Hamlet! A Game in Five Acts

I’m always on the lookout for Shakespeare games, particularly those that would help introduce my kids to Shakespeare. Well, not introduce, since I’ve done that – but, games that will allow them to learn more about Shakespeare without having to already have a high school education, you know?

Hamlet! A Game in Five Acts looks promising (although it does say 12+). If I understand the game correctly, you have an ending in mind, and you try to manipulate to play to achieve your ending. I already dig that. Plays with the whole “bloodbath ending” idea while still suggesting that most of the elements of the original will still be in there, somewhere.
So, for instance, you might get an ending card that says “Ophelia married to Hamlet. Horatio dead.” (I made that one up). You have to figure out how to make that happen. If Ophelia ends up dead, you can’t win. Each turn in the game is a Scene, and within each Scene your characters can perform Actions to make the play go their way. So for instance an action might be “Ophelia commits suicide”, *but* the requirement for that action is “Ophelia is insane.” So before you can play that action, you need to have played other actions that cause Ophelia to lose sanity points. “Hamlet rejects Ophelia. Ophelia loses 1 sanity point.” You get the idea.
Somebody buy this so I can learn more about it :). With that 12+ rating and a price tag of almost $20 I can’t bring myself to do it. My oldest daughter may be able to figure it out but with the 5yr old still not knowing how to read yet, I have to focus my game purchases on things that can be played on family night.
That is, of course, unless the author of the game happens to be listening and wants to send me a review copy? Hint hint hint! Anybody know this Mike Young fellow? 🙂 I’m sure there’s value in hearing about my 5/7/9yr olds successfully playing his game, no?

6 thoughts on “Hamlet! A Game in Five Acts

  1. Hmmm I'll have to look that one up. I have a copy of Shakespeare the Bard Game. It's a fairly accessible game even for people with limited knowledge of Shakespeare.
    On a slightly different note, a local board game designer is testing and getting ready to have his game based on The Canterbury Tales published. His two earlier games are great for the family: Bridge Troll (which I honestly didn't like) and Trollhalla (which was a lot of fun.
    I'll have to look up the Hamlet game on Board Game Geek and see how the reviews are to see if it's worth getting.

  2. @Phil,
    If there's a local game store in your area, see if they'll sit down and walk you through a few games. I believe there's a game out there for every family. Transamerica and Ticket to Ride are both fantastic beginner games. Added bonus: kids can learn a bit about cooperative gaming and geography without even realizing it! Apples to Apples can be a hilarious game for a group. If your family is older and kind of likes Clue, then Mystery of the Abbey will be popular (and it's better). One of my current favorites is Pandemic, a cooperative game where the players work together to keep a virus from spreading across the globe. I know it's not Shakespeare, but I think that games like these can help kids with critical thinking– which will help them be able to think and read Shakespeare with less difficulty.

  3. We've played Apples to Apples and Clue a good bit, but not more complicated games. My sweet wife had a hard time with games growing up, so she has trouble getting into them now.

  4. I found this link through near-random web browsing. Hamlet: A Game in Five Acts can be a little complex, but talented kids can pick it up. I'm not sure about a 5 year old, but a 9 year old might get it. The web site it is sold on requires that we put 12+ regardless of age.

    The game is a fun read if you're ok with someone being snarky about the author and the play. You do understand the game correctly, but again with 6 characters to manipulate and 14 different possible endings to shoot for, it can be a little daunting.

    I realize this isn't the best sales tactic, but I'd rather you know what you were getting into instead of me saying, "buy the game" and then finding out that your 5 year old doesn't want to sit through it.

    Hope this helps. If you do buy the game, please drop me a line and let me know how it goes – Mike Young

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