No matter how many times I play the game, Don’t Wake Daddy, I still can’t help shrieking and jumping a mile in the air every time I DO wake up “daddy”! This game has been a favorite of my youngest son for many years. At eight years old it’s still pleasurable to Cameron even though the game is recommended for ages 3-6. Since I now find my brain in constant game designer mode, I ask “What makes this such a great game?”
The object of the game is to get from your bed, past all the noisy obstacles like a barking dog or cuckoo clock, to the refrigerator for a midnight snack—without waking Daddy. The game set up is simple. The game comes with a game board, a 3-part plastic bed (bed, headboard, and Daddy that clips into the bed), Daddy’s nightcap, 24 cards, 4 movers with 4 bases, spinner, and rules and instructions.
The rules are simple. Each player is dealt 4 or so cards that depict noisy activities. These come into play as the player moves along the path. The player moves along a short rainbow colored path. Some spots on the path are plain and some have pictures of noisy things. On his turn, the player spins the spinner and lands on one of five colored spots or a purple star. If he lands on a colored spot, he then moves his marker to first available spot of that color. If that spot is plain—the player is safe! If not, the player checks his cards to see if he has a match. If he does, he’s also safe. If not, the player must push the Alarm Clock button…which makes a very loud and enjoyable click with each push…the designated number of times. If Daddy stays asleep, the player is safe BUT if Daddy wakes up the player must go all the way back to bed (or the start). The purple star let’s the player jump ahead one space on the path of the first place player.
So what makes this game great? It has a BIG element of surprise since the players never know when Daddy will wake up…and every player is genuinely surprised when he does…a loud shriek in my case and lots of laughter from the kids. Also, the player never knows what awaits him. Will he be safe and land on a plain space? Will he make a match with one of his noisy cards and be safe? Will he get to race ahead of the first place player?
It has elements of fun, imagination, and a story too. I think most children can imagine themselves raiding the fridge for an extra scoop of ice-cream or glass of chocolate milk when mom and dad are fast asleep. Young players can imagine being naughty with no real-life consequences, and older players perhaps imagine being naughty without the consequence of weight gain.
The mechanics of the game are simple. The rules are easy to follow and the game is appropriately short and sweet. It can keep a 3-6 year old engaged for twenty minutes. (Although I will say most 3 year olds just want to push the Alarm Clock over and over until Daddy wakes up.) Even when the player has to go “back to bed” (start over) it’s not too terrible since the path is relatively short and he or she can catch up quickly.
The aesthetics are appealing and appropriate to this age group—bright colors, age appropriate artwork on the cards and board, and a rather hysterical looking plastic Daddy.
The technology of this game is simple too. The most complicated piece is the Daddy who has to be “snapped” into the bed. All of these essential elements feed into the central theme of not waking daddy on the way to raiding the refrigerator.
So that’s what makes Don’t Wake Daddy fun! So who’s ready to play.