Hoot Owl Hoot is a cooperative game that is easy to learn, quick to play, and accessible for even very young children. Any one of these qualify Peaceable Kingdom’s game for a Major Fun Award. Like the Major Fun award-winning Stone Soup, Hoot Own Hoot is thoughtfully manufactured and packaged to conserve resources but remain functional. Major Fun likes the Earth and therefore approves. But none of these things will win a Major Fun Award for a game unless it is fun—especially for its target audience.
And Hoot Owl Hoot delivers. We played the game with a group of kids, age range 5 – 12 years, and it was intoxicating to witness the planning and predicting and anticipation that accompanied each play and each new card.
Depending on how difficult you want to make the game, the object is to get 4, 5, or 6 owls home to their nest before the sun rises. The game consists of a board (inscribed with a colorful, spiral path that the owls must follow), a sun token, 6 owl tokens, and 50 cards. The cards are printed with a sun icon (14 of them) or a color (yellow, green, orange, blue, violet, and red). The sun cards move the sun toward sunrise and the color cards move the owls toward their nest. A row of boxes along the top of the game board indicates the position of the sun (using the sun token). If the owls reach the nest before the sun reaches the final space, the players win.
Players draw and reveal 2 cards. Cards are kept face up in front of each player so that the players can talk about what they could do each turn. Play rotates around the board. If a player has a sun card, that card must be played and the sun moves one space. If a player has a color card, the player may choose to move one owl to a color space that matches one of the color cards. When a card is played, it is discarded and the player draws a new one from the deck.
Each decision had to be carefully weighed and the kids really took the task to heart. They analyzed the colors available to them and strategized about the order in which to play the colors. They groaned when the sun rose another notch and they clapped when the owls were able to leap-frog over long distances. They cheered when the owls made it home. Cooperative games exercise cognitive muscles that often go undeveloped in our society. And that, my friends, is Major Fun.
Hoot Owl Hoot is © 2010 by Peaceable Kingdom. Designed by Susan McKinley Ross, who coincidentally is the designer of three other Major Fun award-winning games, and illustrated by Betsey Snyder.