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Board Game Review: ‘1, 2, 3’ from Devir Games

1, 2, 3 from Devir Games is a fun mental workout no matter how young or old the players may be. The cartoony aesthetic if 1, 2, 3 is inviting to a sense of childhood, but its gameplay serves as a challenge for any level of player. Rather than being complicated by ongoing strategy, it serves as a quick test of memory and recognition while building fine motor skills to be as quiet as possible.

The scenario in 1, 2, 3 takes place on a charming farm where the animals and field hands play something like hide-and-go-seek. Since cows and horses would be at a distinct disadvantage trying to hide, so they instead hide in plain sight by changing positions in the field. It is up to the field hands to spot the difference and win the game.

Gameplay in 1, 2, 3 is quick as players take turns to set up each visual puzzle. To begin the game, each player is given a set of cards with a cow, a horse, a sheep, and a pig. An Action card deck is set on the table with four possibilities:  an animal being added, an animal being taken away, an animal moving to a new place, or two animals being swapped. Cards show which animals will take the actions, balancing the game so that no animal is repeated.

For each round in 1, 2, 3, a “player in charge” is chosen who serves as the person to arrange the animals. The first challenge is on the player in charge, who must select ten to fifteen animals without looking, judging only by feel. They are set out on a “corral” with other players count to ensure there are not too many or too few animals; calling that out wins bonus points. Once the number of animals is right, the player in charge arranges them and gives other players a chance to study the table while drawing an Action card. Then the other players must close their eyes while the player in charge performs the action on the card. When the animals are moved, the player in charge invites the others to open their eyes and guess what has changed based on questions like, “Which animals moved?” or “Which animal left?” Players in charge will want to be especially sneaky, whether extra quiet or perhaps moving several animals while putting all but those from the Action card back to where they belong as a distraction.

After they can see the corral again, the other players select their animal cards from their decks and then all reveal at the same time. The player in charge shows the Action card, and points are given to those who guessed correctly or to the player in charge if no one got it. Play continues until all players have a chance to be in charge, and the winner is the one who collects the most points by the end.

1, 2, 3 is a memory game for two to eight players aged six and up. It includes rules for a variant for younger players as well, which reveals the Action card so that players only have to determine which animal it was that moved. No reading is required, meaning 1, 2, 3 is adaptable to even the youngest players while being a great chance to practice counting and memory. Games are quick, lasting only ten or fifteen minutes.

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.

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