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The concept of Hare and Tortoise doesn't take long to grasp. The idea is to be the first player to get from the start to the finish, however you can choose how fast you want to go - one space, 10, 20 - whatever you want, even backwards. But you need energy to move, and you get your energy from carrots. So to move one space takes 1 carrot. To move two spaces takes the one carrot for the first space plus two carrots for the second space, a total of 3 carrots. To move a third space takes the three carrots needed to move two spaces plus three carrots to move to the third space… 6 carrots… and so on… you can move from space one to space sixty-four in a single turn … but you'll need to have 2080 carrots.
You start the race with 65 carrots (and three lettuce cards), enough to finish the race if you move one space each turn. But most players will want to move faster than this, so the squares on the board allow you to earn more carrots. The more carrots you collect the faster you can move. And the first player to the finish line is the winner. However there is one catch - to cross the finish you can't have any lettuce cards, so the ones you start the game with must be discarded on the limited lettuce spaces during the race and you must have less than 10 carrots to finish first.
Contents: 1 board, 6 markers, 1 die, 112 cards, 6 game summary cards, 1 rule booklet, all in a box approximately 38 x 27 x 3 cm
2- 6 players
Ages 10 & up
Playing time: 45-60 minutes
Publisher Rio Grande / Abacus
Authors: David Parlett
Winner Spiel des Jahres 1979
Finalist Best Family Game Games Magazine 2002
Hare & Tortoise is a good adaptation of Aesop's fable. You can move slow and steady like the tortoise or play like the hare and sit around eating carrots and try to sprint to the finish at the last minute… and just like the story, slow and steady seems to win the race.
The game board is bright and colourfull. And components are well made. Player pieces are made of wooden discs.
There isn't much humour in the game. The cards are illustrated with pictures of carrots and lettuces, but there are illustrations on the board of some cartoon animals cheering you on. This is a game that can safely be played with anyone, including children.
The first half of the game is fairly slow paced, but can get quite tense at the end as players get close to the finish line. Especially if the winning player is trying to get rid of carrots as other players are catching up.
The rules are quite straight forward and would only take about 10 minutes to teach a new player. But the multitude strategy's that can be played and the math involved in calculating moves would probably make it unsuitable for young Children. The age range on the box is for 12 and up, which is a bit high. Children as young as seven could play, but may need some help. Most 10 year olds should be able to manage this on there own.
There is almost no luck and there are a lot of options e.g. Do you try to move a head (or catch up to other players). Wait and collect more carrot cards, or stop to get rid of one of your lettuce cards. However, players throwing dice on the hare square (the only time in the game a dice is used) can get rid of one of their lettuce cards, in close games this could be enough to win.
The game requires forward planning, and every turn requires the player to think about where they want to go, and how their race is progressing compared to the other players and the supply of carrot and lettuce cards they have left. There is a lot of thinking going on including some basic math skills. It would make a very good math game.
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