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Ages Players
4+ 1-8

Designer(s): Jim Deacove

Manufacturer(s): Family Pastimes

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Product Description

We must help get the little Creatures safely home before Max, the Tomcat, catches them. In an exciting way, children learn logic, consultation & decision making. An important issue to discuss is also raised: we don't like Max catching those Little Ones, yet we recognize that he is a natural hunter. How do we resolve this in our minds & hearts? Let's talk it over.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Jim Deacove

  • Manufacturer(s): Family Pastimes

  • Year: 1986

  • Players: 1 - 8

  • Ages: 4 and up

  • Weight: 300 grams

  • Customer Favorites Rank: #41


  • Board 12 x 12 in
  • 2 Special Dice
  • 4 Movers
  • 4 Cat Treats
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.3 in 17 reviews

by Nana
An Absolute Favorite
November 08, 2015

My grandchildren LOVE this game and so do I!! It's a cooperative game so we work together to save the little critters from Max the cat. Max is the opponent, so they focus on beating Max instead of each other which is a big plus when playing with kids ages 4 to 9. They all love it and ask to play Max when they come to Nana's house. :)

Fun family game that bridges the age gap well.
October 22, 2011

Can't find a game your 8-year old can play with her 4-year old sister? Try Max. My girls love it and play it frequently. They also like Caves and Claws and the Secret Door by the same company (Family Pastimes). In fact, I just ordered two more Family Pastimes games for an upcoming birthday present. They make for a nice evening activity before story time.

An activity, not really a game.
November 14, 2008

I wanted to like this game, and reading the reviews of others, you expect it to be half decent. But instead, what you have here is more of an activity; there's practically no decisions to make and they have little bearing on the outcome. (Still, compared to Chutes & Ladders which is not a game at all (no decisions), it's a very small step up.)

Age level: 2/5 to 4.5 yrs old: I think it's kind of insulting that any kid over the age of 5 would play this "game". My son was done after playing it 3 times.

You get what you put in
April 09, 2008

As a librarian I teach board games to children in the library. I bought Max as an alternative to Candyland for when young children come to the library. As of yet I have not played Max with young children. I tested the game out with adults and older children (ten and up) and everyone had a great time. What is needed though for Max to play well is for people to put themselves into the game. Such as having someone root for Max - males seem to like to do this. Then you have others root for the little animals. This leads to a fun evening for older players as they cheer on animals. Though I don't play it often it is a valuable item in my library collection.

by Judd
Brilliant Cooperative Game
February 10, 2008

I bought Max, Secret Door and Snail's Pace Race for our four year old's September birthday. Max is our absolute favorite, with Secret Door close behind. My husband and I are always willing to play Max, as is our ten year old (usually), and our four year old absolutely loves trying to save the little creatures from Max. We are usually successful, but not always! Even when Max catches a creature, our four year old says, "Oh well, that's what cats do. Let's play again!" We take Max along to family get togethers and grandparents, uncles, aunts, and teenage cousins are always willing (and sometimes downright eager) to play! This game involves cooperation, strategy, logic, and luck. It is infinitely better than Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry-O, and Candy Land or any other mainstream preschool game I've ever bought. The only reason I didn't give Max five stars is because the game pieces are rather flimsy, and the game board is a little smaller than ideal. The concept and design are brilliant!

Max grows on you
February 08, 2007

I was looking for a game for kids that required them to reason and communicate with the other players. A co-worker and I started playing it with a ho-hum-isn't-this-cute attitude, but pretty soon found ourselves bent over the table trying more seriously to rescue the animals, discussing probabilities and plans. This is exactly the kind of game I was looking for, but it was much more fun than I had anticipated when I opened the box. This little game is a treasure.

by G.
Wonderful game!
December 28, 2006

When I opened the package I was a little disappointed. The game just didn't look like much and after reading the instructions it seemed too simple. However, after we started playing my kids (ages 5/7/9) fell in love with the game! It is more complex than it looks and definitely encourages discussion about strategy and choices. I love the cooperation element- I have three boys who are very competitive. I also love that there is a chance to take three animals to the tree. We usually get at least one there so it doesn't feel like a total lost if all three don't make it. I would absolutely recommend this to any one with kids ages 4-10. Actually even my 2 year old gets in on the action by rolling the dice! The only reason I am giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is because I would prefer the game pieces to be made of plastic instead of cardboard for longer durability. This is a new favorite in our home!

