Thursday, April 8, 2021

Cardboard Corner: Review of Monza

Vroom-vroom!—in color! I wish I had had Monza when I was three-years old…

Aimed at small children, Monza (2000) is a racing game for two to six people. The game sees players taking turns rolling six dice, and using the colors that are rolled to advance their race car along the multi-color track. First car to complete a lap, wins!

Candyland but with one, important added layer of sophistication, Monza asks small children to think a little. They take turns, identify colors, compare colors, and chain the movement of their cute little race car by color—the last being the thinky bit. Initially the game will be more reactive for small children. What color do I need to advance my car? Red. Do I have red? Yes. Use the red die and move my car. What’s next? Blue or white. Do I have blue or white? No. Ok, now my sister’s turn. But as time goes on and children become more comfortable with the concept, they can start to plan their moves. Ok, I need a red or green next, and after that it will be either purple, red, or blue. And then it’s white or green. I have only four of those colors, so how can I chain them together to get my car the furthest along the track? I can…

I understand some parents may be sensitive to the idea of competition (versus cooperation) with their children. Indeed, Monza is a competitive game, but it’s lightly so. There are zero take-that elements, and a game takes +/-10 minutes, which means you can quickly play another round. Dice being dice, the child who lost and is sad now has an equal chance to win the next race (not to mention honestly beat dear ol’ dad or mom, which is huge fun for them). Add to this the fact there is very rarely a runaway winner, most games come down to the final dice rolls. Everybody is usually in it to the very end, which makes things exciting.

All in all, there are very few games as good for children around the ages of three and four as Monza. Teaching essential gaming skills (taking turns, winning, and losing—in a light-hearted way), as well as basic color-matching and logic skills, Monza is a hit in our family. The components simple but high quality (wooden dice and race cars), it’s made to last—even on family trips in its small box. I don’t know how easy it is to acquire Monza in 2020, but if you have small children and are looking for a fun way to game with them at a level they can easily grasp and compete with you, this game is for you. 

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