## Wednesday, February 24, 2016

### SimplyFun's The Climbing Knights {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Our whole family, but especially Lauren, loves playing board games. We were thrilled to review The Climbing Knights -- one of four newly released games from SimplyFun.

One thing I love about SimplyFun is that their games aren't just variations of the same board games that I've been playing for years. Last Summer, we reviewed their Expanders game which is an awesome way to practice both critical thinking and math facts at the same time.

As soon as we unpacked the game, we could tell this wasn't like anything we had ever played before. The castle was at least a couple feet tall when assembled and very sturdy. Sometimes we sat it in the middle of the floor when we played and sometimes we played on the kitchen table. Often the games played on the kitchen table ended up with several of us sitting up on the table, though.

Each players gets a magnetic knight playing piece that will attach to the sides of the castle. The point of the game is to get the knight to the top of the castle to claim his coat of arms. When a knight claims both of his coat of arms pieces, he earns the title of "King's Climber" and wins the game. (In our house, that knight would also have to clean up the game -- Winner Cleans Up!)

A turn consists of rolling three dice. One dice tells how to move the black knight, one dice the gray night, and the third the knight. The black knight patrols the walkway towards the top of the castle, and the gray knight moves along the lower walkway. Each one can look forward in one direction, up, and down. The knights move up or across the sides of the castle based on the number of spaces on the die.

It all sounded so simple, until we started playing. Actually, the playing is simple. Making sure that my knight didn't get spotted by one of the guards was the tricky part. I needed to predict how far the guards might move on the next turn and decide where my knight would be safest. I love the way that Lauren started trying to think ahead about the way the guards could move on the next turn and where she could most safely move her knight.

The Climbing Knights was a fun game to play with two players, but it was even more challenging to play with more. With three or four players, we had to think through the possibilities of several rolls of the dice between each move of our knights. Each guard could move halfway around the castle, move only a few spaces, or even sleep through several turns. Multiple players also meant that we had to navigate around each other as we climbed up the castle -- knights aren't allowed to share the same space on the side of the castle.

The Climbing Knights costs \$40 and is recommended for ages 8 and up. I believe that it's most appropriate for students aged 8 to 10 and also think slightly younger kids would be able to understand the rules and play along.