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Mammut

Reviewed by Ted Cheatham

(Queen Games, 2-5 players, ages 8 to adult, 45-60 minutes; $54.95)

 

Ugh, must go to hunt Mammut. Me big cave man!

mammutboxAnd that leads us to the premise of the game of Mammut, designed by Kristian Amundsen Ostby. In Mammut, cave people are off to hunt for mammoths and forage. After the big day, there are all kinds of booty that must be divided – and it does not have to be divided evenly. It is a little reminiscent of the second part of Dragon’s Gold (Spring 2002 Gamers Alliance Report) after a dragon is slain but without a timer.

The game comes with action cards, two boards for keeping track of things and booty. The booty in this game comes in the form of 31 two sided “prey” tiles. The tiles are placed into a draw bag, mixed thoroughly and then dumped onto the table. They are spread out carefully and the splitting begins.

This is the heart of the game! The first place player claims tiles he wants from the pool and places the claimed tiles in front of him. He can take as much or as little as he wants. He can even take the whole pool from the table! The next player in clockwise order that does not have any claimed tiles in from of him will go next. He can claim as many tiles as he wants from the pool or take ALL of the tiles from another player. If he opts to take tiles from another player, he must take ALL of them and then return one of the stolen tiles back to the pool in the center of the table. So, if you get too greedy, someone will definitely steal your tiles. Of course, if someone steals your tiles, when your turn comes around again, you will have the option of taking the tiles in the middle or stealing from another player. And so it goes until every player has tiles in front of them.

Since the splitting of booty is at the game’s core, what sort of strategy will you use to choose your booty? Here is what is out there for the taking:

Axe – This will let you draw an action card. Action cards add to scoring or do other special things. These are interesting as you must commit an action card before you claim tiles. If someone were to later steal your tiles, your action card may actually benefit them in the scoring phase.

Fur – There is a fur track on the board and each fur acquired allows a player to advance his marker on the fur track. After movement is completed by all players, the player farthest along the track gets victory points equal to the round number i.e., one point in round one and five points in round five. The player with the least advancement on the fur track loses points equal to the round number.

Tusk – these score two points each.

Meat – For this round, the person to claim the most meat receives eight points, second receives five points, and the third receives two points.

Fire – The player claiming the least amount of fire loses five points.

Animals – There are seven types of animals in the game. These are scored after the last round of play based on the number of unique types of animal you have with points ranging from zero points for two or less different types of animal to 30 points if you possess all seven types.

mammut2Shaman tile – This is the tie breaker tile. The owner of the Shaman will break all ties and then they are broken either clockwise or counter clockwise depending on which side came out of the bag. With limited types of tiles in the pool to claim, this Shaman tile can be very important for who has the most and the least of a given item.

After reading the rules, I had my doubts about my purchase. However, in practice, the game is quite fun. I think it shines with more players even though two player rules are in the box. Everyone is working with perfect information (well almost as some tiles do have question marks on them and are only revealed at the end of the round before scoring) and everyone has the same goals in mind. If you get too greedy, someone will steal from you. If you don’t watch out for your interests, you will not score well. And, you must optimize your action cards to boost your score. It is also very funny to watch people stealing each other’s tiles and watching all of the moaning going on. Even if you want to steal your tiles back from someone who stole from you earlier, you still will be worse off because with every steal, a tile from the set is returned to the pool.

Mammut is not a deep strategic game by any means. It is very light hearted, cute, family fare. There is enough there to keep you occupied and have fun for five rounds in less than an hour. Let’s go hunt some Mammoths!

 


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