As you may or may not know, we are big fans of Orchard Toys games. We have reviewed quite a few of them in the past, and were delighted to be sent a couple of their most recent new games for review in the run up to Christmas.
Landmark Lotto (mini game)
With their compact size, the ‘Mini Games’ from Orchard Toys are perfect for travelling and they make great stocking fillers too! One of the most recent additions to the range, is Landmark Lotto, which is recommended for ages 4-7 and is suitable for 2 to 4 players.
In the box, you get 4 playing boards and 24 landmark cards. To set the game up, each player chooses a board and you spread all the landmark cards face down on the middle of the table.
The first player turns over a card. If the landmark shown on the card matches a picture on your board, you place the card on top. If the card doesn’t match your board, you show it to the other players and return it face down to the table. Play then passes to the next player. The winner is the first player to match six landmark cards to their board. We also sometimes play a variation of this game, where players take it in turn to turn over a card and whoever has the matching picture on their board gets the card. Again, the first player to fill their board wins.
This is a great wee game that helps develop matching skills and memory skills. As an added bonus, kid get to learn about various famous landmarks around the world. For each landmark, it tells you which country it’s in and on the back of the boards who will also find a fact file with a fact about each of the landmarks, e.g. how long the Great Wall of China is or when the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was built. My boys also loved the spotting the landmarks they knew – or have even seen themselves – already.
There are currently twelve mini games in the range to choose from, so why not get one for each stocking! We also reviewed a couple of other the mini games last year, if you want to check out the reviews from those.
As you may know, the love for unicorns is strong in our house, so the boys were very excited when Rainbow Unicorns arrived in the post. It is recommended for ages 3-5, and is suitable for 2 to 4 players.
In the box, you get one rainbow playing board (consisting of three jigsaw pieces), 4 unicorn playing pieces with stands, 50 cards, and one pot of gold card.
To set up the game, each player chooses a unicorn playing piece and places it on the cloud at the start of the rainbow on the playing board. Separate out the head and the tail cards, deal each player six head cards, which they put down face up in front of them, and put the rest aside if playing with only two or three players. Finally, spread the tail cards face down in the middle of the table, and you are ready to go.
The first player turns over a tail card. If the colour matches any of your head cards, you complete that unicorn and move your playing piece one space along the rainbow. If the card doesn’t match, you show it to the other players and return it face down to the table. Play then passed on to the next player. If you turn over a sad cloud, you return it face down and shuffle all the cards on the table.
The winner is the first person to match six unicorns and each the end of the rainbow. They get the pot of gold as a reward. To extend the game play, you could play several rounds and the overall winner is the first person to win the pot of gold three times.
You can also use the head and tail cards (minus the sad cloud cards) for a game of matching pairs, just shuffle the cards face down on the table, and take it in turn to turn over two cards at a time. If the cards match, you get to keep them and have another go. If they don’t match, you return the cards to the table and play passes on. The winner is the player who has collected the most pairs once all the cards have been picked up.
At age 5 and 9, my youngest is at the upper end of the recommended age range, and my eldest is maybe a bit too old but he is absolutely obsessed with unicorns so still enjoyed playing this with his little brother. It’s great game for developing matching skills and memory skills, and for younger children it can also help with developing colour recognition.
Knights and Dragons
The final game we tested for review, is Knights and Dragons. It is recommended for ages 4+ and, like the others above, is also suitable for 2 to 4 players.
In the box, you get 40 knight cards, 10 dragon cards, and 6 castle cards. The knight cards show either the top of bottom half of a knight, in five different colours, and the dragon cards show either a sleeping dragon or an awake dragon. The castle cards combine to make one big picture of a castle.
To set up the game, each player picks two knight bottom cards of any colour, and all remaining cards are shuffled and placed in a pile face down in the centre of the table. And you are ready to play!
The first player starts by turning over the top card of the face down pile. As there are five different kinds of card, there are five difference scenarios depending on which card you pick.
- a knight top card – if it matches one of your bottom cards, keep it and match them up; if it doesn’t match, discard it face up next to the other pile
- a knight bottom card – keep it and lay it next to your other bottom cards
- an awake dragon card – if you have at least one complete knight, you must move it to the centre of the table, if you don’t nothing happens
- a sleeping dragon card – you can add all the completed knights from the centre of the table, if there are any, to your own collection
- a castle card – place it face up on the table; other castle cards get added to this until the picture is complete
Play then passes to the next player, and continues until all the castle cards have been collected and the picture of the castle completed. The player with the most complete knights at this point wins. One thing to note, is that once there are knight top cards on the discard pile, you can choose a card from there if it matches one of your bottom cards, instead of picking a card from the face down pile.
Knights and Dragons has been a real winner for us with both boys (although he enjoyed Rainbow Unicorns, my eldest definitely loved this one better), and I enjoyed playing it too. At an educational level, it encourages colour recognition and matching skills, and also observational skills as you need to keep your eyes on the discard pile to see if there are any cards there that match yours. And although how well you do in the game is largely down to luck, you do need to make decisions on whether to take from the discard pile or draw a card from the face down pile and risk a better or worse outcome. The anticipation of what you will draw – and who will get the next dragon card – adds to the excitement and fun of the game.
Orchard Toys are always one of our first choices for games, I think we have yet to try one that we haven’t liked. The mini games are only £5 each, and both Rainbow Unicorns and Knights and Dragons come in at under £10 each, so whether you pick a mini game as a stocking filler or one of the bigger games for under the tree, Orchard Toys are a great fun and education choice for Christmas, without breaking the bank. All games are available via the Orchard Toys website.
Disclosure: We were sent free samples of the three games mentioned above, in return for an honest review. However, all views and opinions are our own.