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LEO Goes to the Barber
Author: Leo Colovini. Illustrator: Michael Menzel
2-5 Six-year-olds  English & German rules included. Abacusspiele

 

As a long term fan of both Leo Colovini's strategy "gamer's" games and the publications from Abacusspiele I was very happy to see this children's game from one of my favourite authors and an exceptional games publishing company.

LEO Goes to the Barber: one has to wonder if an unshaved Mr Colovini looked in a mirror one day and had the idea to design this boardgame.

This is a fun game that we have played with our 4 year old grandson and although things do not hold his interest unless they are Power Rangers he thoroughly enjoys playing "the Lion game".

When we told our grandson that LEO the Lion has 5 days to get to the shop to have his haircut otherwise the shop would be closed he wanted to know why the shop wouldn't be opened the next day, kids huh? what do they know? It's obvious the Barber was going on holiday and there isn't another Barbers in the jungle.Anyway, he eventually accepted that we have five days to get Leo to the Barbers.

The pieces are good, solid, durable card s and tiles with a few special cut outs and a wooden figure of Leo himself. These stood the test of a four year old's examinations and we played several games without any pieces being damaged.

The mechanics are instinctly simple. Players have a hand of cards that they play to move Leo along the jungle path which has been created from the shuffled tiles and currently shows just jungle. Bobo's the Barbers is placed at one end of the trail and Leo, relaxing on hison his chaise-longue at the other end; the wooden representation of his Lionship is also waiting there. All cards are dealt out (even if this means players may not have exactly the equal number of cards).

  

Players take turns to play a card and move Leo (the wooden version) along the jungle path as many tiles as the number shown on the card played. The jungle tile landed on is then flipped over and there are three possibilities:
a). The jungle tile shows an animal but the colour of the tile doesn't match the colour of the card played. The clock hand is moved on and time is lost. Oh dear!
b). The jungle path shows an animal and the colour of the tile matches the colour of the card played. Nothing else happens and the clock hand doesn't move.
c). The jungle path doesn't show an animal or a colour (other than green). Instead it shows a Signpost and again no time is lost but Leo knows he is on the right path to Bobo's.

Leo then begins from the jungle tile that was last flipped over and the next player plays a card and play continues until the clock strikes 8pm at which time Bobo closes his Barber shop and goes home.
Leo is placed back at the start of the trail (where his settee is) and a piece of the Mane is attached to his head - oh golly gosh! his hair is beginning to grow. 

When playing with 6 year olds and upwards give the players time to study and learn the positions and colours of the tiles turned over - this will help Leo on his travels the next day as players will know which cards to play so that the clock hand doesn't move.
When playing with a four year old we let him have his cards face up in front of him and left the tiles face up on the trail - this isn't in the rules but if the child needs a bit of encouragement this is a good way to give it while roughly keeping to the rules and definitely keeping to the spirit of the game.

The next day (round/Day 2) the game begins and play continues exactly as in round or Day 1. The cards are shuffled and dealt out again, the jungle tiles that are face up are flipped face down and off Leo trots.....

The idea is to get Leo to Bobo's Barber Shop within one day (ie 8 moves of the clock hand) before the shop closes. You have 5 days to complete this task.

LEO: Goes to the Barbers is a memory game which younger children are usually pretty good at. A little help from an older player should be given in gentle doses after Day 2 has ended without success. We find that youngsters want to play more if they either succeed (not on the first day) or they get so very close that they want to play again after Day 5. At GGO we always play so that the children have a good chance to succeed but they also have to learn that success might not happen every game. 

This is a very nicely designed game for very young players, although there should be an adult supervising because even with the durable cardstock youngsters have a habit of biting or tearing cards and tiles if they begin to lose interest.

  

It was nominated for Children's Game of the Year 2016 (2016 Kinderspiel des Jahres) and Winner of the  2016 Deutscher Spiele Preis Best Children's Game .

It is easy to set out for children to play, it doesn't take too long for each game, and it packs away neatly in its colourful, strong box within 20 seconds. There are no breakable pieces or small units that children can swallow. There are no dice or miniatures that can be chewed and the pieces of Leo's Mane fit to Leo's head in an easy to assemble jigsaw style. LEO himself looks like a jolly nice friendly lion and the game is a jolly nice friendly game.

It is available for between £12.50 and £16.00 online in the UK which is a fair price for entertainment value and the number of times it will be played.

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015