Horse Fair Review
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Players: 2-6 (ages 6+)
Playing Time: 15-20 minutes

The kid in me is a sucker for games that include little plastic doo-dads. I loved Pig Pile’s plastic pigs, and as soon as I saw Horse Fair’s plastic horses, I was eager to give it a try. But, in the end, it takes more than little plastic farm animals to win me over.

To begin Horse Fair, each player gets six cards. The cards feature five different horses—representing the five finalists in the horse fair. Players act as the fair’s judges, taking turns placing their votes for the winning horse by playing cards from their hand. When it’s your turn, you play one card from your hand face-up on the table in front of you. You then draw a card from the draw pile, and play moves to the next player. This continues until one horse “wins.”

A horse wins when it receives the number of “votes” corresponding to the number on its card. For example, the “Firecracker” card has a 5 on it—so once there are five Firecracker cards on the table, Firecracker has enough votes to win.

Once a winner has been declared, the player who placed the winning vote (i.e., played the winning card) receives a horse figurine. Any players who had played one or more of the winning horse’s cards get to keep those cards. The rest of the cards on the table are then discarded, and play begins again.

There game does, however, offer a couple of twists. Each horse has one “Second Look” card and one “Thumbs Down” card. Second Look cards count as two votes instead of one, and Thumbs Down cards remove a horse from the vote. If someone plays a Thumbs Down card, all of that horse’s face-up cards are discarded immediately.

The game continues either until one player collects four horse figurines (and wins automatically) or until all of the cards from the deck have been drawn.

Though it’s a difficult game to explain, Horse Fair is a remarkably simple game to play. In fact, the only thing that’s really complicated about the game is the scoring system that’s used if a game ends without a player earning four horse figurines.

Unfortunately, though, the rest of the game is so simple that players will quickly lose interest. While the two special cards are supposed to keep the game interesting, I found that they really only make it frustrating. The Second Look card basically ensures a win—which means that no one else has a chance. The Thumbs Down card, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to add much to the game. And while the horse figurines are used often—to add a bit of interest (and incentive)—it’s just not enough to make Horse Fair a family favorite.

Horse lovers will appreciate the horse-themed cards, but the design feels a bit old-fashioned. And though younger kids will love the little plastic horses, the rest of the game will hold their interest for only a game or two.

With a few extra challenges—and an updated design—Horse Fair could be a great game for the whole family. But, as it is now, it won’t be long before your family puts it out to pasture.

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