English language edition
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The wolf wants to eat all your sheep. Get as many of them as you can into a fenced-in field to protect them. Can you count on the hunter to keep the wolf at bay?
I bought this game in Montreal so I got the french version of it. I didn't know this game at all when I first looked at it, but thought it looked really cute, and the tile laying machanic is very similar to carcassonne, so I took a chance. I really like this game, it's playable with 2 people like carcassonne, but ofcourse instead of the castle/city theme, it has sheeps in it, cute sheeps. Scoring is different than CC in thaty only your biggest lot counts so strategy is different too with cc, but it has the feel of cc. I really like this game, definitely recommand it to anyone who likes CC, or cute sheeps. =)
Apparently farm animals are a popular game theme, especially pigs and chickens. However, sheep are starting to show up in greater numbers, and perhaps they will become the supreme Spielfriek animal. First we had War & Sheep, a clever two-player game, and now Wooly Bully (Asmodee Editions, 2002 Philippe des Pallieres) has joined the ranks. I first heard of this game when I was researching out War & Sheep, and the humorous name, as well as some interesting mechanics, caused me to wonder why I hadnt heard of the game before.
When you go to www.boardgamegeek.com, the premier board game rating website, and read the comments on Wooly Bully, youll notice one game mentioned in more than half the comments Carcassonne. There is a good reason for this comparison, as players lay down square tiles, matching the edges just like in the very popular Carcassonne series. Yet Wooly Bully is a very different game faster, with possibly more strategy. I really enjoyed Wooly Bully, having a lot of fun with a game that has beautiful components and simple yet elegant rules. As with many tile-laying games, there is always the luck of the draw, but as long as you accept that the game is fairly light, I think the funny artwork and enjoyable play would appeal to most people.
There are seventy-seven double-sided tiles in the game. One of them, the village square, is placed in the middle of the board. Four more tiles, with a question mark on one side, and four sheep and shepherd of one color (black, blue, red, or yellow) on the other side, are shuffled and each player takes one and looks at it secretly. This tells them which color sheep they are. There are four more tiles that blatantly state what color a player is, but they arent used for now, and are set aside. The remaining 68 tiles are shuffled and put in a bag. Each player draws four tiles from the bag and holds them in their hand secretly. The player who most recently visited the countryside goes first, with play passing clockwise around the table.
On a turn, a player chooses a tile from their hand and plays it on the table next to any of the current tiles face-up on the table. A player can put a tile down on either side, as long as the sides of the tile match the other sides of tiles its adjacent to. The sides are: forest, village, blue sheep, black sheep, yellow sheep, and red sheep) The player then draws from the bag one tile for each adjoining tile the tile they place matches. The next player then goes. The tiles are placed in such a way as to put the sheep in different fields, each fences in and/or bordered by forest.
If a player plays a Wolf tile (a tile with forest on all sides and a picture of a wolf in the middle), next to a forest, the sheep in adjacent fields to the forest are in danger. If a player plays a Hunter tile in a forest, no wolf tiles can be placed there further. If a wolf tile is already in the forest, the hunter tile is placed on top of it, and no further wolf tiles may be placed there. Also, a player can play their secret tile, revealing their true color. This also allows them to place one more tile as a bonus tile. They then take the colored tile set aside at the beginning of the game to show everyone what their color is. The wolf, hunter, and bonus tiles may be played at any time even during another players turn. A player can just interrupt and play the tile(s), taking tiles from the bag as a result of matching up the sides of the played tiles.
On their turn, a player can choose to stop playing tiles effectively removing themselves from the remainder of the game. The first player to do this scores six bonus points, the next player three, and the third one bonus point. After the tiles run out, and/or all players have stopped playing, the game ends. Each player counts up the total sheep they have in their largest totally enclosed pen bordered on all sides by fences or forests with no wolves in them and adds this to their bonus points. The player with the largest total wins the game! Ties are broken by second largest fields, etc.
Some comments about the game.
1.) Components: The tiles are absolutely incredible in this game very well done. They are thick, laminated, and beautifully illustrated. (Not to mention they seem to be rather childproof also.) Some have complained about the double-sided tiles, and even when I played, some players mentioned that they would have liked it better if they could have placed them in front of themselves. I personally didnt have a problem with it, but I may try to improvise a fix, by making a tile holder for each player. Everybody agreed that the artwork was very cute and very nice. I was impressed at the abundance of different artwork shown for each and every sheep. Another thing minor of course, was that the grass under each color sheep was just a tiny different shade of green. This isnt a big deal, but it helped the whole board look better aesthetically. Each sheep also had a different pattern on their backs, helping tell the colors apart for those who are colorblind. Since the only major component in the game was the tiles (apart from the cloth bag which was suitable), I was glad that so much effort was put into them. All of this fits in a small, very sturdy box, with bright, eye-catching artwork.
