With Christmas hastily approaching and children to appease during the routine adult Trivial Pursuit tradition, The Hunger Games District 12 board game is a timely addition for young fans of the books and film. And, having grossed over $680 million worldwide, it won’t have escaped your attention that this franchise is exceedingly big business.
It’s definitely a surprise to open the box and find so little inside, but this keeps gameplay relatively simple and easy to pick up which is a big advantage for younger players. Yet it’s odd that this game is classed for age 14+ when anyone from the age of seven is going to find this very straightforward – even if the films are aimed at a slighter older demographic.
First and foremost, the game is about survival. During each of the twelve rounds (which rather neatly parallels the twelve districts), you are required to gather different resource cards that mirror the items we already know Katniss and those around her depend on for survival. If you don’t attain the requested amount of food, clothing or medicine, etc, before the end of a round, one of your tokens goes into the reaping bowl and your chances of becoming a tribute increase. However, for risky game players, there’s the option of keeping your resources as they are worth points at the end of the game – and anyway, one of you is always going to be picked from the glass bowl.
Overshadowing proceedings, the reaping is an unpredictable element that results in a random draw to choose a tribute, maintaining a potluck idea throughout. Even if you’ve gathered the most resources throughout the game and technically rise as the winner, the true victor is never revealed until the closing moments, which is sure to be an exciting element for groups of children and blocks any potential arguments about cheating!
By giving everyone the chance of winning, this element of anticipation is definitely a rarely seen board game concept, and, with Peeta, Prim, Mrs. Everdeen and Gale popping up to give you a helping hand of scoring more points at the game’s close, this, alongside the locations used, keeps things feeling fairly authentic.
Though familiarity is a definite advantage to this board game and young players may feel like they’re acting as Katniss for twenty minutes or so, there’s no feeling of story progression or legitimate rewarding features, as it plays it safe by remaining very simple and straightforward. But this keeps it accessible to young players and removes any potential frustrations, with the game short enough to prevent children from becoming too fidgety.
Although it may come across as a rushed tie-in with the film for the most part to an adult audience, there’s a lot in there for children who are obsessed with the franchise – just don’t expect them to be running back for another go once the Christmas holidays are over.