Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
As someone who doesn’t have any little kids running around my house, I’m far from the expert on family games. Still, I believe that creating a good family game involves walking a fine line between making the game easy enough for children to understand, and yet still engaging enough for the adults. Go too far in one direction or the other and you won’t have a family game anymore. Let Them Eat Shrimp!, now in funding on Kickstarter, seeks to walk that line. Do they succeed? Read on to find out!
Let Them Eat Shrimp! is a tile placement game for 2-5 players that plays in about 15-30 minutes. Let Them Eat Shrimp! plays best with any amount of players.
In Let Them Eat Shrimp!, players are attempting to spawn on as many fish eggs as possible, while avoiding the sharks that want to eat them. Each turn, players will place one of four different geometric shapes onto the game board. The location of the placement will decide if they collect more fish tiles or have to deal with the sharks and starfish. Players will continue placing tiles until the majority of the game board is full. At that point, the player with the most points is the winner.
How To Play:
To setup the game, each player is given a player screen, 3 egg tokens and one of each of the 4 types of fish pieces (Hexagon, Trapezoid, Triangle, and Diamond). After that, the player chooses which side of each of the 3 modular boards they want to use and lay them out next to each other.
Starting with the first player, each player takes a turn in a clockwise manner. On a player’s turn they can:
Place a Fish Tile: A player takes one of the fish pieces from behind their screen and places it on the board so it fits within the triangle grid. The tile must also touch the sides of a previously placed fish tile. Depending on what spaces the tile covers will determine what the player gains or loses.
• For each fish egg icon the player’s tile covers, they take one of the corresponding fish tokens from the supply.
• If the player covers a starfish, they must roll the die and determine whether they gain a fish tile or loses an egg token.
• If the player covers a shark tile, they roll the die and see which fish tile or egg token they must return. Sharks are always bad.
If a player has no fish tiles to place on their turn, they must return one of their egg tokens to the supply. They then take any fish token they want and place it on the board according to the above rules.
If a player has no egg tokens to return, they are knocked out of the game.
The game ends when one of three things occur:
1. All players are knocked out but one. The remaining player wins the game.
2. If, on a player’s turn, there is no legal place to play a hexagon fish tile. The game then ends immediately and proceeds to final scoring.
3. If there are no sea creatures remaining on the board except sharks. The game then ends immediately and proceeds to final scoring.
To calculate final scores, each player examines the total amount of fish the still have:
• Each set of 4 different fish tiles scores 5 points
• Each set of 3 different fish tiles scores 3 points
• Each set of 2 different fish tiles scores 1 point
• Each egg token counts as a “wild” tile (i.e., as any fish tile) to complete a set
• Each shrimp scores 2 points
The player with the most points is the winner.
As much as a hardcore gamer I am at heart, I still love a good family game. Sometimes you just aren’t in the mood for a 36 page rulebook or a two hour strategy game. For those times, I enjoy having a game where I can just relax and enjoy a casual game. And when it comes to filling that role, Let Them Eat Shrimp! does an absolutely fantastic job.
I’ll admit it, I ended up liking this game way more than I expected to. The rules are incredibly simple, yet the game play is very engaging. Each turn I found myself pouring over the game board trying to find both the optimal placement of my tiles, and also making sure I didn’t leave my opponents with an easy score.
It’s that kind of calculating decision that will keep even the most hardcore gamer engaged in Let Them Eat Shrimp! For players that love a good strategic game, there is a lot of fun to be had here.
Yet for those of you with young ones at home, or even those who are looking for a casual experience, this game will fit the bill. The rules are simple enough that even young kids should have no trouble understanding the concepts of the game. In fact, we tried the game with a couple of families and everyone agreed that their kids would have no trouble picking up the concept. The game box says ages 8+ and I can easily see this game working well for kids that young.
And I think that’s one of the things that make Let Them Eat Shrimp! such a great family game. It’s easy enough to be played with your kids, yet the game play is still engaging enough for adults. I don’t have too many games in my collection that are able to walk that line as expertly as Let Them Eat Shrimp! does.
The game also runs fairly low on the luck side. There is only one die in the game and it’s used when you cover up 2 different sea creatures. Everything else will be all what you make of it. Players will be carefully examining the board looking for those optimal spots to place your big fish tiles. Let Them Eat Shrimp! can be a game about maximizing your opportunities all while limiting your opponent’s. For fans of strategic games, this easy to learn game can provide a lot of opportunities to stretch those mental muscles.
However, if you are thinking that this game is just too simple for your tastes, worry not. Dr. Finn has included some advanced rules to make the game a bit more complex for those who are wanting more of a challenge. But to be honest, we never really felt the need to use those rules. Even playing with a group of gamers, we found the game to be enough of challenge if we just used the sides of the board with more sharks. I really enjoyed this aspect of Let Them Eat Shrimp! This kind of easy customization should help give the game some great replay value.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a really big fan of Let Them Eat Shrimp! Surprisingly, I think this could be one of my favorite games from Dr. Finn’s to date. The game play is simple, yet incredibly engaging. Turns go by very quickly and the strategic options make for some hard decisions on your turn. If you are looking for a filler game that’s both family friendly and can also appeal to your gaming group, then check out Let Them Eat Shrimp!, this simple game will have you coming back for more again and again.
If you are interested in the game, it’s currently funding on Kickstarter and scheduled for delivery in September 2014. A pledge of $30 will get you a copy of the game and any stretch goals. You have until Sunday, March 16th to become a backer so head over today if you are interested.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review.