- Designer: Shi Chen
- Publisher: Play with Us Design
- Players: 2-5
- Age: 6+
- Time: 10-15 minutes
Play With Us Design is a small Taiwanese design house that has been making small format games for a few years now. In the past, we have enjoyed Vita Mors and Wonderland XIII from them. This year, Aves is one of the games that they will be bringing to SPIEL 2022 – advertised as a set collection and hand management game. Though the BGG database lists this as a 2017 design, it is new to me, and apparently new to the SPIEL audience.
In this game, players start as pure white birds, and by collecting (and eating) the fruits of the rainbow tree, they gain beautiful colors on their feathers. The goal of the game is to be the first bird with all 7 colors.
To set up the game, you must first construct the deck. For each color, take the numbers from one to (N+1), and shuffle them to make a deck. Then, deal 3 cards to each player. Finally, place the deck in the center of the table, and deal 7 cards around it in a circular pattern.
A starting player is chosen, and turns are taken in order until a player has feathers of all 7 colors. On a turn, you choose one card from you hand and play it between any 2 cards in the circle. If the card you play is equal to the difference of the two bordering cards, you can take those 2 cards from the circle, otherwise you take a single card from the deck.
Note that as you add cards to your hand, the hand limit is 7. If you collect more than 7, place a card of a color which you have more than 1 anywhere in the circle.
If there is only one card left in the circle, deal the top 6 from the deck to replete the circle to 7 cards.
The game ends immediately if a player has all 7 colors in their hand. Otherwise, the game ends when the deck is exhausted. The player with the most colors at that time wins, ties being broken in favor of the highest sum of hand cards.
There are two optional rules to change the game up a bit. One has you playing the game with open hands; so that you can better plan with knowledge of the cards your opponents have. The other introduces Crow cards to the deck; they have a value of 0, and you cannot win if you have a crow card in your hand.
My thoughts on the game
When I first read the rules, I thought that this would be a little silly trifle of a game; and I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Sure, this isn’t going to replace El Grande or Barrage in your heavy gaming rotation – but there is a lot of room for clever play in Aves, especially if you use the optional Crow cards.
There is a certain skill in figuring out how to get the cards that you want. Sure, a lot depends on the cards you have in your hand; but there is a decision making process to be had. Smaller numbers tend to be a little more valuable – as it is more likely to have a difference of 1 or 2 than say 5. Of course, the higher numbers come in handy if you’re playing for the tiebreaker, so at some point in the game, they will become more desirable.
If you’re willing to take the time, paying attention to the colors that your LHO has can also help you in your choice of card play. While you may not know the values of the cards in your opponents hands (though I suppose you could try to remember them all) – you can still at least try to make it harder for them to access the color(s) they need.
Early in the game, trying to get pairs of cards – simply for quantity seems like a decent play, but it does not take long before you really care about which cards you get; if nothing else to try to set yourself up to get that elusive 7th color. So far about two thirds of our games end with someone getting all the colors; with the rest going to the tiebreaker. I suppose you could try to push the tiebreaker ending by trying to get as many pairs of cards as possible on your turn and simply discarding when your hand size is more than 7.
The components are pretty good; the cards are sturdy. The only complaint I have is that the color of the yellow ink in conjunction with the finish on the cards makes those cards nearly impossible to read. In the end, it doesn’t matter that much; but you’ll definitely be squinting to read what number is on the yellow cards!
Games play very quickly, I would say that it is rare for a game to last more than 10 or 15 minutes. As a result, this is a good choice for a filler or closer as it can fit into a small time frame; yet still gives you the framework for some decent decision-making.
Play with Us Design will be at SPIEL 2022, stand 5L-103.
The preorder link is: https://bit.ly/preorder-spiel-22
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor