My First Safari Board Game Review

My First Safari is a game designed and published by National Geographic and Blue Marble. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of explorers in a safari park. They will be trying to get through the park as quickly as possible to see all of the animals. They’ll have to be careful though as the sun travels quickly across the sky. If the explorers are able to make it to the end before sunset then the players will be declared the winners.

To begin, players choose a difficulty level and place the board in the middle of the play area. Depending on the difficulty level, a number of explorers are placed on the first spaces of the board. For the easiest game, 3 explorers are placed on the first 3 spaces. For the most difficult level 5 explorers are placed on the first 5 spaces. The sun token is placed in the first sky space at the top left space on the board. All of the cards are shuffled together. Each player is then dealt 3 cards each. The remaining cards are then placed face down next to the board to form the draw pile. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

On a player’s turn they must take one of two actions; they must play a sun card from their hand or they may play an item card to move an explorer. If the player has a sun card in their hand, it must be played by placing it into the discard pile. The player will then advance the sun token one space to the right on the track. They will then draw a new card, adding it to their hand. If the player doesn’t have a sun card in their hand, then they must play an item card. Once played, the player moves one of the explorers to the first space on the path that matches the card played. If there is already an explorer on that space, then the explorer will jump over that space and move to the next available space on the path. Near the end of the path, if there are no unoccupied spaces left on the path that match the card played, then the explorer is moved to the end of the park signifying that the explorer has seen all the animals in the park. Once the player has finished moving an explorer, they will draw a new card from the draw pile. Once either of the actions has been performed, play passes to the next player in turn order.

The game continues until one of two things happens. If all of the explorers reach the end of the park before sunset, then the players win. If the sun token reaches the last space before all the explorers have made it to the end of the park, then the players lose and will have to restart the game and try again.

The game comes with several different pieces. The best looking piece is the board. It’s really bright and colorful with lots of great artwork including tons of different animals, scenery and even the sun. The finish on the board is really great and it folds up nice and neatly to fit perfectly inside the small box. I especially like that the board isn’t overly big so it doesn’t take up a ton of room on the table. The game also comes with a cardboard sun token and 5 very diverse explorer standees that are also made of cardboard and fit perfectly inside the plastic stands that are included. I have to say that I was thrilled to see the inclusion of a disabled explorer in a wheelchair as one of the standees. I think that was great to have piece in the game. The final components of the game are the cards. These I have mixed feelings about. While I like the overall design and artwork on them, I’m not a fan of the quality or the finish. A couple of my cards were damaged where it looked like they’d stuck together during production. It’s not something that really affects gameplay, but it didn’t look as nice and pristine as the other cards when they were played. I also think that the finish could have been a bit better. Even without the damage, the finish of the cards tends to make them want to stick together a bit. That can make things difficult to shuffle the cards. Overall the artwork is bright and cute. It definitely looks like a game for younger kids and I’m sure it’s one that they would enjoy looking at. For older kids and adults, it’s fine and it doesn’t detract or distract from the game. For me, I do like most of the pieces. I just wish the cards were designed a bit better, at least as far as quality goes.

7 out of 10

The rulebook for this game is really easy to read through and understand. The actual rules of the game are contained on 2 pages. The remaining 4 pages are dedicated to facts on each of the different animals included in the artwork on the board. These facts include pictures of the animals as well as which continent the animals can be found on. There’s really not a lot to talk about here. Like I said, the rules are very short and only take a couple of minutes to read through. As a homeschooler I do like the additional facts for each of the animals. I think that it’s a nice addition to the rule book. The only thing that I think would be nice would have been maybe some variations to the game for possibly playing competitively. There are lots of great pictures in the book which help players identify the animals on the board. Overall I think the rulebook does a good job of wrapping up the rules in a condensed format.

8 out of 10

This is a very simple game. With the “My First” moniker attached to the name of the game, I wouldn’t have expected anything less. The first thing that I thought of while playing the game was Candyland with a little bit more to it. Instead of having double colored cards, there are other ways to move over two spaces, such as playing a card for one of the explorers that’s already covered up. This will then let the explorer move further ahead on the path. I’ll be honest I felt like this one may have been a little too simple and too young for my family. I think with the right age group, then this one would have went over better. I do like that the game was co-operative, but still would have liked some additional rules for playing it competitively as well. I think that would have helped it out a little bit. For homeschoolers with younger children, I think the game would be a nice step up from games like Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. As it is it didn’t register as well as I would have hoped. Still for families with younger children this would be a great game. I think the co-operative nature would be great for children to work with their parents to get all the explorers to the end of the safari park. I think it promotes teamwork and critical thinking. Overall I like the game. This is one that I’d recommend for parents with younger children around the age of 4-10 years old.

7 out of 10

My First Safari is a very lightweight co-operative game of getting all of the explorers through the Safari park. The game doesn’t take very long to play. Most game sessions last around 15-20 minutes. The components are pretty nice especially for a children’s game. I especially like the game board. The rulebook is very simple and does a good job of conveying the rules. The game itself is very easy to learn and has some similarities to Candyland. It’s family friendly and is truly adorable. This is one that I think families with younger children would absolutely love. The co-operative nature of the game promotes teamwork and critical thinking and is also great for homeschoolers. This is one that I’d recommend for children 4-10 years old. Families with older children will probably want to pass on this one. Overall it’s a nice game that I liked.

7 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Blue Marble at their site.

About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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