2.) Rules: The game rules are stated very simply, on six pages including full-color illustrations, and helpful hints. Everything was very clear, and I was able to explain the game very quickly. Those who played Carcassonne before actually took longer to catch on, as they werent used to several of the differences.
3.) Carcassonne: The game really doesnt match up that much with Carcassonne, other than connecting matching tiles by the edge. Players are not placing meeples, not scoring points while the game is playing, and have a chance to play one of several tiles. However, the inevitable comparison with Carcassonne will always be made. I personally prefer a full-blown Carcassonne with all expansions added and I like that better than Wooly Bully (a little). But Id rather play Wooly Bully than vanilla Carcassonne because its faster, seems to have more strategy, and just looks so great when laid out on the table.
4.) Strategy: The hints provided in the rules really provide basic strategy for the game. One should try to close off others players fields, keeping them as small as possible. Or they can set it up so that the other player can never possibly finish a field. One can use the wolves and hunters, also but they seem more of a delaying tactic than anything else (not denying the use of that.) One of the biggest decisions a player must make is when to reveal their bonus tile and use it. If they wait too long in the game, then its use is greatly diminished. Yet if they do it too early, everyone knows what color they are.
5.) Deduction: Unlike other games that have players with secret colors, I found it quite easy to quickly deduce what color each of the other players were its impossible to do well and keep that fact hidden for a while. So if the secrecy is a factor, I wouldnt recommend playing. In fact, the rules state that each player in a two-player game should play with two colors each reducing the uncertainty factor, and almost turning it into a tactical abstract game.
6.) Time and players: I really recommend playing the game with its full compliment of four players, although three seems to work okay. Two just really didnt cut it for me. Ive stated several times that the game goes quickly BUT a paralysis analysis player (you know who you are!) would probably not do to well with this game. The game rules recommend using an egg timer to speed up people on their turns, but I found that merely reading this optional rule aloud helped hurry people along.
7.) Fun Factor: The game was a lot of fun although because of the thinking of the players as they determined where they would put their tiles, there was quite a bit of silence. This is no party game and despite the cute theme and cool tiles, there is a layer of strategy and thought here that some will enjoy, but that might bore others.
I really, really liked this game. I enjoy tile-laying games exceedingly, and here is one that is a light game whose strategy can border into the medium game range. Its a pleasant way for four people to pass some time and the artwork is just fantastic. Its a lot of fun for those who like to stand back at the end of the game and just admire the fields that theyve created. If you like tile-laying games at all, or sheep, then this is a must-buy as it moves quickly, is of great quality, and really doesnt cost that much. If youve never heard of this game before, give it a try youll find yourself having a good time, penning up those sheep.
As the two of us started to play Wooly Bully, I found nostalgia with Carcassone tile game. In Wooly, you hold four tiles (printed both sides) in your hand and try to match to the initial village tile.
Then, the fun begins. You initially have one shepherd with the color of the sheep on the opposite side. You may declare that sheep color early in the game for a bonus tile. However, you may want to keep the color secret for a long period.
Your objective is to provide the largest sheep pen and achieve the victory points. Suddenly, you discover the game is not as easy as it looks. The tile you place has to match the sheep's color and the terrain on at least one side. You strive mightily to achieve a match on two sides or more to enable the drawing of more tiles. For example, if you can match the village terrain and one other sheep's color, you may draw two tiles (instead of one) from the bag provided. At one point, my opponent matched four terrain and sheep features to draw four tiles. Obviously, that gives you more leverage in deciding which tile to place on the next turn.
Eventually, I lost to the gray and white sheep that had the largest pen. The opponent and I became somewhat enamored with the game and decided to try each player having two different sheep and the largest pens added together again winning.
The second game proved even more formidable than the first. This game, I ended up with gray and white and orange sheep. As my opponent commented, you must be careful where the tile is laid, because it may be impossible to match the sides later. Both of us held wolf and hunter tiles, but the backside of those reveal four sheep of the same color. I commented to my opponent that some of the sheep look downright unhappy on their respective tiles. Some of the tiles show sheep kissing over the fence.
The second game went lively enough until my opponent (blue and pink sheep) achieved a rather large fenced-in herd. Then, the tables turned during the last play. My opponent, to cause difficulty, laid a tile with four orange sheep. It seemed impossible to fence in the herd (a possible 16 sheep) except I still possessed two fences with one orange sheep apiece. When all the tiles are drawn from the bag, you just have to rely on the tiles you possess in your closed hand. The two fences worked all right, but I was left with one blank space on the tiled board and no fence to finish the closure. Does that remind you of being so close and so far away? The opponent's final score was: Pink sheep, 10; Blue, 10. I received Orange sheep, 8; Gray and White, 9.
