Menu

MOTHER SHEEP

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Playroom Entertainment, 2-6 players, ages 8 to adult, 30 minutes; $20)

 

Some animals seem to lend themselves to gaming. Think of those lovable hedgehogs always appearing in the games from Doris und Frank. But lovability is not restricted to hedgehogs. How about sheep? Not too long ago, we did a feature on Wooly Bully (Fall 2003 GA REPORT). Sheep made another major character appearance in Shear Panic (Spring 2006 GA REPORT). Now, once again, those lovable sources of wool have become the focal point of an entertaining game by Jeb Havens: Mother Sheep.

Mother Sheep contains a large Mother Sheep tile (placed in the center of the play area) which is randomly surrounded by 10 smaller Sheep Tiles. The 10 Sheep pawns are placed on the smaller Sheep tiles). The other components include 80 fences (and a bag to hold them), a corral board and 18 My Sheep Cards.mothersheep

The smaller sheep tiles have names (Annabelle, Bob, Dusty, Francesca, Gertie, Langston, Millard, Norman, Prince and Tabitha). The My Sheep Cards are shuffled and each player is dealt one. These cards display the names of five of those sheep. It is the goal of each player to corral the five sheep named on his card. You corral sheep by fencing them in and that’s the tricky part.

All fences in the game have a green back but the front of each fence is divided into several colors. At the start, all players randomly draw three of these fences and keep them, face down, as their own supply of “personal fences”. The first player (in keeping with the theme, the player who is wearing the most wool according to the rules), draws three more fences from the bag to create a “community” stock of fences. On a turn, a player MUST take one of the community fences and place it in the play area. There are several rules for fence placement:

Any ONE unused color segment from each fence may overlap the Mother Sheep. (Mother matches ANY color.)

A placed fence must overlap either the Mother Sheep and/or another fence (or fences) already placed.

Overlapping fences MUST match colors (red on red, blue on blue etc.) but the same color segment can NOT be used twice.

No fence may touch a sheep (except the Mother Sheep)

No part of a color segment can overlap or be overlapped by a segment of a different color.mothersheep2

Only one sheep may be fenced in at a time and you may not place a fence that would make it impossible to fence in a sheep.

On a turn, a player may use any of his personal fences in addition to the community fence. In that case, while those fences may be placed in any order, they MUST touch each other.

When a sheep tile is completely surrounded by fences, the player placing the final fence moves that sheep token from that tile to the corral board. Should all five sheep on a player’s My Sheep card be fenced in, whether that player actually fenced in the sheep or not, the player holding the corresponding My Sheep card wins the game!

The fencing mechanism of play is both colorful and challenging, especially when you are on the verge of corralling a sheep and you need a fence with the necessary matching color combination. That’s where your personal stash of fences should be used for peak effectiveness. Since playing a personal fence with a community fence allows you, in effect, to take a double turn, the best times to use it are when the direction of played fences may take you away from one of your targeted sheep OR when a surrounding is possible and playing a community fence with a personal fence completes the color links to make it happen. You only have three personal fences so three double moves per player are possible in the game.

As the game unfolds, the colorful fences create a mad maze in all directions. Sometimes, it becomes impossible to fence in a sheep. Fortunately, in those cases, you are allowed to adjust a minimum number of fences to remedy the situation. On the other hand, although two sheep may not be in one fenced area, it is possible to fence in TWO sheep on a turn by creating two separate corrals with one move. You get another turn when you fence it one sheep. Do you get TWO extra turns when you fence in two? The rules do not say.

The sheep are in, virtual, alphabetical order. But letters are skipped. Why not Carl for sheep C instead of leaving gaps in the alphabet? Just asking. More significantly though is something that could fall into the “lost opportunity” category and that is the black sheep.

There are two black sheep (Francesca and Norman) on the corral board but NO black sheep tokens! The rules make no mention of this and there is apparently no significance to the black sheep. Probably production costs ruled out the additional cost to create black tokens. Understandable but… The presence of black sheep present several possibilities. You could modify victory conditions to involve point totals with the black sheep worth more points (or negative points) so when the game ends with someone having all the fenced in sheep, another player could still win if his point total is higher. Or give the person who fences in a black sheep the ability to automatically remove a sheep from play into the corral? Or, if you want to give the game a real nasty turn, allow the person who fences in a black sheep to liberate a sheep on the corral board and place him back in play? Or…. create your own house rule to add a tweak or two to the game.

