As expected, Blue Orange has put together another high quality game experience, this time called “Battle Sheep.” With Blue Orange, it always starts with the packaging and game parts, which again exceeded our expectations. The game contents include 16 pasture boards used to assemble an ever changing game board and 64 sheep tokens, each made of high quality plastic and very sturdy too. All of the game pieces are ready for action, with no card board punch outs needed to begin play.
“Battle Sheep” is intended for 2-4 players and is suggested for ages 7 years old and up. Set up is easy, as each player is given 4 of the pasture boards. Each pasture board (about 6″ in length) is identical and made up of 4 individual hexagon shaped pastures. In addition, each player received 16 sheep tokens (1½” in diameter), with each set featuring a different colored sheep on each token.
To begin play, players first alternate turns placing one of their pasture boards on the table top. After the first pasture board is put in place, players must attach subsequent pasture boards to any one of the existing ones already on the table. Because of the hexagonal shapes, the pieces can be connected to each other in several different ways. When all pasture boards are in position, a playing surface has been created. Each player then takes their stack of 16 sheep tokens and places them on any one of the hexagon shaped pastures along the perimeter of the board.
Players then alternate turns having to do both of the following:
1. Split any one of their own sheep stacks into two stacks, keeping at least one token in both stacks.
2. After the split, move the new stack in a straight line until you can go no further, or you reach another sheep stack.
Once a player can no longer move any of their sheep, that player is eliminated from the game. When all moves from all players have been exhausted, the player occupying the most pastures wins the game. If there is a tie for the most pastures occupied, the winner is decided based on how many sheep are in the largest herd. In order to be considered part of the herd, all like sheep must have at least one side touching one of their own sheep. A typical game might last anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on the number of players and their experience level.
The Toys Bulletin staff found “Battle Sheep” to be an easy game to play, but a very nice little challenge to master. The changing game board created an additional appreciation for the game’s nuances. A long narrow set of pasture boards may limit many possible moves left or right, while a rounder grouping of pasture boards allows more options but shorter straight lines. “Battle Sheep” plays good with 2 players but better with 3 or 4. It is much like a game of chess, with the better players trying to look several moves ahead.
It is, however, a good fit for the younger kids too, as they can get into it quickly and have fun without much thinking at all. Just move until you cannot move any more, and have a good time. The more they play, the better they will get and soon they will be challenging the adults. “Battle Sheep,” which retails for $24.99, can be purchased directly from the Blue Orange Games website.