You have another good beer-and-pretzel game with Wooly Bully. The game is playable many times, because each combination is different from the previous one. Also, cutthroat competition can improve with four playing the game. Baa Baa, Wolly Bully, where are my orange sheep when I need them? Also, Drawing Bag, please give me another fence.
When I first read about La Guerre des Moutons (War of the Sheep), I knew I had to have it. Like a great number of us, I first got into German-style gaming by having someone introduce me to Settlers. I loved it, both for its novelty and for its great components (the tiles, for the most part). I've always been partial to larger, high-quality components, but until this point my experience had been limited to larger counters in wargames or unusual games (for the time) like Magic Realm. While the Settlers' tiles are much bigger than counters, and you don't get to fiddle with them too much, I enjoyed it as much for its bits as I did for the game itself. Then along came another game I'd never heard of: Euphrat & Tigris. It was love at first sight! The game was amazing, yes, but the tiles -- the tiles were wonderful. Nice, heavy components, thick, beautiful in their simplicity and function. I immediately went and found a copy. A couple of years later, I heard about this new game, Carcassonne, and found a copy in a local shop. Needless to say, I bought that straight away and never looked back.
So it's no surprise, really, that when I first heard about La Guerre des Moutons, I had to have a copy. I stumbled across the game on Bruno Faidutti's website as a preview to an upcoming game. I waited for a while for news of its being published, and then again to see if anyone was to pick it up in English. In the end, the draw of the tiles got the better of me and, after hunting for a while, I found a copy in a Canadian on-line store and ordered it.
The designer, Philippe des Pallires, has several other games under his belt, only one of which I'd ever heard of (but I'm still rather new to the scene): Armada, Savannah Cafi, Totem, and Vertigo. The illustrator, Frangois Bruel, has done a wonderful job, with the sheep having many interesting expressions (I especially like the sheep kissing over the fence).
The game is nothing but tiles. Well, tiles, a drawstring bag and a pouch. The bag is used during the game to draw tiles from and the pouch is used to store the starting tiles in, to help speed up setup. A nice little touch. The tiles themselves are of very high quality - top-notch.
The comparison to Carcassonne is inevitable, so I'll just get it out of the way right now. They're both tile-laying games, and they were both developed roughly simultaneously. Carcassonne got published first, and was a huge success. The games are very different otherwise, with La Guerre des Moutons being both simpler and somewhat more tactical at the same time, with an element of bluffing thrown in. I can't say that one is overwhelmingly better than the other, but I think it's a safe bet that if you like Carcassonne, you're going to enjoy this one as well. If you thought Carcassonne too light, though, this may be more of what you were looking for.
The premise of the game is, well, there isn't one really. The object, however, is to build an enclosed field with as many sheep of your color in it as possible. You only score the largest field (except in a tie) and you only score at the end. The sheep come in four colors: Black, Blue, Red and Yellow. For those who have trouble distinguishing colors, each color also has its own design on the back of the sheep: chevrons, stripes, hearts and checkers.
The tiles are double-sided, so you have twice the options when deciding what to lay. Like in Carcassonne, you have to match like against like along the edges, and all of the transitions between the types happen in the middle of the tile. In this game, there are 6 types: 4 fields with sheep, one in each of the colors, village and forest. Matching like to like means that sheep of different colors cannot co-exist in the same field.
To make things a little more interesting, at the start of the game each player draws a tile to determine their sheep color and then keeps it secret. That means that, at least initially, you don't know who is playing what color, and given that you have to play the tiles you draw, it's not necessarily obvious early on, either.
Play starts with a solid village square. Each player draws 4 tiles from the bag and keeps them hidden; these are the tiles that they have to choose from when playing, replenishing after the play. If the first player does not have any tiles with a village on it, they must pass to the next player. I assume that if you have no legal moves at other times during the game, you must pass as well, but this was not explicitly stated in the translated rules.
Instead of the typical "place a tile, draw a tile" mechanism, the designer has added a little twist: when you place a tile, you draw as many new tiles as sides you matched to with the tile just placed. So, if you place a tile next to two other tiles, you draw two. This can lead to quite an imbalance in tiles among the players, which is addressed (somewhat) later in the scoring.
Different colored sheep are separated from each other by fences, and it's these fences that will determine the largest enclosed field, which is the one you score in the end. Fences are also found when a field meets a village, but not when a village meets a forest. The forest does count as a field border, though, but the field is only scored if the forest contains no wolves.