Not all that!
November 28, 2006

I bought this game last Christmas because of the rave reviews. I was disappointed! It's an okay game, well-constructed, played easily even by younger kids (3+), but it's not worth 5 stars! The kids are not begging me to play, although they do ask on occasion to play it and they don't need an adult to do so. As an aside, my sister played with them once and was horrified when the cat ate one of the little creatures. She was appalled that I allowed the kids to play such a barbaric game. That was at least worth a laugh. But seriously, if your kids are really sensitive to such things, don't buy it, unless you want to teach them to overcome their sensitivity and face life as it is. All I ask is that you save the 5 stars for games that really deserve it! This one's a three in my opinion!

Pleasantly Suprised!!!
September 30, 2006

Recently we got three games for our 4 and 5 year old kids:
1. The secret door,
2. Go away monster, and
3. Max.

The secret door was fun but very similar to memory game. My 4 year old liked go away monster but my 5 year old thought it was boring so I would recommend this one for kids 2-4 years old. Max was the hit !!! It looks like normal board game but is so much more than that. Even my husband and I enjoy it !! This game is the best one so far !!!!

Max: Excellent Game with So-So Components
June 05, 2006

Max is a simple, cooperative boardgame where the players take on the role of three little animals (mouse, chipmunk, bird) attempting to get to their homes in a tree as Max (the cat) tries to catch them. No reading is required.

Tired of playing Chutes & Ladders and Guess Who with my kids, I ended up buying:

1) Max (cooperative boardgame)
2) The Secret Door (cooperative boardgame)
3) Rat-a-Tat Cat (card game)

My children are aged 2 and 4. Of these three games, Max has turned out to be the big hit. It's also my favorite of the bunch. After playing the game about 10 times since we bought it, I am amazed at how balanced it is. With each playing, it seems that we have an equal chance of winning or losing. Either way, it's great fun!

The cooperative nature of Max (and The Secret Door) puts my kids at ease when we play. We REALLY enjoy working together to win the game. Though, I must point out that my 4-year old cried significantly when "his bird" was eaten by Max the first time. In order to alleviate this problem I turned the game around for him and let him "be Max". So now when Max appears to be winning, he pretends that he's playing Max, which helps him always feel like he's succeeding.

To me, the great thing about Max is the amazing balance of the game. Sometimes it will seem like we (the critters) are waaaaay out ahead and there is no way that Max can catch up, and then suddenly, within 3 or 4 rolls of the dice, Max is right behind us. Each animal is given one specific shortcut that they can use. However, Max, being a cat, can track the animals and is allowed to use all of the shortcuts if he lands on them. This is a fantastic bit of game engineering.

The players have to opportunity to call Max back to his starting position 4 times during the game. The mechanics of doing this by using "cat treats" is a huge hit. The kids absolutely LOVE calling him back by giving him a treat.

As other reviewers have expressed, the contents of the game box is somewhat underwhelming. While the board itself is attractive, the game pieces are cheap cardboard punchouts, which are functional, but slightly disappointing. Little plastic figures would have been a bit nicer.

I must also report that the game in general is MUCH smaller than I was expecting. I was anticipating a box about the same size as a "standard" Milton-Bradley boardgame, but both Max and The Secret Door come in boxes that are about 1/4 that size. After my initial surprise, I quickly viewed this as a good thing! The small games are equally as playable as larger games, but much easier to store.

Overall I can't recommend this game enough to families with young children.

Very Good Game for Young Kids
March 16, 2006

This is a good, gentle cooperative game. My two kids (ages 3 and 5) liked playing it. They especially liked the shortcuts each animal could take (and Max the cat followed). It was neat to see how sometimes, the animal furthest ahead (the mouse) was most vulnerable to Max because of the shortcut. Calling Max home with a treat was just the right amount of tension relief for children of this age. Helping usher the animals to their homes in the tree was a satisfactory conclusion.

My kids liked this game, but they liked "Walk in the Woods" better (another educational, cooperative game). My older son also liked "Mountaineering" better.

As with all the games in this series, the components are a bit thin.

