I was playing a game of Mouse Trap with the kids and being bored out of my mind, thinking ‘the idea of this game is so cool…but it’s so painful to play, there has to be something better!’. Guess what? There is! Engineering Ants takes the fun of building the mouse trap and combines it with creativity and fun game play! Keep reading to see the full Engineering Ants review.
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Creativity Unleashed with Engineering Ants!
Engineering Ants asks players to use a bunch of different spare parts to get past a obstacles and rescue their ant brethren. This is a cooperative game that challenges kids creativity and asks them to communicate and problem solve together.
- Manufacturer: Peaceable Kingdom
- Manufacturer Age Recommendation: 5+
- Number of Players: 2-4
- Game Length: 15 mins
How to Play
In Engineering Ants players share a game piece and roll a die to navigate their ants around the board. The goal is to race around the board and rescue three ant friends and get back to the anthill before the anteater gets there. The die contains the numbers two through four, it also has has two anteater symbols. If you roll a number, you can move the ants in any direction toward the obstacles, but if you roll the anteater symbol, move the anteater down the path toward the anthill. The board also contains anteater symbols, if you land on one of those spaces, advance the anteater towards the anthill.
When you reach an obstacle tile, players use the construction pieces in the box and work together to build a contraption that allows them to get past the obstacle and rescue an ant. Once all the ants are rescued its a race back to the anthill before being caught by the anteater.
I really like games for young kids that are roll and move, but let them choose which direction to move. This leads to the kids doing more counting (yay!) and it is a great way to introduce them to strategic decision-making as they decide which direction to move. Engineering Ants adds a nice layer to this by scattering the anteater symbols around the board. If kids don’t think before they move they risk speeding up the anteaters advancement towards the anthill!
The turns of Engineering Ants go very quickly, being simple roll and move style turns. When you hit an obstacle the game really shifts gears from fast paced roll and move, and asks players to work together, create, and problem solve. This is the first game we’ve played that really asks kids to use both styles of play in the same game. Sometimes this shifting gears was a challenge for us.
Engineering Ants is packed with learning opportunities! The basic gameplay let’s the youngest gamers work on counting and beginner strategic thinking. As kids move to the building phase, they get the opportunity to work on creativity, problem solving, and communication. Creativity and problem solving come into play as players look at this eclectic mix of materials, and are asked to build a solution.
Since this is a cooperative game, players also need to communicate with one another to agree on what the solution should be, and what the best way to accomplish it is. This will also teach quieter gamers a lesson about making their voice heard if they don’t want to spend the whole game creating other players visions.
What We Love
I love how this game asks players to continually shift gears. Spend a few turns rolling and moving exploring the board, then shift into creative discussion around getting past an obstacle, and back again. This can be a challenge when playing the game with young kids. We’ve definitely had some of our games devolve (or maybe evolve) into complete free play with the kids using the pieces to build on there own. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but as a type A person it can be a little frustrating to not finish a game! I think the gameplay always switching back and forth touches an important life skill, of being able to shift gears to accomplish a goal.
What We’d Change
I usually love a balances, cooperative game where the game wins about 45-50% of the games, and the players win the rest. Engineering Ants fits that bill, and I don’t like it (I’m hard to please, I know!). The cool aspect of this game is the building and problem solving, so to have that cut short roughly half the time, is a bit of a let down. The games where the anteater gets to the anthill are usually the result of a string of unlucky rolls. The anteater’s path is only seven spaces long, so an unlucky start can make this game around five minutes of disappointment. I still love the game, but I would have liked a little different balance to it, or maybe a longer anteater path, where the anteater advance faster after you’ve rescued all the ants.
Overall, we love Engineering Ants! This game packs a tremendous amount of learning into gameplay that is fun, and doesn’t tip the kids off that they are actually learning things. It’s also accessible to a large age range, younger gamers will enjoy the roll and move aspect and creating simple solutions to the obstacles, while older gamers have the opportunity to get very creative and make elaborate solutions to the obstacles!
A reminder of our rating scale:
- 1 die = Skip this game, not worth your time!
- 2 dice = May be fun for a few plays, but we think there are better options out there.
- 3 dice = Great game that we really enjoyed and played a lot.
- 4 dice = One of our favorites for this age range, definitely check it out!
- 5 dice = In our opinion this is the best game for this age range, you have to try it!
So how does Engineering Ants stack up? 4 dice! We really enjoy this game, and while it has never become a ‘have to play it every time’ type game, we love having it in the rotation and have been playing it once a month or so for quite awhile!
I’d love to hear from you in the comments, what do you think of Engineering Ants? Comment below!
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