- Designer: Florian Racky
- Publisher: HABA
- Players: 2-4
- Ages: 5+
- Time: ~10 minutes
- Times played: 5, with review copy provided by HABA USA
I’ll stick with the theme of finding wooden animals with touch alone by reviewing Taxi Wildlife. Players act as crazed taxi drivers in the game trying to pick up the most passengers as they drive through the jungles of Tasmania.
There are 48 route cards, and they are separated by the numbers on their backs (1, 2 or 3). Three draw piles are created and the top card of each is flipped up. The two pouches are set up with each of them holding two of each of the different animal types. Finally, each player takes a starting road card as well as a colored player card – once player colors are set, the duel cards that involve the colors in the game are separated and shuffled into a duel deck.
The game will be played over a few rounds – each round consists of one pass through the entire duel deck. Each turn, a duel card is flipped over – the two colors on the card tell you who is competing with each other. One of the cars will be circled – this player is the challenger. That player picks up whichever colored bag he wishes, the non-circled color takes the remaining bag.
Now, the players look at the three face up cards on the table. They will want to pick an animal out of the bag that matches the animal waiting at the stop on the card that they want. The players will have to connect the pathways on the road cards, so they may not be able to use all three of the available cards. Once the players have looked at the cards, the ready for the duel. At the starting signal, both players use a single hand to rustle around in the bag trying to find the desired animal share. They may not look in the bag – they can only use their sense of touch. Once either of the players is satisfied with the animal, they pull it out of the bag, yell “Stop” and place the animal on the table.
If the animal matches the picture on one of the cards – then the player takes up that matching card and then places it next to either end of his track. If the road segments do not exactly match up, then the card cannot be taken and the duel ends. If the animal drawn from the bag does not match a card, then the other player gets to choose an animal out of his bag in hopes of making a match himself.
In general, the animals chosen from the bag are returned to them at the end of the duel. However, if the newly placed card has the animal pictured on it, the player can choose to keep the animal figure on the card – and thus, not return it to the bag.
Now, it is time for the next duel. If one of the cards was taken, flip up a new route card from the corresponding deck so that there are three available. The process outlined above takes place again. By the end of the round, each player will have dueled against each other player twice – one time as the challenger and once as the other player.
The game continues until either the end of the fourth round or when all of the cards in one of the three road card piles are collected. For either criteria, the game ends immediately. Players receive one point for each card they have collected and one point for each animal they have on their cards.
My thoughts on the game
HABA is one of the premier kids’ game publishers, partly due to their wonderful wooden components and well crafted games and partly due to the fact that many of their games can be enjoyed by both children as well as adults. Taxi Wildlife easily fills both of these criteria, and it would be suitable for both young children as well as at my regular gaming group.
At its core, it’s a simple enough game – draw one of the three animals that matches those seen on the face up cards. When playing with very young children, that is probably the main focus of the game, and if the roads match up, that’s an added bonus.
When playing with adults, there is enough strategy there to make things interesting. First, you’ll want to keep an eye out on the cards available so that you don’t try to choose an animal for a card that you know won’t fit into your road network. Alternatively, you may want to choose a specific card because it matches up well to the other cards you know will be available in the supply.
Furthermore, you may want to choose a specific card because it has the animal depicted on it – and this means that you will be able to place the wooden token on the card for an extra VP at the end of the game. Later in the game, you’ll also need to use your memory skills because as animals get placed on the cards, they won’t be available in the bag anymore – and you will need to try to remember which bag has which animals missing from it. You definitely don’t want to choose a bag that doesn’t have the animal that you want in it!
The game moves super quick – some duels can take as little as 5 seconds if you’re able to quickly identify one of the animals that you want. You can’t be too quick though – if you end the round and pull out an animal that doesn’t match, your opponent gets an unlimited amount of time to fish around in his bag to choose an animal – and without the time pressure, this generally means that he will get the animal that he wants.
The wooden bits are the usual high quality that you would expect from HABA, and the artwork is pleasingly kiddie in style. My only beef with the components (and it’s a small beef) is that the bag is somewhat small for an adult with big hands. Now, this isn’t a problem for me as I happen to have small hands, but it would be hard to maneuver inside the bag with ham hands.
Taxi Wildlife is a fun frenetic game which can be enjoyed by child and adult alike. It has gone over well with the adults that I’ve tried it with, and I’m looking forward to playing it with some of my younger nieces and nephews in the near future.
Thoughts from Other Opinionated Gamers
Karen M: I am a big fan of Haba–they produce children’s games with very high component quality that can be very fun for adults. Most of my gaming is with adults, so that is the perspective I offer. I played Taxi Wildlife with 3 adult men and they had a hard time with the size of the bags, but this is easily remedied by replacing the bags. I also thought maybe it outstayed its welcome a bit, but again this is also easily fixed. I am pretty terrible at these types of games but still have a blast playing them. I had a tendency to grab out an animal that didn’t match the card and thereby giving my opponent free-time to choose an animal. But as the animals in the bag thinned out, I got much better and made a come-from-behind victory. The memory aspect of this game (remembering which animals remain in which bag) is perfect. My memory is not great and I get frustrated if that is big aspect of the game, but here it just adds an element of fun.
Mary Prasad: The game is fun to play even for adults. The only issue I had was that after 4 cards with animals have been filled (and the players keeping the animals), there are no more in the bags even though there might be cards left with those animals. Also, you may end up in a situation where your roads endings don’t match some of the cards. Thus during the last rounds, you may have no options to play. I would have prefered there only be 3 cards with animals on them (there are only 4 total in the bags) so at least one would still be left in a bag for players to win cards with.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Karen M
- I like it. Dale Y, Mary P
- Not for me…