Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Broom Service

Broom Service

Spring 2016 Games
Ages: 10 & Up
Manufacturer: Ravensburger
Price: $44.00

In this card-driven strategy game, players move plastic witch-like pieces across a fantasy countryside game board delivering potions to color-coded towers and collecting resources for points while avoiding or overcoming various obstacles.

Broom Service is a 2-5 player game that takes about an hour once you get the hang of it, but getting the hang of it can be a little bewitching. To start, players get 10 Action Cards which enable them to accumulate portions and wands. Each player then chooses four of the cards for the first round. The first player draws one of his four cards and decides if he's taking the "brave action" described on it, or the "cowardly action." Thus begins the game's strategizing. Taking brave action means bigger risks but for bigger gains; playing it safe with a cowardly action means minimal gains.

Meanwhile, each player is moving her two witch figures around the board, delivering potions to score points, and using wands to surmount impassable lakes and cloud obstacles. Events Cards crop up to score points and add the luck factor.

To make things more complicated, optional mountain tiles, hill tiles and amulet pieces can be played on the opposite side of the game board. That's right, the board has two sides! Don't ask.

Broom Service is a convoluted game that combines luck and strategy skills. Many of the board-game movements are about timing, when to go where depending on what resources are available. At every turn, through each round, players bluff and make decisions! The game ends after seven rounds; the player with the most points wins.

The German game maker Ravensburger says its philosophy is to stimulate children's minds not only to develop fine-motor, artistic and exploring skills, but also foster a sense of accomplishment. But, just figuring out how to play Broom Service is an accomplishment! Bottom line: for the casual gamer this may be more frustrating than spellbinding. However, if your child is a serious gamer and into fantasy witchcraft, Broom Service could be a clean sweep in gaming strategy.

Don Oldenburg   ©2016 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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