Friday 24 August 2012

Review - Home You Go!

Home You Go - Spear's Games

Home You Go
Published by Spear's Games
Designed by Gustav Muller
For 2 OR 4 players, aged 6 to adult

Rules... They're made to be broken. As a collector of old and out of production board games, I really only have one rule: I won't keep a game if I'm never going to play it.

Most of the time I keep to that rule. It allows me to keep my collection manageable, and curtails my habit of buying any game I see in a charity shop or flea market. However, I am not above breaking the rule under the right circumstances; and that's why I own a copy of Home You Go. To be specific, a copy of the 1968 Spear's Games edition of Home You Go, which was purchased by my lovely wife for £1.99 at a local charity shop.

This is not a particularly good game: It's quite luck heavy, and it really only works with four people (and doesn't even allow for three people to play at all). But I keep the game because I used to own it when I was a child, so it has some nostalgia. Of course, the same could be said for many of the games in my collection, so there must be another reason.

There is another reason: The (literally) kick ass box art.

Who wouldn't like a picture in which a classic cone shaped pawn (complete with a cheeky grin) kicks another classic cone shaped pawn in the ass and sends him home? It's just a joy, and far, far better than the game really deserves.

But enough about the box: What about the game?

Home You Go is such a simple game the rules are printed in the box lid rather than in a separate booklet. Does anybody else remember games where the rules are in the box lid? I kind of miss that in modern games. It's nice to know that a game isn't bogged down with a cumbersome rule set, and even nicer to know you aren't going to accidentally lose that rule set.

Home You Go - Rules
Rules in the box lid - that's old school.

I think my favourite part of the rules is the opening line: "A very simple yet exciting family game for 2 or 4 players." Yeah. A FAMILY game for 2 OR 4 people. Any families of exactly three members or more than four members need not apply... That's surely got to rule out a lot of families? It certainly rules out mine.

I also like the fact that the rules refer to each player's pieces as "men." That's good old-fashioned family sexism right there.

Anyway, the game is played on a small board which is basically just a plain grid (but with more of that great ass-kicking art in the corners). Each player gets five pawns which are line up along one edge of the board. The aim of the game is to get all five pawns across the board and into spaces on the other side. The game only handles two or four players because each player must always be facing directly opposite another player, thereby creating a situation where pawns will "meet" as they move across the grid towards each other.

Home You Go - the board
The board - with artwork that makes it all worthwhile.

Pawns can only move in straight lines (they can't switch lanes), but they are allowed to jump over other pawns. If a pawn lands on an opponent's pawn, the opponent's pawn is sent "home" (back to its starting space).

That's pretty much it: Roll a dice to determine the number of spaces one of your pawns can move, move one pawn the exact number of spaces (moving forwards and backwards within a single move is allowed), and hope you can land on an opponent's pawn or get one of your pawns to its respective target space.

Home You Go - the playing pieces
A very poor picture of the playing pieces.

There is a small amount of tactical play (you may have several pieces you want to move for different reasons), but as each pawn is stuck in the lane it started the game in, and because you have to move the full amount you rolled on the dice, there tends to be a lot more luck and a lot less skill than a game of this type needs to be really enjoyable.

Worse than that, playing this as a two player game is boring: You will rarely get to land on an opponent's pawns, and the game becomes an exercise in rolling the dice and moving whichever pawn has the most chance of getting home. There is also little incentive to get all your men out on the board at once.

With four players, there are so many pieces moving across the board the chances of landing on an opponent's pawn are dramatically increased, but this really just makes the game run long and increases the level of chaos.

I suppose the game is fun enough for a while, but I have so many better games, this one is just never going to see the table.

So there we have it: Home You Go. Not a great game - not even a very good game - but it stays in my collection because the artwork makes me smile.

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