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Chris Baylis
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(CAT ON A) HOT TIN ROOF is a 3-4 Player (10 years+) game from the curiously strange mind of the game-fluent Leo Colovini, published by MAYFAIR Games (under the Mayfair rather than FUNFAIR) label. That was a surprise, Mayfair instead of Funfair, being as this is really a family game inflicted with minor strategy possibilities.
If you hear the phrase "Hot Tin Roof" the first word most people associate with it is "Cats" and then "Cat on a" followed by either the Paul Newman, Elisabeth Taylor, film or the original story from Tennessee Williams. Not that any of this has anything to do with the boardgame, except of course that there are cats in it, I just wanted to show how my single brain cell works when it isn't on vacation.
Please Note: During this review I refer to "sardines" this is simply because it is easier than to continually type "sardine cans".
Each player has two pairs of cats, each pair in a different position (either sitting or laying), plus 3 Shelter tiles, 6 Catwalks (bridges) and 10 cans of sardines to begin with. The winner, when the game ends (as the column of Fish expires), is the player who has the most Sardines (each single Fish = 10 cans).
The first player is determined by one of two ways:
a) The player with the longest whiskers
b) The player whose breath smells more like a fish
The idea is, as previously mentioned, is to collect sardines and the way you do this is to bring your cats together on the Hot Tin Roofs of the town. The actions available to the players are quick and need little thought: The first 2 actions are mandatory, the others are choice, but they must be taken as they are listed.
1. Pay the sardine ante (5 sardines at the start of each player's turn).
2. Dumpster Dive. This is where you get sardines back for the turn. You collect however many sardines are on the chosen dumpster.
3. Place either a Catwalk or a Shelter on the board or
4. Choose a Home card from the 3 on display and place one identical pair of your Cats onto the named spaces or
5. Race across the rooftops - move and or all of your cats.
If you do not have enough sardines to pay the ante you either have to miss your go, and just collect two sardines from the supply, or you can, if you have one, change a fish at the supply for 10 sardines and use 5 of those.
The ante is paid into the Dumpsters, one sardine into each. Then the player gets to choose one of the bins and empty it. They get all the sardines in it plus, for the first 3 bins, they take the Home card, for the 4th bin they get to place a Catwalk and for the 5th bin they can place a Shelter. Thus as each player begins their turn one, and only one, of the bins will be technically empty - the Home cards are replaced as removed.
Catwalks are placed between buildings - there are specific places to place them; these allow the cats to move easily across the skyline. Roof edges lead to patios and it is on the patios that players can place their Shelters; patios are also the places where Cats are placed when the Home card is taken - each Home card has two Home names on them and for speed of finding each house name is in alphabetical order on the board; the houses are named, Addams', Bromley's, Colovinis' etc.
When you race your cats across the roofs you use whichever patios (with/without Shelters) and Catwalks you need to. If you use a Catwalk of another player you have to pay that player a sardine. It costs two sardines to land on or pass through another player's Shelter. Cats that move have to end their turn on a patio - there is no limit to how far a Cat can move. If two identical (colour and position) Cats meet each other on a patio then the player gets to bring them off the board plus the player scores a Fish from the column. Once the column is
empty the game immediately ends. At the end if anyone still has Cats still on the board this will cost them, 15 sardines to the supply or the cost (if any) of moving the cats so they meet up.
So that's how it plays, each player places or moves their cats or places a catwalk or a shelter. The options are in general limited, as once you have placed your cats on the board you need to build routes for them using catwalks and the houses where you put your cats when they enter the board is always determined by which card you choose.
Games last about 30 minutes, strategies are limited, you move your cats or you place a shelter or a catwalk. This is why I consider it to be more a family game, thus Funfair, than a strategy game from Mayfair.
This isn't a roll a dice game - there aren't any dice, nor is it card driven - the only cards are more like tiles, and it isn't a tile placing game. There is no resource or man (cat) management and the only things that are collectible are the fish/sardines which are both VPs and cash. All that sounds negative, but without all those things to worry about or keep track of. HOT TIN ROOF is actually a good fun game. Certainly one to play with friends and family, even
younger than the 10 years the box reckons - our 8 year old grand-daughter had no problems with it.

