Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Fall 2012 Games
Ages: 9 & Up
Manufacturer: Ravensburger
Price: $39.99

Asara is a German game distributed by Ravensburger. What you notice first about Asara is the beauty of the game board itself and the finely designed game pieces, all of which is typical of Euro-style games. But games aren't just art for hanging on a wall, and game play matters, too.

Asara is a strategic board game for two to four players who each assume the role of an architect in a magical realm of "thousands of towers." Think Aladdin the Architect and you won't be far off in concept. The rules are extensive and complicated, at least at first, requiring several readings to get the drift. But don't let that intimidate you, because the actual game play is relatively simple going forward. Part of that learning curve relates to the number of pieces, which include many high-quality cardboard cards, and the multiple options a player has during each turn. But once players get the hang of it, the game flows well. Consider learning to play Asara a welcome exercise of patience.

The goal is simple even if the play-by-play rules aren't. Players try to build the most, the highest, and the grandest towers during four rounds of play. The turn-by-turn gaming involves buying any of four types of tower-building sections-base, trunk, window and turret-in the marketplace. In this game, size matters, so building the tallest towers works in your favor. Including fancier decorations in your towers, such as gold medallions, also adds points in the end.

Ultimately, this is a successful strategy game that requires players to focus hard on somewhat complex rules and options while glimpsing ahead to what future moves are needed to out-build their opponents' towers. Once players find the "standard" version of Asara too easy, they can add the included elements to play the "professional" version.

Asara is an immersive game that requires focus. And, yes, it's fun.

Don Oldenburg   ©2012 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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