Don’t Lose Your Marbles
- What: Avalanche Swinging Gate Game
- When: Three years and up
- Why: No literacy skills required, solo or multiple players, wide age appeal
- Where: Secondhand
I played Avalanche, this marble game, as a kid, and our copy did not look brand new then. Now my kids love to play whenever they visit my parents’ house.
Each player, from one to as many cards as you have left in the game, takes turns placing one marble in one of the six holes at the top of the tilted board. The marble then goes down the path until it stops on a gate. Each path has multiple switches, so it promotes logic and strategy skills. But since it requires zero reading and only basic color matching, even the youngest kids can have fun dropping marbles in and watching the results.
Every player takes one card with nine holes where marbles rest. Each round hole has a square surrounding it in one of three colors: yellow, orange, or green. (I bet you can guess what decade our games hails from!) Players need marbles in the corresponding colors to fill their card. The first player to fill their card with the correct colors wins.
Players can take more than one card to make the game last longer, or increase their odds. They can fill one card to win or both or more. Players can make just about any rules to suit their age and skill level. In general, any marbles knocked loose during that player’s turn go to that person, regardless of who put the marble into the board. Any unused marbles go back to the general supply to get used again. You can grab a used copy for anywhere from $12-30 and know that it will be played for years to come.
I find this simple game fascinating myself. It can get loud when the board fills with lots of marbles that drop, but otherwise it’s got my stamp of parental approval, and it clearly stands the test of time.