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Please Note:
This is NOT the same Christmas Rush (no exclamation mark) board game published in 2020 by the Arizona Game Co.

Christmas is a great time to get the family involved in playing board games. If, like so many TV shows, you have a massive family gathering then you are better sticking to older style games like Charades (I once did a memorable charade of Johnny Preston's song 'Running Bear' - the kids have never forgiven me) or Apples to Apples or that game where someone sticks a celebrities name on your head and you have to guess who you are.

If however you have a semi-regular sized family gathering, say up to 6, and they are not all regular board game players, then you could do no better than look for a good, fun based, easy to play game with a little bite and a little bit of luck. 

CHRISTMAS RUSH! is for 2-6 players aged 6+. If this had been a Euro game I think it would have had a higher entry level age as I'm not sure 6 year olds will understand the concept of the necessary secrecy; possibly 8+ is more like it.

CHRISTMAS RUSH! from MT WALLET (designed and published) could be just the game you are looking for, even if you didn't know you were looking for it. This predominantly available almost exclusively online where it can be quickly located via a Google search for a very good price, brand new, of around £20.00 which is quite inexpensive. 

The board for CHRISTMAS RUSH! has a really nicely produced (excellently sealed edges) four fold board that is pleasantly colourful and clear in its design. There are ten shopping areas, each with five marked spaces where Xmas Gifts can be obtained from. These 'gifts' are printed one per large counter on the face side, the back of the counters are all the same. Counters are shuffled and placed in the sales spaces face down - this brings in both the collector and memory parts of the game.

The stores are colour coded with a movement track running through each of them, carefully within each coloured border so there is no confusion as to which shop your pawn is in (yes the player pieces are plastic pawns, but they are at least good quality and not thin and roughly edged). On your turn you can move in only one direction, but you can go clockwise or anti-clockwise as long as you move the full amount (as shown on one of the dice).

Six of the stores have a number within them which is for setup. Players roll a die (nice compact black on white solid dice) to determine where they start or they just select one of the numbered spaces; we have found no advantageous starting spaces.

Players begin with 2 sheets of 'wrapping paper' (playing cards that show Christmas Trees on both sides) plus a number (depending how many players) of Xmas Present cards. The basic idea is that you have to find and then 'wrap' all of your presents and then be first to get to the Christmas Tree. 

This entails rolling both dice and using one number for movement and the other to secretly view 'that' number of face down tiles. Any tiles that you find that match the 'Presents' card/s in your hand you may take, placing them face up in front of you on top of the face up corresponding presents card/s. If you have wrapping paper and you roll a Christmas Tree on the dice you can wrap one present per tree rolled. Rolling doubles enables you to 'steal' a counter or some wrapping paper from another player - usually you would aim at taking a 'Black Friday Special' as this is a joker counter that can be used for any one present card. Wrapping your presents (placing the present card under a Wrapping paper card) saves it from being stolen.

There are more than just one of the type of present so if, for example you need SOCKS and you see an opponent wrap socks up safely, you still have two opportunites to wrap your Socks' either by finding another Socks counter or by finding and using a Black Friday Special card. This ensures the fun remains for all players.

There are two movement tracks; the regular track that runs through the stores and the Holly Highway that runs from Santa's Grotto to the Christmas tree. Once all your presents are wrapped you need to head first to Santa's Grotto along the main movement track. Now you can use the value of both dice to get there asap. Doubles are now no use to you - you can only steal from an opponent if you need the counter and now you obviously don't.

Once you reach Santa's Grotto, no matter the value of the dice result, you have to stop. Your journey along Holly Highway is by one die only and is fraught with icicle spaces - these can be hazardous or helpful. There are also two SWAP spaces, marked 1 and 2. If you land on Swap 1 you immediately move to Swap 2, thus removing a large chunk of your journey. But if you land on Swap 2 you are sent back to Swap 1 and that's a major pain.

So the basics are that you move around the board, looking at counters and trying to collect the ones you need. You do not get new presents at any point in the game, nor are presents cards stolen from you. Counters can only be stolen if needed, but wrapping paper is always game - stealing wrapping paper can be as bad as, if not worse, that stealing a present. 

On the Holly Highway when you land on an Icicle you have to take and act on a Hazard card. These rae commands such as Go Forward 3 spaces or Go Back 4 spaces etc, again typical 1960's English board game mechanics. However, despite using such olde-worlde game play CHRISTMAS RUSH! somehow actually has a freshness to it - possibly because we've been spoilt with Euro-style games so having a good old 'roll and do' game seems somewhat new and exciting.

In true Snakes & Ladders form you need to roll the correct number to get to the Christmas Tree. Any excess is a bounce back, so if, for eample, you are one space away and you roll a six, you go one space forward and five spaces back. This can help other players catch up with you. It's frustrating if you get next to the Christmas Tree first and cannot roll the exact number and someone bounces up behind you and goes straight in first time, but that's typical old-school English board game playing. There is a suggestion that you don't have to roll the exact number - that's up to you to decide prior to playing.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021