Nobody But Us Chickens
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As sunset approaches in Littleton, Kentucky, Farmer Johnson's chickens have had a hard day scratching, pecking and egg laying. But now it's getting darktime to return to the coop and get a good night's sleep.
Unfortunately, a pack of foxes have found the coop and when the rats show up, they'll snatch every chicken they can lay their fangs on, even if they have to make more than one trip to do it.
Will the loyal guard dogs save the chickens from the foxes, or will a rat sneak in and snatch the best chicken for itself? Only you will decide!
- 56 cards
- 1 scorepad
- 1 rule sheet
- 1 pencil
- 2 card stands
Average Rating: 5 in 1 review
Diet Evil Games is one of the strangest names for a company Ive seen in a long time (right up there with Eight Foot Llama). Of course, it seems that it is customary for companies with strange names to make excellent games, so I assumed that Nobody But Us Chickens (Diet Evil Games, 2003 Kevin G. Nunn) would be a good game. Chickens seem to be a popular topic in gaming these days, so the theme wasnt that original, but the game play sounded quite interesting, so we tried it out.
And good first impressions changed to extremely high second impressions. This is a great, fun little bluffing game, and one that kids and adults can both play with pleasure. I know that I say that about quite a few games, but this one gets higher points in that area than almost no other game Ive played. When I played the game with some children, they picked it up extremely quickly, and gave me a good game in no time did I feel as if I was playing down to them. That alone makes the game worth playing; but, as usual, Ill elaborate further.
At the beginning of each round (there are as many rounds as there are number of players), each player is given nine cards of their color. Each set of nine cards is identical, with the only difference being that each set has a different colored back.. A set is made up of one fox, one dog, one rat, and six chickens one sickly chicken (worth 1 point), three healthy chickens (1 point each), a plump chicken (2 points), and a prize chicken (4 points). Each of the players put their cards into their hands, and nine turns are then played. One player is given a Fox King marker, and the player to their right receives the Top Dog marker.
Each turn, the players select one card from their hand and place it face down on the table. These cards are then simultaneously turned face-up, and one of several things happens.
- If only chickens are played, they all stay on the table available for future rounds.
- If only one player plays a fox, they receive every chicken currently on the table placing these chickens in a pile in front of them.
- If more than one fox is played, then the Fox King (or, if the Fox King hasnt played a fox, the fox-playing person who is closest clockwise to him) chooses one of the chickens from the table. In clockwise order, each other player who put down a fox takes a chicken, until all the chickens are gone.
- If a rat is played, the player playing the rat can steal only ONE chicken, and must wait until all the foxes get one pick.
- If a guard dog(s) is played, along with only chickens, nothing happens, and the player(s) who played the dog discards it.
- If one guard dog is played along with some predators (foxes and rats), then all the foxes and rats are discarded, and the player who played the dog takes all the chickens on the table instead.
- If more than one guard dog and predator is played, then the dogs take turns taking the chickens, just like the foxes do, but starting with the player who has the Top Dog token.
After all nine turns are over, each player receives (or possibly loses!) points for the chickens they have, and scores are recorded. Chickens still on the table are worthless. Each player then takes their cards back into their hands, and both the Top Dog and Fox King markers are moved one player to the right. The next round then commences, until the game is over at which time points are totaled, and the player with the most is the winner!
Some comments on the game:
1). Components: The box is nice and sturdy, but certainly bigger than it needs to be. This may or may not be a good thing. I personally like slightly bigger boxes, as theyre easier to find on my gaming shelves. But the game really could have been condensed into a small card box, one that could easily be transported. Im glad that the bigger box was included for another reason, however Diet Evil Games was able to include a very nice score pad an unnecessary addition, but oh so nice. The cards themselves are very bright, and easily distinguishable one from another. While not the greatest quality (they do seem to take a bit of wear and tear Id rather have white borders over black), they do get the job done, and should last for quite a while. The Fox King and Top Dog markers are nice double-sided cards that are placed in plastic stands.
2). Rules: The rules for the game are very simple, and could probably be condensed even smaller than what Ive written in this review. However, the two-sided page of rules included with the game is VERY thoroughly written. I wouldnt have minded color illustrations and diagrams, but really, the game is so simple, it didnt need them. Not only are thorough rules included, but some strategy tips are included although frankly, I thought only a simpleton would not pick up these tips after one round of play. Two variants are included in the rules: the healthy coop highly recommended, and short summer nights a change in the game, but not as big of a deal.
3). Family friendly: As stated in my introduction, I really feel that this game really works well in mixed age groups. Adults will find themselves really trying to keep up with the younger set, and kids will figure the game out quickly. In my schools board game club, this game has become a game of choice.
4). Strategy: However, that does not mean the game can or should be excluded from the gamer folk. Played by six serious gamers, the bluff factor in this game could really get intense, and I find that its rather enjoyable. There is really no set strategy for the game at all, except to figure out what your opponent is going to play. Some people dont consider bluffing a strategy, but I do and its the basis for this game. Unlike Poker, and Youre Bluffing, however, this game is very easy for children to get into.
