Chicken Cha Cha Cha is kids’ game that is even more fun as a family game and at least as fun at a grown-up games party.
Short-term memory is an important aspect of this game. Which is part of what makes it such a good family game. Considering whose memory is shorter term, it’s very likely that they’ll have at least as good a chance at winning as you.
The real fun of the game, however, comes from chasing each other around a board of thick, cardboard, egg-shape tiles. There are four wooden chickens (two are supposed to be roosters, but that’s where the game begins to get abstract). Each of these chickens have appropriately located places where one can put tail feathers – wooden sticks topped by egg-shaped balls, each corresponding to a chicken color.
Then there are the thick, cardboard, octagonal tiles which are placed face-down, and surrounded by the egg track. The images on these tiles correspond to images on the eggs.
You place your wooden chicken with its one wooden tail feather anywhere on the egg track. When it’s your turn, you first have to find the octagonal tile that matches the egg tile in front of your chicken. If you are correct, you move your chicken to that tile, and go again, trying to guess which octagon matches the egg tile that is now in front of you. You can play in teams, even – which makes it more fun, and more likely that your collective recollection might be good enough to find which octagon matches which egg tile.
If you get immediately behind someone else’s chicken, and it’s still your turn, you can, if you can identify the octagon tile that matches the egg tile that is in front of the opponent’s chicken, jump over that chicken, and get his or her proverbial tail feather.
The first chicken with all four tail feathers wins.
Chicken chasing is great fun. It’s as fun as playing tag or duck-duck-goose. And, as the game progresses, you remember (especially if you’re young enough) more and more of the octagonal tiles, so you can run (or, as the game designers would want you to think of it, “cha cha”) further and further. So the chase speeds up. And the tension increases. And sometimes you get so excited you forget where anything is. And sometimes you remember everything. And then you win.
Designed by Klaus Zoch, and graced by the endearing art of Doris Matthäus, Chicken Cha Cha Cha is a remarkably versatile, and engaging game, for a surprisingly wide range of ages. It’s one of a relatively few games that kids can play as well as their parents can, that appeals to teens as much as pre-schoolers, that could find as much welcome in a games party for grown-ups as with the kids in the family room on a rainy afternoon.
Because the game is so elegant (there are really very rules) and so easily learned, it is also easily varied. If the game is too hard for some players, you can turn all the tiles over periodically for review. If it takes too long, you can have the chickens cha cha in opposite directions so they encounter each other more frequently. Since you make the board, you can always make it smaller, eliminating some eggs and their corresponding octagons as needed. You can even, if you’re playing with people of my memory strengths, you might also consider increasing the number of guesses a player can make when octagon-hunting.
Chicken Cha Cha Cha – available in the US from Rio Grande Games
. Not complex. Not profound. Most definitely Major FUN