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Little Cooperation

Publishers Djeco have carved out a distinctive niche with their range of charmingly produced children's games. Often these are games with simple mechanics but with an educational twist and almost invariably with enchanting components. Little Cooperation is totally within that genre.

Designed for pre-school children, the clue to the educational aspect is in the title. This is a game that introduces young children to the need to work together to achieve a shared objective. Of course, it's no Pandemic (Z-Man). It's a fully cooperative game for 2–4 children that relies on a seemingly simple roll & move mechanic. Tho' there are four cute vinyl polar animals (albeit that the penguin and the polar bear would normally be residing at opposite poles) the children don't control any individual creature; instead they are working cooperatively to get all four animals from a fishing hole to the safety of an igloo via an ice bridge supported by six pillars. They can only either win together or lose together; which rather differentiates this game from most others aimed at toddlers.

To play, children take turns to roll a single large custom six-sided die. If they roll a bridge icon, the child can move any creature from the fishing hole starting tile to the bridge. Roll an igloo and a creature can be moved from the bridge to the igloo. Whenever the ice block icon is rolled, however, the child has to remove one of the pillars. This introduces a dexterity element because the child has to try to remove the pillar without collapsing the bridge, and it also introduces the tension of a threat: if the ice blocks are rolled six times before all four creatures have been rescued, then it's game over! And it's game over even sooner if the bridge doesn't remain balanced.

Little Cooperation takes no more than 10 minutes and, in terms of game mechanics, it's super light - it needs to be, given the age of its target audience. Players are entirely at the mercy of the die; they have no more agency than in Snakes & Ladders. Nevertheless, children will love the cute polar creatures and the excitement of what they perceive to be a race to get the animals to safety before the bridge collapses. And as they play, they'll learn that not every board game has to be about beating or beggaring your neighbour.

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