Monday, May 16, 2011

Perfect Stride

by Randy

Hello! We have another review for you today. The wonderful people at Funleague Games provided a review copy of Perfect Stride, a game about horse riding. It's a very thematic game that Angie, Katie and I tried out; here's what we thought.

A Horse Game!

This is a game about horses. I wasn't sure I could get into a game about horses, but I was happily surprised. Players assume the roles of riders who are racing to complete the most jumps and stay in the lead. The theme might not appeal to some, but this game does a great job of bringing the theme to the forefront in look and feel.

Pretty Game

The first thing that you'll notice about this game is the art; it's a beautiful game. Every card has unique art, with no duplications (save for a few cards with multiple copies). The full-color paintings really bring the theme to life. A rough count tells me that there are around a hundred unique illustrations on cards alone, not counting the box and rulebook art; there aren't many games that can boast this much art of this quality. Additionally, we found oursleves taking the time to stop and read the flavortext on each card; Katie in particular enjoyed that. Katie was even inspired to draw her own idea for a card for the game, and she rarely does that.

Game play

There are two versions of play for Perfect Stride: the basic game and the full game. Angie and I played the full game first to get a feel for the rules, and then started off with the basic game with Katie. After playing through the basic game, we talked with her about the other cool cards in the game and she decided she wanted to try those out, so from that point we were playing something in between the two.

Both versions have riders competing to go through a course of jumps. Every horse will have a kind of jump they're good at, and each jump has a Difficulty. You need to have enough Effort to meet the Difficulty, and you get this from skill cards. Each horse that makes the jump gets a ribbon (this game's victory points), and moves to the next jump. Pretty straightforward and simple.

The advanced version is far more interesting and strategic. More of a racing element is present, and being in the lead will earn you more points. There are also events that happen at every jump, which can change the difficulty for better or worse. There are also power-ups for horses called Horse care cards.  What I found to be very interesting is that the advanced game has a bid mechanic  for determining who's in the lead. Everyone starts with four cards representing speeds (Walk, Trot, Canter, Gallop) and a draw value for cards that decreases the faster you go. I found that this in particular was a great element for bringing the racing element to life.

Just one more note about the game play: the minimum age on the box. I really feel that the designers have assigned too high of a minimum age by saying it is for thirteen years and older, and think they should consider altering that on later printings. I don't think any of the concepts present are that difficult. I think that about ten years old would be a good minimum age for the advanced game, and eight for the basic. The basic game does require reading and basic math, and that is why I wouldn't recommend that too much younger. Our five year old daughter Katie loved it, but needed help with the reading (and just a little with the math). I'm worried that some parents who would otherwise pick it up for their children may skip it due to that, which is unfortunate, since it is a wonderful game.

Katie's idea for a Horse Care card!
Katie shares her thoughts on the game:

What did you think of the game?
It was awesome! I like horses.

What was your least favorite part?

Can you tell us more?
The cards are great. They can get you past jumps. Sometimes they are jumps and can get you ribbons. I think the person that did the art made great pictures and details. I want to play again with the horse care cards and event cards. Speaking of playing again, let's play right now!

Finish Line

There you have it! We liked this game quite a bit, especially Katie. There's a fair amount of randomness in the skill cards, moreso than in most games we play, but that is actually good for a family game in that it levels the playing field a bit. Honestly, we were surprised at how much we like the game. Though I don't imagine it will be one that Angie and I necessarily clamor to grab off the shelf, we were quite happy to see Katie so engaged in the theme; I get the impression it will be a game that she will want to play again soon. And here I thought we were going to skip the "Daddy, can I have a pony? Please?" stage!

1 comment:

  1. In many cases game creators post high minimum age requirements to avoid having to get the game certified for the younger age groups, as that costs money and can be a bit of a legal hassle for small or self published games.