As a fan of board games and a father of young children, I am always on the lookout for games that will help my kids make the step up into what I consider to be “proper” board games. Honk! Is a game about feeding geese, matching different species to collect maximum points, and taking advantage of tactical opportunities to grab extra special golden eggs — and it’s perfect for younger players.
The game begins with the players scattering a selection of golden eggs onto the table. On top of these eggs, a number of large, thick cardboard geese will be placed — again, fairly randomly. The idea here is that the setup involves a pile of geese loosely arranged on top of each other, with the golden eggs more or less completely covered beneath them. Next to this, five stacks of easily identifiable food cards (with different colours and symbols) will be placed.
On their turn, a player makes a simple choice — they either take two different food cards, or they spend food cards they already have to take one goose. The goose they choose will have two or three food symbols printed on it, and those symbols must be matched by the food spent. This decision and everything associated with the mechanical aspects of Honk! are super simple and I can confirm that my five year old and her friends (four, six and eight respectively) all has no problem grasping the game.
The one thing about Honk! that begins to elevate it just slightly is the way you take geese and why you might choose one over another. For the first goose of any species that you take, you’ll gain one regular egg — worth one point. When you take a second or even a third of that same species, you’ll take two or three eggs respectively — giving the players a reason to focus their efforts with a bit of overall strategy.
This is a small enough tweak to the basic idea that again, young players are perfectly able to grasp it — and it’s quite common to see a player achieve two geese of at least two or three species. Getting a third (or more) geese is very rare in my experience, but that as much as anything is down to the fact that the geese are chosen randomly and scattered randomly, so laser focus isn’t really a thing.
The golden eggs really stir things up though — and because they only appear towards the end of the game, they bring a refreshing change of pace to proceedings which I really enjoy. Because each egg is worth between one and three points and are claimed when fully uncovered, a player has the chance to take one goose and in doing so, they get the usual “normal” egg rewards plus the benefit of all golden eggs that are fully uncovered by that goose being removed. The bottom layer of geese seems to vanish very quickly, and even though this is a turn based game (with no real time elements) there’s a distinct sense of urgency.
If the objective that Honk! set out to achieve is specifically to create an engaging and exciting experience that splits the difference between traditional kid-friendly games and those more interesting experiences that adults favour, it is a huge success. Judged by this criteria, I have to say that Honk! is probably one of the best games in our collection and only some really fantastic games (like KingDomino with simplified rules) manage the same level of universal engagement.
The components are excellent too, with geese tokens that are large and very thick — meaning that they will last a long time — and cards that don’t have any secret information on, so the odd crease, fold or even a lost card or two won’t really hurt. This says to me that Honk! has been really well thought out both in terms of its mechanics and the actual manufacturing process, and that’s something I appreciate.
Simply put, if you’re a family of gamers that has one or more children anywhere between around five and eight years old, Honk! will definitely find a home in your collection. It’s well made, quick to teach and play, and it is very satisfying for children and pretty good for older players. Most of all, it’s a lot of fun, has great pacing and there are some moments of genuine excitement among the younger players when good things happen. Unless you come into this game expecting a much heavier game (which you shouldn’t) then there is very little to criticise here.
You can purchase Honk! on this website.