I’m not sure what bedtime is like in your house, but here, it’s a grueling process involving wardrobe changes, dental hygiene, stories, and about 4,000 excuses. I’m actually in awe at the creativity of my kid’s excuses to delay going to sleep. They have a future career in politics for sure. But eventually, we get them down to sleep and have a few blissful hours of quiet before we pass out from exhaustion.
What does that all have to do with board gaming? Today we are going to take a look at the next in HABA’s line of “My Very First Games”. This time it’s Off to Bed!, a game about putting the little ones to bed. I haven’t found any rules about tantrums or smacking your father in the head with a copy of Goodnight Moon, but maybe that will be in an expansion pack in the future. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the game.
Like many of HABA’s My Very First line of games, there are a few ways to play Off To Bed!. No matter which mode you are playing, the main goal is to put the three little animals to bed. Each of them needs to find their bed, blanket, pillow, and toy.
The main way I played with my kids was Game 1: Making a bed. In this cooperative mode, all the tiles are shuffled and placed face down. Each player, in turn, flips over a tile. If it’s one of the items needed to put a kid to bed, it’s added to their space. If it’s one of the distraction items (potty, water cup, toothbrush, or a story), it’s added to the track. The goal is to put all three kids to bed before you find all 8 of the excuses.
In Game 2: Bedtime Matching, it plays out similarly, except each kid as their own color. It’s basically a race to put your animal to bed first. Game 3: Sleepy Bingo, works the same, except that you can inadvertently find your opponent’s items.
So, one thing I realized while playing this with my kids (about 3 and a half years old) is that they don’t really have a concept of winning and losing yet. We played mostly the cooperative version because they enjoyed finding all the pieces and putting their kids to bed. We tried playing Bedtime Matching, but they didn’t really understand the race aspect of trying to be the first to complete their set. When one person finally did, they just kept on playing until they all had their sets. Which is fine if there are no losers, then there are no meltdowns, right?
However, they did really enjoy finding the pieces for each of the animals and putting them together. There was a little bit of learning here as they realized they needed to find four different things that each animal needs to go to sleep. Yet they didn’t quite grasp that the potty, cup, and other distractions were actually bad. They just put them on the track and went about their game. Even if the track filled up, they didn’t seem to care and kept on playing. Despite my coaching like “oh no, it’s the sippy cup” they seemed unconcerned.
One thing I think Off to Bed is missing vs some of the other My Very First Game is the wow (or toy) factory. The three big animals are chucky, and my kids liked playing with them, but not to the extent of the other games. Games like Rhino Hero Junior where you get to build a tower or Building Site that has a truck to drive around the table seems to have captured my kid’s attention for much longer than Off to Bed! has. Building Site is still the most requested game of my HABA collection, and I’m sure the great components are the reason for it.
My kids enjoyed Off to Bed!, but not to the level of some of the other My Very First Games. It was just missing the wow factor for them. Mind you I’m not saying Off to Bed! is a bad game, but coming up against some of the other games in the same line, I’d probably put it near the bottom of the list. I was also hoping it would teach them about bedtime routines and how distractions are bad, but alas, no go. And as before, I’m not going to end this review with a numeric score, as your gameplay experience will very much depend on the level your child is at.