Saturday, July 05, 2008

Cat's Mansion - Review

My wife bought this game becuase she saw the cat "bits" on its eBay listing. She made no bones about it, she liked the cats.

When the game arrived I had to admit she had a point.

Cat's Mansion is a 1984 game and is one of the nicest looking old games you never heard of.

The box is the same size as the classic red Monopoly box. Inside we have a large single fold board. The play area is a drawing of the inside of a large mansion in some respects rather like a Cluedo board. However the squares are a lot larger and the rooms a little more disorganised. The rooms like Cluedo have multiple doorways and many of the rooms are actually broken up by internal squares.

You also get three decks of cards. These are the "Cat Call" cards which is the biggest. This is a mix of two types of cards, "Miow" and "Purr" cards, all of the cards depict one of the individual Cat pieces and one of the rooms.

The "Cat" deck contains one card for each of the cat pieces.

The "Object" deck contains one card per silver object, which I'll get to next.

The next set of bits are the "Objects". These are silver covered plastic objects. A cushion, a mouse, a bowl of food and a wrapped package.

Finally we get to the Cats. We have 5 plastic cat miniatures all in different colours and different poses. They are very nice bits they look like proper cats.

The rules do not come on any sort of paper! Rather they have printed then onto the cardboard insert. They amount to about an A4 side of text.

So onto play.

The objective is move your cat onto the same square as your "Object".

Setting Up.

Deal each player a Cat Card. This is secret and depicts which of the cats is "your Cat". Deal each player an "Object" card, this depicts which of the objects is "your object". Deal each player 5 Cat Call cards.


On your turn you can make four moves, two of which must be cats. Obviously you want to move your cat and your object towards each other, however if you dont get there immediately and win , you'll have given yourself away. If you do that then every other player is going to make sure you dont get where you need to. So what you need to do is camoflage your moves by also moving cats and objects that are not your concern. A single move means you can move the cat or object a single square on the board. Cats can not move through other cats so you can play clever and try to block other players if you think you know where they are going.

If you move a cat next to another cat you have the option to "Hiss" and move the other cat one space away. This "hiss" does not count towards your move.

Once you have finished moving the bits, the other players have the chance to play Miaow cards. A Miaow card depicts one of the cats and one of the rooms. If one of the other players has a Miaow card that matches one of the cats you moved they can play it. This means that cat is moved directly into the specified room. However if you have a "Purr" card for that cat, you can play that and prevent the move.

Thats it for playing. Quite simple.

What did I think? I thought it was "Not quite there". The map is so small that unless your cat is "Miaowed" across the board your going to reach your objective in two or three turns, unless of course you've given yourself away and the other players are able to keep you away from your objective.

So it's a quick game, about 10 minutes, quite often less. Young kids may have trouble with the keeping their cat and object secret and adults will find the play very simplistic. I have no doubt that some very serious thought could be put into playing the game if a bunch of gamers came at it, but frankly the game is too simple and short to appeal to them.

From my "gamer" view point I would give this a low 3/10 but as a family game to play with your kids this is definitely avaerage and therfore a 5/10.

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