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Forever on the hunt for a new and interesting board game for the whole family to play, I came across Don't Panic, manufactured by Ideal. It looked bright and interesting and it was a reasonable price so into my virtual shopping basket it went.
On opening the box, all of the components are laid out in their own compartments, but there really is not much to this game. You get the round playing board which folds out from quarters, six counters, the playing cards and a timer. One single sheet of instructions tells you all you need to know in order to play the game. In order to start the game, the timer is placed in the centre of the board; each player takes a counter and puts it on the start position. Play starts with the youngest player.
~*~ Game play ~*~
In order to understand the game, first you have to understand the cards. Each card has four colours on it (which correspond to the colours on the playing board). The colours represent the hardness of the question with yellow being the easiest and red being the toughest (blue and orange in between). Each player starts on yellow. Each colour has a subject and a number, for example, yellow - 3 - names for a cat. In this instance you have to name three common cats names, are you with me? As soon as the question is read aloud the timer is started, and when the answers have been given the timer is stopped. As the timer is counting, it is counting down, starting at 10 so the longer it takes you to give the answers, the lower the end number - this is how many spaces you move on the board, so you obviously want to answer as quickly as possible in order to achieve the maximum number of moves, and when under pressure, this is not as easy as it sounds - hence the name of the game: Don't Panic!
~*~ My Thoughts ~*~
Setting up of the game is easy and I really like that, I find it quite frustrating having to constantly refer to instructions throughout a game as it tends to take the fun out of it, but this game is as easy as one, two, three and once you have played it once, the next time is a doddle.
Some of the subjects on the cards are extremely random and take a lot of thinking about, although most of the time it is easy to come up with an answer after a little logical thought. As no answers are given, it is up to the other players to decide whether the answer qualifies and this has caused a lot of arguments in our house, for example, my son had to name six sharp things - one of the answers he gave was "a pointy stick!" Ten minutes of heated discussion followed this answer, I shall let you make your own mind up on that one, but as he is my boy, I let him have it - more competitive members of the family were not so pleased! There are 200 game cards so this game will always be different, and by the time the cards come to an end, I would think that it would be possible to start again as it is unlikely that the subject would be remembered.
The timer works on a wind up basis, so batteries are not required which is always a blessed relief! As the numbers are close together, and the pointer end is half a centimetre, it is not always clear what the score is - we have a rule that the larger number is taken which seems to stop any arguments. You have to push the timer - plunge style - and so far ours has taken quite a battering by over eager smacking, but it is very robust and so far, none the worse for it!
I like the fact that you do not have to sit around a table to play this game. It is easy to sit around in the lounge and just pass the timer around, just having the playing board close to one person who can make the moves. This makes it a lovely casual game, and also makes it suitable for more players. You need a minimum of two people in order to play this game, and even though there are only six counters, I do not see why more counters couldn't be employed to make this game suitable for an infinite number of players.
The recommended age of players is eight plus, and this is because some of the subjects are quite hard, but if you are willing to sift through the cards a little to make allowances and possibly give some clues, there are subjects here that could easily be answered by younger players, e.g. name five cartoon characters. The subjects are all so different I think that anyone stands a good chance of winning, whatever their age or sex - there are many questions that my sons can answer that I don't have a clue about, but I think everyone has a fair shot with a question like "name four things that are sticky". It is recommended that four rounds are played, and the player that has got the furthest wins. We generally play until somebody gets to the end if we have plenty of time, and with four people playing, this usually takes about half an hour (including arguments!)
~*~ Availability ~*~
I picked up the game on Amazon about a year ago and I paid £15 for it. I see now (Jan 2012) that it is £18.84 with free delivery, and even at the higher price I think that it represents good value for money as it is a fun and durable game. It is also possible to pick Don't Panic up on the high street at various department stores, but prices seem to vary a little between £15-20.
Also posted on Dooyoo under my username chilcott1