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Reviews - Candy Land
by Allan Sugarbaker

Candy Land boxCandy Land
Published by Milton Bradley/Hasbro
Designed by Eleanor Abbott
2-4 players
Play time: 10-60 minutes
Original release date: 1949

This review is part of OgreCave's Gaming 101 course. Pay attention - there will be a quiz. Maybe.


Candy Land is a classic kids' boardgame that helps teach color recognition. It also tends to make everyone hungry.

How it works
This is a game truly catering to the little tykes, as the rules clearly state "the youngest player goes first." Each player moves a gingerbread man along a colorful path, guided by a card draw each turn. A single square of color on the card means to move to the next space matching that color; two squares, move to the second matching space. Players only move backward if a card directs them to a space they have already passed. A few spaces (Gooey Gumdrops, Stuck In the Molasses Swamp, or Lost in the Lollipop Woods) require the gingerbread man to draw a certain color card before he can move on. But these can be made up for by managing to use the shortcuts (the Rainbow Trail and the Gumdrop Pass).

The first player to reach the end of the path wins.

There have been more than a dozen versions of Candy Land, including VCR, DVD, and PC versions.

Why you should know this game
Any game connoiseur, whether an aspiring designer, reviewer, or just an avid player, should know Candy Land for one simple reason: for better or worse, it's a game that relies entirely on luck to win. This makes Candy Land extremely easy to play, but impossible to predict. Drawing cards is what moves you forward toward the goal - or randomly tosses you backward to a location you already passed, then to another location, and another, and so on. For this reason, there's no way of knowing how long you'll be sitting there, drawing cards in the hope of someone - anyone - reaching the end. When even the 3-6 year olds the game was designed for get bored, there's a problem.

Every gamer should play Candy Land once, just to see how relying on luck in a game design can go too far. Generally speaking, if a reviewer compares a game to Candy Land, that's a Bad Thing (TM). You probably had a copy of the game as a kid, wore out the box, lost some cards, and finally tossed it out when you outgrew it. If you missed playing Candy Land somehow, just indulge in a session with your niece or nephew - you don't need a copy of this. Just make sure all your friends that want to get into game design are familiar with Candy Land, because those that don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and we certainly don't want that.

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