Quick Look: Corona Chase: The Social Distancing Education Game
Year Published: 2021
No. of Players: 3-4
Playing Time: 15-30 minutes.
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
From the Publisher:
Disclaimer: The publisher provided the copy of Corona Chase: The Social Distancing Education Game. The opinions expressed in the review are completely my own.
As a game reviewer, I am occasionally in the unique position where a game developer directly requests that I evaluate their products.
Such was my first encounter with Corona Chase, a game that is dedicated to helping convey some measure of what “social distancing” is to children.
While I realize such a topic is still inflammatory in certain circles, I am usually not one to shy away from engaging in conversations that stimulate thinking and discussion, and as such, my main focus as a reviewer is not to determine whether or not I agree with the particulars of the content so much as if the gameplay itself is good and…
In the case of games that purport to be educational, my main objective is not so much whether I agree with the message being conveyed, but rather if the game manages to successfully teach what it sets out to teach.
So if one is hoping to glean my opinions on such controversial and complex matters in this review, alas, these will not be shared. I would rather people take the effort to be as enlightened as possible on all things relevant and as such be able to make decisions on their own, as adults.
For those individuals seeking to teach something relevant and pertinent to Covid-19 and social distancing to children, my primary aim is to determine whether or not the game can successfully convey the concepts of what “social distancing” is—after all, the text on the cover of the game clearly calls it “The Social Distancing Education Game”.
The game materials themselves sport a glossy finish. The art itself is admittedly simple and emoji-ish, but effective enough to convey information that is relevant to gameplay. Among the abundance of emoji tokens in the piles of this game are :
Full Face-shield Emojis
Green Corona-infected/Sick Emojis
The instructions direct these all be to placed face down on the 4 corners of the game board, but I did notice immediately this was not the most efficient location for them, as even though they were extremely accessible, they would often spill over onto the board since there are so many of them. Hence, we opted to place every single one of these face down inside of the box, to be drawn as required.
The gameplay itself is highly reminiscent of games like Sorry! and Trouble.
Each player has their own respective lane with 18 spaces that they will use to move their Emoji’s throughout the game, and for the most part, these lanes do not intersect with those of other players—with one notable exception, to be described later.
On each player’s turn, they will draw and reveal one random emoji from the center pile, and place it on their starting line. On subsequent turns, a player may either move their emoji one space forward, or draw another Emoji if their starting space is unobstructed by another piece of theirs. Players continue play until they have 5 tokens at their finish line (more on this later, some situations require more Emojis)
And that is it!
Now the “catch” to this game is that there is a small circle in the central area of the game where Emoji’s will gradually begin to come into closer proximity and intersect with each other. These game spaces in order of distance from the starting lines are:
Safe Zone—Spaces 1-5
Outer Circle—Spaces 6-7
Middle Circle—Spaces 8-9
HOT ZONE—Space 10
Safe Zone—Spaces 11-18
Most of the strategy of the game operates on making use of the Hot Zone, a circular designated area where the paths of the Emojis start to converge. Control of this area (and some portions of the Middle and Outer Circles to a lesser extent) allows you to manipulate the course of the game. If, for example, you happen to have a police Emoji in the Hot Zone, Emoji’s without a mask or with a Corona virus will not be able to gain access to the game’s Middle Circle or Hot Zone. What effectively happens is that by keeping your police Emoji in the central Hot Zone, you can effectively bog up and clog other player’s ability to move.
Likewise, if you happen upon an Emoji with Corona in the central area, you will inhibit the ability of even masked Emojis from entering the Hot Zone. The only Emoji that has a free “rite of passage” anywhere is the Shield Emoji.
There are a number of other small little idiosyncrasies to the movement mechanics, but you get the idea. Long story short, you can use these elements to stifle your opponents’ ability to move.
Because what eventually happens is that if you start to clog their line too much to the point that your initial 5 Emoji’s required to win the game cannot progress any further (as their can only be one Emoji per space), you are forced to start placing new Emoji’s on your starting line—and every Emoji you have on the board is required to cross the finish line!
So a crafty player will make good use of the game’s Hot Zone. However, they cannot simply stay there forever—if they can move out of the area they must, so if they have no other Emojis on the board that can make a viable move, alas, they must vacate their advantageous position.
The first player to get all of their Emojis to their finish line wins!
Thoughts and Critique :
First of all, as a game I will say that our daughter loved this game, and wanted to play it right away again. She even declared that, as a game, she liked it better than some of the other kid’s games we have reviewed—most likely since it is easier to grasp from this standpoint it is a winner.
With that being said, most of our critiques come as adults with an adult mindset, so I am not too sure how much they apply in some senses. Nevertheless, my wife and I did have a couple of observations that did stand out to us in a not-so-good way.
Since an adult is most likely going to be reading the instructions and teaching the game, we did find the formatting and layout of the rules to be confusing, especially when detailing all the nuances of the Inner, Outer, and Hot zones. Granted, we did eventually come to understand exactly what was mean by the book, but for those who prefer learning by reading rather than watching a video, this aspect could definitely use some reworking. I was subsequently informed that there is a handy chart available online to see how various Emojis function under different circumstances, and I do feel this would have been helpful to include in the instructions.
Given that the game itself is geared towards children and those most likely still learning their numbers, we also found that it would have been much better if all of the spaces had been numbered as depicted in the instruction manual so that everyone had a clear sense of what zone they are in. Moreover, even though their are bridges that separate the different zones, it nevertheless would have been helpful for all of these to be clearly labeled to make things easier.
I do find it rather ironic that it seems there an advantage to being “sick” in this game.
All in all, the game was enjoyed by its target audience, surprisingly being enjoyed more than some of their other favorite games. I do not know if the game will age gracefully or not or retain any semblance of usability in the future or not (one would hope things would totally calm down as soon as possible on a global level), but for the time being the message that seems to be conveyed (in general) from Corana Chase is “Germs bad, stay away!”, more than anything else.
After reading Jazz’s review, if this sounds like a game for you, Corona Chase is available for purchase thru the following link.
Check out Corona Chase: The Social Distancing Education Game and GlixGames on:
Jazz Paladin- Reviewer
Jazz Paladin is an eccentric at heart — When he is not learning to make exotic new foods at home, such as Queso Fresco cheese and Oaxacan molé, he is busy collecting vintage saxophones, harps, and other music-related paraphernalia. An avid music enthusiast, when he is not pining over the latest board games that are yet-to-be-released, his is probably hard at work making jazzy renditions of classic/retro video game music tunes as Jazz Paladin on Spotify and other digital music services.
See Jazz Paladin’s reviews HERE.