The game: Koboldbande or Troll Trail by Gina Manola, published by Amigo and others in 2014. I have the Nordic Troll Trail edition from Lautapelit.fi. I did the Finnish translation.
Elevator pitch: Simple co-op game for young kids and their parents. Find the a way through the forest and get the treasure before the dragon gets to it!
What’s in the box? Cute Doris Matthäus artwork! There’s a board, bunch of tiles and cardboard tokens, and two custom dice. Components are simple, look nice and work well. The game looks charming. The game is in the Ö-Koo series of eco-friendly co-ops, so the components are made from sustainable materials.
What do you do in the game? Players must work together to build a pathway through the forest. The goal is the dragon’s treasure chest. On their way the players must pick up three of the four keys so they can open the chest.
Every turn, players draw a tile and place it so the path is continued. The tiles have straights, turns and T-crossings, so nothing tricky there. There are also dragon tiles: those go to the dragon path, and if the dragon reaches the treasure chest first, the players lose. Players can delay the dragon by picking up the candy tile.
If the players reach the chest first, they win.
Lucky or skillful? Almost all luck. It’s possible to make bad moves, but if the players build the path directly towards the chest and remember to pick up the keys, everything comes down to the luck of the draw: do the dragon tiles come up or not?
Abstract or thematic? Abstract, but with a cute theme. The Doris artwork is very cute and very appropriate for the game.
Solitaire or interactive? Koboldbande is best played together so that everybody gets to contribute.
Players: Any number, really, it doesn’t matter. Just draw the tiles, it doesn’t matter how many players there are around the board. Solo play is also possible.
Who can play? Box says 4+ and is correct. To start with, this is best played with parents, but after couple of plays, even younger children should be able to play this without much help from the parents. I’d put the upper age limit to six years or so, as the game has fairly little to offer for more skilled players.
Length: One round takes maybe ten or fifteen minutes.
What’s to like: Cute artwork and fun theme; Easy to play co-op game; Eco-friendly components.
What’s not to like: No way to adjust the difficulty; Too easy; Too simple for older children.
My verdict: This game is well done and offers some excitement. However, it’s also quite easy: we played three games and the dragon wasn’t really close to winning even once. My son is eight and my daughter is five, and we’ve played lots of games, so this is a bit too easy for us. I think the game might work if my daughter played it with her friends, without adults involved – I think they could manage it, the rules are simple enough.
I’d like to see a way to adjust the difficulty of the game. It would be nice to have more dragon tiles to add to the mix, or something like that. Now the game is good for smaller children, but runs out of steam pretty quickly with older children. My copy is most likely heading to a family with smaller children than ours: they’ll get more out of this game than we. If you want a co-op for smaller children (four-year-olds, even three-year-olds), Koboldbande is a nice choice.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Koboldbande gets Indifferent.