GTM #202 - Operation: Kindergarten
Reviewed by Rebecca Kaufeld

There are two kinds of people in the world.

Some people love children. They believe that kids are the most adorable, energetic bundles of joy that anyone will ever meet. Whether they’re running off in search of a soccer ball, jumping into piles of leaves, or pretending to be sound asleep after bedtime, childlike noise and adventure is always welcome to this group of responsible adults.

And then there’s everybody else.

If you’re the kind of person who loves to see a playground thrown into chaos, if you ever convinced a sibling that something stupid was the best idea ever, or if you were that one kid that stole everyone else’s crayons… this might be your new favorite game. Welcome to Operation: Kindergarten!

~ The Target ~

The Headmaster is retiring. You’ve had your eye on her job for a while now (after all, who WOULDN’T want to sit in a quiet office and judge everybody else’s classrooms?), but buying her coffee, asking advice, and generally worshiping the ground she walks on didn’t do any good. She still insists on grading you -- and the other instructors -- on how you work with “the kiddos”.

Now that your dream job is on the line, it seems like the entire universe is out to get you. Firecrackers, a deflated ball, pointy objects, a live squirrel, and more will threaten your kids on the playground, causing bruises or reducing them to tears. You’ll have to take care of your class quickly before their screaming brings the Headmaster running.

Take a deep breath. The bell is about to ring.

~ The Children ~

You have nine children in your classroom: three Tots, three Tykes, and three Toddlers. Each level has their own round of Recess, when they come screaming out of the school to invade the playground. If they all had separate Recesses, it would be easy. But nothing in life is easy.

To properly simulate the chaos of an environment full of children, the board is filled with hexagonal spaces with numbered sides. These numbers (1-6) seem to be assigned randomly, pointing in all different directions across the playground. However, they cleverly correspond with the face-up dice locked away in the Teacher’s Lounge; if somebody rolls a two, and it’s time to move, all the children immediately move in the direction of the two on their hex.

“But that’s madness!” I hear you cry. Yes, it is. And it’s about to get crazier.

~ The Dangers ~

Have you ever watched a group of children? If you wait long enough, the smallest ones will always get knocked down and hit the ground. Do the other kids notice? Not usually, but a responsible adult will magically appear, running to help the upset child. Your class is particularly bad at paying attention, and they will run into each other if they’re not careful. This will cause “Boo-Hoos”, and you’d better believe the Headmaster will hear them yell.

Boo-Hoos (and Boo-Boos) are the generally awful things that happen during Recess. For example, if Tommy runs into Susie, there’s a Boo-Hoo. The same thing happens if a Tot finds a firecracker, a Tyke discovers a deflated ball, a Toddler hears an ice cream truck, or anybody finds a toy.

Boo-Boos are much more limited, but a whole lot more severe. If there’s a live animal or a pointy object in your area, be careful. As long as your Boo-Boo tokens are on the board at all, the Headmaster notices the problem and subtracts points from your final score. Boo-Hoos are more a part of daily life, so those only get docked if she finds someone making noise in a classroom somewhere.

~ The Evaluation ~

At the end of the game, the Headmaster will tally your points to decide who gets the honor of taking her place. She’ll count your Tots, Tykes, and Toddlers, take note of any missing children (yes, someone might get lost), subtract the Boo-Hoos and Boo-Boos, and in the end, whomever has the highest score wins.

That’s what it takes to be a teacher. So ready your lesson book, grab some wipes, and pack your extra band-aids: it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Fast Facts:

  • Players: 2-4
  • Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Ages: 12+
When a whirlwind of whimsical words beckoned from worlds away, Rebecca knew she had to follow. She fell into a rabbit hole of metaphors and cliches, mixed with more similes than water drops in a storm. Somewhere along the way, she picked up a love of games that would use her words to create beautiful reviews, and that's where she is today.