Review – Alles Kanone! and Alles Tomate!

2-8 Players, Aged 6+ with a 15 minute playing time

Review copies of Alles Kanone! and Alles Tomate!, designed by Reiner Knizia, were kindly provided by Zoch Verlag.
The artwork from the Alles Kanone! box
These are two identical games, in terms of game play, that offer younger children a simple memory game with colourful artwork on the themes of farming, Alles Tomate!, and pirates Alles Kanone!.

The initial version of this game Alles Tomate! won an award from the magazine Spielen und Lernen in 2008 in the 6 years and up category (they have 4 categories ,"from 3-years old"; "from 6-years old" and "from 9-years old" and in one category for unreleased games) whilst Alles Kanone! was released earlier this year.

The Deutscher Lernspielpre award aims to promote the culture of educational games in German-speaking countries and highlight particularly good games for children. It seeks to promote playful learning to a wider audience, so that educational gaming is recognized as an essential building block in the development of children in all age groups; with the bi-product of heightening the social status of gaming. Whilst it is a German award it is promoting something that I think would be of interest to all parents.

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The Game Components, Setting Up The Game, How To Play The Game, What Did We Think? and finally Who Do We Think Will Like It?. So if you don't want to read the whole review scan down to the heading that interests you.

The Game Components
The games come in amusingly illustrated boxes and comprise two sets of cards:

Topic Cards – There are 7 cards each with a different background colours and each card has 7 thematically similar images, so for example in Alles Tomate! the red backed cards have images of 7 different animals on them.
Yard / Pirate Cards – There are 49 cards, not surprisingly with 7 different background colours, corresponding to the colours of the Topic cards. Each card has a larger version of one of the images from the Topic cards, in that colour, so for example in Alles Kanone! the orange backed cards all have images connected with piracy i.e. a skull, a telescope, a parrot, a treasure chest, a treasure map, a keg of rum and a message in a bottle.
Setting Up The Game
Lay the 7 Topic cards face up in the centre of the table.

Now place a random Yard or Pirate card of the corresponding colour by each of the face up Topic cards.

Take a quick look at all the cards before turning the Yard or Pirate cards face down.

Shuffle the remaining cards.
How To Play The Game
The starting player takes the shuffled deck and turns over the top card so that all players can see it at the same time.

The players then have to shout out the name of the image on the face down card that corresponds to the background colour of the card that has just been revealed.

When everybody has called out there answer, the face down card is revealed. The person who called out the correct answer first receives the face down card by way of a victory point, if correct answers were called out simultaneously then all players receive a card. However the card that was revealed from the top of the deck is now placed face down by the Topic card.
If nobody called out the correct answer then the card is placed at the bottom of the deck.

The deck is then passed to the next player and a new card is revealed.

The game continues in this way until the last card of the deck has been revealed at which point players count up the number of cards they have collected through the course of the game. The winner is the person with the most cards.

What Did We Think?
We have played this with adults a couple of times and had quiet different results, on one occasion a number of us struggled to remember the cards whilst on another I competed well if not necessarily winning. I guess it depends on the level of concentration I devote to the game – not particularly surprising!

When playing it with younger children (after all its intended audience) and teenagers they have really enjoyed it. Boisterously getting into calling out the names they believe are on the concealed cards.

As a memory game because of the competitive nature it will be a noisy and energised game that clearly rewards concentration, as my performance obviously demonstrates.

If a child is struggling with their memory and or the noisy / competitive nature of this game another way of playing it would be; that the player whose turn it is turns over a card from the deck and then only they get a chance, without the normal noise and distraction, to make their guess as to which card is currently hidden. Taking this approach with less confident children is likely to help build their confidence as the difference in our own ability when we tried this out was quiet significant.
It should be noted that there is also a third variant of the game Alles Trolli! (released in 2009) where the images are themed on holidays and travel. Depending on the ages and interests of the children you may find that one version or another of the game works better. I suspect if the children really like the game then the different artwork will encourage the purchase of one or other of the variants as this add variety to the game.

One of our games playing friends made the following comments having played the game with his friends and family:

Very good, not overtly educational, but some value in explaining all the things to be found on a farmyard e.g. silo and scythe with the help of the excellent illustrations, and anything that helps children or adults work their mind/memory and have fun at the same time has to be a good thing. The 6+ age rating seems a little optimistic as 7 year old found this harder than we were expecting him to. He took longer than we expected to find the matching colours card which could be a sign of some slight colour blindness or it could just be that it is not his style of game.

When played by adults it proved to be a very entertaining game, although it would not work with colour blind people. Of the games we borrowed (others were Zozzle and Geistesblitz 2) we felt that, although it was not an instant hit, this had the most replay value and would come out time and again. From a parents' point of view, it also scores extra points for coming in a reasonably small box. If manufacturers want us to buy all these games, then they ought to consider that we need to fit them all in our houses.
At roughly EUR 7 this is an affordable game which I believe would get lots of replay amongst young children.

If you enjoy memory games and are looking for some alternatives then take a closer look at By Golly and Fuchs and Fertig. The later I have reviewed elsewhere and has proved immensely popular with pretty much everybody we have played it with. Time will tell whether Alles Tomate! or more likely for our regular audiences Alles Kanone! will prove as popular.

Who Do We Think Will Like It?
Principally this will appeal to parents with young children looking for a simple fun game that the children will enjoy but that will clearly reward concentration and help develop their memory skills.

However in the nature of most games and particularly those targeted at the very young it could also be used by professionals to help support learning objectives around Personal and Social Development, Language and Literacy, Mathematics, and Knowledge and Understanding of the World. With the strong imagery on themes of farming, holidays and pirates the games will obviously support the development of vocabulary amongst the younger children.
Given these possibilities it is not surprising that the first version of this game Alles Tomate! won the Deutscher Lernspielpreis in 2008.

If you liked this review then other games I have reviewed can be seen here

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