The Isle of Cats Board Game - A Review

in #game3 years ago (edited)

Cats.jpg
The Isle of Cats was a ridiculously successful Kickstarter campaign last year, driven by the internet’s core feature of distributing pictures of cats. Of course I bought a copy. The plot involves the imminent doom of the feline inhabitants of Squall’s End. Your job is to rescue the cats before Vesh Darkhand arrives to destroy the island, five days from now. You do this by catching the cats and putting them on your boat.

Unboxing.jpg

What’s in the box? Cats, fish and cards. And cats. The box advises 1 to 4 players with a minimum age of 8; a game takes a little over an hour. There’s an expansion to 6 players which also serves as a source of more play options for smaller groups.

The mechanism is simpler to play than it is to explain…

Vesh.jpg

Vesh Darkhand is on his way!

There’s an island, where you watch Vesh’s ship advance over five rounds and keep track of player order. To either side of the island are fields of cats - four to a field. In one field the cats cost three fish, while on the other they cost five fish. There’s also treasure available to pick up and add to your haul. Each player has a boat, divided into a grid that forms seven rooms and contains many rats for the cats to eat. The cats and treasures are made up of different shapes and sizes that will fit into your boat like a slow game of Tetris.

Oshaks and treasure.jpg

Oshaks and treasure. Oshaks can be any colour of cat when they get onto your boat

For each round you receive 20 fish and the fields of cats are refreshed.
Each player is dealt seven cards and there is a quick bit of card drafting - keep two, and pass to the next player. Repeat until you are handed a final single card and that’s your hand. From here decide which cards you’ll keep, and pay for them in fish.
‘Lesson’ cards are badly named - they’re targets for you or all the players to earn more points by meeting certain conditions. A good combination of Lesson cards can make a massive difference to the final score.

Players then reveal the cat cards they will play. The new order of play is now decided based on who has the most boot points.

To catch a cat, you must entice it with three or five fish (the 20-fish budget per hand is not as much as it sounds, having already bought some cards). The fish then goes into a basket - either a token or a basket shown on your card. If you can meet those conditions you get a cat piece.

The cat piece then goes into your boat and must touch a previously played piece (the first piece can go anywhere). Covering rats is good, as is filling rooms. If you put a cat piece on the square with a map of the same colour, you can take a treasure piece and put that on your boat.

Cards.jpg

Card types. Green-edged cards allow you to rescue cats. The blue cat card has a basket, but the green cat cars only has 1/2 a basket, so you'd need another card witht he same basket picture to rescue one cat. Blue-edged cards are Lessons to achieve during the game

Players take turns until no more cats can be captured, whereupon you play remaining cards to gain bonaus cats - Oshaks or pick up more treasure, and that marks the end of a round/day. During all this there also random ability cards which can played whenever you like to add confusion.

Game in progress.jpg

Game in progress

After five days, you score the board based on how many families of cats (three or more cats of one colour touching each other) and the Lesson tasks, before subtracting penalties for the number of rats uneaten and rooms unfilled.

There are untold random elements at play - 150 cards in the deck means you only use half the deck in a 2-player game, while each boat is laid out differently and the cats are kept in a bag (which is a tad cruel) so you don’t know which will be drawn for each field. This gives the game a lot of re-playability.

Lonely purple cat.jpg

A lonely purple cat

Verdict

This is a really lovely game. Having unboxed in the early evening, we were still playing at one in the morning. This never happens. I won two games while Janet won the third (and will probably never lose again. This always happens). While there is a lot of random influence on the outcome, we quickly saw that each round needs slightly different tactics due to the limited fish stocks and the cards you receive. In one game I almost filled my boat with cats and treasure, while in the last game I got my first cat in the third round.

The artwork is fantastic as you’ve seen from the photos and the aattention to detail is excellent. The rule book is very clear, apart from a couple of points and the quality is high - thick cardboard all around. The Kickstarter included wooden fish, rather than printed tokens, but we decided to stay with the tokens, as the wooden versions were hard to distinguish between the 1-fish and 5-fish values. The large printed cat figures were also in the Kickstarter as were additional cards.

The game played perfectly well with two people and I can’t see a lot of difference with more players. The solo game is utterly different by the look of the rules and a whole extra set of cards.
I would recommend this game to new gamers and experienced gamers alike, and for families, everyone stays in until the end, so no sulking in the corner for the first person out.

Cat Setup.jpg

This is the sort of detail that makes this game wonderful.
CAT SETUP: If you have a pet cat, you should place it here while playing The Isle of Cats
Humphrey refused to think inside the box.

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By us looks like a great game to play with my daughter. I've been wary of kick-starting boards games, they tend to be more expensive than the computer games that I tend to back. Looks like you got a good one this time though!

Yeah, the Kickstarters are hit and miss - I've bought a couple that only get played a couple of times. These days we go to a games café to try out games if possible.
But how can you go wrong with rescuing cats?!?

Very geeky! I used to play 1830 ages ago, you had to be ruthless to win. Use #battle as as additional tribe tag for these.

I've not played any of the 18xx games - they are well regarded. Tend to play 'Ticket to Ride' on the interweb, but not on the table. Mainly because I always lose :) Other than that we don't have a train game that we play. Which is obviously a mistake to be recitfied...

hello dear @hockney, it's a lot of fun that you do game reviews, how did you come up with that? congratulations on the curie vote

Hi @road2horizon, I wrote the reviews at the beginning of last year when I was unemployed and had lots of time. Steem should be about sharing our passions and our talents, and this is one of mine that has grown in the last few years out of knowing some dear friends who are mad gamers, but have now moved home to New Zealand.
There's also something enjoyably subversive about using cryptocurrency and blockchain driven social media to promote games played with cards and dice! :)

yes, it is always the passion that moves us to do things ... I hope that everything is okay with work;))

The description of the game is very good. I love fish and cats so it makes me attractive. I think you'll never win again hahahaha. Best regards and thanks for sharing this wonderful experience @hockney

Thanks @marcybetancourt, luckily I don't play games just for the victories 😃

Sup Dork?!? Enjoy the Upvote!!! Keep up with the dorky content for more love!!!


This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.
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Hi hockney,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

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