Imaginations are firing in Katamino Family by Gigamic and HBGUK! And it doesn’t matter whether you’re 3 or 93; puzzling it out just got a fun upgrade!
Publisher: Gigamic, Hachette Board Games UK (HBGUK)
Designer: André Perriolat John Perriolat
Artist: Stephanie Escapa
Release date: 2017
Favouritefoefunlearning score 9.5/10
*Solo * Wooden Components * Spatial * Puzzle * Race* Two Player * Pattern Building * 3D * Polyomino* Geometric* Variable Challenges * #learningthroughplay * #gameschooling * Imagination *
Now you know we are big fans of Katamino; the chunky, wooden, geometric pentamino puzzle from Gigamic France and Hachette Board Games UK. And if you have read my review of the original, you’ll also know that Gigamic have produced some brilliant educational resources – sheets to help younger kiddies get their Katamino skills firing on all cylinders. So when I saw Gigamic had also released Katamino Family, it was a must try.
Katamino for Kids!
Katamino Family is based on the same premise as the original – using gorgeously chunky colourful 3D polyominos to completely fill a designated space (“penta”). But this time there are 18 pieces of all shapes and sizes (pentaminos, tetraminos, miniminos!). There are also cards divided into two which show the exact starting pieces each player will use to create their first “penta”.
As with the original and all the Gigamic wooden games, the board is a nice solid wooden construction. Between each pair of numbers is a groove in which to slot wooden dividers which shrink or extend the spaces in which you will be racing to solve each puzzle.
To start playing the regular game, you first choose a card – the colours indicate the different difficulty level from beginner (yellow) through to expert (black), and set the dividers in the appropriate slots (e.g between 3-4 on each side for beginner puzzles). When one of you gives the starting signal, the race is on to fit the pieces shown on your side of the card into the available space on your board.
Whoever fills their penta first scores one point. The other player then gets to pick another piece from the remaining pool (which is different to the pieces their opponent already has) and hands it over. The winner then does likewise. The divider is then moved up one slot, and the race starts over again. But this time, both players have more pieces and a bigger area to fill! The rounds continue like this until there is only one divider between the players (in slot 6). Whoever has the most points by the end of the last duel is the winner!
Given that there are 27 cards of different ability levels, plus 9 split cards where one side is more challenging than the other (to help balance out skills sets and experience), there is already enough game play in Katamino family to give even the biggest little puzzler a lifetime of polyomino play.
But there is so much more inside this box! It is like peeling a polyomino onion – layers and layers of variations and opportunities!
From ramping up the difficulty in duels that goes beyond simply using the (already cleverly designed!) split cards, to battling it out in 3D mode using the special checkered cards, as well as special solo challenges of the 2D and 3D type, this box is bursting with geometric gaminess!
But then you keep going in the rule book (and I recommend that you do), and suddenly a whole new age-appropriate set of challenges and puzzles appear! Engaging players from 3 years old, you can use the puzzle pieces to make flat 3D animals (I like the fish!). Or you can use them to make towers (Kataboom!) – like Jenga in reverse! You can also use the pieces to make cubes and cuboids of different sizes, as well as flat penta puzzles that you then convert into 3D structures.
And if that wasn’t enough, there is then an introduction to Katamino with 168 regular pentas to get your little (and big teeth!) into.
Wowzas! If you think I sound exhausted writing about them all, you should have seen me trying to play them! Haha
What I love most about Katamino Family is that it feels to me like it is based on Mini-meeple’s own imagination. What would he do with colourful blocks? He’d stack them. He would make pictures out of them. He would try and make 3D shapes out of them. Of course he would! I would and I am 34 years older than Mini-meeple. Whenever I am given a bunch of meeples in a game, I am always playing a meta challenge on the side by trying to stack them up!
And imagination is what is at the base of great #learningthroughplay opportunities. Engaging children on a level that suits them and that encourages them to go further. Go beyond. See what happens. And with Katamino Family, there just so happens to be some ideas that they can get started with before going off and making bigger and better patterns or structures themselves. And all the while, they are learning about space and perspective. Working out how to see shapes differently. Turning objects around In their hands and their heads. It’s essentially an enormous box of spatial reasoning puzzles wrapped in a colourful, thick layer of fun. And what could be better for their development than that?
As with its big brother, Katamino, the pieces in Katamino Family are excellent. The colours are bright and they are a great size. They’ll definitely get more bashing about with Kataboom! But so far the painted edges are looking pretty good! The book is also a kaleidoscope of colours and is set out in such a way that you can complete many of the puzzles on the actual pages.
Overall, we are really enjoying Katamino Family. I can’t say for sure, but I might even enjoy it more than the original, but only because I get to play with Mini-meeple! Plus when we play this, it gives Shadowmeeplemedia more time with to solo Katamino which has really clicked with him. The only reason I can’t give it a #favouritefoefunlearning score of 10/10 is something a little bit quirky to me. When we pack it away, one of the polyominos purposefully doesn’t fit into the board……just one……!!!! And that will always puzzle me!! Haha