Ark: The Great Race is a cute little family game from Universal Games, and is designed by Matthew Crichton, Peter Maynard,  and Shane Thomas. It’s designed for players ages 8+, and runs from 30-6o minutes.

First off let me say that the game itself is gorgeous. Everything from the artwork to the quality of the board and pieces is top notch. The production value is much higher than I would expect, and it really adds to the game.

The goal of Ark is to have the most pairs of animals on your ark from the most areas of the board (blue, red, green, yellow, pink, purple, and orange) by the end of the game. Games last from 30-60 minutes, and you set the time at the beginning of the game. Each player takes a different colored ark and Noah piece and takes turns rolling 2 dice and moving along the board. There are several areas where you can choose your path on the board, but you’ll basically be going around and around the board trying to make various pairs of animals.

Every animal has a male, female, and pair cards. You need a male and a female to make a pair and put the animals on your ark. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and get a pair card that can be put directly on your ark. What’s also great is that every animal card has a few fun facts about the animal, plus a (sometimes very humorous) text description of the sounds that animal makes.

There’s a few other things that shake up gameplay a bit, and make this a bit more than just a game where you’re circling around the board collecting cards. There’s question mark spaces that allow you to ask another player if they have a certain animal card. Guess the gender of the other player’s card and it becomes yours. You then get to take another turn. There’s also rainbow spaces that make you draw from a special rainbow card deck. These cards have various events on them, such as breaking your ark so you can’t store your pairs (allowing them to be stolen, or making it so you can win the game), repairing your ark, damaging someone else’s ark, doubling an action, etc…

Overall the game is cute, and a fun time to play with kids. The game recommends ages 8+, but really I’d say 4+ if you give the younger ones a bit of help. The game can be learned, setup, and started in less than 10 minutes.

While not the most strategic of games out there, you’re way better off with this than other children’s games such as Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, etc…

Ark: The Great Race was provided free for review by Universal Games.