Hey! That's My Fish!
English language edition of Pingvinas
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At the pole your penguins are jumping from ice floe to ice floe hunting fish. They're also trying to block other penguins and secure the best fishing grounds for themselves. The penguin colony that catches the most fish by the end of the game wins.
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I am always looking for a light game, light on the rules, that has strategy built in and especially interaction with the players on the board. I love strategy games. Even more with games where I have at least some control over what is going on. The biggest challenge facing the crowd of people that I play with is trying to get them to try something new, and this was no different when I pulled out my new copy of "HEY! That's my fish!" When I started pulling out the quality pieces with the cute little penguins some heads did turn. Then I showed everyone that there are only four pages to the rules, three if you do not count the cover page, they were like "Well let's give this a try." We tried and tried and tried and now "Hey! That's my fish!" Has become an instant classic. Whether you want something to eat pizza laugh and play or something to do between a couple more in depth games "HEY! Thats my fish" will fill a desperately needed void in your closet.
Yet in all actuality it's simply an abstract game, with players moving their pawns around, trying to cut one another off and score the most points. Yet I've encountered few abstract games such as this one. It's simple enough for my five year old daughter to comprehend and play, yet deep enough that it can be played seriously by gamers. Personally, I think it's more on the light side of abstract games (it should be played fairly lightly, anyway). Still, any abstract game that can be played in less than twenty minutes, hold a decent amount of strategy, and play almost as well with three and four players as it does with two is worth getting in my book.
A random grid of sixty hexagon tiles is set up on the board, in alternating rows of seven and eight tiles each. Each of these tiles (ice floes) shows one, two, or three fish. Starting with one player, each player places one penguin on an ice flow that has only one fish. Players continue to place penguins until they have reached their maximum (two penguins in a four player game, three in a three player game, four in a two player game). The youngest player then goes first, with play proceeding clockwise.
On a player's turn, they simply move one of their penguins in a straight line as far as they want to. Penguins cannot jump empty spaces or other penguins, nor change direction. After a penguin has moved, the owner removes the ice flow that the penguin started it on, and adds it to their stash. Play then passes to the next player. If a player cannot move any of their penguins on their turn, they must remove all penguins along with the ice flows on which they reside, and they must wait until the other players finish. After all players are finished with the game, they count the total number of fish on their ice flows, with the player who has obtained the most fish winning the game!
Some short comments on this short, simple game...
1.) Components: The game could have been more abstract, but the arctic theme makes sense and gives us a chance to have a cute, interesting layout when playing. The penguin wooden pieces (peneeples?) are great and much more interesting to move around than simple wooden pawns, and the artwork on the tiles is well done. All the pieces fit in a smallish box, but one that is still quite a bit bigger than is needed. The game requires very little space - just a pile of tiles and some penguins.
2.) Rules: The rules are on four pages, and that's almost exaggerating, since they are so simple and easy. It's one of the easiest games I've ever taught; everyone who played, from my five year old daughter to my normal gaming group quickly understood it. Even my three year old daughter almost grasped the concepts! Nothing hard about this one.
3.) Strategy: In our first game, which I played with my daughter, we both simply moved our penguins as best we could to the three fish floes. My daughter won, which made me take a deeper look at the game. In subsequent games (many of them), I quickly realized that if a player was able to cut off a section of the main ice floe with only one of their penguins on it, they could score big! In fact, taking charge of these valuable islets is the key to victory. Each game is a careful dance of penguins, as players attempt to maneuver them around, forcing other penguins into areas from which they can't move, and seclude their own penguins on lucrative sections. However, since a person only has a few penguins and only a certain amount of spaces to move them on, choices shouldn't be that difficult. Yet if a player loses, it's because of their penguin movement, not luck. The only luck in the game is the initial setup of the ice floes, and that simply changes the nuances of the game - nothing else.
4.) Players and Fun Factor: A two player game can be a tense affair, with players trying to use one or more of their penguins to battle it out. It can be great for a player if they manage to strand one of their penguins on a small island but terrible if two ore more are stuck on that same island. Adding more players into the mix changes the dynamics of the games quite a bit. Players must realize that the board will change more between moves, and it's a little easier for two players to shut a third out of the game. For this reason, I prefer the game most with two players, but I didn't mind the game with more. For one thing, it's tremendously fast, which allows players to play again, and it just gives one a very satisfied feeling. Even if you lose, you still managed to get SOME fish.
Hey! That's My Fish! is a bit of a rarity - a fast playing abstract game that offers a satisfying experience and isn't just considered a light bit of frivolity. Sure, now I can easily beat my daughter, because I have a better ability to look several moves in advance. But I was able to teach her sound tactical moves with this game, and we were able to compete on a semi-competitive level; and that's better than most abstract games. And better yet, a group of "heavy" gamers can play the same game and have a tense, taut experience. One game that can do all that in a short time frame is almost a must-have for a collection.
"Real men play board games"
NOTE: This review was first published in Knucklebones magazine
Penguins must have a good P.R. agent. First they have a hit movie with “March of the Penguins”, and now a new game. Hey! That’s My Fish! is a game with a cute theme of hungry penguins vying for their next meal.
The game is a remake of Pingvinas, co-designed by Lithuanian Alvydas Jakeliunas and German Gunter Cornett. A large ice floe is formed by 60 hexagon tiles. Each tile depicts from 1 – 3 fish, and players will maneuver their penguins (2 – 4, depending upon the number of players) over the tiles in attempts to capture and hoard as many fish as possible. The player hoarding the most fish once the harvest is complete wins the game, and eats well during the harsh winter.
After placing their penguins onto the floe, players take turns moving one penguin and capturing a tile. A penguin must move in a straight line – no turns allowed – and may not move over other penguins or gaps in the floe. The tile the penguin vacated is taken by the player and added to his fish hoard. Of course, grabbing the tiles with more fish is advantageous, so there is usually fierce competition over securing these locations.
As tiles are removed, gaps in the floe occur, and eventually separate islands begin to form. Being alone on a sizeable island may be lonely, but the yield in fish can be substantial. Thus, one of the strategies in the game is to create a separate island with an abundance of fish, and isolate one of your penguins on this island. This isn’t an easy task when playing with numerous players, but if accomplished, the reward could well be a victory.
If a player is unable to move any of his penguins, his harvesting is complete. He removes his penguins from the game, and keeps the tiles upon which they rested. Play continues until all players are unable to move their penguins. To determine the “Prince of the Penguins”, players tally the number of fish on the tiles they harvested.
The rules are very easy with no ambiguities. Play is swift: 20 minutes or so seems the usual time frame. In spite of this, though, the game is quite tactical in nature, and there are numerous important decisions to be made throughout the short duration. While gathering fish is most important, players must also play defensively in order to prevent opponents from cordoning territory from which they can reap the benefits without outside competition. Additionally, it is useful to isolate opponents’ penguins so they may no longer move, or only have one or two more fish they can capture before running out of space. Nasty, but hey … to the bold goes the most fish!
Hey! That’s My Fish! is fun, fast and tactical, one of those perfect games for when time is short, or when you want to introduce folks to gaming. The theme is non- threatening, and the rules can be explained in a minute or two. Yet, the tactics and choices are significant, so skill prevails over randomness. Plus, who could resist those adorable, smiling penguins?