Reviewed by Herb Levy

WAR & SHEEP (Eurogames/Descartes USA, Inc.; 2 players, about 15 minutes; $14.95)


Mutton mayhem in the meadow sets the scene for War & Sheep, one of the initial releases in the new 2 player series of games recently unveiled by Eurogames. War & Sheep is designed by Bruno Cathala and comes in a small box which holds a game board, 38 tokens, 21 Action cards and a rules folder.

Each player begins with a set of six identical sheep tokens. The sheep are placed on the game board in one of two initial set up positions (as shown in the rules) so that the sheep are basically in “mirror image” positions. The board is basically a 6 x 6 grid of circles and it is filled by placing the grass tokens plus the 2 wolf tokens (all face down) on the remaining empty spaces.warsheepThere are three kinds of grass tokens. “Lush Grass” valued at 5, “Common Grass” worth 3 and “Fermented Grass” worth only 1. However, these values are neatly counterbalanced by what happens (or doesn’t happen) when one of your sheep eats the grass.

On a turn, a player MUST perform two actions from a menu of five possibilities: “go on recon”, move a sheep, move a wolf, camouflage a sheep or play an Action Card. (And yes, the same action may be done twice.)

“Going on recon” means a player may look at 1 or 2 face down tokens adjacent to one of his sheep. The examined tokens are returned face down or, if the examined token turns out to be a wolf, may be returned face down OR placed face up. And, of course, a sheep can move.

Sheep movement is done in a straight line, horizontally or vertically but not diagonally. An interesting byproduct of sheep movement is a “draft” effect. As in many race car games, the lead sheep acts like a lead race car and will “drag along” other sheep directly behind it (regardless of color). A sheep cannot stop unless it meets an obstacle of some kind: another sheep of either color, a camouflaged sheep, a wolf or a grass token. If bumping another sheep, movement stops. If bumping into a wolf, the sheep is immediately eaten and removed from the board. If a grass token is the obstacle, the sheep eats the grass. Should the token be a Lush Grass token, the player removes the token and places it in his stash. However, the sheep, completely satiated on this exquisite meal, is removed from the board! If it’s Common Grass, the token is revealed, taken but, this time, the sheep remains on the board. If Fermented Grass makes the meal, again the token is claimed, the sheep remains on the board but the player now draws an Action Card.

Action cards add a chaotic element and a bit of zaniness to game play. The play of an Action card can cause varied results from changing one of your sheep to a “Mad Sheep” (enabling that creature to move horizontally, vertically and DIAGONALLY!), allowing you to move an enemy sheep, removing sheep (or a wolf) from the game, returning sheep to the game, even ending the game (a good play if you think you’re ahead) with the play of the “Truce” card. To prevent hoarding cards, three “Binge” cards force the unlucky player who draws them to discard ALL Action Cards currently held!

Also, a player may move the wolf which moves like a normal sheep (horizontally or vertically until meeting an obstacle). But a sheep is not completely helpless when endangered by a wolf as it may be camouflaged. To camouflage a sheep, a player merely flips a sheep token to its other side. When camouflaged, a sheep cannot be eaten by a wolf! On the other hand, In that position, a sheep cannot move!

Play continues until one of these things happens. Should a player lose all his sheep, his opponent automatically wins! Barring that, the game ends when the Truce card is played, no more grass tokens are on the board OR if, for four consecutive turns, no sheep are eaten by wolves or grass tokens eaten by sheep. At that point, Victory Points are totaled.

Grass values (those 1, 3 and 5 tokens) held by each player are added. Any bonus points resulting from played Action cards are added too. The player with the highest total wins. If there is a tie, the game is a draw.

When planning your moves, keep in mind that board edges can be dangerous. A hungry wolf can easily “ricochet” off an edge and snatch up your sheep. Sometimes, camouflaging a sheep to keep it safe from attack until the wolf moves away is a prudent move. Remember: lose all your sheep and you lose the game! Action cards should be judiciously used as they can parlayed with another action to strengthen a position or eliminate an opponent’s sheep. But again, don’t hoard. Those Binge cards can ruin the best plans.

War & Sheep is a game of immense charm. The motif, helped a great deal by the delightful box, token and card artwork of Cyril Saint-Blancat, transforms what is, in essence, a simple abstract game, into an enjoyable 15 minutes of play. As a bonus, it gives the game an appeal for non-gamers who might shy away from something with a more serious theme. Don’t let the light topic fool you. It’s not rocket science but the game packs plenty of fun. – – – – – Herb Levy

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

Fall 2002 GA Report Articles


Reviewed by Herb Levy CAN'T STOP THE TURTLES (Winning Moves; 2-4 players; about 30 minutes; $10) Although it may be hard to believe, Sid Sackson's best selling game (at least, according to Sid) is not Acquire, not Bazaar, not Kohle, Kies & Knete, not Venture nor any of the games from the fabled 3M line. Sid's bestseller is a clever little dice game called Can't ...
Read More
American Idol For those of you who live outside the United States (or under a rock, as the case may be), summer television here in the States was rocked by a cultural phenomenon called American Idol. Based upon a successful British show, American Idol targeted the American music market audience. The premise: conduct a nationwide search for the next big singing talent who would be ...
Read More
[From time to time, we like to revisit great games that are, alas, no longer with us. In the past installments of our Game Classics series, we have featured Bantu, Can't Stop, Daytona 500, Holiday, Kimbo, Mr. President, Ploy, Rich Uncle, Square Mile, Stock Market Game (by Gabriel), Summit, Troque/Troke and Wildcatter. This time around, the Stock Market gets our attention once again with a ...
Read More
K-BAN'S KORNER Blokus BLOKUS (Sekkoia, 2-4 players, 20-30 minutes; about $30) Abstracts? I don’t review no stinkin’ abstracts! Why not? Let me count the ways: 1) Most of them are 2-player, with the more skilled player winning almost all the time. 2) They are intensely serious – planning ahead by several moves doesn’t encourage lively banter or laughter. 3) The time required to develop mastery ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy PIZARRO & CO. (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games, 3 to 6 players, about 45 minutes; $24.95) Tom Lehmann is no stranger to Gamers Alliance. As one of the forces that comprised TimJim/Prism Games, Tom had his hand in a number of interesting designs. The last time his name appeared in one of our features was in the Winter 1996 GA REPORT ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser STAR WARS: EPIC DUELS (Hasbro, 2-6 players, 30-45 minutes; $19.95) Star Wars: Epic Duels has been getting quite a bit of discussion on various internet gaming forums and the reaction has been mostly positive. The designers of the game are Craig Van Ness and Rob Daviau, the two folks responsible for most of the new Avalon Hill releases, as well ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser WALLENSTEIN (Queen Games, 3-5 players, 1½ to 2 hours; about $45) Games with a "war" theme are few and far between in Germany due, presumably, to the country's militaristic past. Even games that have combat as a mechanism usually only represent this in a very abstract manner. Thus, when I heard that Queen was going to be releasing a design ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy WAR & SHEEP (Eurogames/Descartes USA, Inc.; 2 players, about 15 minutes; $14.95) Mutton mayhem in the meadow sets the scene for War & Sheep, one of the initial releases in the new 2 player series of games recently unveiled by Eurogames. War & Sheep is designed by Bruno Cathala and comes in a small box which holds a game board, 38 ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy WAR!: AGE OF IMPERIALISM (Eagle Games, 2 to 6 players, 2-3 hours; $49.99) The late 19th and early 20th Century was a time of vast expansion as major powers sought to increase their influence and holdings throughout the world. In War! Age of Imperialism, that world comes to life as players compete to build the largest empire in the world. War! ...
Read More