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Carrotia is the latest game from MAGE company. It's a realtime, cooperative, family game where a rabbit has to get as much carrots as he can get to feed his family. But beware of the birds, they do not like rabbits.
This is a copy of an As a Board Gamer (LINK) article
(August 22th, 2016)
You can find a geeklist of all my reviews HERE.
A round in Carrotia is split into two parts. During the first part players will build a maze in realtime. In the second part of the round players take turns to guide the rabbit through the maze, grabbing carrots on the way and making sure that the birds can't catch the rabbit or the carrots. The game takes three rounds and at the end of round three the players must have gathered a certain amount of carrots to win the game.
Let's dive a little deeper. The first part of every round is timed. The first round takes 30 seconds, the second round 60 and during the last round you have 90 seconds to build a maze.
Before a round starts you draw a card and on that card you'll find a picture of a maze. It shows where the rabbit will enter the maze, where it will exit, on which tiles the rabbit might find carrots and where the birds are located. During the first round you'll build a 3x3 maze and after the round that maze will stay on the table, but you'll extend that maze to a 4x4 or a 5x5 grid in later rounds. However, you will draw a new card every round, so the entrance and exit might be on other tiles than during the previous rounds.
So, the timer is turned over and players take turns by placing or replacing one tile. Every player starts with a couple of tiles in their hand. Once the time has run out, you will check if the rabbit can enter and exit the maze on the tile the card depicts and you place the carrots and birds on the maze as the picture shows you. Birds tokens are drawn randomly.
Then it's time to move. Turn after turn the players do three things. Every bird acts differently when he encounters a carrots or the rabbit, and each bird also comes with their own die. You start your turn with rolling the bird dice and these dice will show you to which tile the birds move. To the left, the right, to the rabbit to a carrot. Now you know where the birds will move and you must move the rabbit to another tile, following the roads of the maze and picking up carrots if you find them.
However, every player gets a character card at the beginning of the game and these have a power that can be triggered once per round and these powers might change movement rules. One character has the ability to move two times during a turn, another can jump to any tile. After you moved the rabbit, you move the birds in the direction the dice have indicated.
Players have a certain amount of turns they can take every round to go from the entrance to the exit and when they do not reach the exit within that amount of turns, they lose the carrots they have gathered during that round.
After the last round you check if you gathered the required amount of carrots. If so, you win the game.
I must say that I enjoy the game, but you have treat the game as a very light family game or even a kids game. It's nothing more. I think the realtime part of a round is the most exciting. You can only move or place one tile and while you thought you'd build the ideal maze for the first round, during the second round that maze can become a burden. Getting the exit and entrance to be in place is one thing, but also building your maze, the path to the exit, in a way that you can grab the most carrots is another challenge.
The second part feels a little boring compared to the 'franticness' of realtime tile laying. That's mainly because you don't have a lot of options during your turn. There's a lack of decisions, if you ask me. You've build your maze in the most ideal way. You and the other players had a path in mind and placed the tiles to fit this building plan. As best as possible. So, when you must move the rabbit you know we're to go. It's not that you've built in a plan B, you just don't have enough time to do that. And it's not that to build the maze you've only placed crossroads. The bird may cause you to deviate from your path, but that's mostly only a small deviation from the desired path.
The birds are kinda interesting. Their movement is random, so during some rounds they might be annoying and you won't see them during other rounds. Some birds will eat carrots or scare the rabbit to the entrance or exit tile. Other birds might even help you. They pick up carrots when they encounter them and give them to the rabbit if they meet. It depends on which birds you draw, how difficult the game gets.
Overall I think Carrotia is a nice family or children's game. It won't get played a lot in my house, because for me it's a bit too light. But, it has a cute theme and simple mechanisms, so I think you can have good time with this carrot filled game, especially when you have kids.