Mina's Fresh Cardboard
Mina's Mini Review - If You Like Cute Kitty Meeples...
Cat Town is a game about walking your cat around town and stopping by various blocks to check out all that is hip and happening.
Your goal in this game is to find cats, collect items, and play travel notes cards.
The two-player version of the game is set up by arranging 4 "location tiles" around a central station tile. These are simply placeholders for 15 cards that will go on top of them. Each player gets 2 non-item/non-cat cards and the game begins!
Each turn, you will perform one action. You will either
1) Walk (draw) - move your cat to its neighboring block and draw a card into your hand from the top of the deck
2) Walk (search) - move your cat to search a block, revealing as many cards from the top of the block as you have different types items in front of you. If it's an action card, you discard it. If it's an item or cat, you earn it and place it face up in front of yourself. If you draw an action card that shows a broken crayon icon, you have to stop searching and discard all items you have not scored. If you gain an item of the same type you already have, you score it and set it aside. And you are only allowed to search if you already have an item in front of you.
3) Play a card - Play a card to use its effect and discard it or play an item card in front of you without using its effect. You may only play items in front of you of which you don't already have the same type in your tableau.
4) Search your own hand cards by allowing an opponent to randomly select one card from your hand. You get to place it in front of you if it's an item or cat and have to discard it if it's an action.
The game ends either when one player has 6 points (each scored item set scores 1 point and each cat scores 1 point) or when there are only 3 blocks left in the game.
Played prior to review 3x
Cat Town is, first and foremost, adorable and impeccably produced. It features the most lovely of whimsical, wonderful, child-like-wonder-filled illustrations that just beg to be plastered over all walls everywhere! I want a giant mural of one of those location tiles! I really do! The location tiles themselves are absolutely unnecessary to the game, as they serve merely as placeholders for the cards that go on top of them, but they are pretty AND they are actual postcards you can send to people! How cool is that!?
2. Two levels of play
Cat Town comes in two incarnations - a very basic one in which you can basically just move your cat from pile to pile of cards and rely largely on luck to gain cats and items you want and an advanced one in which you have a bit more to lose by relying on randomly searching blocks for cats and items due to the threat of broken crayons. Plus, in the advanced version, you can't start searching anything until you've played at least one item to your tableau.
3. Some luck pushing and interesting decision points
This game is also simple enough for kids to understand in its basic form but offers some relatively interesting decision points for non-kids in its advanced form. While it is possible to simply move your cat around and flip cards to see what happens in the basic game, this isn't something you can do in the advanced version. And the advanced game is where you encounter a few challenges.
First, you can't just randomly flip cards from various piles because you have to have an item in your tableau. Next, the number of different item cards you have in your tableau increases your ability to search through decks, so you want to gain lots of different items, but you also want to gain doubles of the same items in order to ultimately score them. This generates some interesting tension in the game. And the fact that you are more likely to draw broken crayons, which can decimate your tableau, means that you are pushing your luck a little by digging deep into the card piles.
You are also able to use action cards to discover what awaits you in various piles of cards before diving into them, which allows you to do a bit of planning. Although this won't always benefit you due to the fact that your opponent may be able to modify the composition of the piles on his turn, it may give you some control some of the time.
1. Very light and random and goes on for way too long
This is where this game falls apart for me. Despite the few interesting decision points to be found and despite the modicum of control you have, you don't have enough for my preferences. Some action cards allow you to take cards from an opponent, others allow you to re-arrange piles of cards, and others allow you to look at cards and possibly re-distribute them around various piles. That SEEMS like it would provide some control, giving you information about the various piles of cards and allowing you to search places you know you'll be able to find items and cats. It would be a lie to state that this doesn't give you some control, but the fact that your opponent could re-arrange everything you've just worked to arrange during his turn or end up uncovering the card you've set up by searching a pile means this semblance of control becomes just that - semblance. It's not real much of the time. You could end up doing very well by simply flipping cards most of the time.
If Cat Town didn't go on for more than 10 minutes, I might enjoy it enough. But it doesn't. It goes on for at least 30. And that's just too long for a game of this weight for me.
Cat Town is cute and cuddly and whimsical and fluffy, but it is too much like a big, puffy marshmallow - all air and no substance. Yes, there are a few interesting decision points to be found in the advanced game, but cards that allow you to take cards from an opponent can make for some unhappy surprises and the whole "move your cat to the next block and see what happens" idea is fine when you have ways to manipulate the order of cards in the various piles, but even that isn't sufficient control because your opponent could easily decide to beat you to the block you've set up with a cat or item. You can get completely screwed by a broken crayon wiping all your items away. It's just too much randomness for me. The memory element doesn't help raise the game in my esteem either.
While I do think Cat Town will find an audience in parents with young kids, I don't think it's a game that most serious gamers will get very excited to play very often in the absence of a younger or less experienced audience. And sadly, I'm in the camp. But I'll definitely put the kitten meeples and postcards to good use!
MINA'S LOVE METER DISLIKE
Mina's Love Meter
- I dislike this game so much that it makes me angry. (I rate these 4 or less on the BGG scale) Dislike
- I don't like this game, but I can see why others like it.
(5 on BGG scale) Some like
- I find this game somewhat appealing, but it doesn't really grab me. I am glad to have had the opportunity to try this game, but it is unlikely to stay in my collection for very long.
(5.5 to 6.5) on BGG scale) Like
- I like this game and appreciate the design. I am happy to play this game occasionally when the mood strikes and enjoy doing so.
(7 to 7.5 on BGG scale) Some love
- I love this game. It's not perfect, but it really appeals to me and I will play it frequently.
(7.5 to 8 on BGG scale) Lots of love
- I really love this game. The design really speaks to me. I want to play it most of the time.
(8 to 9 on BGG scale) All love all the time
- I ADORE this game and can see myself playing it many times and for many years. I would go to sleep clutching it in my arms and want to play it all day every day...only not literally because that would be insane.
(9 to 10 on BGG scale)
Thanks, Mina. Those cateeples sure are cute, but it's a shame this game just doesn't have any substance.
Thanks very much for thus.
I really wanted to like this game because of the artwork and animeeples, but now I'll have to scrap it from my 'maybe' list.
A super cute game with no interesting gameplay is still not worth my limited budget.