Great FAMILY Game
November 19, 2004

This game is a favorite in our family! Everyone from the 4 yr old to Dad enjoys it.

I like games, and I love my children, but I think Hi-Ho Cherrio, and Chutes and Ladders are pure torture! Max is wonderful because it is fun for parents and kids.

Being a co-operative game, everyone works together to save the little animals from Max the Cat. This is a bonus when children are young and don't take well to losing yet, or need help playing the game.

We have tried other co-operative games, and they are all right, but none of them compare to Max, the Cat.

Other pros: it can be played with one player or many. It doesn't take very long, but it's so fun you'll want to play again!

Try it you won't regret it!

A Game for the ages
August 11, 2004

Wow... I remember playing this game with my best friend when I was 8 like it was yesterday. We always used to be so happy when the little animals made it back. The gaming got so intense when we tried to get the shortcut for the animals. When we were losing we often had to sacrifice the chipmunk to max so the other 2 wouldnt lose... Ah yes... good times....

Great Game for All!
February 04, 2004

My seven year old and 11 year old play this with me, and everyone feels good when we get all the animals to their nest. The rules are simple, but actually you need to use strategy to get all the animals home safe.

With other games of winners losers, my boys can end up fighting or the loser often has a sour taste and is dejected. Checkers and chess are actually war games, and there are casualties, just like with Battleship and so many other games.

I really like this Max game because we work together. When Max ends up getting all the animals because we risked it we console each other. Way better for our spirits.

by J Hill
A Family Hit!
December 30, 2003

I am a very competetive person, so I was unsure of how well I would like this game. I was looking for a game that my 4 year old could play along with her two older siblings (ages 7 and 8)so I gave it a chance. I can't believe how much we like this game!! My children work as a TEAM to help the critters make it safely home and there is very little, if any, squabbling between them as they set about their task. They all work together against Max the cat instead of against one another. A+ to the makers of this game. It really is fun!!

by David
Win or Lose as a Family. Cooperative games RULE!
August 15, 2001

Well, there I was, looking for an alternative to the mind numbing game of [page scan/se=0025/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Candy Land for my 3 year old daughter at the Funagain Website. By my side was the family furry feline, adding his opinion through every mouse click. Cooperative gaming seemed to be a great way to build a team out of our growing family. So sticking to that genre, I browsed through the Family Pastime Games that dominated the category for age appropriate and price tag appropriate family games. Of course, with a cat by my side named Max, it would seem fate decided my next purchase 8 years ago when I retrieved the little fur ball from the pound.

The game was not disappointing. My little girl loved every little feature of game play. And quickly caught on to the game's tasks of the players to keep the mouse, bird, and chipmunk out of reach of the persistent pursuit of the Max Cat. Squeals erupt as Max takes a mad dash into the middle of our three intrepid travelers by using the very short cuts specifically patterned for the individual prey. The concerned screams of 'Come home Max!' are heard echoing through the house as my child reaches for a tempting Cat Treat to lure Max off the prowl. My real life Max Cat hears his name used in vain so often, I now must have real cat treats made readily available to thank him for his concern.

The cat, bird, mouse, and chipmunk move based on random dice roll (evenly set). Two singular colored pips are possible. Black for the cat (MAX), or green which allows your choice of one of the pursued creatures to move once space per die roll out of the pair. Thus Max has a better chance to move, more often and further than the others who share the one or two possible die rolls that become available each player turn. That's where the recall option by use of cat treats come in handy, allowing the bird, mouse, and chipmunk to escape an untimely end as kitty lunch, and gain an advantage to make it safely to their home base at the end of the board trail. To help their cause, each little animal has a shortcut that can be used only by that particular animal. But does it help? OH NO! Max the cat using his expert cat hunting skills gets to use ALL the shortcuts! The Tide has Turned! What?! No more Cat treats?! RUUUUNNNNNNNNNN!

The whole family loves it!
June 04, 2001

My almost-4-year-old son got this as a gift, and we play it more than all the other "traditional" kids' games like [page scan/se=0025/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Candy Land, Hi-Ho Cherrio!, [page scan/se=0037/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Chutes and Ladders, etc., etc. put together! Every Max game is different, and every game is exciting, even for adults (try that with Candy Land). :)

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