As you may or may not be aware, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of card games. I mean, I like some games played with cards, and I like board games played with cards, but I just don’t seem to get too excited about most games that are pure card games. Well, I’m coming around, and my latest discovery is Beasty Bar from Zoch Publishing, a game just released at Essen, and that I had the good fortune to first play with a legend, and one of my most admired game designers, Mike Gray. Through a mutual friend and a bit of luck, I ended up playing some games with him after his return from Essen, and this was one of the games he introduced me to. After a nail-biting 2 months, I finally ended up getting a copy via that same mutual friend who happens to have an account with a Canadian wholesaler. Long story short is that it was the longest two month wait in recent memory, because the game is simply a huge amount of fun in a little box. It literally is one of the most fun games I’ve played in a long, long time.
The game’s premise is that each player controls twelve animals, all of whom are dressed to the nines and trying to enter the Heaven’s Gate bar. The table is set up with the “That’s It” and “Bar Entrace” cards spaced out so that five cards can fit between them, and then the first player can place his first card. Players put one card at the next closest space to the bar entrance, and then draw a card so that they have four in hand at the end of their turn. Now, each animal, from the lowly Skunk to the pimped out Lion has its own ability that is used when it is placed, and some have persistent powers, such as the Giraffe, who moves one space ahead in line every turn. The kicker is that when five animals are in line at the end of a turn, after all powers activate, the front two animals get into the bar and the last animal has the bouncer eject them from the line.
It’s a really simple game, mechanically, but it’s got a ton of strategy thanks to the powers. What I really love is that the art is really good, and downright funny to boot. It really helps the game along because you’ve always got these beatnik, club hopping animals to look at. I still laugh when I see the Skunk with a martini glass and poo gas bubbles emitting from it’s exposed anus. The cards are big, tarot sized affairs, which is awesome because I love the big cards and they’re easier for smaller hands to hold. My 6 year old even plays this with me, and has beaten me a couple of times.
The game ends when everyone has played all of their cards, and scoring can be done one of two ways. In the basic game, each card that made it into the bar is worth 1 point, so the player who got the most animals in wins. In the advanced game, there are three groups of animals worth progressively more points, and so which animals get in matter a whole lot more, which provides a lot more strategy but also is more luck dependent since you might not have the right card at the right time to get into the bar and score the most points. It’s a lot of fun both ways, but with the latter version it can cause a little more analysis paralysis because you really have to think about what’s been played, what can take out the animal you’re getting ready to place, and so on.
For the $22.00 US that I paid for it, I’m ecstatic about the purchase. This is the kind of lighter filler game that I’ve been missing since I traded away Citadels, and honestly, I think I like this game a lot more. I would recommend this game to pretty much anyone except the people who truly loathe card games, or those who can’t stand luck being involved in a game. It’s just a ton of fun, and you should definitely check it out.
Why I Now Know What Happened To The Animals On Noah’s Ark:
– Simple, brisk play makes this a thirty minute game with four players and little downtime
– The really fun art style and big cards make this fun to look at on the table
– You can’t beat the price
Why The Skunk’s Butt Bubbles Define This Game:
– This game is a little bit on the luck dependent side, which some people might not like
– It’s about a bar, and seedy animals trying to get into it, so the more puritanical might not like it
I just really love this game, and I can’t ever see myself saying no to someone asking to play it. It’s good with two, three, or four players, which is a very hard feat to do well, so this is literally the perfect filler game to get the mood started right for game night.
Learn more about this game here: