A-a-a! Ants on my arm…
For me, Antics is one of those hidden gems that you find once in a while. This is a pretty fair abstract strategy game aimed at early school years kids. You take it in turn to place coloured ant cards with holes in them onto a spotty board in such a way that the right colours show through the holes. A bit of luck, a simple mechanic and, when you are older than about 4, space for some planning, stuffing the opposition, and other niceties.
Our game went pretty well. Miss B quickly worked out how things worked and was soon making pretty decent moves. Some complexity comes a bit later in the game when the board fills up, as you start removing ants when you can’t go, and unsurprisingly Miss B didn’t really get the tactics of not helping the opponent. I matched her by making suboptimal decisions at this point too and was soon punished by a bad run of play! Eventually, I lost.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 4¼): “I don’t think that’s much fun because we just put them on. I like it when we move them about.” Interesting. The game held her interest in play, but we’re not going to get requests for replays any time soon. I don’t know if this is something related to Miss B’s personality or to the age she is at, but moving pieces is definitely a positive factor in a game.
The game: Antics (Spear’s Games), 2 to 4 players, age 5+.