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Subject: A Fistfull of Penguins: A Review rss

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Kristen McCarty
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Pennsylvania
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I can't tell you where it started or why it started, but recently there has been this strange influx of penguins around my home. A gum-ball machine figurine here, that Christmas decoration that hasn't been put away yet there, and the penguin background on my computer are just a few examples. It isn't quite an obsession, but it is getting there.



So when I heard about a "A Fistful of Penguins" I knew I had to have it. Thanks go to my wonderful husband who hunted it down for me.

Object of the Game:

The player who is able, over three rounds, to gain the most money from their zoo wins!

Components / Set-up

Before you play your first game, you will need to sticker the 24 black and brown chips with the penguin and kangaroo stickers. Truthfully, I hate putting sticker on, so luckily I have an experienced husband (thank you Commands & Colors) who did an expert job.

There are also more small plastic poker chips that come with the game. These are used for money; 30 yellow ($1), 24 red ($5), and 24 clue ($20). Each player receives one red and five yellow chips at the start of the game.



The game comes with 9 animal dice. Each side has either a squirrel, kangaroo, penguin, moose, lion or camel. Players roll four in the first round, five in the second, and six in the third. The dice are very well made and the animal graphics are very cute.

The most wonderful component of the game are the 30 purple and 6 yellow clear acrylic penguin meeples. Yes, I know I'm a sucker for penguins, and clear acrylic meeples, but they are awesome!

Each player starts the game out with six penguins. So I get my penguin fix from the start.

Game Play

I first expected another version of Yhatzee. It is another dice rolling game, set collection game, after all. Luckily, while there is some resemblance, this game offers a lot more strategy.

During the first round the player rolls four dice. They now have three options as to what they want to do with the dice.

Option 1: Stop rolling and take the value of the roll in money and tokens. Then pass the dice to the next player.

Option 2: Spend one penguin to either roll one more die from the bank or re-roll as many dice as they want.



Option 3: Cash in the dice that show penguins and take more of the penguin meeples. One yellow penguins equals five purple penguins. Used penguin are out of play for the rest of the turn, so it is wise to put then to the side.

Players can continue doing option two and three as long as they wish / can. When they are out of penguins or dice they must choose option 1.

At the end of a players turn they pass the dice to the left. After each player has had a turn, the second round begins. In the second round each player rolls five dice. In the third round they roll six dice.



Scoring

The game comes with three scoring cards. I was constantly using these player aides and am grateful they were included. I don't think I would be able to remember the values without them.

Penguins: When a player rolls a penguin they get a penguin meeple, not money. They are used for more dice and re-rolls. The more you roll penguins the more penguins you will get. For 1 penguin they get one penguin meeple, 3 meeples when two penguin dice, and six with 3 penguin dice.

Squirrel: These sneaky guys give you money from other players. When you roll one squirrel you get $1 dollar from the player on your left. Two gives you $1 from the player on your left, and $2 from the next player. Each additional squirrel adds one dollar to the total from the next player around the table. If you roll more squirrels then opponents, it continues around the table, skipping over you. For example if you roll four squirrels and there are four player you take $1 from the player to your left, $2 from the next player, $3 from the third player, skip you, and then take $4 more dollars from the player to your left.

Moose: Each moose is worth $9 if paired with a squirrel. Without a squirrel a moose is worth nothing. So if you have two moose and one squirrel you get nine dollars from the bank and one dollar from the player to your left.



Kangaroo: Kangaroo are worth as many dollars as there are kangaroos. One kangaroo is worth $1 and four kangaroos would be worth $16. During the first round, if a player has at least one kangaroo showing and they score it they get a kangaroo token on the side showing one kangaroo. The token can be used to change one die to the kangaroo side. If kangaroos are scored during the second round the player takes a chip turned to the side showing two kangaroos.

If players still have one from the first round that one is turned. During the third round two dice may be turned.

Lions: Lions are worth $7 dollars each. If lions are scored, only lions and penguins score. Choose either to score your lions or score your moose, squirrels, and kangaroos.

Camels: Camels are worth $5 each if there are no lions showing; with lions they are worth nothing.



Game End:

At the end of three rounds the player with the most money wins. Penguin meeples are worth $1 during the final scoring. If there is a tie, there will be a showdown. Each tied player starts with two penguins. The same rules apply and whomever has the most money after the showdown round wins.

My Thoughts:


When I first head of this game it was about how much of a blast it was; that everyone wanted to keep playing it and playing it; and that its sold out at Essen very fast.

I will agree that it is a fun, light-hearted game. There is luck involved, but being able to add dice with the penguins and re-roll dice adds strategy not found in other games like it. I hate giving up my penguins, but I like being able to re-roll or get an extra die.



