“Animals on Board”
designed by Wolfgang Sentker & Ralf zur Linde, published by Stronghold Games
Fill your ark with animals…in everything but pairs, because that Noah guy has already claimed that concept. Animals are drawn randomly and placed into a large group at the beginning of each round. All except one are placed face-up with one mystery animal to make things more interesting. On your turn, you can either split a group into two smaller groups, or claim a group and place it on your ark. Splitting a group earns you a food crate; loading animals onto your ark costs you a number of food crates equal to the number of animals you are bringing on board. Once you claim animals, you are out of the round, and the other players continue splitting or claiming. At the end of a round, new animals are placed for the next round, or someone has ten animals on their ark and the game ends with scoring! Herds (groups of 3,4, or 5 of the same animal) will give you 5 points per animal, single animals will give you the points printed on the card, while pairs are discarded without scoring. Most points win!
The key is splitting the groups: do you split to form a herd? Or make a non-scoring pair? Or do you mix things up with the face-down animal? And, of course, other players can’t see what you loaded into the ark already. A very clever use of the I-split, you-choose mechanic with great components: durable ark pieces and great artwork.
One Line Verdict: Don’t miss the boat on this one in this fast-playing, little cousin to, oddly enough, “Zooleroto.” Which is also about animals, but without the apocalyptic theme.