Dale Yu: Review of Pelta Peeps

Pelta Peeps

  • Designers: Thomas Kite and Samuel Kite
  • Publisher: Pelta Games
  • Players: 2 to 6
  • Ages: “all” says the box; I’d say 10+
  • Time: 10-90 minutes
  • Times played: 6, with review copy provided by Pelta Games

Pelta Peeps is the first game from a small company called Pelta Games.  It is a family run board game company founded in 2016 by Thomas Kite and Robin-Luft Kite. With backgrounds in gaming, Fine Arts, and years of experience working in IT, their mission is to explore everything gaming can mean. The company motto is “Play is Art & Art is Play”.

 

From their FAQ: “We are a small indie company that’s a family affair (2 generations). Our games are designed and made to order by us in Panama City, Florida. We don’t use offshoring because of the exploitation that’s involved as well as associated wasteful transportation impact on the environment.

 

When we’re in control of how our games are made, we do our best to make that process as environmentally friendly as possible. The pieces of our 1st game are UV printed, laser cut acrylic. This means very low power consumption and VOC free inks. And this results in a durable game that’ll last a very long time vs. most other materials. Our games are made to be enjoyed for years – even generations to come.”

 

They contacted me to try out their first game, and I was intrigued by the press photos that they sent me.

 

The game is made up of laser-cut acrylic pieces; each player in the game gets their own set to use.  The base piece is a circle, and then there are either positive male connector pieces emanating out from the circle or female indentations which are cut into the circle.  One side of the piece is painted (with eyes and/or scales) while the other side is plain.  In the full set, each player gets 16 pieces in their set.

Each player gets their set of pieces, and it may help to lay them out on the table to see all the options.  A starting player is chosen as well as a turn order (though it seems that playing clockwise is easiest to remember).

 

On a turn, a player must place a piece on the table in a legal fashion and MAY choose to move or flip another player’s piece.  There is a restriction in the first 3 rounds of the game that you must play a piece with 2 or more interfaces (connection possibilities).  When you play a piece to the table, it must fit into the pieces already on the table – i.e. must make a connection.

The start of our game

After placing a piece, the active player MAY move another players piece – but this can only happen after you’ve placed your own piece.  It must fit into at least one other piece already in play, and when removed, it cannot completely disconnect any other piece from the main group.

 

If you flip a piece, it remains in the same place, and only changes orientation.  There does not appear to be a timing restriction with this option.  It must still fit all adjacent pieces if it is flipped.  Note that you cannot move AND flip on a turn.  You can only choose one of those 2 options.

Play continues around the board until one of the end game conditions is met – either a player plays his last piece to the board OR a player shows that he cannot place a new piece in play as there is no legal fit for any of his remaining pieces.  When this happens, the game continues to end of the current round so that all players have the same number of turns.  Then the game moves on to the scoring round.

 

All the scoring is done at the end of the game.  There is a somewhat helpful chart in the rules which can be copied to help –  though it doesn’t include the scoring rules on it, so it is honestly not as helpful as you’d like it to be.

 

First, look at each of your pieces and score one point per connection made by each piece.  Total this up as your Join Points.

Second, score 1 bonus join point for each connection made between two pieces of your color.  (you only score once for each connection between two of your pieces).

 

Third, score points for each of your pieces left face up at the end of the game. 1 point for each scaled egg still face up and 2 points for each of your PeltaPeeps left face up.

 

Finally, take a one point penalty for each egg not in play and a 2 point bonus for each Peep not in play.

 

The player with the most points wins.

Midway through a core game

 

It is also possible to play the game in a core version.  In this shorter version, each player only has eight pieces – a subset of the full version.  The rules are otherwise the same, but the game obviously takes only half as long – and there is somewhat less strategy as there are fewer pieces and possible interactions to consider.

 

The core set of 8 pieces

There are also rules available for 3 player and team (4p) games – where two players share 2 team colors between them.  Scoring appears to be with the same rules.

 

The two player game introduces a few unique connector pieces called bones and arrows as well as a circular piece that only has female connector openings (and may not be moved or flipped).

 

 

If you’re interested in trying it out after reading this review – From their website –

You can play a demo version online for free at Tabletopia– but a word of warning:
if you find it slow and cumbersome online- it is. The real game definitely is NOT.

 

https://tabletopia.com/playground/peltapeeps/play-now

 

 

 

 

My thoughts on the game

 

Pelta Peeps is an interesting, surprisingly deep abstract strategy game.  The rules are written succinctly (perhaps overly so), but players can get started with this one in less than 5 minutes.

 

I’ve played the game in four different versions: 2p, 3p full, 6p core, 4p full – and the game definitely feels different with each player set (as well as component set).  With lower player counts, you definitely have more control over the game as you have turns coming more often.   The game might actually be a bit simpler at the lower counts because the idea of negotiation doesn’t really work that great with 3 AND it has no role at all in the 2-player game!  At higher counts, you often have to try to form temporary alliances with other players to get them to do things that you want (or maybe just to leave your own pieces alone!).

 

Early in the game, it feels like the obvious move is to flip your opponent’s pieces over when possible to reduce their scoring.  Later in the game, as the board builds up, it is more difficult to do this because of the interlocking interactions of the pieces – there are times when you simply cannot flip a piece.  Moving pieces can also be advantageous – but the fact that you are limited to moving them only after you place your own piece means that you can never take full advantage of any piece move – because if you open up an opportunity, it will be the next player in turn order who has first shot at it.

 

So far, I prefer the game with fewer players as I like having more control.  I am less interested in negotiation as part of an abstract game – I’d rather rely on my intelligent play and decision-making.  However, the larger games have been fairly well received here, and it’s nice to be able to include six players in a game.

 

The slogan of the company is “Play is Art & Art is Play” and that feeling is evident from the look and feel of the game.  I suppose that the game could have been made with cardboard chits and distributed more to the masses.  However, the company has chosen to do more elaborate acrylic laser-cut pieces which definitely have a better heft in the hand and a more visually striking appearance than cardboard. The game is definitely eye-catching as it builds up on the table, and seeing the network of pieces grow is quite a sight.

 

The rules are written on a single sheet of paper.  The rules for placement are simple though I wish the scoring rules were laid out better – or maybe at least the score sheet was laid out better.   For my group, the scoring is not super-intuitive, and it would have been nice for the chart in the rules to actually include the amount scored for each type of face up/unplayed piece rather than a simple title on each row.  I am guessing that the designers wanted to be able to use a single form for all player versions of the game (there are some changes to scoring in the 2p game) – but it would have been much handier to have a scoring reference that was easy to read for all players to reference in the game.

 

For those looking for a well thought-out abstract game, this is worth a look.  The different ways in which the pieces connect and interact leads to a challenging game that is also visually pleasing.  I have found that the game definitely plays differently with different player counts, and that adds to the space to explore with Pelta Peeps.

[Editor’s Note – I have been contacted by the publisher – and for a short while, they are offering a discount to readers of this review.  If you are interested in the game, they are offering Opinionated Gamers readers a launch discount of 30%. You can use the coupon OPINIONATEDPROMO in their shopping cart to have it applied to their order.]

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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