) the next player drawing a new roof card, or d) having to use two roof cards on the same turn, or e) or having to take the small wooden Rhino of purportedly super significance from wherever it is, and place it on that card, without, of course, knocking down any of the surrounding or supporting cards.

In the beginning of the game, each player is dealt a hand of roof cards. The first player to get rid of all her roof cards wins. This card-game-like aspect is what you might easily consider the fifth innovation in this innovatively fun game.

The overall design is so effective that you can disregard the rules entirely and still have a grand old time, either by yourself, or cooperatively with your friends and family. Or, you can follow the rules, and have an even grander time, filled with tension, surprises, laughter, and much hilariously sudden toppling.

Rhino Heroe is for 1 to 5 players, as young as five and for older folk of steady hand. A round takes maybe 15 minutes. Cleverly designed by Steven Strumpf and Scott Frisco, with fanciful art by Thies Schwarz. From Haba, available in the US from Maukilo. Not just fun, mind you, but Major Fun.

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