Hide N’ Cheek
A: Kevin Hill, Ryan Noonan
P: Big G Creative
2-4 players ages 6+ MSRP $20
Time to Teach/Learn: 2 minutes
You are a chipmunk. And you are one crafty little bugger! In your spare time you play a bluffing game with your friends. Deep in the forest, you take turns hiding acorns under some logs, and, one by one, you and your pals get a chance to search. You might scare up a single nut or you could hit the motherlode. Any nuts you find get crammed into your chubby little cheeks! Do your best to avoid coming up empty or, even worse, finding a bad nut! With a little luck, your cheeks will be the chunkiest. You might look silly, but you won’t mind at all, because you’ll be crowned the Hide n’ Cheek Champion!
No matter how many games you may own, it is a safe bet you probably don’t have any games with four flexible smiling chipmunk masks. The masks are adjustable for heads and faces large and small. The cheeks on each mask have a stretchy fabric pouch.
There are 40 plastic acorns (36 good ones and 4 bad ones) and 4 hollow logs – small plastic cups with wood grain texture.
To play, each player will don a chipmunk mask, gather all the nuts into a pile and get ready to laugh.
Each round, one player will hide nuts and the others will try to find them. The Finders shut their eyes while the Hider selects three nuts from the pile and decides how to arrange them under the logs. Once the nuts are hidden, the Hider mixes up the logs and presents them to the group. Eyes open, the Finders now, one by one in clockwise order, get a chance to look under a log and see if they find a nut. If a nut is found… wahoo! They take the nut and cram it into one of their cheek pouches. If the log is empty, better luck next time. The next player in order becomes the new Hider and repeats the process, selecting three nuts, hiding them, and the others taking turns searching.
Once per game, instead of selecting three nuts, each Hider can declare a Bad Nut round. Instead of placing three regular nuts, the Hider places a single green Bad Nut under one of the logs. Bad luck for the player who selects the log with the bad nut! They must give the Hider three nuts from their cheek pouches.
When the pile of nuts is gone, the player whose cheeks are cram-packed with the most nuts wins the game.
Without the ridiculous masks, Hide ‘n Cheek would be an amusing diversion at best.
It is physically impossible not to laugh once you see someone wearing a mask. If you ever wondered what you would look like as a demented cartoon animal, this is your chance! The masks are equal parts hilarious and horrifying. It is very very likely once you see the masks, you may feel self conscious and silly about putting one on. And in the era of pandemics, it is worth emphasizing that each and every mask should be sanitized between uses. But here’s the thing…
EVERYONE playing will be wearing the masks. You ALL share the experience of looking and feeling and even sounding ridiculous as you play the game. Crazy chipmunk voices are not only allowed; I say they are encouraged!
The masks are a perfect reminder to not take yourself, or others, or even the game too seriously. Wearing the mask literally conceals your you-ness. But wearing the mask also sets you free. It unites you with the other players. You all look silly. You can’t point and laugh at others without them pointing and laughing at you as your cheeks fill up with acorns.
Any game may gather a group at a table to play, but few can create a truly shared experience that makes winning or losing an afterthought. Hide n’ Cheek celebrates the fun of playing by poking gentle fun at the people playing. “Relax,” it says. “Take a beat. Take a deep breath and laugh at yourself.” Hide n’ Cheek wrestles us to the ground and makes us come to terms with the fact that play is an essentially absurd activity. But not without meaning or value. It is joyful, silly, freeing, and oh so human. A game like Hide N’ Cheek is Major Fun because it reminds us of this simple, noble truth.