Hot Tin Roof: Top Cat Wins the Game

Hot Tin Roof looks at an intriguing challenge from Mayfair Games.

“Hot Tin Roof” is a new game release from Mayfair Games involving pairs of cats racing along a city’s rooftops, looking for food and trying to outwit the other rival cats who have the same intentions. The game is designed for 3-4 players only, and is suggested for ages 10 years old and up.

The game arrives with 16 cat pawns, 16 shelter tokens for placement on rooftops, 24 catwalk tokens to allow easy access between buildings, 73 sardine can tokens (providing a source of food for all of the cats), 50 home tiles revealing rooftop locations, 14 fish tokens (the ultimate food choice of the cats), a game board measuring approximately 14″ x 20 ½” and a colorful 6 page rulebook. The object of the game is to be the player who has collected the most sardine cans at the end of the game.

Hot Tin Roof 4The game set up takes just a few minutes as each player receives 10 sardine can tokens to start play, 3 shelter tokens, 6 catwalk tokens, and 2 pair of matching cats (each pair with a different pose). In the lower right hand portion of the game board, there are 5 dumpsters, each loaded with a designated number of sardine can tokens at the beginning of the game. Fish tokens are also placed in a line near the game board representing a fish market. The home tiles are shuffled and 3 of the tiles are placed (one each) adjacent to the first three dumpsters.

To begin the game, players alternate turns by performing the following actions each time. First, a player must “ante 5 sardine can tokens” (one on each of the 5 dumpsters). If a player has less than 5 sardine can tokens in his possession, his turn ends immediately and he collects 2 sardine can tokens from the general supply. Second, a player is able to “dumpster dive.” To do this, a player chooses one and only one of the 5 dumpsters, allowing them to select one of their catwalks or one of their shelters and place them on open routes or rooftops on the game board. Another option is for the player to select one of the 3 home tiles and place one pair of their cats on the designated rooftop locations. That player can also collect all of the sardine can tokens accumulated on the dumpster they choose. Third, a player can also “move any or all of their cats” (already on the board) from rooftop to rooftop along the routes shown on the game board. However, many times routes are blocked because a catwalk is not yet in place between the rooftops.

As the game progresses, and more catwalks and shelters are in place, cats can move farther, but must pay their opponents one or more sardine can tokens each time they cross a catwalk or shelter of an opponent. If a player is able to get a pair of matching cats on the same shelter, he earns one of the fish from the market (worth 10 sardine can tokens). At that time, the pair of cats can be placed again on the following turn (if they choose to select one of the home tiles), and the cats can try to match up again. The game continues until all of the fish are claimed from the fish market. When the last fish is claimed, the game ends and the total number of sardine can tokens held by each player is counted, and a winner is declared.

An average game lasts from 30-60 minutes. We play tested the game with 4 players several times over multiple days. The consensus was that the first half of the game moved very slowly, until the catwalks and shelters were covering at least half of the board. However, the second half of the game moved at breakneck speed as cats raced across the rooftops on every turn, paying their opponents (in sardine can tokens) for using their catwalks and shelters, pairing up on a handy rooftop and collecting another valuable fish token from the market.

Hot Tin Roof 3Each player controls cats, shelter tokens and catwalk tokens of a specific color. It is important to be able to identify who is the owner of all shelter tokens and catwalk tokens placed on the game board. We found the colors were somewhat difficult to differentiate, as the sardine can and shelter tokens did not perfectly match the color of a player’s cat pawns. But, this was a minor problem and we were able to figure things out after some initial confusion.

We have to admit that we have never played a game quite like “Hot Tin Roof.” It was more fun each time we played it, and kudos to Mayfair for coming up with a game idea featuring cats racing across rooftops searching for food. Who would have believed it? “Hot Tin Roof” can be purchased for $35.00 directly from the Mayfair website.

–RJ Cullen

Posted in Board Games