Wolves? Yup. There are 4 wolf tiles in the game, and when placed in a forest, will disqualify any adjacent fields that would otherwise score. Thankfully there are also 4 hunters. When a hunter is played in a forest without a wolf, it protects that forest, and no wolves can be placed in it. A forest that already has a wolf in it can be made safe again by playing a hunter over top of the wolf. If there is more than one wolf, you'll need more than one hunter. Hunters and wolves can be played at any time, even during an opponent's turn, and you draw replacement tiles as you would normally.
It's unclear from the rules whether or not you can connect a forest with only a hunter to a forest with only a wolf; we assumed you could. It's also unclear if a hunter on top of a wolf then protects the rest of the forest from other wolves. Again, we played that it did.
On the flip-side of each wolf and hunter is a solid field of 4 sheep in one of the 4 colors, and they can be played that way as well. You would think, given that there are 4 colors and 4 hunters and 4 wolves, that each color would be represented once on the back of a hunter and once on the back of a wolf. This is not the case, though whether or not that was intentional is another question. Two of the colors are on both, and two of them are on one or the other. I would have preferred them to either all be on both, or none of them on both. I guess I'm just pedantic like that.
Finally, each player can reveal their color at any point in the game, again, even during an opponents turn. The player flips the tile over to show everyone their color, and then plays it as a 4-sheep, solid-field tile, drawing replacements as normal. The trick here is using the bluff element to your advantage, but not waiting too long to reveal yourself, as it's harder to close the field around the four sides of this tile in the later stages of the game (though of course this might not be the field you score).
When you run out of tiles, your opponents get to keep playing as long as they have tiles. While this may seem unfair at first, there is a bonus for ending sooner rather than later: the first person to end gets 6 bonus points, the second 3, the third 1, and the fourth none. You can also voluntarily stop laying tiles, if you feel it's to your advantage to get the points given the tiles you have left. This makes for some interesting decisions at the end of the game, when you still have tiles left: do you take the points and let your opponents have a freer reign of the board, or do you hang in there to foil their plans?
So how does it play? Pretty well; I enjoy the game, but not as much as I thought I would (or was hoping to). There are several reasons why.
First off, because of the play-one, draw-two (or more) mechanism, the number of tiles you're dealing with can become a tad tiresome, and they're double-sided to boot! It actually became quite a problem in the first game we played, as we had so many tiles it was impossible to keep track of them. Luckily it was a two-player game, and we used the box lid and base to help hide the tiles. This tile overload can also lead to a little down-time, as players try to sort through all of their tiles looking for one to play. The effect is less pronounced in multi-player games, but it's still there.
A second reason is the lack of available tiles. By that I mean that there are times, many times in fact, that the exact tile you need either doesn't exist, or there is only one of them. Granted, this is part of the strategy, to try and prevent the other players from completing a field, but it's so extreme at times that it detracts from the game. Given that the tiles are double-sided, I would have to blame tile distribution rather than sheer number of tiles as the problem. In fact, the number of tiles that allow you to extend a field for a given color is very limited. Of the 78 double-sided tiles in the game, there are: 2 @ 4-sheep (on the reverse side of the wolf and hunter tiles), 5 @ 3-sheep and 14 @ 2-sheep, for a total of 21 tiles (out of 156 tile sides). Oddly, not every color has the same number of single-sheep tiles (Blue has only 49, while the other colors have 50), and not every color has the same number of tiles with none of their color on either side (not counting the wolf and hunter tiles, Blue has only 1, Red has 2 and Black and Yellow have 3).
The forest tiles are also very limited, there being only 32 forest tiles (which includes the wolf and hunter tiles) out of the 156 possible tile sides. They break down into: 4 @ 3-sides forest (with a single sheep in each of the colors), 4 @ 1-side forest (with 3 sheep of each color on the tile), and 16 @ 2-sides forest. That means that you only have 28 ways to extend a forest or, conversely, only 4 ways to cap off a forest. Given that a wolf is the biggest threat in the game, this seems somewhat limiting.
Finally, and perhaps the biggest drawback for me personally, is that this seems to be more of a waiting game. Can you out-wait your opponents before committing your precious tiles to a field, without revealing your color? It just detracts from my overall enjoyment of the game. Perhaps we're just not playing aggressively enough; I've always been a more defensive player, so maybe this type of game is just not for me.
Overall, I'm glad I bought it, and have enjoyed the games we've played. I think that this game will come out often enough, but probably not as much as Carcassonne; for me, it will be a nice alternative to Carcassonne. Who knows, if La Guerre des Moutons had come out first, maybe that would be reversed? Definitely try it if you get a chance, and decide for yourself!