On The Third Day Of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me…

Tempo, Kleine Schneke (or Snail’s Pace Race)!

The Rules:

All six racing snails are placed on their colour on the board and players place bets on which two snails they think will come first and last in the race, respectively. Players then take it in turns to roll the dice and move the snail of the colour shown one space forward on the board. Generally two snails will be moved, as the dice will show different colours, however one snail will be moved forward two spaces if the dice show the same colour when they’re rolled. This continues until all snails have finished the race.The winner is the player who guessed most accurately the winning and losing snails.

For Christmas?

Yes! This game is great for everyone because there is no strategy or tactic to it; it’s not about skill, it’s about guessing and getting lucky with the dice rolls! Plus it would be funny to see Aunt Jean get frustrated over the apparent lack of any kind of method to the game, the very existence of it will upset her delicate world-view, which will add entertainment value to the overall experience of the game. Because every player has to guess which snails will win and lose you could make it interesting (if there are no kids playing) by placing bets on your snails to add a little edge to the game. After all, it’s Christmas, and there should be plenty of sweets around that could be used as chips.

Happy Third Day of Christmas! I hope you’re still trying to eat your way through the Christmas dinner leftovers and haven’t even thought about cooking anything fresh for the last few days!

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Tempo, Kleine Schnecke! (or Snail’s Pace Race)

3 - 5

Number of Players: 2-6

Year of Publication: 1985

Creator(s): Alex Randolph (designer) and Dick Bruna, Hans-Günther Döring, Horst Laupheimer and Wolfgang Scheit (artists)

You’re going slower than the speed of a snail, could you hurry up!?

My parents and siblings all use this phrase when one of us is doing something stupidly slowly and they’re running out of patience. Fortunately for us the snails in this game are much speedier; like this racing snail:

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The racing snail and his rider, Gluckuk from The Neverending Story, a popular fantasy story written by Michael Ende. This image is a screenshot taken from the 1984 movie adaptation.

What’s In The Box:

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  1. Game Board
  2. 6 Coloured Snails
  3. 2 6-Sided Dice
  4. Rules printed on the back of the box (technically not in the box, but still important)

Playing The Game:

Objective: To guess correctly which two snails will win and lose the race!

In this game it doesn’t matter how many people are playing, all six snails are still used. To begin the game line up the snails on their respective colours. Then each player has to place a bet on which snail they think will come first, and which will come last in the race. Players then take it in turns to roll the two dice, whichever colour is rolled, that snail is moved forward one space on the racetrack and if both dice show the same colour then that snail is moved forward two spaces. Every player does this until all the snails have crossed the finish line. The winner is then the person who guessed most accurately which snails would win and lose.

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Starting Line-Up

The game begins like this: say I bet that the Orange Snail will win, and the Blue Snail will lose and my opponent bets that the Blue Snail will win, and the Yellow Snail will lose, we then roll the dice and move the snails like this:

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No Orange Snail, why are aren’t you moving!?!?

So far the Pink Snail is in the lead and both Blue and Orange Snails are having a nap or something. But due to the erratic and unpredictable way in which each snail is allowed to move the game can also change reasonably quickly, like this:

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Please excuse the fuzzy quality of this photo…

Okay, so Orange Snail hasn’t won here, but he’s caught up pretty well after a slow start! At this point Pink Snail has won, and as no one bet on her we have to see which snail loses the race to know if anyone’s managed to win the game.

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Orange Snail loses the race. 😦

Because Orange Snail is the last to cross the line you could argue one of two things:

  1. That I lose because the Snail I bet on to be first actually lost the race, or,
  2. That no one won the race because neither of us guess winner or loser correctly.

I’m going with option number 2 on this one.

Strategy:

This is a guessing game, so I really can’t write anything about strategy except that you’ve probably got as much chance of winning the game as any of the other players.

History and Interesting Things:

  1. This game is excellent for teaching colour recognition in children, as they have to identify each snail by its colour to be able to play the game.
  2. It promotes sharing and because technically the snail wins the race, and not the player, it’s a good game for children who have issues with not coming first.
  3. The game was originally published in German – hence my dual-language title for the post (also as the version of the game I’m playing is German).

That’s about all I can get for this section, so we’ll proceed now to the conclusion!

Conclusion:

I like this game a lot, I think it’s great for children, particularly those that are very young and can’t grasp a game with lots of rules. I’ve rated it only at a three for a few reasons. The first of which is the box. All the pieces are just loose in the box. We’ve said this on a lot of posts, but it’s still true, there are very few things more satisfying than a board game with a well-designed box. For a game with this few pieces it wouldn’t have been difficult to make a plastic insert that could hold the snails and dice, would it? As it is, everything rattles around inside the box, and whilst the snails are wooden, and so quite durable, they also get scratched, and bash up the dice if the game is moved around a lot. My second reason for not rating it higher is that it’s a betting game, and although you don’t bet anything on the snails, there are some children that would insist that they get given something by the other players if their snail wins, and I could foresee this becoming an argument-starter.

That said, it’s a good, simple game that can be played in five-ten minutes. The time each player needs to take their turn is maybe 10 seconds, so the pace of the game is also good as it doesn’t allow time for the children to get bored. All in all, I would recommend it!