...is sadly not this game, nor any form of it.
I've been interested in Animal Upon Animal for awhile, both as a fan of stacking games and as the father of a two year old looking forward to playing games once he grows a bit more. I needed something small to take with me on vacation, and Animal Upon Animal seemed like a nice complement to the other games I was packing. I read a number of reviews of this set, and determined that two sets of Small and Yet Great would make for a good travel version suitable for four. I also picked up a cheap drawstring pouch for sunglasses and the whole kit fit nicely in that.
But the game is terrible. No fun at all.
The experience, perhaps counterintuitively, brought me to buy proper Animal Upon Animal (and owing to a good offer, Crest Climbers as well). So let me first say this: All of Animal Upon Animal fits very comfortably in the 6"x8" drawstring bag that Hive Pocket came in. If you want a travel version of Animal Upon Animal, get the real thing and a drawstring bag. It isn't big at all, and costs effectively the same as two sets of Small and Yet Great and a bag for that. It is just a much better game.
Stacking games seem obvious, but good ones actually involve a great amount of careful design. This is where Animal Upon Animal soars and Small and Yet Great falls down, I'm afraid. The pieces in Animal Upon Animal are carefully thought out: the backside of one Animal closely resembles the underside of another, and that animal's front may seem to form just the right place for that extremity of yet another animal. The result is that Animal Upon Animal is built to create circumstances of improbable stacking, those fun placements that make the entire table gasp. Small and Yet Great's animals, in contrast, have few surfaces that correspond well to any other animals. The result is a harder game, hard enough to simply not be very fun. Every attempt to do something interesting that looks like it might work resulted in collapse. As a result, I would caution anyone against picking this up, and I would suggest you just look to the real thing instead.
A few more notes for those interested:
- If you actually wanted a 2 player, super pocketable version, I *still* suggest regular Animal Upon Animal. The sunglasses pouch I got for Small and Yet Great held the Gator, die, and two full sets of animals, giving each player one animal more than they'd get in Small and Yet Great
- The 6"x8" Hive Pocket bag actually comfortably holds all of Animal Upon Animal and the beavers, squirrels, and goats from Crest Climbers. In fact, it will still close easily (but be tight) with all contents of both games save the cows from Crest Climbers. But at that point it is much less portable. Great with just the three additions though.
- I have yet to give Crest Climbers a spin on its own, but as a supply of additional animals it is great. I'll always play with the original seven, though, because their design really does work well together. Without the insert, both games fit in the Animal Upon Animal box.