Designer: しぶ (Shibu)
Publisher: 数寄ゲームズ (Suki Games)
Time: 15-30 minutes
Times Played: 6 times with purchased copy
Availability Note: The copy I have was acquired by a friend at the 2018 fall Game Market, but prior to that arrangement, the publisher (@horiken0) had been open to shipping overseas. He still is, “if you can bear the postage”, and accepts PayPal. Also in stock at various game stores, including bodoge.hoobby (requires transship service).
A few years ago, Dale sent me an article about the Incompatible Food Triad from Gastro Obscura. The gist was, their offices had a potluck where the dishes were to feature three main flavors in such a way that any pair was delicious, but the thought of all three together was a hard pass.
(Using a different recipe, I did make lemon chocolate curry cookies, and I enjoyed them.)
As it relates to games, I thought about this alot when Friedemann’s 504 came out: is there an Incompatible Mechanic Triad? (That’s not a judgment statement on 504, more of a “What if…?” about a memory module or a dexterity module. If you want to follow this path further with me, I asked Henning contemporaneously with its release, and he said there weren’t any other modules considered – the nine Friedmann used are his favorites and the first nine he tried.) For me, the most likely contender is Familiar’s Trouble (recently released as Trick ‘n Trouble): a three-player only, cooperative, trick-taking game. (We’ll be reviewing it in the future, but my rating will come down as I Love It!)
These sorts of unintuitive combinations interest me. Going back to food for a second – my brother-in-law eats seconds on a roll. What I mean is, at a big family meal, his first plateful is what you would expect. But when he goes for seconds, well, it may be thirds or fourths, he takes a roll or a biscuit or whatever we have as far as sandwich outsides go, and he cobbles together a make-shift sandwich out of whatever the meal was. This has been infectious for me, and I’ve taken to doing this as seconds, and it’s leaked out into other things as well. What I’m saying is, keep an eye out for what I put in “s’mores” because that’s a sandwich, and if I have a second one, any food we brought camping is fair game. I also like no traditional hot dog/sausage toppings, so at your BBQ, keep an eye on what I cram with it on a bun.
Peter’s Two Sheep Dogs is a two-player, trick-taking, mancala game. That doesn’t use cards. That’s 3D printed. Where you partially play in the box.
The “cards” are 3D printed animeeples, with fistulas on both sides allowing you to see the rank of the animal which is printed on the inside in a contrasting color. The “suits” are sheep, cows, pigs, and wolves, with the wolves generally being a bad thing. The ranks for each suit are 1-7.
The mancala portion of the game is two pits (“meadows”) on each side with a bank (“fenced area”) on each end. The banks are assembled from 3D printed fence pieces. The game comes with two box inserts, one remains in the box and acts as one player’s pits, and the other is pulled out, set adjacent, and becomes the other player’s pits.
Each player receives a screen and 11 animals from a draw bag. One animal is placed at random from the bag in each of the four meadow areas, and two animals remain in the bag. Each player also has an area referred to as the “animal pen” which is an unmarked area off to the side.
The start player chooses and plays any animal from behind their screen. The other player then plays an animal, following suit if possible. Whoever played the higher rank, regardless of suit, wins the trick, with the start player winning ties.
The winning player adds the two animals to one, the other, or both of his meadows. The losing player chooses one of their meadows, takes the animals into their hand, and starting with the next counter-clockwise location, adds one to each until their hand is empty. There are bonuses for placing the last animal in a fenced area (of either player) and a bonus for earning this action with empty meadows. If a wolf was placed in a fenced area with another animal, the wolf and an animal are removed from the game, and if there wasn’t another animal, the wolf runs off anyway.
Each round has two scorings, “Spring” and “Summer”, with Spring occurring after the first 5 tricks and Summer after 11. Wolves in meadows lose a player 3 points, and other animals in a meadow/fence/animal pen earn 3/6/10 points. The Spring and Summer points that you appear to have earned are subject to change though. If your Summer score is sufficiently higher than your Spring score, you double your Spring score before recording it. However, if your Summer score is less than your Spring score, you score nothing for Summer (the developer gives a nod to Avenue for this rule). After a Summer scoring, the players empty their fenced areas, and continue until a player has broached 100 points; the player with the highest score wins.
Mostly I think I’m in awe. I really enjoy playing this game and exploring what I should do.
Do I (try to) win tricks now, loading up on animals, getting the right amount in each meadow, and then lose several in a row in a way that clears out my meadows and earns some bonuses? Will that be too many Spring points? Will I be unable to win more later and end up with wolves that the opponent has dropped on my side?
(See, that’s another thing. Mancala, but with hot-potato pieces that you want to dispose of. I partially say hot potato because it’s hard sometimes to get them to leave! They often just pass back and forth – and where they are can also twist your incentives on winning or losing the next trick.)
How will you manage the values in your hand? How will you handle the suits? How will you make sure that you earn more points in Summer than in Spring?
The art is beautiful, and the pieces have a nice feel; the contrasting numbers are well done. I love the production -though it’s hard to fit in the box! Side by side, here is the copy I’ve been playing and an unopened copy. I don’t know how 数寄ゲームズ fit it all in there!
This is a keeper for me. I don’t have occasion to play many two-player games, but with its small footprint, adorable production, and whimsical game play, I’m here for it: it’s like some sort of Rube Goldberg machine –you set it off by leading an animal and then you watch in wonder as the machinery cascades the results.
(On this one, it’s probably worth mentioning that we think we have the rules right. I’m considering doing a post on the various ways that I’ve gone about translating the titles I picked up from Game Market this fall, and this one used a method where the translation community on reddit –unrelated to board games– freely and kindly did the leg work.)
Thoughts from Other Opinionated Gamers
Jonathan: I quite enjoyed my play of this game. Getting the rule right are critical, as the first go we played it wrong (moving the mancala pieces clockwise rather than counterclockwise) and it really hurt the game. Once we got it right, it was a fun experience with lots of simple intersecting mechanisms. I would go into it as a cute 2p game and have fun sipping your tea and moving your sheep.
Tery: I have now played this twice and I really enjoy it. I expected to not like it after Jonathan and I worked through the rules, but once we got it right I was impressed by the combination of genres and the strategy involved in finding the optimal time to lose a trick and redistribute your animals. As James Nathan mentioned the bits are very nice; I did manage to get mine back in the box, but only barely and without the rules translation – Amazing Tape is working well to keep it all together though.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!
I like it. James Nathan, Jonathan, Tery
Not for me…