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Fowl Play!» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Not a Key game, and not a tur-key either! rss

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Alan Paull
United Kingdom
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Fowl Play is from famous UK designer Richard Breese (R&D Games), who designs the games known as the 'key' series (from the names: Keywood, Keytown, Keythedral and so on). Fowl Play is not a 'key' series game, but is no turkey either.

Imagine you're a fox in a farmyard with lots of poultry. That's right, you have to catch ducks, chickens, turkeys and geese, each of which has a shape (square, hexagon, circle) and a colour (white, brown, black). Scoring is at game end and is based on these characteristics, so it is important to know the scoring system when you start. You score points for eating the most birds of each characteristic; most brown birds for instance, or most birds with circles. But you also score points for having sets of each type of poultry (duck, chicken, turkey, goose), which encourages your fox to roam around the farmyard a bit, because each fowl type starts concentrated in one area, soon to be scattered by bloodthirsty Reynard. It's tempting when you're in that first flush of feathers to attack birds a-flocking together, but a fox who eats all the chickens will not win Fowl Play!

At the start of the game each player selects a single specific bird, and you will also score points for how many birds with similar characteristics to your feathered friend survive the onslaught. The stupid fox jumps onto chosen fowl.

For movement each player selects a numbered card from a hand of four, which determines the order of play. You get to move not only your own fox, but also certain of the fowl, to keep them out of harm's way or to aim them at your fox. Several foxholes in the farmyard give the attackers some quick avenues of advance.

I would not advise comparing Fowl Play! with the key games; this is not a resource-management, placement type game. It is a fast and fun game that can be played seriously to score maximum points or can be played socially, for example with younger players, to engage with the farmyard theme. Scoring is fairly complex, requiring careful thought. Movement is both strategic, where you try to mix types of fowl together in the right combinations, so that you can pick them off with limited movement, and tactical, where you engineer traps for specific fowl and attempt to save your own special friend.

If you are lucky enough to have a copy, don't duck the opportunity to play it. In fact geese a game, mate!

Fowl Play even has an intro-duck-tion to its rules!
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