“I AM AN ELEPHANT FASHION DESIGNER!!”
Big Bean made this bold declaration within minutes of opening the box for Mighty Mice from Advance Games. My exhausted adult eyes didn’t grasp what she was seeing, but I was definitely more focused as she carefully stacked the grey mouse cubes onto the colourful wooden elephants.
Stacking games are common to find among the selection of children’s games, whether they be on the shelves of big box stores like Toys R Us (yes, they still exist in Canada!), or shops with a more focused selection such as Scholar’s Choice, and even amidst the selection at many hobby-focused retail locations. They’re great for developing hand-eye coordination, and require a unique focus to avoid toppling whatever structure the game asks its players to build.
Given the crowded marketplace for this type of game, how does Mighty Mice “stack up” against the competition? Let’s dig in and find out!
Inside the box, we find four elephants (in red, green, yellow and orange), 40 grey mice cubes, and one six-sided die. Setup involves placing one elephant at the centre of the table, and diving the mice equally between all players. Each turn, the active player rolls the die, which will instruct them to place between 1 to 3 mice onto the stack, or place another elephant. If any cubes fall on a player’s turn, their turn ends and they collect all of the fallen mice. Once a player successfully stacks their final mouse, they have won the game!
In addition to the core rules above, players can instead choose to play collaboratively, using a single pool of mice cubes, with the goal of stacking them all to win the game. Difficulty can be scaled by simply reducing the number of mice in the group’s pool.
The components in Mighty Mice are chunky and durable, and can sustain plenty of abuse from small hands. My Little Bean would often carefully stack her mice, and then get a bit too excited by her own success, resulting in a Kong-like swipe to send all the pieces flying across the room! The simple artwork on the mouse cubes is adorable, and may at times encourage players to place the cubes to achieve cuteness over functionality.
As much as I adore HABA’s Animal Upon Animal, this game achieves a greater simplicity, which is great for preschool age players. The die rolls are easy to understand, even for my 2 year old, and also encourages a bit of counting. Most games accessible to that age are quickly outgrown by age 4 or 5, but I don’t see that happening here. Certainly, the moments of excitable destruction are frustrating for Big Bean to watch, as it also ruins her own efforts, but it’s easy to get everyone back on track.
TWO LITTLE THUMBS UP!
In playing Mighty Mice with a group of adults, there was a sinister character to the game that quickly emerged. Being able to stack the mice in awkward configurations often made life for the next player pretty terrible, and the fear of rolling an elephant allowed the tension in the room to rise quickly. Towards the end of one game, a friend bellowed out “THIS GAME IS PURE SPITE!” The shift in tone when no children are at the table is truly remarkable! While I probably wouldn’t recommend picking this game up solely for adult play, it inspired plenty of laughter, both the joy-filled and diabolical kind.
Whether it’s using the mice to design a stylish hat fit for an elephant, or using them to agitate your adult peers, Mighty Mice is a lovely experience for all ages!
TWO BIG THUMBS UP!
Thanks to Advance Games for providing a media copy of Mighty Mice for this article.
Mighty Mice is published by Advance Games, and distributed within North America by FoxMind. The game is designed by Treo (Cubeez, This Game Goes to Eleven), with graphic design by Albertine Blass. It plays 2 to 5 players, and lasts about 15 minutes.