Since you have three rounds to build your zoo, you don't feel rushed. There is time to reach your goal. Being short, the game also doesn't overstay its welcome.

I'm not sure I would agree with it being a family game. The theme and the components certainly scream family game. I'm not convinced. To be honest I haven't played it with younger children or my non-gaming friends and family.

The reason I'm hesitant, is the scoring. It isn't the easiest to wrap your mind around and pretty abstract in this regard. I think younger children may have trouble understanding why you need a squirrel to score your moose. The lion may be easier for them to understand. Some advanced children may get it, but I'm not sure an eight year old, as suggested, would.



The player aide is very helpful. And, after reading the scoring rules easy for gamers to understand. Non-gamers, I know, might be confused with it. When I first got into gaming I didn't understand icons and stayed clear of any game that used them. So I don't know if I would pull this aide out for new gamers. Gamers will love it and I wish more companies put aides like this in with the game. A simple addition can add a lot and make a game so much more enjoyable.

Overall I enjoyed the game, but was left wanting. Maybe I had set my hopes too high? I'm not sure. It just fell a little flat. The game would definitely shine with more players and would make an awesome light strategic filler. The dice and components are wonderful and the artwork is great. Unfortunately, I don't think this will see a lot of game play. I promise to try it with more players and I wish I could praise it more. I just liked it, I didn't love it.

Quick Stats:

Designer: Jonathan Franklin
Artists: Mike Raabe
Publishers: Wattsalpoag Games
Number of Players: 1-6
Playing Time: 15 minutes



Photo Credits: Kris Gould (KrisWattsalpoag), Geir Harald (CellarDoor), Rob Robinson (zombiegod), Luk (Vitriool), Luk (Vitriool), Rob Robinson (zombiegod), Geir Harald (CellarDoor), Rob Robinson (zombiegod)

Thanks for the great pictures and for sharing them with us!
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Jan
Belgium
De Haan
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nice review
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Kristen McCarty
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Thank you, glad you enjoyed it
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Andreas Hellwig
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Thanks for the great review !!! thumbsup
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Peter Hendee
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Frisco
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I do not think it means what you think it means.
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The Advanced Game rules give everyone else something to do when it is not their turn, and adds a layer of strategy.
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A. B. West
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Beech Grove
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Good review. I just picked this up over the weekend and have played it 4 times with my teenage daughters. They liked it, laughing continuously - but were not blown away by it in the end (my 16-year old rated it a 6 out of 10).

Still, I'll keep it. I can always use another quick filler - and this one is a step up from Martian Dice (which I quite like).
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Kris Gould
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Excellent review. Thank you.

- Kris Gould
Wattsalpoag Games
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Stephen Roney
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xcrun55 wrote:
I think younger children may have trouble understanding why you need a squirrel to score your moose.

It will be obvious is they are familiar with these guys:


But I would agree that most kids these days will not know who they are.
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Kristen McCarty
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I felt pretty dumb when my father-in-law pointed this out, and I even have a friends whose dogs are named Rocky and Moose. But an update on the game is that it plays great with four. One game came down to an epic roll off and people are always asking to play.
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Stephen Roney
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xcrun55 wrote:
The player aide is very helpful. And, after reading the scoring rules easy for gamers to understand. Non-gamers, I know, might be confused with it. When I first got into gaming I didn't understand icons and stayed clear of any game that used them. So I don't know if I would pull this aide out for new gamers. Gamers will love it and I wish more companies put aides like this in with the game. A simple addition can add a lot and make a game so much more enjoyable.

I made the mistake of giving the player aids to my wife and daughter. The icons were too much for my wife, and I don't think she really gave it a chance. My daughter (who is 35) tolerated it better, but was not in love with the game, despite the affinity for penguins that led to the purchase.
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Jonathan Franklin
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Would you like a more basic set of rules as an intro game? Here is a more basic icon-free and token-free game that still has the different interrelationships.

Something like:

Squirrels are 2 points each and moose are 3 points each, but each pair of 1 moose + 1 squirrel = 10 points total (instead of being 2 & 3)

Kangaroos are squared (no tokens)

Penguins - two penguins for each penguin rolled and claimed

Lions are worth 7 but no other animals score (you still get penguins)

Camels are always worth 4
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Kristen McCarty
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I think that is a great variant for a simpler game and for younger players, I will have to try it out soon. My nongaming in-laws have grasped the rules quite well after a few games and are always asking to play. But children may better grasp this instead.
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Edward Uhler
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If you make the players money secret (ie. hidden information from the other players), it really adds to the game, imo.
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