I’ve spent a fair bit of time recently on the look out for games that both my kids (aged 6 and 8) can play with me and my husband. Loads of family games seem to be age 8+ which works for my daughter, but not all of them are suitable for my son – mainly because he’s not a confident, fluid reader yet. I was therefore intrigued when I saw Make ‘n’ Break as I hoped it would be exactly what we were looking for.
Make ‘n’ Break Overview
The main aim of Make ‘n’ Break is to use the 10 coloured building blocks to build the structures that are shown on the blueprint cards. There’s a time limit for building them and, depending on how many people you have playing, players are required to co-operate with each other. Let me explain.
Master C, Little Miss C and I decided to give the game an initial test run with just the three of us. The way the three player game works is that you are required to work in teams of two to build structures, but each time the team of two is different. This meant that in three goes I had one working with LMC, one with Master C and one where the pair of them had to work together. That’s certainly a test of siblings!
How to play
In the basic game (otherwise known as the original game) the two builders in a team start by collecting the building blocks (5 each) and rolling the time die to see how long they have got to build. The timer is set and then as the first blueprint card is turned over they have to start building against the clock.
The idea is that they are supposed to only touch the 5 blocks that they chose at the start of the turn – not the ones that the other player has. We were a bit flexible about this particular rule with Master C playing, but you would certainly want to enforce it for older players.
Once a structure is complete, and correct, it is broken and each player in the team again is allocated five building blocks. They then start work on the next blueprint and continue in this way until the timer runs out.
Players have to build the structures shown on blueprint cards and these can either show the whole structure requiring all the colours to line up, or it may be one where the block colours used are irrelevant. Some of them have a mix of the two where some coloured blocks have required positions, whereas others can go anywhere.
You get points for each structure that you manage to build within the allocated time and the way that it works when you are in a team is that both of you score the points for each structure. After three rounds you count up the total number of points per person to determine the overall winner. Until then it’s hard to actually tell who is winning, as each structure has a different number of points allocated to it.
The version of Make ‘n’ Break that I have described so far is the original game. There are also instructions inside for an “action version” of the game. This incorporates the second dice that is in the box.
In addition to rolling the time die, you also roll the action die and it tells you to do one of the following things:
- Describe It – one player describes what to build to the other one
- Fingertips – you can only use your fingertips to hold the building blocks
- Risky Business – you start your turn by declaring how many blueprints you are going to complete
- Vertical / Horizontal – One player is in charge of placing horizontal blocks only, and the other vertical blocks only
- 5 plus 5 – build as in the original game, with just five building blocks handled by each player
- Bomb Bonus – A special bonus round in which players build on their own, but they’re in a race to not be building when the timer runs out. The problem is that the timer is hidden so no one knows how long you’ve got!
Make ‘n’ Break – the verdict
Make ‘n’ Break completely lived up to expectations in terms of a game that my six and eight year olds could both play with me. Yes, we tweaked the rules of the original game a little bit to accommodate my six year old, but not significantly so. And I don’t think he realised that we did.
The thing that I really, really liked about the game though was that it encouraged team work between the kids. They had to work together in a way that they’re not really used to in board games. It was lovely to see them cooperating and as I hadn’t really expected that angle of the game when I got it out of the box it was a pleasant surprise to me as we learnt to play it together.
I also really liked how frantic the game could become. A real race against time, whilst still trying to be careful with what you built and follow instructions accurately. Great for practicing those fine motor skills that I know parents are keen for children to master young and then retain.
Make ‘n’ Break – the facts
Make ‘n’ Break is published is Ravensburger. The games is for 2 – 5 players and has a recommended age on the box of 8+. As mentioned above, Master C is six years old and happily played the basic version of the game with some adult help. It has an RRP of £24.99 but is often available for less online. It can be purchased online here.
Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Make ‘n’ Break for the purposes of this review. All opinions remain my own. This post contains affiliate links.