Game Review: Hisss Snake-Making Tile Game for Toddlers

Hisss by Gamewright is a tile game where players create snakes by lining up, edge-to-edge, tiles depicting snake body parts.

Photo of three snakes of varying lengths created with Hisss game tiles. Click to view an enlarged uncaptioned version of this photo.

It’s not a game for Indiana Jones. Click to see an enlarged view of this sample playing area, or view a close-up of three tiles.

The game is officially for 2 to 5 players who are ages 4-and-up, but the rules were easily adapted to entertain my 2-year-old daughter.

The game components consist of 50 sturdy cardboard tiles adorned with colorful snake segments—tails, body midsections and heads. The midsections are in two colors, transitioning from one color at one edge of the tile to a different color on the opposing edge. In all, the six colors of the rainbow are represented among the tiles. Head and tail segments are solid colors, with the exception of one set of rainbow-colored head and tail tiles that serve as wildcards. 

Although the game is mostly luck, it’s surprisingly not boring when I play with my daughter. I suppose that’s because we are building something, rather than blindly moving pawns along a Candy Land board.

Hiss is best played on the floor so that toddlers can get up and reach any snake in the playing area by themselves.

AJ’s Simple Rules #1:

Players take turns flipping over a card and placing it into the
playing area to begin, continue or finish making a snake. It is a
collaborative process where anyone can build upon anyone else’s snake. The
color of the snake segments is disregarded.

Any type of tile can be played to begin a new snake. Completed snakes can be nonsensical—having two heads or
two tails. Parents must laugh when aberrations of nature are created.

When a snake is completed, everyone makes hissing sounds. Completed
snakes are left on the board and the game ends when the tile pile is
exhausted. Then, everyone marvels at the maze of meandering snakes that has been created. There is no winner. Everybody wins.

If your playing area is small or the presence of completed snakes
confuses your child, remove snakes as they are completed. This can be made into a fun task for your toddler.

AJ’s Simple Rules #2

To complete a snake, it must have one head and one tail.

AJ’s Color Matching Version:

Require that tile edges be properly matched by color, red-to-red,
purple-to-purple and so on. Two wildcards, a rainbow head and tail, can
adjoin tiles of any color.

AJ’s Competitive Version:

This version of the game introduces the idea of a winner. When a
player completes a snake, the tiles are stacked in front of the player,
creating his or her own "snake pit." The person with the tallest stack at the end of the game wins. The
winner is determined by counting the tiles, or comparing the heights of
the stacks.

Official Rules:

The game uses all of the previously stated rules, with the following exceptions:

Completed snakes consist of a head, tail and at least one body segment.

After placing a tile, a player may join two incomplete snakes if
they can logically be connected (for example, two snakes with
unfinished body segments ending in the same color). Doing so may
require a bit of orchestration to move the tiles into their new position.

At the end of the game, some snakes will be left unfinished. This is
just the nature of all versions of this game, more so as the rules
become more complex.

Learning Value:

  1. Color matching.
  2. Counting tiles.
  3. Structure recognition (making sure snakes have a head and tail).
  4. Collaborative play. Kids work together to build snakes throughout the game
    with competition momentarily introduced only when snakes are completed.

What I Like:

The tiles contain no words. There are no dice. On every turn, every
player has a tile to play. Given the low barriers to play coupled with luck-based strategy, Hisss should be eminently playable between
kids of varying ages. My daughter and I both enjoy playing Hiss, and I enjoy it much more than Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Hi-Ho Cherry-O.

Sold at Amazon.

See previous: Review: Four First Board Games for Toddlers

Post a comment

(will not be published)