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Archive for March 5th, 2007

Card Game Review: Einfach Tierisch

Posted by Brian on March 5, 2007

Einfach Tierisch is a clever bidding game with a fun theme. The players are all zoo owners competing to add some novel new animals to their collection, such as the Party Lion, the Paper Tiger, the Bookworm, and the Water Bird. One by one, these animals, along with some other goodies (and badies) are auctioned off, with the player with the best collection of animals at the end the winner (though there is a catch; see below).

To start the game, each player (the game supports 3-5 players) receives their own set of resource cards with the following values: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, and 25. Then, the auction deck is shuffled and placed in the middle of the table. This deck is composed of three types of cards:

• The Animals: As mentioned above, these are the odd animals that are up for auction. Each animal has its own point value, from 1 to 10.
• The Bonuses: There are three x2 cards which, of course, double your point value at the end of the game. And they are cumulative.
• The Negatives: There are also three cards that act as penalty cards: one halves your game end score; one gives you a -5 point penalty; and the last one causes you to lose one creature of your choice.

These 16 cards make up the auction deck, with each reveal of the top-most card beginning a new auction round.

Once the auction deck is set up and resource cards handed out, the game can begin. Simply choose a starting player and flip the top card. If it’s an animal or a bonus card, your regular auction begins. Beginning with the first player, each player can choose any number of cards from their hand to make their bid for that card. Each player must outbid the current high bid or drop out of that bidding round (and getting their bid back in the process). The high bidder takes the card he won and the resource cards used are put out of play.

With the negative cards, it’s sort of a reverse auction. Bidding proceeds as normal until someone elects to take that card into their possession. That person doesn’t lose his or her resource cards, but the other players do. In other words, it’s a bid not to take that card.

The tricky part is managing your resource cards during the bidding. You see, you’re not allowed to replace cards that are part of your bid. For example, if I bid the 4 and the 6 for a total of 10 for the 2 point Water Bird and it comes back to me later with a high bid of 15, I can’t take my 4 back and throw in a 10 for a total of 16; I’m forced to add to my current bid or pass. As you can imagine, this gets more and more difficult as the game progresses as you have fewer and fewer resource cards at your disposal. Reckless bidding is a bad idea in any auction game, but for this game it is especially important to be selective about the cards you throw down.

The game is over immediately when the fourth special light blue card is revealed. The three bonus cards are light blue, as is one of the negative cards (the one that halves your score at end game). This adds an interesting element to the game as the player will never quite be sure when the game will end.

And there’s one more twist. Once the game is over, the players will need the resources to feed their new animals. This means that the player with the fewest resource points left in his hand at the end of the game is automatically eliminated from contention. As if resource management wasn’t tricky enough to begin with, this is one more thing that each player needs to keep in mind.

I enjoy Einfach Tierisch quite a bit, though it doesn’t hit our table nearly as often as I would like. It’s the perfect filler game due to its ease of play and short game length (a long game might take 20 minutes). The cards are good quality with lots of cute artwork and the auction mechanic makes it easy for non-gamers to grasp. And despite the lightness of it all, it requires some tough decisions on the part of the players.

I strongly recommend Einfach Tierisch to any and all gamers who are looking for a good game to add to their collection.

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