This is the story about a King who loves his critters. I don’t know if this is the result of his natural love for animals or if it stems from the unhealthy Pokémon obsession that he had as a kid. Whatever the case, it turns out that a nearby dragon has stolen all of the “King’s Critters”…and naturally, he’s gotta
catch ’em all…get them back.
King’s Critters puts players in the role of “volunteers” (yes, let’s go with that) who are tasked with retrieving these animals. Each player will be using a magical cart to accomplish this task, but must be mindful of the sleeping dragon so as not to wake it. Needless to say…dragons are not morning people.
Before we get started with the usual review format, I’d like to thank Stephanie Marroquin from Victory Point Games for sending me a free copy of this game to review.
Map – The main playing area is made up of different colored paths that players will be moving on to capture the critters.
Critters – These animal tokens will be spawning on the map in different locations and moving about, serving as the targets that players will be attempting to capture.
Heroes & Dragons – These cardboard pieces move about the board on their stands, representing individual players and the dragon, respectively.
Event Cards – Event cards instruct players on where to place critters, how to move them, and how the dragon interacts with the environment. Some event cards allow players to take special actions like swapping places with another player / critter, wake the dragon, and make players miss turns, just to name a few.
Magical Cart Cards – Players will be using these to ferry critters around in an attempt to bring them back to the King’s zoo (zookeeper space). Each player gets one cart and they can only hold one critter at a time.
Six-Sided Die & Cup – The game’s manual states that these components do not come with the game. The cup is for holding the critter tokens and the die is for movement, more on that in the review.
Setup & Gameplay
Each player receives a hero and a cart of that color. Event cards are separated by color and shuffled, and the dragon is placed on the map as “asleep”. Two random critters are drawn and start on the red “Critter Start” spaces. The starting player is determined via a die roll.
On a player’s turn, they will:
1) Move – The current player moves as determined by a die roll. A player can’t move in the same space more than once per turn.
2) Capture – The current player must end their move in a space occupied by a critter to capture it, though a player doesn’t need the exact die roll to drop off a critter at the zookeeper space. Once this process is complete, the player keeps the critter token for scoring purposes at the end of the game.
3) Draw Event Card – The current player draws an event card of the same color zone that the hero is in and does as it instructs. Instructions can be followed or ignored, based on the current status of the dragon.
The general rule is that if the dragon is currently on the draw pile of the color that player needs to draw from, then no event card is drawn. If the dragon is asleep, then the dragon stays at its starting location.
Once the dragon is awake, it cannot go back to sleep. In addition to preventing players from drawing event cards of a certain color, it captures any critters in the zone it occupies (placing them back into the pool) and attacks any heroes that may also occupy that zone. Players can fend off the dragon and prevent it from reclaiming the critters in their magic carts by playing shield cards equal to the dragon strength indicated on the event card.
Endgame & Scoring
The game ends when no more event cards can be drawn (including when the dragon is sitting on the last pile) or when the last critter is drawn from the pool. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins!
The above is simply an overview of the game. If you’d like to learn more, then please check out the manual here:
The components function well and the game is very colorful. There was some soot that rubbed off on my hands from the pieces due to the way they are manufactured…be sure to keep wet wipes nearby. I like the addition of the six blank event cards so that players can create their own events…any feature that allows you to customize a game is always a bonus in my book. The manual states that you need a die and cup, though I was able to play the game fine without the latter. I simply put the tokens face down on the table and mixed them up as needed. The die on the other hand is used every turn and is necessary for play. While the game I received came with a micro-die labeled as a “gift”, I had to have the kids read the die roll for me as I personally had trouble using and reading the micro-die. I’ve already stated my feelings in previous reviews on products including all of the components necessary for them to function, so I won’t rehash that here and will let you, the paying consumers, make up your own minds.
The gameplay flowed and functioned well, though I fell victim to some really annoying situations. Since you cannot move onto the same space more than once per turn, it’s possible that you’ll keep passing up critters with unfavorable die rolls. At one point, I looked like Rocky Balboa when he tried to catch that chicken in the alleyway during the first movie. We made up a house rule that, after two turns of passing the same critter by, that we’d be able to capture it on our third pass regardless if we actually landed on it. Once critters begin populating the board en masse however, this becomes less of a problem.
Vinnie (11), Anthony (16), and I enjoyed playing the game together. I could tell that Vinnie was really getting into “strategizing” (he loves that word) on which way to go based on the number and value of critters in a particular direction. Anthony and I took it a step further and moved critters around as event cards instructed to be within six spaces of our player markers and thus, within striking distance on our next move.
I have a few friends that are also parents and I’ve heard them say on a few occasions that in the games they often play, the younger kids sometimes feel left out. King’s Critters would certainly appeal to younger kids as it is easy to play. This would make a good game to bring out on family game night, especially when young Hercules or Xena Warrior Princess wishes to join in on the fun.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can find more information on King’s Critters by visiting the Victory Point Games website or on Board Game Geek, located here: