Kickstarter Alert: ‘The Animal Games’

Reading Time: 4 minutes
The Animal Games, Image: Big Imagination Games
The Animal Games, Image: Big Imagination Games

At a Glance

The Animal Games is an imaginative card game that asks players to explain how animals from garden ants to blue whales would compete, and win, in dozens of different sporting activities.

What’s in The Box?

  • 50 Event Cards in 5 categories (speed, power, endurance, technical, and team)
  • 42 Animal Cards in 5 categories (land mammals, birds, insects, sea creatures, and reptiles)
  • 6 Ready to Vote cards
  • 90 Voting Tokens
  • Rulebook

In Detail

In The Animal Games, players have to use their imaginations to explain to their opponents how the animal they have chosen to represent them at the games will compete across multiple sporting events. A game plays out like this.

Three event selectors are chosen at random. These players will choose which three events will take place in the game. In phase one, the event cards are separated into their five categories, shuffled, and stacked on the table. Each event selector chooses one category stack, takes the top three cards, and picks the one they would like to play. Once the three event cards have been chosen, all other event cards are returned to the box. The three events are announced and clarified for all players. In our example, the three events selected are the 100m sprint, a climb from base camp to the summit of Mount Everest, and Royal Rumble in which the animals must attempt to push or throw their opponents out of a square boxing ring with sides three times longer than the maximum dimensions of the largest competitor.

Example of Events, Image: Sophie Brown
Example of Events, Image: Sophie Brown

Phase two begins with all players allocated seven animal competitor cards. The players decide which one of their animals they would like to represent them in the games. The same animal must participate in all three events, so while the brown hair might have an advantage in the 100m sprint, a bald eagle may fare better on the Everest climb (it could simply fly up) and an African lion might win out in the boxing ring. Once all players have selected their competitors, the remaining cards are returned to the box and the first event can begin.

Voting Cards, Image: Sophie Brown
Voting Cards, Image: Sophie Brown

In phase three, each player takes it in turn to explain why their animal should win the first event. This is where the ability to think creatively can really help as you may find yourself having to explain just how exactly a blue whale is going to win a race to the summit of Everest, or how an ant would beat a hare in a sprint. A sense of humour is also something of a must, as your inventive explanations are likely to be argued against by other players with equal passion. During this period, players may perform some online research to find videos, photos or facts to strengthen their arguments, however, when I played with my six-year-old son we skipped this option. Each player keeps a “Ready to Vote” card in front of them which also reads “Undecided” on its reverse. Players flip their cards over from “Undecided” to “Ready to Vote” once they have heard all arguments and decided how to vote. Once the majority of players are ready, voting begins.

Each player passes their voting tokens to the others (nobody is allowed to vote for themselves). The number of tokens depends on the number of players, but in a four-player game, each player would distribute first, second, and third place tokens to their three opponents. Players take their tokens but keep them face down. The next event is then played until all three events have been discussed and voted on.

Once the third and final event has taken place and been voted on, phase four begins and all players flip over their received tokens for event one. Ten points are awarded for first place, eight for second, six for third and so on. The animal cards are placed on the table in order of their ranking. The event two tokens are then flipped and the animals move ranks depending on the results, and the same goes for event three. The player with the most points is declared the winner. In the event of a tie, an extra event is chosen and played between the tied players to determine a winner.

The Animal Games Box, Image: Big Imagination Games
The Animal Games Box, Image: Big Imagination Games

Verdict

The Animal Games is an off-the-wall game that boosts your ability to think quickly and creatively. The number of different events and animals that are included means that no two games will ever be the same, and allows for an enormous amount of replay value. Listening to a friend explain how they will win Animal Stacking (exactly what it sound like) with emperor penguins will always be different to hearing your sister figure out how to make a great white shark win at tree climbing. This is also a game where kids are able to play as equals against adults, they may even have an advantage because of the way their thinking is unbridled by that pesky logic that can inhibit us adults and stop us inventing a way for a bison to win the high jump.

Much of the artwork is currently incomplete, and the Kickstarter funding will go towards completing that task. Backers will have the opportunity to be involved with the art direction by writing briefs for the artist on how they feel the card should look. They will also be able to suggest additional events (or improvements towards existing ones), additional animals, and vote on ideas they particularly like. These perks are available at all levels so not only high-level backers will be able to get involved.

This is a very silly, very fun game that everyone can play as it requires neither skill nor luck, only the ability to think on your feet and blag your way to victory.

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