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Subject: Fabulous, Flummoxing Family Fun rss

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That's my perp! Futsie, all right - crazy as a coot! He's got to be stopped!
I have so many bad memories of trivia games. The sinking feeling when everyone else agrees to spend the rest of the evening failing to answer obscure questions. The pained expressions as people dredge their memories, putting on the false pretence that they really do know the names of the two 11th-century Danish brothers who fought on opposite sides at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014?*

So, you ask, why on earth would I buy a trivia game? Well, my daughter loves animals and is always bombarding me with true or false questions so Fauna seemed ideally suited.

Opening the box you find 180 double sided animal cards, some cubes and a board that has a map of the world divided into regions and some incremental scales to record your measurement and weight guesses. The board is double sided, one side showing metric measurements the other imperial. In my head I always use metric for dimensions but imperial for weight measurements, so guessing in grams and kilograms wasn’t very instinctive (well that’s my excuse anyway)

Every round an animal card is revealed and the players try to guess its weight, dimensions and the regions in which it lives. Players take it in turns to place one of their six cubes on geographical regions or the length and weight scales, the only limitation being that you cannot place a cube on a space already claimed by another player.

When all players have run out of cubes, or simply do not wish to place anymore then scoring takes place. Cubes on correct spaces get maximum points; cubes adjacent to the correct spaces also score points. In general, and unless a creature is especially prolific, you get more points for guessing regions than measurements. The danger of guessing haphazardly is that cubes placed on non-scoring spaces are temporary removed form the game. Players do get a cube back between rounds (more if they have done particularly badly)

Visually the game is a little dull; it has the look and feel of a 1970’s children’s encyclopaedia. That said, it is all perfectly functional, although I did find the illustrations of the Indiana Jones type characters measuring various unfortunate animals a little disturbing – it looks like the penguin is getting measured for a dinner jacket.

The game does tend to get bit samey as you are answering the same types of question over and over again, but the short playing time goes a long way to alleviating this problem. Although a family game, it still demands that all players are good at visualising and estimating measurements, which is a skill not normally that refined in younger players. The are 360 different animals on double sided cards and an average game uses about 15 cards, which means you can get through about 25 games before the same animals begin to crop up again. Some might see this as a negative “Tut, I remember that the Aye-aye comes from Madagascar” – but on a positive note it proves that you have learnt something.

Fauna is a great family trivia game, which allows players not only to think about answers but also to take into account the actions of their opponents. It is as much about mind-games and reading the other players as it is about actual knowledge.

Do you follow other players’ hunches, or hang on to your cubes for the next round?

She played that cube down quickly, she must be sure, or is she bluffing?

I’m pretty sure where this critter lives. Do I place cubes there now and run the risk that everyone else will jump on the bandwagon, or wait and maybe loose my chance?

It is this sort of decision making that enables me to still hate trivia games but at the same time really enjoy Fauna.

*Brodir and Ospak of Man
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