Animal Safari is yet another gem of a game made by Orchard Toys.
On the face of it it looks just like another board and dice game but it very quickly becomes something with much more depth.
The objective of the game is to be the player that makes it round the safari track and back to base camp with the most animals. Animals are collected by landing on a ‘Watch Station’ or by rolling ‘Binoculars’ on a dice which allows you to take an animal from another player. Players can’t move backwards and can only go around the track once so where you land is more important than how quickly you get home. Once a player gets back to base camp their animals are safe and they can’t move round the track anymore. BUT (much to the annoyance of the other players) they continue to roll the dice and if they get any binoculars they can take animals off the other players!
The simplest way (and a good introduction to the general concept) is to play it as a simple roll and move game (you can use one dice for very young players). Players roll the dice add the numbers together and move that many paces forward collecting animals as they go.
The fun starts when you start giving choices to the players on how they use the numbers on the dice. Depending on the age and maths understanding of the children involved, players can choose to …
- Add the 2 dice together to get the number of paces to move forward
- Subtract the larger number from the smaller number to get the number of paces to move forward
- choose to use only one dice number to move forward
This twist in how the dice are used allows children to manipulate numbers to help them land on as many ‘Animal Stations’ as possible.
As well as the maths there are the animals and their environments to expand childrens vocabulary and understanding. The images may contain one or more safari animal for the children to name and could be in mud (swamp), water (river), sand (desert), grass (vegetation) etc. As parents you can set the tone for describing what is on each token.
It’s definitely a game of two halves. The first half tends to be slow. Rolling binoculars isn’t a focus as not many players have collected animals from the viewing stations and more attention is spent on working out the maths.
As the game moves on the excitement builds. Players start loosing animals as chance interferes with the lead collectors and their proud display of animals is distributed amongst those lucky enough to roll binoculars. It’s often anybodies game right up until the end. Will the stragglers keep their animals before those ‘safe’ back at base camp take them … friendships will be tested!
The game, as usual, is made of good quality 100% recycled board covered with fun graphic images coated in a wipe clean varnish. The playing pieces are a nice size for both old and young hands to use. The box it comes in holds the playing pieces easily and makes storage neat and simple.
It will momentarily test parental respect, sibling love and friendships. There might even be tears and tantrums. And it won’t get played every week. But it will stay on the shelf and get played on and off for years and years with friends, parents and grandparent.