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It's a wild time under the Big-Top as dogs and cats race from one show to the next. Players use their best Flea cards to attract the most dogs and cats. Play your cards right and you can steal the audience away from your neighbor! But watch out for the Animal Catcher -- he'll snatch your cats and dogs away. With all this excitement, how's a Flea Ring Circus supposed to keep up?
When all the dogs and cats are gone, whoever ends up with the most animals at their show wins the game!
I purchased this game on a whim since I'm love other a Reiner Knizia games such as Schotten Totten, High Society, and Lost Cities. Since it had no reviews I was a little worried but this game is awesome! It is probably the most fun with five players. It's great because you are continually messing up the other players. The games move fast and the laughs comes hard. Like most Knizia games, it is balanced perfectly. If someone gets too far ahead, then the other players can target them, bringing them back to the pack.
We played three rounds last night and the winner scored 37 and the last place (out of five) got 34. Their are lots of cool gimmics -- clowns, cotton candy, jugglers, Leo the Lion, etc. that give the game character. It's worth every cent!
My 4 and 6-year olds love Flea Circus. They are good sports, and actually laugh when they get their points taken away ("Goodbye Kitties!" they will say.) The game offers a good amount of decision making that let the players think about their options. For example, if you hold off on playing your clowns you may draw more that will allow you to take more points during one turn later in the game. The game also sets up parents for some good teaching moments. The dogs are worth 2 point and the cats are worth 1 point. If a child gets to take 4 points you can let her choose how she'll distribute those points (4 cats, 2 dogs, or 2 cats and 1 dog.) Also at the end of the game there are some opportunities for simple multiplication, addition, counting by 2s, etc.. Finally, the bits are fun for the kids to play with between turns. Overall I think this makes a great addition to a collection of games for young children.
I have to hide Pig Pile in my house, because my two young daughters are really enamored with the toy pigs that come with the game. The pigs were entirely unnecessary for the game, but added a cute, nice touch, which made the game that much more palatable. Now, we have a game with even cuter little toys Reiner Knizias Amazing Flea Circus (R & R Games, 2003 Reiner Knizia). There are little white rubber cats, and blue bulldogs looking like they came right out of a Looney Tune. And this time, they are actually part of the game, rather than just window dressing.
So, how does the game hold up, with all these little pieces? Basically, its a fun little filler, with strategy along the lines of Uno or Pig Pile. Nobody will ever accuse this game of being heavy in tactics or of having great depth. And I doubt most serious gamers will give it a second look. However, it is certainly an enjoyable romp and I found that kids especially found it a lot of fun. It was an instant hit with my game club at school and I found that I also got enthusiastic about it. And any game that I can use to entice children into the wonderful world of board gaming is a huge plus with me!
A deck of 55 cards is shuffled, and five of them are dealt to each player. All the dogs and cats (twenty of each) are placed in the middle of the table. The Youngest player starts the game, and each player follows clockwise.
On a turn, a player plays a card in front of them, into their own Show pile. The card replaces the face-up card currently in the pile. There are five types of cards a player can play:
- Attractions: The most common card in the deck, there are seven different types. Each shows a flea performing a circus act, and are worth two, three, or four points. The player takes animals equal to that amount of points from the middle of the table, and places them in front of them. (Dogs are worth two points, cats one.) If, however, an identical circus act is face up in front of another player, the points are taken from that player, rather than from the middle of the table.
- Free tickets: This card, when played, allows a player to take two points from any other player.
- Clowns: This card gives a player one point of animals, but multiple copies of the card can be played at one time, allowing the player to multiply the amount of points they receive.
- Flea Acrobats: This card also gives the player one point worth of animals, but also one additional point for every flea acrobat that is face up on other players decks.
- Animal Catcher: Each other player must discard points according to the card that they currently have face up on their pile. After this card has been played, all decks are shuffled back into the draw pile. This is the ONLY time this is done.
After playing their card, the player draws their hand back up to five cards, as long as there are sufficient cards in the draw pile. When the last animals from the middle are taken, the game ends, and the player with the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game
1.) Components: If I ever reach the point of games gone mad (hopefully never), and have to get rid of this game the rubber animals in the box will make great toys for my kids or grandkids. And indeed, just like Pig Pile, I often find the players of Flea Circus playing with them. While the pigs were used to score who won each round in Pig Pile, the animals in this game are constantly moving, and thus play a more important role. They are colorful, easy to handle, and make the game more attractive. The cards are not dull creations, however as their brightness and colorful artwork help really brighten up the game! Im not sure why dogs and cats are the spectators for a flea circus, but it still looks really good, and everything fits in a small, sturdy circus-decorated box.
2.) Rules: The rules also reflect this carnival atmosphere, colored brightly, with full color illustrations. Of course, they only take two small pages on a pamphlet, since there really isnt much to this game. The game probably ranks as the most simple of all Knizia games I have ever played, and I found that people picked it up easily. The only problem was that people forgot the difference between the clowns and the flea acrobats, since there is no text on the cards.
