Rüben Rallye is published in Finnish as Kaniralli by Haba, and I received a free review copy from the Finnish distributor Tevella.
The game: Rüben Rallye by Sylvain Ménager, published by Haba in 2016.
Elevator pitch: Beautiful roll and move game for kids, but with an added element of distance approximation thrown in.
What’s in the box? Haba is known for quality components, and that’s the case here as well. The small box contains big wooden rabbit meeples, wooden cylinders for stones and pretty wooden carrots. There’s also cardboard planks and cardboard boards for the beginning area and the goal area.
Everything is well done and functional. The beginning and goal areas are elevated on stands, and those stands feels a bit flimsy, but it’s a minor complaint and the wooden bits are all top-notch.
What do you do in the game? The goal is set about 80 cm from the beginning (four box lengths, so easy to measure). Players take turn rolling the die. The die tells the colour of the plank you need to use this turn.
Then, without touching the plank, you must place a free stone on the table. Once you’ve done that, you take the plank and bridge the distance between your current stone and the stone you placed with the plank. If you can do that, move your rabbit to the new stone, but if you’ve set the stone too far, you can’t move.
It’s a race game, but in order to get all the advantage from your die rolls, you need to estimate the distances well. Underestimate, and you lose precious centimeters. Overestimate, and you lose your whole turn.
Lucky or skillful? Mostly lucky; if you roll well enough, you just can’t lose. However, good estimation skills will balance some of the luck from the die-rolling.
Abstract or thematic? Thematic enough for the kids, I suppose, but really quite abstract.
Solitaire or interactive? This is a pure race and you can’t block or hinder your opponents, so no direct interaction or conflict.
Players: 2–4, works well with all amounts.
Who can play? Age recommendation is 4+, which seems correct to me. The game is quite simple, so kids in elementary school may find it already a bit childish.
Length: 10-15 minutes.
What’s to like: Simple rules; nice twist on basic roll-and-move; gorgeous components.
What’s not to like: Lucky roller will win, no matter how well you estimate distances.
My verdict: Haba is a reliable source of quality games for kids, and I’ve learnt to trust the yellow box. Rüben Rallye meets the expectations: it’s simple, fun and easy game that goes beyond the basic roll-and-move mechanics it’s built on.
We’ve played tons of Fleeting Foxes and I have no doubt this game could reach similar numbers. Now that my kids are 7 and 10, though, this seems a tad childish. Well, my seven-year-old daughter who likes simple games was enthusiastic about this, so maybe this will see play.
I would give this as a gift to a family with a four- or five-year-old little gamer without hesitation.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Rüben Rallye gets Suggest from me.