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Children’s Game Review: Elephant’s Trunk

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Elephant’s Trunk from Gamewright is a fast-paced, entertaining game for kids. The game’s mechanics are simple: Players roll a die and place a token into a trunk; the winner is the first one to empty his or her hand of tokens. It makes for a quick and easy game for kids wanting to play something that only takes fifteen minutes. Adults can join in as well, though there is not a great deal of strategy to keep their minds occupied.

What caught my eye first about Elephant’s Trunk was its excellent production value. The box is colorful and eye-catching and leads in well to the delightful story of the game. Emmet is an elephant trying to pack his trunks (suitcases, of course, rather than some kind of strange proboscis-stuffing), and players help by rolling a wooden six-sided die with four colors and two mice. The colors correspond with four tin trunks, which are beautiful and each feature unique designs, akin to toys of old.

Play in Elephant’s Trunk is very straight forward. Each player gets a number of tokens, and the one who “makes the best elephant sound starts,” which already puts players in a hilarious mood. The starting player places a wooden token representing Emmet next to a random trunk and then rolls the die to place a token into the corresponding trunk. If the player rolls the color of the trunk Emmet is beside, he or she gets to place two tokens as a bonus. However, if the player rolls a mouse, chaos ensues. All of the tokens in the trunk Emmet is next to are given to the player (similar to losing a slap in a number of playing card games where the goal is to lose cards), and Emmet moves to the next trunk.

Elephant’s Trunk is a great game for younger players, but can be fun for adults as well. In our play-testing, we fell to screeching “Mouse!” every time one was rolled and much giggling ensued despite cumulative higher education of more than two decades. While kids would not mind its fairly repetitive gameplay with the 25% chance of mouse-danger, it might not hold adults’ attention as long. The difficulty level could be raised with house-rules of placing only one colored token into a color-corresponding trunk, causing adults to strategize and attempt to roll a mouse to gain needed tokens, but it could also frustrate younger players.

Overall, Elephant’s Trunk is great for kids and, to quote Gamewright, a handy way to advance “such valuable early learning skills as color identification, pattern recognition, and fine motor development.” At the same time, it’s a blast to play.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.