“To forget a friend is sad. Not everyone has had a friend and if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures…” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
We have to remember to fight the battle against becoming adults everyday of our lives. It’ll happen someday of course, but one good method to avoid growing up is playing games with sons, daughters, nieces and nephews or any other kids in your life. Engaging youngsters in the board game hobby not only helps to grow the next generation of gamers, it teaches critical thinking, being good sports and it’s a level of interaction that can also keep us young! The Little Prince is good game to bring out with the kids in your life.
Antoine Bauza is no stranger to the works of Saint-Exupéry. He already has one Little Prince title under his belt. The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet. Now Bauza is joining forces with Bruno Cathala to bring TLP: Rising to the Stars. This new effort is a direct tie-in to the recently released animated movie. RTTS is a cute simple game aimed at younger players, but gamers of all ages will be able to have fun.
The goal of the game is to fly your own plane from Grandfather’s house all the way to the Little Prince’s planet, hopping from cloud to cloud along the way. You’ll do this by playing cards from your hand to advance along the cloud track. The pilot who has been able to collect the most stars along the way will win the game. The board is made up of different sections of clouds that can be assembled a variety of ways. Each of the sections are held together with connecting boards. As you pass the connecting boards you can take a Story Tile worth stars. At each connecting board there will be face-up tiles and facedown tiles and you can make your choice which one to grab.
Each player starts with a hand of Fox cards numbered between one and five. Tokaido-style, it’s always the person who is last line that is next to act. They select a card from their hand and move up to the number of cloud spaces indicated. This can lead to multiple turns in a row if the active player doesn’t pass anyone. If you end your turn on an empty cloud, nothing happens, but the others will trigger some kind of action. Star clouds allow you to take one star point from the supply. Bird clouds allow you to take the top card off the Grandfather card deck. Grandfather cards allow to make special moves along the cloud track. Finally Telescope clouds allow you to draw a telescope and look at the other side. Some Telescopes give you stars and some take them away. Some Telescopes even allow you to steal stars from your opponents, but it’s totally luck of the draw.
If you land your plane on a cloud with another plane, you don’t get any special bonuses the cloud may have provided, but you do get to take a card at random from that player then give them a card back of your choice. That move can be pretty important because the only way to move forward is with cards and the numbers will determine how far you can go. Not every player is going to make it to the Little Prince’s planet. Some will be forced to take their plane off the track early. It doesn’t mean they lose necessarily, but they will have to wait out the rest of the game. If you start your turn with no cards left you do have the option of discarding a story tile to move up to five spaces forward. Depending on the situation it may be your best move.
It is a bit of a race to get to planet B-612. The first pilot there will get the paper plane worth six points. The next plane is only worth four and each successive one drops in value. If you arrive last you won’t get anything at all.
The Little Prince ends when every player is out of cards. You total your points from Star tokens, Story tiles and paper planes. The one with the most stars is the winner.
This is a good game to use a bridge for younger players. It goes beyond teaching the basic structure of games, like waiting for your turn and how games end. In a very simple way it will make kids consider hand management, set collection, push-your-luck, turn order, and take that! It may seem like a lot to pack into a game aimed at kids 6+, but the rules and goals come together in such a natural way that they just make sense. The board is very clear and kids can easily see what the state of the game is. There is enough meat here that older players will enjoy the experience of playing with kids and introducing them to some of the rules and mechanics they’ll get used to if they dive deeper into the hobby.