3.) Strategy: Theres really not much to say here. Play cards that help you, and hurt the leader. Playing a good attraction card is more of a liability, because it makes you a bigger target. The game has a slight Uno feel, where everyone strives to make one persons life miserable, if possible. However, dont get the wrong idea, as the game is so light and fluffy, that I doubt anyone would ever get mad over it.
4.) Theme and Fun Factor: The theme is layered on (what a shock for Knizia, I know), but the presence of the toys and the colorful artwork really help put a theme where no theme should be. All of this adds into the fun factor. Its rather difficult to win, as luck plays a rather large role. But it still feels satisfying, somehow and the game has a fun, albeit light, feel.
Theres not much to this game its a piece of overworked fluff. But yet, its fun fluff, and I found that most people Ive played it with like it. If you hate Uno, and light games like Pig Pile or Target, then dont touch this game; youll probably hate it. But if you like playing with little toys, and want a fun, fast little game give it a try, especially with kids!
Prolific designer Reiner Knizia must like fleas, and appears especially enamored with performing fleas. He has released two games using the theme of a flea circus, both bearing very similar names. While this can be confusing, there is no confusion over the fact that both games are entertaining for the entire family.
The Amazing Flea Circus, released by R&R Games, is a card game featuring an abundance of talented fleas performing various circus acts. Observing the various acts – and serving as scoring tokens – are dozens of adorable plastic bulldogs and cats. The object is to collect the most dogs and cats by the opportune play of your cards.
The deck consists of seven different suits (circus acts), with four cards in each suit. Each card depicts a value ranging from 2 – 4. In addition, there are over two-dozen special cards, including free tickets, acrobats, clowns and animal catchers, each of which has a special function. Players are dealt an initial hand of five cards.
A player’s turn is quite simple: play a card, collect animals, and draw a replacement card. When playing cards, each player places the card face-up in front of him, covering any previously played cards. This is known as the player’s “show stack”. The player collects a number of animals equal to the value of the card played. Dogs are worth 2 points, while cats are 1 point. If another player has an identical card face-up on his show stack, the animals are taken from that player. Otherwise, the animals are taken from the general supply.
If a special card is played, its particular function is executed. Acrobats earn points equal to the total number of acrobat cards face-up on opponents’ show stacks. Free tickets allow the player to steal two points from an opponent. Multiple clowns may be played, with the player collecting points equal to the number of cards played. The animal catcher forces players to return some animals to the general supply, and all show stacks are then returned and re-shuffled with the deck. Timing the play of these special cards – indeed, all cards – is the critical tactic to be employed.
The game ends when the final animal is taken from the general supply, and the player with the greatest value of animals in his collection is victorious. The game plays to completion in 15 – 20 minutes, making it a good choice as a filler.
Don’t expect too much from the game, as it is clearly intended to be a light, family game. Decisions aren’t terribly taxing, and there aren’t many long-term strategies to employ. Play the card that will give you the most animals, perhaps conserving the clown cards in order to accumulate duplicates, and delay the playing of acrobat cards until others are face-up on opponents’ show stacks. That’s really about it. You also don’t want to get comfortable with the animals you have collected, as the nature of game play means that they will constantly be stolen by other players as the game progresses. Don’t worry, though – you will assume both the role of thief and victim throughout the game!
In spite of the fact that there aren’t many tactics or strategies to employ, the game is perfectly suited for families, especially those with young children. The artwork is cute, and game play is easy, fast and fun. This is one group of fleas you won’t mind bringing into your home.
The plastic dogs (two points) and cats (one point) are spectators. Deal everyone five cards. Each turn, discard a card faceup on top of your personal stack. Earn an Act card's points by taking dogs and/or cats from the first player to your right whose top card matches yours in color and value. Otherwise, take points from the pool. Special cards are: Tickets, which let you steal points from others; Clowns, which earn one point each from the pool when played faceup; Acrobats, earning points from the pool for each Acrobat showing on all stacks; and Animal Catcher, which forces competitors to return to the pool points equal to the value of their top cards. When the last creature is taken from the pool, the player with the most points wins. You'll be itching to play this highly interactive game again and again.
This game has a certain 'kid appeal' that many children's games lack. Each turn, you play a card, and no matter what you do, you get some points (in the form of little rubber cats (1 point) and dogs (2 points)). There's really no such thing as a bad play in this game, and racking up those cat-and-dog points is fun for the kids.
That said, Flea Circus has a very narrow target audience. Older children and adults will likely be bored -- the game is almost completely random. Younger children may have difficulty managing their hand of cards and remembering the scoring functions of the several special types of cards.
So who is this game for? Well, I've noticed that most kids go through a game-playing phase around the age of 5 or 6 where they like complex rules (because they've gotten good at internalizing and following lots of rules), but their strategic thinking is not well-developed (so randomness is still appealing). For children in this phase of development, Flea Circus would be an excellent choice.