Tjoedhilde is a geeky mom who loves RPGs, board games, fantasy novels and her 5-year-old daughter.
Brandon the Brave: A Tile-Laying Game for Kids
The premise of Brandon the Brave is that you are a knight that must complete five quests. Each quest is represented by a token. The front of the token shows the quest, and there are 6 different quests: slay the dragon, save the princess, capture the bandit, chase the witch, find the treasure and beat the giant. All quests are illustrated with witty and family-friendly drawings.
On the back of each token you find the routes you need to take. These are illustrated with two different coloured Xs. To complete a quest, you have to match two similar coloured Xs on the playing field.
How Do You Play Brandon the Brave?
On your turn, you draw a tile from one of the piles. You then proceed to place the tile next to a tile that's already on the table.
There are a couple of different environments and objects that can be present on a tile:
- Quest Locations: These have the coloured Xs (quest markers) on them.
- Tournaments: These are represented by a small tent in a corner of the tile.
- Horses: These have an armoured horse on them.
You need to ensure that the side of the tile you place matches the side of the tile it touches. That means a tournament tile can only be placed next to another tournament tile and a green quest marker needs to be placed next to another green quest marker.
Matching and Playing Tiles
- Quest Locations: If you match two quest markers, you get to complete a quest that has a matching colour quest marker on the back. Flipping the quest token means you’ve completed the quest.
- Tournaments: If you manage to finish a tournament, you get to flip any quest token regardless of the colours of quest markers on the back. This completes the quest.
- Horses: Players who place a tile with a horse on it get to take another turn. As a fun little addition, they also get to place the confused knight playing piece on the horse tile. This has no other effect on the game, but a huge part of the fun my daughter gets out of Brandon the Brave is to move the knight while pretending that she’s looking for the horse. It adds a level of make-believe to the game and makes it even more child-friendly.
Winning the Game
The player who first flips all their quest tokens win the game. If you run out of tiles to place, the player with the most completed quests wins.
Why I Recommend This Game
It Prepares Kids for Grown-Up Games
One of the things I really enjoy about Brandon the Brave is that I know it is preparing my daughter for games like Carcassonne and Kingdomino. It really is a pure kids' version of tile-laying games like these, which means she’ll be able to move up to the grown-up version in just a few years.
It Really Can Be Played by 3-Year-Olds
Another reason I recommend this game is that it really can be played by kids as young as 3 years old and that’s rare for a game that has any sort of complexity to it. This is one of the first board games I’ve found where my 5-year-old daughter quickly caught on to the rules despite the fact that it’s possible to apply some level of strategy to the game.
Finally, the game is relatively quick, which means I can usually fit in one playthrough even on a school night, giving us a really nice, geeky bonding activity to do as a family.
Will Parents Find It Fun or Boring?
The big question with child-friendly versions of a popular board game like Carcassonne is always: Is it fun for adults? Can grown-ups enjoy Brandon the Brave? Is it challenging for players older than 5?
- It's too easy for adults: Well, the game isn’t super complex. Since the tiles only have three sides there aren't that many options when you are placing them. There are also only two elements you really must consider—quest markers and tournaments—so it’s hard not to place the tiles correctly.
- However, light strategy is possible: That being said, there is room for some strategy in Brandon the Brave. You can place the tiles so that they block other players or at least make it harder for them to complete the objectives.
- It's enjoyable for what it is: Is it enough to keep seasoned, grown-up board game players entertained? Probably not. It is, however, enough to make it an enjoyable game to play with smaller children who aren’t yet old enough to take on more complex board games. And it beats Snakes and Ladders any day.
Should I Buy Brandon the Brave for My Kids?
- Do you want to introduce your kids to the world of euro-style games at an early age?
- Are you longing for a board game you can play with your young children that won’t wither your brain completely?
- Do you want a fantasy board game with charming, family-friendly art?
If yes, go buy Brandon the Brave.
Just don’t expect the depth of the adult version of Carcassonne, but rather a well-polished introduction to the real thing.
Unicorn Glitterluck: A Simple, Luck-Based Dice Game
Where Brandon the Brave was all about strategy and introducing kids to tile-placing mechanics, Unicorn Glitterluck is about rolling the die. It’s a much simpler ruleset and everyone familiar with Snakes and Ladders will immediately find themselves at home.
How Do You Play Unicorn Glitterluck?
The goal of the game is to get your unicorn game piece to the end of the cloud course while picking up as many cloud crystals on the way as possible. The board contains four different tiles you can land on:
- Normal clouds where nothing happens.
- Crystal clouds where you roll the crystal die to see how many crystals you obtain (between 1 and 3).
- Present clouds where you have to give an opponent of your choice a crystal.
- Rainbow clouds where you move forward to the cloud connected to the other end of the rainbow.
There are no negative clouds where you have to move backwards. However, with the crystal die, you do risk rolling a muffin which will cost you a turn while your unicorn satisfies its sweet tooth.
As you can imagine, Unicorn Glitterluck is very simple and devoid of tactical choices. You are completely reliant on luck in the die rolls. So why do I recommend the game?
Why I Recommend This Game
Sharing Is Caring
In general, I have a weakness for coop board games. I fell in love with Pandemic for that reason and I have a pile of games where coop is the central element. While Unicorn Glitterluck isn’t a coop board game for children, it does involve sharing (even reluctantly when hitting the wrong tile).
It also provides the opportunity to discuss fairness (should the person with the fewest crystals get the gift or the person who gave you a crystal when they hit the present tile?) and why sharing is nice.
It's Fantasy Lite (and Great for My Little Pony Fans)
I really want to introduce my daughter to the fantasy genre in general and I am always looking for ways to subject her to more fantasy elements. She is already fascinated with My Little Pony, so, frankly, this board game is a tailor-made for her. I would be hard-pressed to find a board game that was better suited for her or any My Little Pony fan (except for maybe an officially branded MLP game). It really does capture the essence of My Little Pony and the concept of "friendship is magic" very well.
Kids Can Practice Counting
At the end of each game each player has to count their cloud crystals to see who got the most. This is excellent training for 4- and 5-year-olds who are practicing counting and number comprehension.
The game board can be turned over to reveal a score track where you can lay out your crystals in a row next to your unicorn. This lets you visualize the numbers so it's easy to compare players' scores, making it possible for even very young kids who haven’t learned to count yet to judge who has won.
It’s a quick game to play, rarely taking more than 15 minutes for a playthrough. Just like Brandon the Brave, this makes it a perfect family bonding activity on weekday evenings.
Finally, the artwork is super cute (although maybe a tad girly), and the translucent purple cloud crystals are a neat touch that will make most token fanatics happy.
But Is It Fun for Adults?
I’ll be honest: If you sit down and play Unicorn Glitterluck with your normal board gaming buddies, you will very quickly be bored out of your minds. But with one or two kids it’s enjoyable just for the laughs when you roll a muffin for the third time in a row.
Is Unicorn Glitterluck Worth Buying?
If you have a kid that can’t get enough of My Little Pony and you want an easy-to-learn, die-based board game with some educational elements, then Unicorn Glitterluck is a great option for you.
Just make sure that the kids you play with are not allergic to pink or random die rolls.