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Subject: Living Review VI. rss

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Sebastian Haronski
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Disclaimer: I occasionally promote games at conventions for AbacusSpiele and get paid to do so. Keep this in mind while reading this review.

Oink! is a very fast paced dexterity card game designed by Inon Kohn and one of my favorite games of 2014. In the box you'll find 90 cards illustrated by Michael Menzel with various farm animals like cows, pigs, dogs and chicks. Each card has a number on it ranging from zero to seven (the seven is reserved for all the pig-cards). At the start of the game each of the two to six players receives his own stack of random face-down cards. Then the players take turns revealing their top card by putting it face-up onto a common pile in the center of the table. If the two top cards of the shared pile show the same animal the players have to put their hand on the pile while making the noise of the animal (a cow moos and a dog barks for example). If the sum of the top two cards is equal to seven or a pig sits on top of the pile, the hands come down onto the pile again, but this time the players have to shout: 'Oink'. Whoever hits the pile first while making the correct noise gets all the cards from the middle for himself and starts the next round by revealing his top card. Once a player runs out of face-down cards and the current round is finished, the game ends and the player with the most acquired cards is declared victorious. But not for long, since the next game of Oink! is only a mere twenty card-shuffling seconds away – guaranteed.

This game is just brilliant for what it is: A quick game to start an evening full of boardgaming or a small but fulfilling sip of laughter after a long round of ZhanGuo. I always like to compare Oink to Loopin' Louie. Both games may be designed for children, but I saw them getting thoroughly enjoyed by adults of all ages. The classic mechanic of hitting-the-table-first works really well to get people into a competitive mindset while the animal noises and the grumblings of the players who were a little bit to slow provide a constant source of fun for all people in the room. Can you imagine playing this game at a pub? More than just a few heads turned when we started playing Oink! barking and mooing our way to victory. At least all the heads which weren't occupied by calling the next mental asylum for help. As such the game is a perfect bait to get other people interested and into this hobby.

I had a pretty hard time finding anything negative about this game. It's cute, it's fun, the card quality is good and it fits into every bag. So what's slightly wrong with it? Mathematics! Experienced Settlers of Catan players know that when you roll two six sided dice the most frequent result will be seven and that's why the robber activates on this roll. But what happens if you roll seven sided dice with values ranging from zero to six like the cards in Oink!? The most common result in this case is six. So why do we keep looking for the seven in Oink! instead of the six? While the suspense during the card reveals is definitely worth the wait, the game is most fun when players have to react. I know that a change of the rules would lead to new problems (what would happen if a single six is revealed) but I guess that the simplest solution to this conundrum would be to remove all the zeros from the game. Then we're back to our beloved Settlers dice and seven comes up most of the time. So far I still cannot figure out why the zero was included in the design of this game so I'll try to ask around. As soon as I have a satisfying or official answer I'll post it here.

In the meantime: Get this game, put it on the table and enjoy your fifteen minutes of pure fun.

I send a mail to Abacusspiele regarding my question and got an answer: They included the zeros deliberately to lessen the amounts of oinks in the game. This leads to a more even distribution when comparing oinks to the other animal sounds. Fair enough.

As usual this review can be found on my personal blog:
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