The components are sturdy and in it for the long haul - it's a game you can and will play over - and the rules are well written and laid out, easy to understand and short. My only disappointment came from the cats being small wooden shapes of ID colour, when colourful pieces (in the manner of the Penguins in "Hey That's My Fish" except, obviously cats instead of penguins) would have given the game so much more visual appeal
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Tom C.
United States
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Thanks for the review! I've been waiting for someone to provide one, as I generally really like the designer. I wasn't going to make a purchase until I had more information, and you gave it. Again, thanks for taking the time.
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Roger Howell
United States
Lenexa
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Thanks for the review! Couple of questions:

Each player has 4 cats, 2 sitting and 2 laying. Do you have to join 2 of the same, in other words you could not join a laying cat and a sitting cat? So a player would potentially have all 4 cats on the board?

Any reason this would not work with 2 players. Perhaps not enough interaction?
 
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david karasick
United States
Gladwyne
Pennsylvania
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Rules state that the 2 cats must be a Matched pair......same shape and color.
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Sarah
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Just bought this and played for the first time. We had a lot of fun. We played with 3 players and the first player definitely had an advantage in our game...not sure if that is typical or not; will need a few more tries to see. Anyone find a big first player advantage?

Of course, I was first player, so no complaints that I won. haha

We did find that it was advantageous to try to build cat walks early and reunite some cats ASAP, because if you run out of sardines, it takes about 3 turns of doing NOTHING before your stash is replenished enough.

We played that you cannot empty a dumpster with a "home card" if you already have all your cats on the board. We *think* that is proper? Anyone know?

The cat meeples are ADORABLE. The concept is super cute. The mechanism is fun and once you get tracks going, it is vaguely Chutes-and-Ladders-esque in the best of all possible ways (I know...that doesn't sound like a good thing, but I truly mean it in a good way).

Wish the colors of the pieces and the cats matched a little bit better.

Glad we bought it. Not hugely pricey and quite fun!
 
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Roger Howell
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Lenexa
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Correct, cannot choose a home card action if all your cats are on the board.

I don't know who could have approved the colors of the cat walks and shelters. Only the orange ones match, all other colors do not match at all. I ordered wooden planks (for the cat walks) and wooden shelters from the Game Crafter website. I'll post some pictures when I get them.

We played one game with 2 players and it seemed to work, of course I can't compare to more players. We thought the game was fairly fun but maybe too light for us. It wouldn't be a keeper if it wasn't for the cool theme and awesome game board. I can't wait to see how cool it looks with the wooden pieces I ordered.
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Scott Nelson
United States
Draper
Utah
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Not having played it yet, I do wonder if like the OP mentioned in passing, could the 2 player game be played by allowing any of the opposites find each other, providing more opportunities (another level of strategy of which home card to take for the second group)to get together when the second group is placed. I might try it after a 3 or 4 player game is under my belt and see how it would go.

Okay, I lucked out and got my sister and her kids to give it a go (cat lovers that lot of them). I saw the fall behind and never get back into it ploy that was mentioned. Getting the middle areas is really important if you build a nice way to get to their cats; they will use it over and over. I'm sure a second game would play out much differently, knowing how it went this time. I think Shangri-la is better in the way of "cool" maneuvers that give the oooo factor. This was a good thinker for a lighter game, and ramps up near the end to make it hard to beat the winning player.
 
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Lee Godwin
United States
Branson
Missouri
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I have the recent promo expansion #16 from Mayfair Games. I cannot stand to discard things that someone else may want for one of their games. So, first come first serve, free, and I'll gladly send it to whoever wants it. It also comes with a 3-piece promo for Road Rally USA. Just geekmail me.

*Also - I will post whenever anyone has contacted me and it is no longer available. So, regardless of how old this post is, until it's given away feel free to contact me.

 
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