Review – Battle Sheep

A few weeks ago, Phuong and I were invited to a board game night that was, more or less, with a  group  of nerdy strategists.   And believe me, it was nice to relate to this group of people. We were talking about the latest board games that were coming on Kickstarter, or chatting about the sports leagues we participate in. Two of them, Kai and Julie, had an adorable toddler who I swear is going to be a future tabletop gamer some day.

When we first met this group of people, they immediately wanted to get into the gaming, and they introduced both Phuong and I to a game called Battle Sheep. They said it was good warmup game, and sure enough this game set the tone for the night. It was going to be a clash full of strategic wit and cutthroat gameplay with just a hint of hilarity.

Battle Sheep is a territorial expansion game created by Francesco Rotta. The game simply takes place on a pasture. I’m not sure if there is any story line, but I’d like to think that the game is about rival gangs of sheep who are trying to get the most space on the fields…That’s pretty much it.

Set-up of the game is very simple. Players are given the a set of pasture tiles and set up a field in any way they like.  This method of setting up the board means that no two boards are the same giving this game a high replayability value. Then players place a stack of their coloured sheep on any space on the outer edge of the field.

Gameplay is simple too. Similar to the game “Risk”, players must move their sheep troops around the pasture, while ensuring that one or a group of their sheep comrades stays on the previous space. Players must move their sheep only in straight lines and they must continue moving straight until they hit another sheep or the edge of the pasture. The twist is that as other players are doing the same thing, parts of the board become blocked off, limiting other players from expanding and taking over with their sheep. Thus timing becomes crucial in deciding whether or not a group should head to the proverbial “greener pastures”.

The game is over when players can’t make any more additional moves and the winner is the player who takes over the most territory.

The first thing I really noticed about this game were the components. The tiles were thick and sturdy and the sheep discs were as thick as poker chips. It intrigued me that the game had some really sturdy components.

This game was really easy to learn and had subtle tone of chess to it, in that you were trying to anticipate your opponents next move before he or she blocked you off (that was a hard lesson to learn in my first play-through of the game). I’m normally not one to think ahead when it comes to gaming, so I had to be patient with myself when playing this game.  The game was pretty quick too; we immediately set up a new pasture and played again.

The problem with the game is the lack of depth or growth that can come from it. No matter however which way you slice it, the game still remains the same. You won’t get a different experience other than the board changes, which just changes how you will put your starting placement. Therefore, I can anticipate this game getting boring if this is the only game you brought to  a game night.

In the end, this game set out its intended purpose that night, to warm up our brains for games that may require a bit more thinking. This is a simple game that has a lot of strategic elements to it and allows for much replayability. Just don’t expect too much from it, because one could get bored from playing this game if this is the only one that you have available to play.

Pros:

  • Simple game to learn and teach
  • Involves a lot of pre-planning strategies in order to win.
  • Sturdy game components
  • High replayability.

Cons:

  • Not much depth in the game; very cut and dry.
  • Avid gamers could get bored easily
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