Bear with me this is my first ever game review.
I saw things game at my local FLGS and was instantly intrigued because its designed by Richard Garfield. Many people here might not care about a game by him because he's most well known for creating Magic: the Gathering. I didn't get it right away because like all games I buy I like to do some research and read some reviews, look at pictures of the game components here. It does have a 7.0 on here but its only got about 5 reviews so it might go way down, who knows. Anyways, I decided to pick it up regardless...In a nutshell the game is birds fighting for perches.
You get the rules, 26 cards and the board. It retails for 19.99 or so. At my FLGS it was $22. Yuck. After seeing the components I likely wouldn't have gotten it at that price. Luckly I get $5 for my loyalty points so I got it for $17. Which is an alright price but might still be a little on the hight side. Back to the components. The cards, while small (think Ticket to Ride) they are very thick which would make them very durable. The art work on them is superb as well, 12 different birds and a jaguar.. The board is a tri-fold board that is pretty long. I think the box is a little big for what you get but then again it needs to be atleast as big as the board. Anyways, its a little expensive if you can't find it on sale.
Each player gets 13 cards. 12 of them are numbered (1-12) and the 13th is a Jaguar. You shuffle your cards (which is a bit hard because they are so small and so thick) and draw the top card to play. So there is quiet a bit of luck invovled in the game, I know a lot of people don't like luck games, but I think it helps this game, it makes you make some difficult decisions.
On the board there are Spots numbered 1-10 and an extra 8 spot. The numbers on the board are worth that many points at the end of the round if you control that perch. So if you have a bird on the 10 you get points. Simple. Three of the perches have special powers, which I will explain shortly.
You draw the top card and place it face down on one of the perches. If there wasn't a card there you now control that perch. If there was card there you fight, and you are the attacker. The defender reveals their card to you and say whether your card beats them or not. You do NOT flip your card over. The higher number wins. If their card is higher than yours you discard it, but still don't flip it over. So there is an element that could lead to cheating, but if you are playing with someone that would cheat, you probably shouldn't be playing with them anyways. When the Jaguar card is in a fight, both cards (the Jaguar and the bird) are discarded.
The special spaces on the board are the 1, 3 and the 2 8's. The 1 lets you win all ties, whether you are attacking or defending. The 3 lets you look at one facedown card when you take control of the perch. And if you control both 8 perches at the end of the round you get 3 bonus points.
After both players have played all 13 of their cards the round is over and you score. You get the points for each number on the perches you control. Then you play another round. It says you are supposed to play 4 rounds and alternate the starting player each round.
Its a really simple game with some strategy to it. If you draw a big bird early where do you put it. If you draw your Jaguar early do you try to bait them into killing their higher birds? Do you sacrifice your lower birds to have them reveal their card or do you try to control one of the lower less valued perches with them?
My girlfriend and I really like this game. Its a lot of fun and can be played really quickly. I think she likes it because the first game we played she beat me by about 70 points!!! The second and each subsequent game was much closer in score with a differential of about 5-10 points.
Overall I would give this game a 7.5 out of 10. The thing that drags it down is the cost. Its a little expensive for you what you get in the box. And the cards could stand to be a little bigger. I really like the thickness of them though.