Tales and Games: The Hare and the Tortoise
While many are familiar with the story of “The Tortoise and the Hare”, someone dared to ask the unthinkable…”who would win if you added a wolf, fox, and lamb to the mix?” Honestly, my money’s on the wolf…I mean come on, it would literally slaughter the lot of them and STILL have time to shave the hair off the Three Little Pigs’ chinny chin chins before devouring them whole. Of course, this being a kid’s game based around a children’s story, reality can afford to go out the window a little…
Track Tiles, Starting Line, Finish Line, & Podium – These make up the racetrack, some assembly required.
Pawns & Stickers – These represent the five animals, some assembly required.
Racing Cards & Starting Bet Cards – Players will hedging their bets and moving the animals along the track with these.
Player Aid Cards – These help players keep track of how the animals move.
Setup & Gameplay
First Bet: Players begin by shuffling the five starting bet cards and dealing one to each player (two in a two player game). Players can look at their card but it’ll remain face-down for the rest of the game.
Build the track: Players will assemble the track with the tiles in a random order so as long as it stays as one continuous path. The starting line, finish line, pawns, and podium are set up appropriately.
Second Bet: Players are dealt seven racing cards. They each choose one and place it face down next to their bet card. Each player receives a player aid and the first person to call out the correct time gets to go first.
The game takes place over a series of rounds. On a player’s turn, they must play one to four cards face-up in front of them. These cards must depict the same animal. The player then draws back up to six cards. The racing phase triggers when players have played precisely eight cards (no more, no fewer) or when there are four cards of the same animal (no more, no fewer) showing. Players are never allowed to exceed the total of eight cards, nor are they allowed to play more than four cards of the same animal.
Racing Phase: The animals will each move based on the cards played. Each has their own movement rules. Once all animals have moved, the round end and the first player token moves clockwise to the next person. A new round begins.
End of Game: This continues until three animals have crossed the finish line (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place). Players receive points based on their bet cards…an animal in first place grants the player five points, second place three points, and third place two points. Whoever has the most points, wins the game!
The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played. For more information, you can view the manual here:
“Tales and Games: The Hare and the Tortoise”, on its surface, is a racing game…that much is obvious. What’s not so obvious is the fact that you’ll be doing a boatload of bluffing, as you’ll be trying to keep hidden what your two (or three) bet cards consist of. Concentrating on one or two animals is a sure way to let others know what you’re going for. With that said, the animals move in different ways and some only move so far despite how many cards might have been played with their picture. The tortoise, for example, only moves one space even if three cards are played…this is a great way to get rid of this particular card type if you’re not betting on it. Some wolf cards cause it to howl, preventing other animals from moving at all…another great way to get rid of cards you don’t need without worrying about your competition moving on up.
The game is pretty family-friendly. The manual lists a variant for “apprentice hares and tortoises” making the game easier than what it already is. There’s also a championship mode which tallies the scores over the course of three games, extending the game’s length to about an hour. There’s a good mix of strategy and luck here, the latter coming into play when you’re dealt you’re first bet card and when drawing racing cards from the deck. The latter, as explained above, is about managing your hand and timing the play of your unwanted cards appropriately. My only complaint here is with the components, though they aren’t as bad as their other release, “Steam Park”. For one, the stickers didn’t peel off easily causing them to tear. There’s also no reason why the finish line and podium couldn’t have come preassembled…between this and “Steam Park”, it’s like someone at Iello is purposely throwing as little money as they can into the quality of the components to piss someone like me off. It’s a bit disconcerting in a way as the gameplay mechanics are well thought out.
All in all, it’s not a bad little game…it just lacks a little TLC for its current price point of $25.
Final Verdict: 6/10