I really love that Blue Orange Games makes games that adults and kids can play together. They do a lot of this, and they usually get it right. Attila may be one that's right for you. It's from acclaimed designer Bruno Faidutti with art by Cyril Bouquet.
In Attila, the Huns are taking on the Roman Empire at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains in 451.
How it works
Players each get three knights, either Romans or Huns, and seven scorched earth tiles. That's right, you'll be setting fires all over the little green board. Speaking of, the board is made up of four pieces that can be set up in a variety of ways, both suggested and original to you if you prefer.
Players take turns placing their knights on the board. Then you're reayd to start.
The starting player moves one knight — aptly called because it moves just like the knight in Chess. That is, it can go two squares forward and one sideways or one forward and two sideways. The player then places one scorched earth tile anywhere on the board, presumably because those flaming arrows have a significant range. That spot can't ever be occupied.
Play continues until one person can't move. The other player wins.
Why you might like Attila
If you want an introduction to Chess for a young player, Attila is a good place to start. The Knight is arguably the most difficult Chess move to learn, and in Attila, it is the only piece, so kiddos will get very familiar with it.
Despite the serious theme, the art and the rulebook lend a light, silly feel to the game. It's cute with animals on the scorched earth tiles that make it feel a bit like a Disney movie.
Because the board is in four pieces, the game never gets old. When the board is set up so that parts of it don't align, you can cross your pieces over empty space, adding more tactics to the game.
This is a good game for people who like a spatial puzzle.
It's really quick, so there's always time a second game. Or maybe another game altogether.
There's no luck in the game. It's all about making the right move and reacting to your opponent.
It's easy to learn and teach quickly.
Why you might not like Attila
If you don't do well with spatial puzzles, the field of green on the board may make it difficult for you to see your options. No judgment, by the way. I know this because the board looked like a blur of confusion for several plays for me. My husband, on the other hand, could see every option. You can imagine how this turned out.
The initial placement affects the game. A lot. The rulebook does give some initial setups for beginners to keep things balanced, but after you've outgrown that, you can throw the game quickly with the right — or wrong — placement.
With skilled players, it can feel a little like Tic Tac Toe, especially at the end of the game.
The art uses some cartoonish stereotypes of Asians for the Huns, including prominent buck teeth and yellow skin. (Check out the tin cover above.) If that bothers you, you should skip this one.
I am not good at spatial puzzles. Really not good. So I have an immediate and unfortunate bias. I did push through until I could win at least one game, so it's possible to get past that.
The game is best for young players, and it's a good teaching game that still offers variety.
I like the art style a lot, but I wish the artist had backed off on the Asian stereotypes. I understand that he was creating caricatures, but I think it goes too far. There are other games that won't reinforce Orientalism with my kids.
All that makes this game a pass for me.
Other reviewers' opinions
To the Table said the game would be good for siblings playing against each other. He also said kids will enjoy trying to beat their parents.
Chris at Game Gumshoes called Attila "a very fun little game" with simple rules for the kids.
Marco Arnaudo said the game is "not a bad filler at all" and a game that requires some thinking. He said the options are interesting, but won't slow down the game.
As long as you're cool with the art, absolutely. I think a player younger than 7 might be able to pick this up.
What my husband wants to do to the game
He wants to make the placement of the scorched earth tiles more limited, perhaps on the path you followed to get to your destination. We never tried it that way, though. I'm curious about what that would do to the game.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Attila from Blue Orange Games. That doesn't affect my ability to give an honest review. If it did, I wouldn't have taken it.
Also, much of this review first appeared at News for Shoppers, where I wrote it.