The mostly family-friendly Animal Kingdoms game by Stephen Aramini was recently released by Swiss game publisher Game Factory. The game draws attention with its beautiful appearance. Whether it is good in terms of gameplay, you will find out in this review.
In Animal Kingdoms, 1-5 players fight for supremacy in the five kingdoms. To do this, we send our animals into kingdoms over three rounds so that we can maintain the majority in them.
The majority of the area is simple
In each of the three rounds, we take turns playing animal cards with different number values and animal types to place a shield of our color on one of the five kingdoms. It is divided into different sizes and contains 4 – 8 fields, one of which is called the crown field.
In order to place shields on the fields, we must abide by the laws specific to each kingdom. These determine which cards we should place and how. For example, we must discard cards from 1 to 8 and above or we may not lay down a number or type of animal twice in order to be able to lay down our shield.
Alternatively, we can decide to discard any number of cards from our four hand in order to draw the same number of cards again and get a victory point. This way we can slightly influence our luck of the draw and keep or draw better cards for future turns or for the final battle of the regions.
If the first end of the game places one of his shields on one of the crown spaces, he may take one of three additional random victory point tiles face down. After that, the elimination action may not be taken by any of the others and the same end of the game is eliminated for the remainder of the round. Once everyone has placed a shield on the crown space, the round ends and victory points are scored.
Fair distribution of points
At the start of the game, each of the Five Kingdoms is randomly assigned three victory point tiles. They are sorted in ascending order, i.e. from lowest to highest value, so that more points can be earned each round. When evaluated at the end of the round, the person who was able to distribute the most shields in the kingdom is checked. The player with the most shields gets full points, the people with the second most shields share half the points, and the third-place player gets one victory point. While players can share second or third place, if there is a tie for first place, there will be a battle for victory.
Players play a card face down. The goal is to outperform others in terms of value. Means the highest number wins. However, there is a small special rule. The highest number in the game – 8 – can be defeated by one. That is, if three players play for victory in an area, and players play 7, 8 and 1, then 1 wins, because 8 beats 7 and 1 beats 8. The one who emerged victorious from the battle gets all the victory points. The other players share the second position.
At the end of registration, all shields are placed on the crown spaces on the blue throne spaces above. They remain there for the rest of the game and are considered additional shield in future turns.
Solo and two people with Automata
For the game alone or in pairs, Animal Kingdoms comes with a simple mechanic called Egon (opponent without a nose). Each turn a card is drawn for Egon. Depending on the number on the card, Egon places a shield on the kingdom that has as many fields as shown on the card. If 1 – 3 is drawn, Egon places his shield on the smallest kingdom with the fewest number of shields of his colour. If there is a tie in the scoring, Egon draws 2-3 cards depending on the number of players, of which the card with the highest number counts.
Automata works surprisingly well and is a good opponent, especially in single player play. Of course, luck plays a big role here, but we always find that the automatic machine is the better option for playing solo than scoring. In addition, the games with Egon have always been very close. Anyway, we had a lot of fun playing with Egon.
|Number of players: from 1 to 5
Age: from 8 years
Playing time: 45 minutes
Long-term motivation: medium
Mechanics: Majority of the area, hand management
Author: Stephen Armeni
Animal Kingdoms is easy to explain and play. The luck factor through the cards in play simplifies the flow of the game, but you can also control something with the cancel move, which is nice. The game is suitable for casual and frequent players at the same time. Even after our test games, Animal Kingdoms was always placed on our table for a short game play between or at the beginning or end of game night. With a total of 30 different laws, the game also offers variety in each game. The material of the game is also good and of high quality. The individual board elements are put together like a puzzle, but don’t stick together too tightly. This will help protect them from damage when disassembling the toy.
At €20-30, depending on the retailer, you can buy it with confidence here, because we enjoyed the game a lot.
Last Updated 02/23/2023 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. * = affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API
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