Candyland is Terrible

February 21st, 2023
games, kids
Candyland seriously suffers from not being aimed at a coherent age: either you're old enough that you could instead play a game where you make choices, or you're young enough that the disappointment of getting a card that—out of nowhere—sends you nearly back to the beginning is crushing. Growing up we would know if we were about to draw "Plumpy" because the card was horribly crumpled and had been taped back together.

I do like that the 2021 version removed 38% of the spaces to bring it down from 134 to 83, and that since the 2002 edition the rules have included a "special optional rule for younger players" where picture cards only move you forward. On the other hand, the only-forward rule should be the default (if no one's young enough for it this is the wrong game) and 83 spaces is still a bit long for this age.

For people who like to think about gaming, taking a board game intended for adults and radically simplifying it and then introducing elements as they progress is a lot better: with how quickly kids learn almost any game will either start off too hard for them or quickly become too easy.

Candyland does fill a niche for non-gamer adults playing very young children, however, and I do think something like it should exist. I'd like to see it shortened a little more and the "only forward" rule there by default (or have that rule apply to anyone 10+).

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