ToysBulletin.com reviews two new games from “Breaking Games.”
“Breaking Games” publishes a wide assortment of games, and we are excited to review two of their best.
“4 the Birds” is a board game that actually takes place in a tree. After all, that is where birds seem to congregate, so it is a perfect setting for this unique game. The game includes 6 different sets of three dimensional bird species, which serve as the playing pieces, along with action cards, some tokens, 2 sets of dice (8 sided & 10 sided), and some very special but potentially disruptive crows and hawks. Of course, there is also that game board, resembling the branches of a tree in a 9 x 9 grid of 81 circled spaces.
To set things up, each player (game designed for 2-6 players) receives one set of bird species (6 playing pieces) along with the matching action cards. One set of two dice (8 or 10 sided) is used depending on the number of players. One of the hawks and two of the crows are placed on circled spaces in the tree prior to the start of the game. The object of the game is to be the first player to position 4 of their playing pieces in a row or occupy 4 adjacent spaces (forming a square) on the board.
To get things started, players alternate turns by rolling the two dice and then choosing to either place one of their birds on the corresponding numbered space, or play an action card. There are six different action cards, with each player having identical cards. The cards can allow movement of existing playing pieces or even an opponents. There are also cards that enable a player to move a hawk or crow. The hawk can force a player to move an existing playing piece, if he gets too close. The crows are equally nasty and can force a player to lose his position and move to another branch. Additional hawks and crows can be added to the game when their image pops up on one of the two dice.
Play continues in this manner, with players moving their existing playing pieces once all 6 are already on the tree. If an action card cannot be played, players can also play a token on a numbered space to remove it from play for the rest of the game. Players must plan carefully, using their action cards to position their playing pieces and block their opponents, to eventually claim victory. “4 the Birds” is a great family game for ages 8 years old and up, and it plays fast, with a typical game lasting less than 30 minutes.
“4 the Birds” retails for $40 and can be purchased directly from the Breaking Games website.
Next up from “Breaking Games” is a strategic auction based number game called “The Game of 49.” The contents includes a game board containing a 7 x 7 matrix of 49 squares, 60 numbered cards, player chips in 5 different colors, and some paper money. The game is suggested for 2-5 players, ages 10 years old and up, with the object of the game to place 4 chips in a row on the board either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. The first player to accomplish this wins the game.
Set up is easy, as each player receives a full set of colored chips and $49. The 60 card deck is shuffled and placed nearby to form a draw pile. To start play, the first player turns over the first card on the top of the draw pile for all to see. The cards are numbered from 1-48, plus there are 12 wild cards. Each of the cards, including the wild cards, also contains a minimum bid notation.
If a numbered card is drawn, the player can either bid on that card, or pass on it. The remaining players can also do the same. If a player wins the bidding, he pays the bank the amount of his bid, claims the card and places one of his chips on that square on the game board. If all players pass, and no bids are registered, the card is removed from the game. If a wild card is drawn, it is auctioned off in the same manner as a regular numbered card. However, there are two types of wild cards, first there are wild cards that shows a number range, allowing a player who wins the card to place his chip on any square within that range. Secondly, there are several wild 49 cards, which if won, allows the player to position his chip on the 49 square in the very center of the board. If another player occupies that space, that chip is removed from the board, returned to that player and replaced with the new player’s chip.
The most interesting part of the wild cards is that they also force a money payoff to all players whenever drawn. After a wild card has been auctioned, each player receives a money payout from the bank based on the number of tokens the player has on the game board. The general rule is $7 for each token, but no player can ever collect more than $49 from a single wild card. Obviously, this money comes in handy when subsequent cards go up for auction.
The game continues until the draw deck is expired or a single player is lucky enough to place four chips in a row. If the draw deck expires before a player positions four chips in a row, the player with the most chips on the game board is declared the winner.
The Toys Bulletin staff really enjoyed playing “The Game of 49.” It moved quickly and had enough strategy to keep everyone right in the mix of things until the very end. Although there are special rules for two-players, we did find that the game was at its best when played with 4 or 5 players. “The Game of 49” retails for just $20, and can be purchased at all Target Stores or directly from the Breaking Games website.