5). Fun Factor and Time: The game is quite a bit of fun. When I played with the children, there was a lot of laughter. When I played with adults, there was almost as much, if not more laughter. To me, unless the laughter is derisive scorn directed at the game (which it wasnt), thats an excellent sign that everyone is having a great time and that this game delivers on the fun factor. The game is fairly quick only lasting about five minutes per player and so before the game gets repetitive, its over and everyone had a great time!
6). Clones: This game reminds me of another of my favorite fillers Pick Picknic. They both have similar themes, and have dogs, foxes, and chickens. But the feel is very different. Pick Picknic has a bit of luck (a die) and a lot of cubes that are being moved around. Nobody but Us Chickens is just cards and it seems easier and quicker. While I love Pick Picknic quite a bit, Nobody But us Chickens is just as fun, if not more and owning both games is not much of a duplication.
So I really recommend this game! Diet Evil Games is putting out small, fun, quality games, and if they continue to produce excellent selections such as this, I have high hopes for their company (despite their strange name!) Nobody But Us Chickens is fun, fast, and easily accessible to all ages. Its a great filler, a fun family game, and an excellent choice for those who love bluffing. Pick it up, and youll easily find opponents who enjoy this three to six player game!
There sure seems to be quite a few games about chickens lately. I guess you could say that there is something fowl in the air. OK, I guess you don't have to say that!
Nobody But Us Chickens is designed by Kevin Nunn and released by a new company (there's a lot of those lately, too!), Diet Evil Games. The game focuses on the chicken coop and the efforts of its imperiled residents to escape becoming the main entre for the local foxes and rats. Only the heroic efforts of the guard dogs can save the day for the feathered fowls.
Each player receives an identical set of cards: 3 healthy chickens (valued at `1' apiece), 1 plump chicken (value of `2'), 1 prize chicken (value of `4'), 1 sickly chicken (valued at `-1'), a fox, a rat and a guard dog. Each is nicely illustrated with appealing cartoon-style artwork. Rounding out the cards are the `Top Dog' and `Fox King', each of which are placed in a stand. One player receives the Fox King and the player to his right receives the Top Dog. These will rotate clockwise on each subsequent round of play.
Game play is quite simple and very reminiscent of Hick Hack in Gackelwack (Pick Picknik). Each player lays a card face-down to the table and simultaneously reveals them. There are several possible outcomes:
1). All chickens are played. In this case, the chickens gather in the coop. The cards are moved to the center of the table (the ``coop'').
2). One predator (a rat or a fox) is played, but no guard dogs are played. Pity the hapless chickens. In this case, the player who played the predator gets to eat one or all of the chickens. If the card is the fox, the player greedily gobbles all of the chickens. They will score points worth their value at the end of the round. If the rat was played, the player snatches one chicken of his choice.
3). More than one predator is played, but no guard dogs are played. Beginning with the `Fox King' player, each player who played a fox card takes a chicken. Any player who played a rat chooses last. Players continue taking chickens until the coop is emptied. The rat player only gets one chicken. Again, pity the poor chickens.
4). A guard dog is played, but no predators are played. The bewildered dog has no one to save, so he goes home empty handed. No glory here.
5). One or more predators are played, but a guard dog is played. The brave dog saves the day! All of the chickens are saved. The player who played the guard dog collects all of the grateful chickens into his score pile.
6). One or more predators are played, and more than one guard dog is played. Beginning with the `Top Dog', each player who played a dog saves a chicken and takes it into their score pile. This continues until all of the chickens are removed from the coop and are safe. Good doggies!
Play continues in this fashion until all players have played all of their cards. Players then tally the values of the chickens they have collected and record the scores. A pre-determined number of rounds are played and the player with the most cumulative points is victorious.
An important point to consider is that once a card is played, it may not be re-used again that round. So, the important decision to be made is deciding when to play each card. This requires one to perform a ``Kreskin the Magnificent'' routine and read the minds of the other players. You're trying to guess what they will likely play and then choose your card accordingly. Thus, there is a heavy ``group-think'' element present in the game. Indeed, it is the game's heartbeat. So, if this ``guessing'' mechanism bothers you, then you likely won't be enamored by the game.
Truth-be-told, I'm not usually a fan of this mechanism. I've panned numerous games that have ``guessing'' at their core. However, there are games where the mechanism fits and the game is fun to play. Take 6, Raj and Sky Runner immediately come to mind. However, of the few games that use this mechanism that I enjoy, they seem to have one thing in common: they are ``light''. By that, I mean they are designed to be easy to learn and play, quick and fun. Used within this genre, the ``guessing'' mechanism isn't as troubling and, indeed, can be quite good. My problem with the mechanism seems to be when it is used in a game that is designed to be more serious or strategy oriented. Used in that context, I feel it can easily spoil the game.
Nobody But Us Chickens is a pleasant surprise. The game is easy to learn, plays quickly and is quite fun. There are numerous moments that elicit groans or shrieks of glee when the cards are revealed - usually a good indicator that the players are enjoying the experience. Yes, there are some decisions to be made and some rudimentary strategies that can be pursued, but for the most part, the game is a matter of luck. This luck factor increases as the number of players increase. Trying to get inside the heads of two opponents is one thing. Trying to get inside the heads of five opponents is practically impossible, so why even try? Still, the game is simply fun to play. I put it squarely in the same category as Pig Pile or Trendy, which is certainly good company.