On Mr. BANG’s 3rd birthday a couple weeks ago, we gave him a card game called Hisss. I had never played it before, had never seen it in person before, and had never personally known anyone with the game. But somewhere along the way I had come across it in some list of great toys for young children and added it to the dozens of other things on my Amazon Wish List. When choosing his birthday gifts from the list, that one caught my attention.
So I bought it.
I am SO glad I did! It was pretty much love at first sight for Mr. BANG. I mean, it’s a card game where you build long snakes. What’s not to love?
First, I’ll describe the product itself, and then how to play it. The game consists of 50 sturdy cardboard cards, each 3.5″ by 2.5″. (Yes, I know you don’t care about that much detail, but just humor me, okay? It makes me feel like I’m really sharing important information! 😉 ) That’s it in terms of materials. There’s no dice, no markers to move around a board. Just the 50 cards.
You can kind of see the thickness of the card here.
Each card shows part of a snake – either the head (7 cards), tail (7 cards), or mid-section (how quickly can you do the math…36 cards). All but one each of the head and tail cards show that section of the snake as one specific color.
One head and one tail are rainbow-striped showing all the colors used in the game. Each mid-section card consists of the same curve shape, with half of the mid-section in one color and half in another.
The cards also have drawings of little rocks and insects around the snake parts. Those have nothing to do with the game, but just make it more fun visually!
To play the game, you shuffle the cards by mixing them around on the floor, stack them all face-down in one pile, then fan the pile out. In this card game, there is no need for little kids to try to hold cards in their hand and no need to try to keep a straight, upright card pile! That alone makes this game fabulous in my book!
One card is set out face-up as the starter card. The first person chooses any card from the fanned out pile and looks at it. If the color of snake section matches a color of the starter card, the player connects his card with the other. If the colors do not match, the player simply lays that card down to start a new snake.
A rainbow head or tail can connect to any color of mid-section. As turns rotate around the group, each person either matches their card to a preexisting snake or starts a new snake. Any snake is available to any player to add to. A snake can either be really long or really short (at least three pieces) based on when the head and tail pieces are found.
When both a head and tail have been placed on a snake, the player to complete the snake claims it by making their best snake impersonation: “Hisssss…” That, of course, is one of the best parts of the game for anyone under 4 ft. tall!
Oh, one other aspect of making snakes is that you can connect two partial snakes if you have a card with two matching colors. For instance, if there’s a partial snake with a red at the edge, and another partial snake with purple at the edge, and you draw a mid-section that is red and purple, you can pull those together. The Brain always seems to claim snakes by that method. I told you he’s smart! 😉
When you claim a snake, you stack those cards with the head card on top in your snake pit (which means you stack them next to you or behind you so they don’t get mixed up in the ongoing snakes).
Continue playing until all the cards have been played; you’ll most likely end up with some partial snakes left over. At this point, the official rules say you count all the cards in your snake pit, and the person with the highest number of cards wins. We haven’t dealt with that aspect yet. We just focus on the fun of making the snakes, and we cheer each other on when someone gets to claim a snake. Of course, Drama Queen is definitely focused on getting to claim snakes, but even with that, I don’t think she’s been very concerned with counting who has the most at the end.
I see four wonderful benefits of this game:
1) It involves matching colors, so it’s fun practice for color recognition. It also naturally works into the conversation of the game to mention the names of colors and ask the child to name what colors he has on his card.
2) You have to think spatially in terms of how to position the card to make it match up with another card. This was the most challenging part for Mr. BANG, but within the first game, he got it down. At first, he would have to turn the card all around, trying to figure out exactly how to place it to make the colors line up.
3) While we didn’t make counting cards an official part of our game, sometimes as the snakes got longer and longer, it was fun to count how many cards they took. So it was great counting practice as well.
4) It’s a fun way to spend time together as a family. All four of us genuinely enjoy playing the game. We get to work together to build snakes, cheer each other on as someone claims a snake, and throw in some tickles here and there. Because you have to have tickles.
If you have a child between the ages of maybe 3 and, um, I’m not sure how old, that you haven’t bought a Christmas present for, I can give my full recommendation for this game. Durable, fun, and easy to clean up*! That makes it a perfect fit for our family!