At its heart, Mother Sheep is a light game designed for a younger audience that offers a lot of color and charm. But the game has a bit more heft than might be expected with room for planning placements. Because of that, this is a game that can bridge the gap between young and old; a perfect game for parents and children to play together.- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Fall 2007 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy (Ystari Games/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-75 minutes; $29.95) Over the last few years, game designers who have managed to come up with a successful and challenging gamer's game have challenged themselves to come up with a slimmed down version of it without sacrificing the essence of the original. Andreas Seyfarth followed up his Puerto Rico (Spring ...
Read More
Witchcraft As this editorial is being written, Halloween is just around the corner. I don't know about you, but Halloween always gets me to thinking about ghosts and goblins and all sorts of spooky things that go bump in the night. And witchcraft. Witchcraft. Bubbling cauldrons filled with unspeakable things, figures in dark robes mumbling mysterious incantations, unfamiliar scents mingled with blood curdling sounds. Witches ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Gamewright, 3-8 players, ages 10 and up, about 30 minutes; $19.99) The search for the ideal party game is never-ending. Each year, many pretenders to the throne of supreme party game/ice breaker appear. One of the newest and best of the current crop of candidates comes from the roster of games published by Gamewright: Hit or Miss. Hit or Miss, as ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Sunriver Games/Funagain Games, 3-8 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; $19.95) A few years ago at the gaming convention commonly known as The Gathering of Friends, I played a game by Alan Moon and Bruno Faidutti called Diamant. The game involved entering mine shafts to uncover treasure, pressing your luck to bring back valuables before you encountered deadly dangers and ...
Read More
Reviewed by Joe Huber (Queen Games/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; $49.95) I do not think I shall ever forget my first game of Jenseits von Theben – the German title (which translates to “beyond Thebes”) of the original, small print-run edition of the game by Peter Prinz that has become Thebes. Dale Yu had caught my attention with his ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Playroom Entertainment, 2-6 players, ages 8 to adult, 30 minutes; $20) Some animals seem to lend themselves to gaming. Think of those lovable hedgehogs always appearing in the games from Doris und Frank. But lovability is not restricted to hedgehogs. How about sheep? Not too long ago, we did a feature on Wooly Bully (Fall 2003 GA REPORT). Sheep made another ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Portal, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 20 minutes; about 45 Euros) The world has grown smaller over the last few decades thanks largely to technological advances allowing communication between vast expanses to become both easier and quicker. Paradoxically, this "global shrinkage" has caused the World of Games to grow larger. Not only do quality games arise from such traditional areas ...
Read More
Reviewed by Pevans (JKLM Games/Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $49.95) It’s impressive how quickly Phoenicia has become popular at my gaming group since its launch – we’ve had three games on the go at once on some evenings. And it’s a well deserved popularity as this is a terrific game. I’d better declare my interest, though. Phoenicia is published ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Educational Insights, 2-4 players, ages 6 and up, about 30 minutes; $19.99) Over the last few years, Educational Insights has become a formidable presence in the game market. They distribute Blokus (featured in the Fall 2002 GA REPORT) and several Blokus spin-offs (Blokus Trigon, Travel Blokus) and have launched a series of strategy games under the title of StrataGems. One of ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Playroom Entertainment, 2-4 players, ages 8 to adult, 35 minutes; $38) Setting up stalls in the bustling Portobello Market of Victorian London is the setting for the aptly titled Portobello Market, the new game designed by Thomas Odenhoven, and distributed here in the Untied States by Playroom Entertainment. Portobello Market comes with a mounted board showing lanes that can handle anywhere ...
Read More
Reviewed by Ben Baldanza (Z-Man Games, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; $24.99) Stack Market is a dexterity game designed by Susumu Kawasaki camouflaged as a business game. The primary component is set of 60 dice with side values ranging from zero to four. These dice are stacked onto each other to create up to four “businesses”, with the height of the business ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Czech Board Game Company, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 120 minutes +; about $150) Every once in a while, a game piques the interest of a small cadre of gamers and, like a herd of maddened bees, a buzz takes to the air. That phenomenon occurred with the release of Through the Ages, a new game out of the Czech ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac (Fantasy Flight Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-75 minutes; $79.95) If you miss the pleasure of playing with those green plastic soldiers of your childhood then Tide of Iron is for you. Tide of Iron is a World War II squad level miniature game by John Goodenough, Christian Peterson and Corey Koniecza. When you open the box you will ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Funagain Games, 2-5 players, ages 8 and up, 30-40 minutes; $24.99) Funagain Games has long been known as one of the leading Internet sites for buying games. Recently, Funagain has broadened its reach by publishing games as well. The latest offering under the Funagain label is Uptown designed by Kory Heath. Uptown is a tile-laying game played on a 9 x ...
Read More
Reviewed by Frank Hamrick (Abacus Spiele/Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, ages 8 and up, 45 minutes; $44.95) Spiel des Jahres. The coveted German game of the year award conveys several things to a consumer. The components are of good quality. The design is polished. The design is solid. The game will appeal to a broader family market. The game will probably not be a front-line ...
Read More

If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!