The first time I tried reading the instructions aloud to a friend, we were in a Whole Foods cafe. It was just us at one table and three businesspeople at another table. One of the men was pontificating so loudly in the open space that his voice echoed everywhere, filling my head with his
When I got
The parts of the game are basically all placeholders so that you can keep track of the animals you've bought and bred, the land you've developed, and the turns you've taken. So you have lots of little pieces in the game: buildings, fences/walls, wood, stone, wheat, workers (represented by disks -- I want
During setup, each player gets a
Let me give you an idea of some of the options: On the top left of the board is a half circle with the player disc shown and "1 Wood".
The player who chooses the half-circle on the top right of the board gets 2 stone. The player who chooses the grid with "+1 trough (yellow structure)" gets to build a trough. If that same player also has a lot of wood on-hand, additional troughs can be built for every 3 wood
You use things like the stones and wood to purchase buildings, items and abilities. For example, there is a grid (second to bottom on left) that lets you build a Stall on your farm as long as you have 3 stone and 1 wheat to "pay" for it. There are also grids that will allow you to build fences, buy more fences, and build more costly special buildings on your farm (or upgrade buildings). Or even add a strip of 3 grids to either side of your farm (you can add up to 4 of these; though there are only four available and you lose points if you don't utilize every space somehow)
After you've played all three of your workers, taking turns with your opponent, and have carried out each action (which you do immediately upon claiming it) there is the "breeding phase". If you have two of the same type of animal sharing an enclosure, you add one more (maximum) of that animal. If you have no room for it, you don't get to add it (and you can try to make room -- there is no limit to how much you can shuffle your animals around, but once your fences and other structures are placed, you can't move them).
Then it's the "refill phase" go back and reset the game board. So, if the wood is gone from the top left grid, you would place a new wood marker there. The 4th grid in the second row asks you to add a fence each turn — there are 8 fences after each player has his/her 9 fences at setup — once all of those are placed, it is the last round. If a player claims that spot, he/she gets all the
The goal? To obtain and keep as many animals as possible. Once the last round has been played, you add up your score. Each animal is worth one point. Then there are bonus points that come into play — those are listed on the side of the game box. For example, if you have 1-3 of any type of animal, that is MINUS 3 points per animal type. If you have up to 10 sheep (the easiest animals to collect) you get 1 bonus point. If you have 15 sheep you get 5 bonus points. And each animal has its own different scoring system. There are also some bonus points for some buildings, for completely used expansions, and if you have the Storage Building, you get bonus points for building materials you have at the end of the game. Like Carcassonne, the points can be small, but can add up.
I enjoy the challenge of this game and have even played solitaire versions, where I control both farms and just play against myself, trying to see if I can get some really high scores while trying to block my other self from doing the same.
I guess I would say that if you like games like Carcassonne, Catan, The Builders — games where you're working on your own goals while putting some obstacles in front of your opponent, then you'd like All Creatures Big and Small.