Monday, April 28, 2008

Cat Attack - Review

I picked up Cat Attack on a Car Boot sale for less than a pound. I think I got a bargain. Here's the review...

The game is themed around cats that are hunting around their local area searching for food. They want to get one of each food type before they run out of lives.

The game is box is roughly the size of a standard Monopoly box.

The board depicts houses and shops seperated by walls, with a road running around the circumference of the board. Each house and shop has a garden in front of it with a number of spaces leading to the door. The Walls between the buildings are marked with spaces. The road is also marked with much bigger spaces, meaning it's a quick way to get around the game.

Each player starts with a "Cat". This is a really nicely moulded plastic mini of a fat cat sitting. Other playing pieces include cute mice and birds. There are also a number of abstract plastic pieces representing bowls of milk, salmon, tin of food and a vitamin supplement. There is also a car mini that will be roving around the road. You also get 9 plastic counters for each cat that represent its lives.

There are two decks of cards. One is a like a set of playing cards where the suits are cats, mice and birds. Amongst this deck are a number of special cards such as "Cat Attack" and "Speedy Cat". The values of the suits run from 1 to 6.

The second deck of cards are called the "Curiosity" cards. These are a series of random happenings. They open or close shops and give you extra go's or allow you to play extra cards, that sort of thing.

So at the start each player takes a cat and the house that matches his cats colour becomes that players house. Each player is given a hand of six cards. From that point you have to move around the board collect 1 of each of the following. Mouse, Bird, Salmon, Vitamins, Milk, Tin.

On your turn you play a card from your hand. If you play a "Cat" you can move your cat a number of spaces equal to the value of the card. If you play a "bird" then you can move any of the birds in play the indicated number of spaces. Likewise with the "mouse" cards. thus you can move your cat towards a mouse or shop or bird etc.

Then you take a card to replenish your hand. Next you roll the die and can move your cat the indicated number of spaces.

If you land on a space containing a bird or mouse you gain it for your cats larder. If you land on another players cat you can initiate a fight. If you land on the entrance space of a shop you can gain one of the items supplied by that shop ( if the shop is open ). If you land on the home space of another cats home you can steal one of the items from that cats larder and add it to your own.

This simple set of rules has a number of factors that make it more complex and fun.

For instance, every other space on the walls is a "Curiosity" space and you have to draw a "Curiosity" card. As these cards open and close shops, you'll often find yourself deliberately trying to land on these spaces to open the shops you need open and close shops your opponents want.

I've not really mentioned the road but this is a major factor. There is a plastic car that sits on the road. Some of the "curiosity" cards move the car. If your cat is in the path of the car when it moves, your cat loses one of its lives and goes back to its start space. This risk is often worth taking as the road allows you to move around much more swiftly than along the walls.

If your cat is in its own garden then opponents can not steal from your larder, so moving into your garden is a valuable defensive technique.

When the cats fight its a simple case of the attacker choosing one of the suits and playing a card from his hand of that suit. The defender does the same following the suit. Players continue playing the suit until one player runs out, that player loses. The loser of the fight, is sent home. loses a life and the winner gets to choose one card from the losers hand and swap it for one card from their own hand. This makes the collecting of cards doubly interesting. You not only want a good set of cards for moving things around the board, but you also want to be able to win fights by having a good strong suit.

The special cards are really fun to play with. The "Cat Fight" card allows you to attack another player by simply getting close enought to them, the "Cat Burgler" card lets you steal an item from a shop if its closed and the "Speedy Cat" allows you to turbo across the board by rolling extra dice. Clever play of these cards allow you get ahead.

So if your cat runs out of lives you out of the game. This does not happen very often, but if you insist on raiding other cats larders you will find they tend to gang up on you and lives WILL become an issue.

The game ends when someone gets all of the food items or is the last cat standing.

So how does it play? Very well actually. It's a good family game we had a lot of fun. It can stretch a bit long if everyone keeps raiding from the leaders larder. The rules booklet gives you a few options for making the shorter game and I would reccommend you try them right from the start. These include reducing the number of lives each player has, or fixing the play time and at the end of that time counting each players food and lives as victory points. I actually favour using both of these.

How do I rate it? Better than Monopoly, not as good as Dune, and well worth picking up as a family game.

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