Dale Yu: Review of the NSV Sachet games (Honey Moon, Hungry Hamsters, Thread Count, Fency Sheep)

So, earlier this year, NSV released a set of 4 “sachet” games – these are little paper pouches that you can easily hold in your hand or put in your pocket.  In each of these packets, you’ll find a pad of probably 50 double sided scoring sheets, a single pencil and a single d6.  While it doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s all the equipment you need to play a quick game. 

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The publisher describes the format thusly: “Clever games for any occasion in small and environmental friendly packing. Just tear them open to start playing! All the materials needed are already included and thanks to the double sided print of the game pad the MINNYS can be played over and over again!”  As the games are super short and similar in many ways, I’ll describe them all first and then give my opinions on them as a whole afterwards.

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Honey Moon

  • Designer: Moritz Dressler
  • Publisher: NSV
  • Players: 2-6
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by publisher

In Honey Moon, each player gets a map of the moon on which tunnels will be dug.  The goal is to dig up the valuable sweets that are spread out on the map while avoiding getting too many sour pickles.  On each turn, the die is rolled, and each player can dig a tunnel of length matching the die roll. (Except for a roll of “1” – here you can choose any number of spaces between 1 and 7 – but you are limited to 7 total spaces from 1 rolls all game).   The first tunnel must start at one of the edges of the moon, but later tunnels can be started from a previously made tunnel.  There is one restriction here – tunnels may not run parallel to each other – there must always be a buffer of one space between tunnels. As you dig up sweets, mark them off on the chart on the right.     There is a timer endgame mechanism in play; once a player has made a full set of the 5 sweets, the timer starts for all players.  For the rest of the game, any time a 4 or higher is rolled, one of the three timer spaces is crossed off.  The game will end when the third and final timer space is crossed off.  Now it’s time to score the game – you score 1/3/6/10/15 for 1/2/3/4/5 of each of the sweets.  There is also a 5 point score for each full set of sweets that you have.  Finally take a 2 point penalty for each pickle that you dug up.  The most points wins.

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Hungry Hamsters

  • Designer: Moritz Dressler
  • Publisher: NSV
  • Players: 2-6
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by publisher

In Hungry Hamsters,  the goal is to score points. points scored by crossing off acorns, crossing off mushrooms and fully filling in a room.    on a turn, i roll a d6, you must make marks (all in a single room) that are adjacent – i.e. one blob.   In order to make marks in a new room, you must have already crossed off a space adjacent to the tunnel leading into the room (you do not need to cross off the actual tunnel).   Your first marks must be in the central room which is colored a bit darker, but after that, you can make marks anywhere you legally can on a particular turn, but for any given turn, you can only mark in one room.    You must always cross off the full value of the die. if a 1 is rolled, you can choose how many spaces you want to use, between 1-7, but you are limited to 7 spaces total (see row of 7 dots next to the 1 die near the bottom. Once someone ends a turn with marks in 4 chambers, the timer starts.  from now on, whenever a 4+ is rolled, we mark off one of the timer spaces.   The game ends at the end of the turn when the third timer space is marked.   Scoring:  2/4/8/16 for 1/2/3/4 acorns;  +1 point for each mushroom,  points as written next to each room that is completely filled in.  The player with the most points wins. 

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Thread Count

  • Designer: Moritz Dressler
  • Publisher: NSV
  • Players: 2-6
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by publisher

In Thread Count, you’re trying to lure your pet kitty around the crowded room, collecting objects as you go while avoiding the fragile porcelain cups that are scattered about the room.  The wool thread starts at the top of the room – which has socks, mice, paper airplanes and 6 circled in cups.  On a turn, someone rolls the die, and each player now draws in the thread, drawing as many segments as rolled, and being limited to one right angle shift per turn.  You must draw the full amount rolled or else you have to pass.  You are allowed to cross over your path, but you cannot cross over the larger building blocks that you will encounter.  As you pass thru a mouse, sock or airplane, mark it off on the chart at the bottom.  It is possible to get the thread all the way to the cat’s paw at the bottom, if you do so, you may not extend your thread further.  This is the only instance where you do not need to use the full roll – you can ignore excess spaces if you stop on the cat’s paw.  There is also a timer in this game; once a player has collected a full set of the three items, the timer starts.  There are four timer spaces, with an accelerating nature to them.  When the fourth and final timer space is filled in, the game ends.  You score 1 point per object collected, a bonus for each set (as described under the chart on your score sheet) and 5 points if the thread reaches the cat’s paw. Finally lose 2 points for each cup that you knocked over.

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Fency Sheep

  • Designer: Moritz Dressler
  • Publisher: NSV
  • Players: 2-6
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Played with review copy provided by publisher

In Fency Sheep, your goal is to fence in as many sheep as possible.  One of the sheep is colored in, this one is worth 2 sheep.  On a turn, the die is rolled and the result is recorded in the row at the bottom of the sheet.  You now draw in a fence shape corresponding to the chart found just above. It is OK to rotate, flip and mirror the shape (though there is an advanced version where you are not allowed to flip/rotate).  This game is slightly different in that the other three in that it does not have a timer mechanism.  The goal is to completely surround the sheep by fences (it’s ok to have extra meadow within those fences).  After everyone has made their marks, then the die is rolled again.  If the number is different from the previous number, write it down and take another turn as above. If it is the same number – DO NOT write down that number, and everyone gets a turn where they can choose any of the 6 fence options on their own.  This will therefore prolong the game by a turn as no number is written down.  After the turn when the yellow square is filled in, there is an interim scoring.  Look at how many sheep you have enclosed and score per the chart at the top of the sheet (and remember that the colored in sheep is worth 2 sheep!).  Then continue the game until the red square is filled in; there is another scoring at this time.  A final penalty of -1VP per bush drawn through is applied, and the winner is the player with the most points.

My thoughts on the games

The games have different themes but they do share some similarities in mechanisms and honestly can be talked about in the aggregate sense..  Having played them all in a single sitting was nice, and it made it easier to understand and pick up the rules – especially the timer rules – with the familiarity given by repetition.  But, overall, the rules are simple as you would expect – and we really only had one question with these four games; namely what constitutes a tunnel next to another in Honey Moon.  We made up our own ruling, which was that a 2×2 filled in box was not permissible, and went on with the game.

The games tread a nice balance between brevity and simplicity.  All four of the games can be played in under ten minutes each, but yet, there are enough things to think about for me to properly think of it as a game rather than a time-killing activity.  They would be perfect for a road trip, plane ride or train ride – or something to occupy yourself between the ordering of food in a restaurant and the arrival of said food.  If you only have one sachet, you only get one pencil – but usually you can drum something up, or you’ll just have to pass the pencil back and forth.  Of course, as they are roll and write games, they can be played just as easily with 1 as with as many people as you can pass sheets out to. 

As I said, the games are not as simple as you might think, though most of the decisions are tactical – and generally based on the luck of the die roll. I like the flexibility given to the players with the choose-your-own-1 rolls, and there is a bit of risk/reward in that decision.  The timer mechanism also is nice and gives the game a bit of time pressure, making the games less one-dimensional 

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The packaging is being triumphed as environmentally friendly as it has no plastic.  The little sachets are mainly paper with some cloth stitching holding it together.  The instructions ask you to simply tear off the top of the packet to get to the contents.  While I think that the packaging is neat, it does leave you with the issue of not really having a way to store the game when you’re done…. Once you tear the top off the packet (which is really just a piece of paper folded in thirds, you don’t even have a pouch left to keep everything in!   At first I was appalled at this situation.  The OCD gamer in me wants nice, non-dented boxes (preferably in sizes that stack well with other games) to put on the shelves.  Having a destructible non sealing sachet nearly made me not want to open them!

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Of course, maybe that isn’t something that you’ll need to worry about.  I can totally see this as something for sale at a newsstand in the train station (list price for these at Amazon.de is 4,99 EUR) – where you buy the game, use it to play something on your travels, put it in your pocket/purse for a few days, and then by that time, you’ll be done with it, and therefore won’t need any storage solution?  

The games do come with a generous 50 sheet block and they are double sided, so you really get 100 plays per sachet.  To be honest, I think you’d feel as if you’d fully played through any of these games by then…and again, that maybe moots the question of permanent storage.

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For myself, I have gathered up all the sheets and rules and put them in a single ziplock bag with the pencils/dice, and they have been added to my travel game kit.  Thus far, I think I like Hungry Hamsters the most (I like the push your luck feeling of filling in the rooms) and the other three are all tied for second place.  I’d be happy to play them when asked, and I do think they would make an excellent thing to have on a trip or a car ride for some quick amusement.

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

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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