Review – Da ist der Wurm drin

2 to 4 Players, Aged 4+ with a 15 minute playing time

A first time game design by a mother (Carmen Kleinert ) and daughter combination, stunningly illustrated by    Heidemarie Rüttinger and kindly provided for review by the guys at Zoch Verlag.
Da ist der Wurm drin - The box artwork
With an age range of 4+ this is at the younger end of the family games spectrum. Perhaps surprisingly it hasn’t been rated as 6+ for fear of confused / immature 4 year olds putting the cardboard pieces in their mouths and chocking!

Da ist der Wurm drin - The author Carmen Kleinert with the Kinderspiel des Jahres awardAnyway the game went down a storm last year in Germany winning the 2011 Kinderspiel des Jahres   Award for childrens’ games. The game offers players a simple race between earth worms who want to be the first to poke their heads out of the compost heap at the end of the garden, made more interesting by:

a. The beautiful and colourful artwork.

b. The hidden movement – they are earth worms after all.

c. The ability to place bets on whose worm is doing best.

What follows is an overview of the game broken down into 5 sections: The Game Components, Setting Up The GameHow To Play The GameWhat 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 game board comes in two heavyweight card sections.

· The larger and lower section has 4 channels/tunnels through which the worms will travel, plus 4 peg holes. Each channel has the tail of a different worm visible.

· The smaller and upper covering board has two slits, marked with strawberries and daisies, enabling the worms to become visible at just two points in the race plus peg holes in the 4 corners. 4 round wooden pegs are provided to hold the two boards in place.
Da ist der Wurm drin - The worms in their starting positions
60 Worm Sections come in 6 different lengths, ranging from 1 cm to 6 cm long, each in a different colour and each with 10 tiles.
Da ist der Wurm drin - The pile of worm segments
4 sets of player tokens representing the worms Little Gritty, Stripy Tony, Rudy Red and Lady Silver. Each 3 part set has 1 cute worm head (yes I know they are worms but you have never seen any like this before!) plus a worm section in the same pattern / colour with a daisy and a strawberry on it.

Setting Up The Game
Fix the smaller board to the larger board with the row of daisies on the upper board nearest the worm tails visible on the lower board.

Each player chooses one of the four worms, placing the worm head of that colour in the appropriate channel on the game board, ergo on top of its respective the worm tail.
Da ist der Wurm drin - The game board before the race begins
The players keep the two worm pieces with the daisy and strawberry in front of them.

Place 60 worm sections near the board so all the players can reach them.

How To Play The Game
On their turn, a player rolls the die then feeds a worm section of the colour indicated by the die into the track holding their worm pushing it into the tunnel so it can no longer be seen.

On any turn, a player can place their daisy and then later their strawberry tile on the board on the row of either daisies or strawberries above the worm that they think will reach the daisies (or strawberries) first. Obviously you cannot place these worm segments after the worms head has appeared!
Da ist der Wurm drin - Part of the game board with one of the worms heads showing
If the worm emerges into the slot by their daisy or strawberry first then that player can add the daisy (or strawberry) tile to THEIR OWN worm. Once they the head of the first worm has appeared those daisy or strawberry worm segments placed above the tracks of other worms are removed from play.

The first worm to poke its head out from under the far edge of the smaller game board wins.

For a slightly longer game, players can keep their worms going until one stretches its head off the edge of the larger game board.

What Did We Think?
We really liked the game.

The children we played it with understood it quickly and in one of the games one of our 8 year old gamers was explaining the game quiet clearly to his 6 year old non gaming cousin. The vibrant colours and amusing imagery together with the idea of a race captured the imagination of our young gamers. Even more so when they realised they could beat grandpa at it!
Da ist der Wurm drin - It is level pegging between these worms as they enter the final stage of the race
We felt that some players might want to tweak the rules slightly so that none of the daisy and strawberry segments are discarded but rather they are used by the owning playing when the worm they have bet on emerges from the tunnel. We liked the fact that the betting element meant that even a child who was unlucky on the dice roll could reap some benefit from the good luck of others.

Feedback from some young and not so young friends was:

“It was great. I liked it best as everyone has a chance to win” Lewis, aged 8

“Exciting as you don’t know who’s going to win. Good art.” Ryan aged 8

“It was fun. I liked the theme” Jamie aged 6

“A nice simple game you don’t have to think about but is entertaining” Judy (Grandma) aged….

“Great to look at; nice vibrant colours; fun theme. Everyone has a chance whatever their age and the game is exciting for kids” Natalie (Mum).
Da ist der Wurm drin - When the top part of the board was removed the worms can be seen in all their glory
At an educational level it offers all the normal elements of a simple game that introduces / re-enforces social and behavioural norms amongst the young e.g.:

· Taking turns

· Accepting you may not win but you can have fun on the journey

· Conforming to a set of rules

· Communication /language skills
Da ist der Wurm drin - Children playing the 2011 Kinderspiel des Jahres winner
Add to this list focus and concentration, children who play it regularly will work out the length of the first and second tunnels. So if they monitor the length of the worm segments being fed in rather than their colours they will be able to predict which worm to place their daisy / strawberry on (a bet based on probability) and so increase their chances of winning.

Another friend of ours, a nursery practitioner working with children who have additional needs (especially with language and speech delay) made the following observations after using it with some of her 2 and 3 years olds:
Da ist der Wurm drin - Part of the upper board or cover
 When using this game, I was absolutely amazed at the children’s interest and curiosity with, not just the illustration and colour of the board but with the insects and creatures displayed. The children were asking questions like ‘Why is the bee there?’ ‘What is the mole doing?’…. The language flowed and flowed, I was able to talk about the board with the children, introducing language to help them understand the colours, shapes and allowing them to investigate and explore for themselves. I was thrilled to hear the children using their ‘own words’ and unusually for them they needed very little prompting and encouragement from me to continue their interest. 
Da ist der Wurm drin - Part of the upper board or cover
Part of a child’s individual education plan is turn taking, so although these two and three years olds are not really up to the dice throwing aspect I adapted the game by removing the shorter pieces and they each took it in turn to pick one of the longer coloured pieces to push their worm through the tunnel. This was very successful, even the quietest members of the group were cheering for their worm to appear but at the same time excited for their fellow players; all were respectful of each other’s turn. It was such a joy for me to, not only hear these challenged children vocalise their enjoyment, but also to know that they were increasing their vocabulary as well. What a brilliant game and as an additional needs teacher I will continue to use this game as a teaching aid within the setting of the nursery.

All in all a lovely package that had us adults wanting to play it from the time we saw the box and had an even more enthusiastic response from the children.
Da ist der Wurm drin - Part of the lower board
The components are all of a good quality and if respected should last.

Who Do We Think Will Like It?
The age on the box says 4+ and I believe that parents with children under the age of 10 and indeed professionals working with this age group who are looking for another possible game should take a close look at this one.

All those young at heart will enjoy the vibrancy and delightful artwork. Is it a mentally stimulating game for adults ‘no’ and so is unlikely to work well as a filler for a games night, but if you are a parent or grandparent with young children then this game is sure to be enjoyed again and again.
Da ist der Wurm drin - The underside of the board
If you liked this review then other games I have reviewed can be seen here

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