Wednesday 23 April 2014

Review - Christopher Robin's Pooh Goes Home to Bed Game

Pooh Goes Home to Bed

Christopher Robin's Pooh Goes Home to Bed Game
Published by the Traditional Games Co. Ltd.
Designed by... dunno... Christopher Robin?
For 2-4 players, aged 5 to adult

Pooh Goes Home to Bed Game
This is the box

Recently, I have been reviewing a lot of relatively new stuff, so it is time to redress the balance and get back to what this blog is really supposed to be about: bizarre, obscure, out-of-production games that no-one really cares about.

So, what better way is there to get back into the swing of reviewing shit games than reviewing a game about Pooh?

Ha. See what I did there?

Anyway, to be fair, this isn't really my game. I bought it for my daughter for her third birthday, and she absolutely loves it. I guess that is pretty much all this review needs to say; but being as you were so kind as to stop by, I'll ramble a bit. Pull up a chair...

Christopher Robin's Pooh Goes Home to Bed Game, which from now on will be referred to as Home to Bed to prevent the onset of RSI, is not so much a game as it is an activity. It is designed for very young children, and has a very simple goal in mind: It wants children to learn the directions of "up," "down," "left," and "right." It also wants to provide situations where children have to consider several options and pick the best one.

As you can see, this is not a game for adults. This is a game for adults with children.

Very, very patient adults with children.

The age on the box says 5+, but my daughter had absolutely no trouble learning how to play, because really there isn't that much "playing" involved.

Pooh Goes Home to Bed - rules
Look - the rules have a little story in them!

The game (activity, passtime, thing, whatever) takes place on a beautifully illustrated board depicting all the locations from the Winnie the Pooh stories, linked together by paths. On your turn, you roll a pretty cool custom dice. Four faces on the dice give you a direction to move in, and if you roll one of those directions, you must move in that direction if possible (otherwise you do not move at all). The other two faces on the dice say "decision," and when you roll one of those, you can choose which way to move.

When you move, you move along the path until you reach an obstacle or a crossroads, which immediately ends your turn. Hitting an obstacle slows you down, as it requires you to roll a "decision" or one of two specific directions to get past on your next turn.

After your move, play passes to the left. This continues until one of the players reaches the "home" area on the board.

And that's all there is to it.

Roll the dice. Move in the required direction. Pass control to the next player.

Pooh Goes Home to Bed - board
This is the board. Not kidding!

Now, astute readers will have noticed that there is a deep flaw in this game. Here, let me illustrate:

"Daddy. It's your turn."
[Always Board Rolls "up"]
"I get to go to the next crossroads. Your go."
[Little Never Boring rolls "up"]
"I get to go up too. Your go."
[Always Board Rolls "down"]
"Oh. I have to go back to the last crossroads. Now it's your turn."
[Little Never Boring rolls "up"]
"Yay! I get to go up. Your go, Daddy."
[Always Board Rolls "up"]
"Hurrah! I get to go up again. Your go."
[Little Never Boring rolls "decision"]
"I rolled "decision." I will go up again. Your go."
[Always Board Rolls "down"]

Yeah. As a way to teach children their left from their right, Home to Bed is incredibly effective, but as games go, it's worse than Snakes and Ladders. You have almost no control over your fate, and what should be a five to ten minute learning exercise can stretch out for an agonisingly long time.

However, where Home to Bed really scores some Brownie points is with the presentation. Seriously, this is a beautiful game. There is such attention to detail in absolutely every aspect of it, and it feels as much like a cherished keepsake as it does anything else.

The board is an immaculate and childlike illustration of the area around Christopher Robin's house, and you can spend quite some time wandering those paths, picking out the famous landmarks from the stories.

The dice is huge (just right for little hands), and each face has the direction the player should move in, and a unique illustration of one of the main Winnie the Pooh characters. But more than that, the illustrations on the dice work as an educational aid. On the "down" face, Pooh Bear is falling out of a tree. On the "left" face, Eeyore is looking to his left. On one "decision" face, Piglet is looking confused, and on the other "decision" face, Pooh Bear is scratching his head. It just works. It's lovely.

Pooh Goes Home to Bed - dice
Look, look - they're looking up!

And you don't have to roll the dice by hand. Oh no. The game includes a massive ceramic "hunny" jar for a dice roller. Pointless. But brilliant.

Honestly. Brilliant.

And the playing pieces... Oh my. Gorgeous, heavy pieces that are good enough to display on a shelf.

Pooh Goes Home to Bed - playing pieces
The gang. Ain't they lovely?

 It's lovely.

The rules book could have been a single piece of paper. Instead, it is a full-colour pamphlet, illustrated throughout, and containing a full Winnie the Pooh story to read with your children after the game is over.

Even the box is amazing. There are pictures on the side panels of the lid that continue on the side panels of the bottom part, creating stunning large-scale pieces of art.

Pooh Goes Home to Bed - box art
The two halves of the box make cool pictures.

And did I mention that this is all based on the artwork from the books, not the Disney stuff?


Well, it is. And it's lovely.

Pooh Goes Home to Bed - hunny
I eat my peas with hunny...

Okay, this isn't really a game. But it is a labour of love. It is a celebration of Winnie the Pooh: The stories and the artwork. It is a throwback to those times when games were simple, and having fun didn't require a lot of rules. It is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. And it is something that my daughter wants to play with me every single day.

Every day.

One day, she is going to think I am an evil tyrant who won't let her get a tattoo, and who scares off all the boys, and she probably won't want to speak to me from one day to the next.

But right now, every day, she will pull at my jumper with her copy of Home to Bed tucked under her arm, and she will ask to spend time with me.

So of course I say, "Yes."

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