What's it going to be then, eh?
This is one of an ongoing series of non-wargame reviews that are reviewed from a wargamer's perspective. For the current list of games that have been or are going to be reviewed please go to this Geeklist: A Wargamer's Perspective: Non-Wargame Reviews. Thanks for reading!
Crows is a game designed by Tyler Sigman and released by Valley Games, Inc. in 2010. Unfortunately, Valley Games is well known to many Kickstarter fans as being one of the many companies on KS who have done some rather unscrupulous things during their Kickstarters that failed to deliver as promised to backers. This is not the place to discuss their business practices, it is a review of a game that only has the unfortunate predicament of having been published by this specific company. That issue notwithstanding, Crows is a stellar light semi-abstract game about attracting crows to shiny things and scoring points.
In the box you will find 38 wooden crow pieces (“creeples” …name proudly stolen from BGG user hpbruin’s review of this game found here: S.O.S. (Shiny Object Syndrome)), 53 tiles that are used to make the board, 8 shiny objects (2 in each player colors), 20 special tokens (that give special abilities that are playable during the game or as end game points), a first player marker, some score markers with “100” on them (which I have NEVER used) and a large scoring board. All bits are excellent quality and are easily recognized as to their function within the game.
Creeples and Player's Shiny Objects
Each player takes the two shiny objects in their color, a trash tile and they are ready to play. Players shuffle the tiles and set up a diamond shape with 9 randomly drawn tiles and place one crow on each tile that shows a crow icon on the it. If there is no crow icon on a tile, then no crow is placed. The special tiles are shuffled, you decide on a first player and start the game.
Initial Board Set-up
The object of the game is to get as many crows to flock to your shiny object, block crows from flocking to another player’s shiny object and score as many points as possible. The game is over when the last tile is drawn from the tile draw pile at that point all special tiles and bonus points are scored and a winner determined.
Board Tiles-(top) Crow Placement (bottom l to r) 1st player, Graveyard, Trinket
On a player’s turn he will do the following: draw a tile and add it to the board placing crows if needed, place a shiny object and, if you have one, play a special tile. After all players have taken a turn the crows will “flock” to the closest shiny object not separated from them by a gap between tiles. If a crow flies over a trash pile before reaching a shiny object it will stop at the trash tile. If two or more shiny objects are equidistant from each other the crows will split as evenly as possible with remainders staying in the tile they were in. Trinket tiles will break ties for flocking crows between two shiny objects that are the same distance apart. After the crows have finished flocking the players score points according to the number of crows on their shiny objects.
If a murder of crows is formed (when 6 or more crows are present on a tile). two of the crows create a mating pair and fly off; they are removed from the game and the rest are placed one per tile in a circle around the tile they flocked to. There is a bit more to the game but isn’t of consequence for this review.
Crows can be played in under an hour with a full complement of four players (meeting my personal qualifier for a filler game). There is plenty of strategy in deciding where to place your shiny objects and place special tiles or whether or not to block another player’s crows. There is a “take that” mechanic to Crows but unlike games like Munchkin and Cutthroat Caverns, it doesn’t feel nasty or personal. It also isn’t game ending when another player does it to you like other games. It may make your turn less optimal but it won’t lose the game for you.
This is a great game for wargamers, I cannot recommend it highly enough; I think I first heard of this game through wargame channels not Euro game channels which is unusual for this style of game. It is a great multiplayer strategy game to end a wargame evening off with enough strategy to make one think but certainly isn’t a heavy game by any stretch of the word. If you weren't taken by the whole Up Front scandal make every attempt to play this game; you will not be disappointed.
Thanks for this review. I have this game and my family enjoys it. The subdued artwork conveys the theme well and the game works surprisingly well when played by candlelight.
Luckily for me I wasn't stung by the whole Up Front disaster (not to mention Airborne in Your Pocket) but I have a number of their games on my shelf that I still enjoy;
- D-Day Dice
- Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage
Overall, I found their production quality to be top-notch.