“Sing a song o’ sixpence,
pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
baked in a pie.”
So goes the nursery rhyme, which offers its theme for Sixpence Bakery, a 2-6 player card game from Dan Kriss Games. Play duration is 10-20 minutes and aimed at children 6+.
The goal of Sixpence Bakery is simple: be the first baker to bake three pies by placing blackbird cards totaling exactly 24 on public and private pie spaces. Three blackbird cards are dealt to the table for all players to use during the game, as well as three to their hands. As cards are played from the table, they will be replaced from the draw deck. However, if another type of card, a royal, is drawn, that card goes to the player’s hand. Resume drawing until the used public card is replaced with another blackbird. Players will have 3 public pies to play on, as well as 1 private pie. If a public pie is baked, the cards will be cleared, opening up space once more. However, completing your private pie is a one-time deal.
On a player’s turn, they must play one blackbird card, either from their hand or one of the public options. Those cards used from a player’s hand are not replaced. So they will have to decide when is the best time to use their cards. As mentioned above, there are other cards known as royals in the game. These allow players to take certain actions, such as moving a blackbird from one pie to another, removing one altogether, or playing one additional blackbird. These can help players complete their pies or keep the other player from finishing theirs, but players may only play one royal per turn.
One last thing I’d like to add; the designer clarified a missing rule which I’ve been told will be added in an errata. When a player cannot play any blackbird card from the table or their hand on any open pie, they must draw one card to their hand to see if it can be played. If so, play it; if not, their turn is over.
Sixpence Bakery is billed as a family weight game that can also teach counting and strategy. Overall, I’d say the gameplay wasn’t bad. I played a few games with my 11-year-old nephew and he enjoyed it for the most part. The rules are easy enough to teach and remember for a child. I reminded him to use his royal cards, as he was focused solely on counting the blackbirds in our first game.
Because the use of the royals requires reading, this might determine whether your child would be able to get the full benefit of the game. However, without the royal cards, this would be a boring game of counting. They add some strategic advantages, but their effects are minimal and not game-changing. At best, they might delay an outcome 2-3 turns.
Since the game will consist of constant mental tallying, I don’t think you’d get your kiddo to play more than two games at a time. The light strategy might keep a slightly older child’s attention, but I’m not sure there are enough fun aspects to the game to keep a younger child engaged.
When I think of children’s games, many of which I own for my little gingers, bright pops of color and interesting images advertise themselves on the cover. It’s what would draw a child to pick it up. But that’s unfortunately not the case with this box cover. While most adults can forgive unattractive artwork in their games, I think that’s less excusable in a game aimed at a target market who is visually engaged and enticed. The artwork on the blackbird cards isn’t bad and I’m surprised it wasn’t chosen for the cover instead of being relegated to the back. Put side by side with another game that has a more visually appealing cover, I think this one would be passed up.
Sixpence Bakery invites us into the kitchen to bake pies for the king. Despite the light rules and gameplay, the unattractive box might keep most kids away from this kitchen. And if the game is given a chance, kids and adults might not find much lasting fun to be had.
Final Score: 2.5 stars – A game that can be played with young children, however, it probably won’t keep their attention after a couple of plays.
• Easy to teach
• The gameplay is quick enough to keep the short attention of younger players.
• The box cover is atypical for children’s games.
• Not enough fun aspects to keep an adult and child coming back for future games.