When I hear the words HABA and dexterity game I usually follow it with, “sign me up”. I may or may not own 4 different versions of Rhino Hero (ok, I do) and my kids regularly play Animal Upon Animal with me. So when I saw a copy of Flotsam Float at Gen Con this year, I was immediately intrigued.
Flotsam Float is a stacking dexterity game for 2-5 players that accommodates players as young as 6 (officially).
In Flotsam Float, players are trying to earn the most points by collecting various sea objects, stacking them on a raft, and moving said raft to a new location. On a player’s turn, they stack one of the objects at the raft’s location onto the raft. They then check the card the piece was on to see where the raft needs to be delivered to. If the player successfully delivers the raft to the location with nothing falling off, they claim that card into their score pile. Each card has a variable number of shells on it. If the raft had at least three objects on it when moved, the player can earn some bonus points.
Then the next player takes their turn in the same manner. The game ends when only one location has a piece near it. Players will count up the shells on the cards in their score pile, and the player with the most points wins.
For testing this game, my kids are only 4.5 years old, so slightly below the suggested age range for the game. That being said, they had pretty much no issues learning the rules. I did leave out the rule for scoring extra points if the raft had enough objects on it, but otherwise, they were able to play the game as is.
One of my barometers for playing games with my kids is: A. Did it cause a meltdown at any point and B., Did they ask to play it again after playing it. So on that scale, Flotsam Float was a resounding success. At no point did the kids break out into tears, and they definitely wanted to play it again. In fact, mommy joined us for the second game and my daughter helpfully explained the rules to her (mostly). They actually got so excited playing the game that they started hopping around. Which, of course, caused pieces to fall off the raft as they shook the table. Sure, strategy might not be their strong point yet, but they at least were thoroughly entertained.
For those wondering, I don’t see Flotsam Float ending up as a crossover game like, say Rhino Hero. Its footprint is much larger, and the stacking element isn’t as exciting. Not that it’s a bad game, but I also don’t see this as a game I’d play with anyone other than my kids. However, there is almost no reading involved so my kids can even play on their own now. Which is a win in my book.
Finally, I liked how the game helped to reinforce their counting skills. At the end of the game, they needed to count up the shells on the cards in their score pile. As some of the totals would get up in the 20s, this was solid math skills for them to reinforce.
Flotsam Float was a solid game that both my kids and I enjoyed playing. Sometimes, when I get the umpteenth memory game to review, I sort of dread having to play it with them. And not only because my memory sucks in those games. But with a fun dexterity element and some cool bits to play with, Flotsam Float was a win all around. I don’t give out review scores for games in this age range, because a lot depends on where your kid is at. But I can say that my kids have been playing this one constantly, and absolutely love it. They don’t even need me anymore and will teach it to babysitters and little friends. I’m not sure there is higher praise for a game in this age range than that.