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The illustrations on the cards are great and they come in what has to be the sturdiest box I've ever seen. This is a very enjoyable little card game! It may not be a brain burner but the order of your deck, when you play your crows, when the first wedding card is thrown and how you play your worms necessitates strategic play if you want to get your mate and egg cards for points. So far we've only played the two player game which works very well( you set out three females and sets of eggs for the two player game), but I'm looking forward to the four player game. This easy going fun game will hit the table often! I recommend it.
Henning Poehl released three card games at Essen 2001 published by his brand, Sphinx Spieleverlag. The games are very professional looking, with solid boxes, quality cards, good colors, and nice artwork. Auweier (Egg On) is a game about mating birds, and each player takes the role of a male bird attempting to mate with each of the four females available. Each female can only be mated with three times, though, and early mating produces fewer eggs than later mating.
Each player receives a set of cards that are identical except for color. These include the male bird, used for identification of players only, and a female bird that is placed near the center of the table. Each female has three nest cards, one with a single egg, one with two eggs, and the last with three eggs. These are stacked next to the female with the single egg on top. Players will use Worm cards to attract the female, and those playing the highest cumulative value of worms will win the next available egg from that female. Get the most eggs from the most number of females and you win.
In addition to Worm cards, each player has six Wedding cards. Playing Worms is dating; placing a Wedding card is proposing. Thus, you cannot mate without the Wedding card, but a Wedding Card without enough Worms will leave you jilted at the altar. During the play of Worm cards, players begin with a hand of six cards and draw a replacement after each play. As soon as the first Wedding card is played, the game enters the "Wedding Phase". From this point until the Wedding Phase is over, no more cards will be drawn, so players can use only the cards then in their hands. Once the first Wedding card is played, everyone has the chance to play Wedding cards until all pass. Then, players can add worms to any female in an attempt to win their affections and their eggs. The round ends when everyone passes, and this does not take long since no new cards are drawn in this phase. At that point, the nest cards are distributed with only those players who have both played a Wedding card and lead in Worm count successful. Ties do not win, and all cards played with a Wedding card are removed whether the mating is successful or not. Worms placed to attract a female that are not paired with a Wedding card remain for the next round, however.
This is the basic idea of the game, and play continues until all three nest cards from each of the four females are distributed. There is more action, however, in that players have two more card options beyond Worms and Weddings. First, they have two Crows available. Crows eat Worms, of course, so by playing your Crow you can remove the most recent worm played in front of a female by another player. Two worms for each player do not taste very good and thus cannot be eaten by the crows. Crows cannot be used during the Wedding phase either, and since they only take the most recently played Worm they are most effective when they can swoop in quickly. Next, each player has a single Fake Worm card. This card works similar to the Scarecrow card in [page scan/se=0582/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Condottiere in that it can swap with a real Worm. The Fake Worm can swap in either direction by adding back to your hand a Worm already played, or to be a placeholder on a female before committing a specific Worm.
At this point the game may sound random -- draw the high Worm cards early and play a quick Wedding card for an easy score (pun intended). However, Poehl adds a clever and highly strategic mechanic to the mix in that each player can sort their entire deck before they begin play. While you can't predict when the Wedding phase will begin (unless you begin it, of course), you can choose when to have your Crows appear, the order in which you'll draw the various value Worm cards, and the distribution of your Wedding cards. The "right" card picking strategy is neither obvious nor fixed, but generally you will want your Fake Worm early, a Crow for defense, at least one Wedding card, and then some Worm cards. The timing of the Wedding cards typically proves your card picking strategy to be brilliant or flawed, thus if you can control the pace you usually do better.
The scoring also dictates strategy. As stated earlier, the nest cards earned later earn more eggs given the 1-2-3 stacking at the beginning. Also, players earn bonus points if they mate with the female of their own color, and can earn bonus points by mating with different females. Collecting eggs from all four females nets 10 points, and this is significant. Three and two colors are worth less, but each egg in your own female's color earns you an additional one point. So, while trying to manage your cards appropriately, you want to win eggs of each color, more from your own color, use your Crows but not have Crows hurt you, and not get into too many Wedding battles that burn your cards. This is quite a bit to think about for a 30-minute game, but it works, though often you end up realizing that your cards were sorted wrongly.
Auweier is a promising start for Sphinx. The two other games, Vampire Connection and Integralis, have interesting themes but I've not tried either yet. Poehl is releasing three more games at Nuenberg, and thus with six games in less than a year he should have a decent track record to judge. Based only on Auweier, I am encouraged.