Science projects took the foremost positions in Family Games at Essen 2015. From the brilliantly simple to the simply brilliant.
This month I have already reviewed the super DR EUREKA from BLUE ORANGE Games of France and now it is the turn of NITRO GLYXEROL from one of my favourite Family Game publishers ZOCH zum SPIELEN.
Designed by Luca Borsa & Andrea Mainini NITRO GLYXEROL is a simply brilliant adaption of a very old children's game; one that is often found in Christmas Crackers. Originally (or as far as I know) it was a solo game where the player had a small enclosed maze and one or more small ball bearings. The idea was to rotate and tilt the the small boxed maze to manoeuver the ball bearings into small indents in the floor of the box.The game was complete when all ball bearings rested in the indentations.
ZOCH's designers have taken this old game several steps further by giving each player their own boxed maze and five different coloured plastic cubes. Each of these cubes represents an ingredient and the idea of the game is that each player simultaneously have to turn, twist, rotate and tilt their personal maze to manoeuver the five cubes into the delivery arm of the box in the correct order to create the formula as decreed by the drawing of five GLYX cards. Basically there are five decks of cards, each deck a different colour but with the same backs for all decks. One card from each deck is randomly taken and then these five cards are shuffled face down and dealt into a line (or row) face up. The order (left to right) of the line determines the order the players are trying to send their ingredient cubes to the delivery arm.
Players may never use their fingers to push or move the cubes, but if they happen to drop one or more cubes from their Myxxer (box) then they may pick them up and place them in the start zone of the maze and then continue playing.
The game is played against the clock, or in this case a sand-timer. In the centre of the table are enough of the four number cards (marked 1, 2 3 and 4) to represent each player, so in a three-player game only 1,2 and 3 are used. Any time during play the players can take one of these cards, in numerical order, and end their turn; this must be done before the sand runs out. The other players can continue to play as long as the sand is running - which makes the game hilariously awkward for you are trying to watch the sand-timer and shake, rattle and roll your Myxxer at the same time. You must grab a card before the timer expires or you are out of the scoring no matter how well you did.
Once the timer runs out the players in order of Glyx cards taken have to "drink" their potion. The player with number 1 card goes first. If their first ingredient matches the formula's first ingredient then that player collects the card of that colour. Then players look at the second ingredient with the player holding the number 1 card continuing as leader. Once a player cannot match the ingredient order to the formula they are out of the race and the next player (with the number 2 card) checks their ingredients from where the game stopped. It can be that no one gets any cards or that the Glyx cards are all gone before you get a chance to check your ingredients, that's tough but in the next game you will know to be faster at organising your ingredients and quicker to grab a Glyx card.
One of the cubes should be a black one which represents Mouse Poop. At the end of the first round the player who took the number 1 card is given the Mouse Poop. At the start of the next round this has to be added to their ingredients and must be manoeuvered to the front of the line otherwise they cannot score any points. To make this clear, if you have the Mouse Poop and the order of the formula is Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, Purple you can only score points if you position the Black cube first so to score for the Green you would need a line of Black, Green etc etc and also grab the number 1 card again.
This is yet another good fun Family game from Zoch.