Friday, 10 July 2009

Fuzzy Tiger

I played Fuzzy Tiger with Chong Sean and Michelle at Carcasean boardgame cafe on 30 Jun 2009. This is a game designed and published by a Taiwanese gamer, and I am guessing that he caught the German game bug at Witch House, Taipei, just like Chong Sean and I.

Players are monkeys trying to collect tiger whiskers. Now that's an unusual theme. The monkeys approach the sleeping tiger, and need to be very close before they can pull one or two whiskers from the tiger. The tiger gets closer and closer to waking up whenever a monkey succeeds in pulling a whisker. When the tiger wakes up, it attacks the monkey closest to it, and that monkey takes two points of damage. At that time, the monkey standing furthest away is jeered at by his friends for being a coward, and takes one damage point. I guess he is so ashamed of himself that he bangs himself againt a rock face. When the game ends, the monkey with the most damage automatically loses. From among the remaining monkeys, the one with the most whiskers win. This reminds me of High Society and Cleopatra and the Society of Architects, although I have played neither.

Each player has 9 action cards, and every round everyone secretly selects one to be played. The selected cards are revealed at the same time, and are then executed in the order of the card number. One tricky thing is many cards lose their effect or have a different effect if more than one player play it. So you need to guess what cards others will play, and you need to remember what cards others have played, so that you can avoid wasting your cards. There a psychology element and a memory element. Most action cards allow your monkey to advance a number of steps. Some have special effects like making the tiger more (or less) sleepy, or making your monkey crouch down, so that in case the tiger wakes up, it can't see your monkey even if it is closest, and will attack the next monkey behind yours. Most spaces along the track leading up to the tiger only accomodate one monkey, so if someone else's monkey lands on the same spot as yours, your monkey gets pushed one step closer to the tiger.

The game board. Sorry this is upside down. From left to right, the tracks are: (1) Tiger sleepiness track. When it reaches zero, the tiger wakes up. (2) Monkey advancement track. If your monkey reaches spaces 1 or 2, it plucks 2 or 1 whiskers respectively, and then immediately jumps back to spaces 6 or 5 respectively. (3) Damage/injury track. (4) Whisker collected track, and also game end countdown. The black marker moves downwards each time the tiger wakes up, and when it reaches the top scoring marker, the game ends.

Two of the cards. On the left, your monkey throws a stone at the tiger. The "3" on the top right is the order for resolving card actions. The three monkey heads icon below the "3" means if more than 1 player play this card, it still takes effect. The icons at the bottom mean that if only 1 player plays this card, he advances 2 steps, but if more than 1 player play this card, noone advance. Regardless of how many players play this card, the tiger's sleepiness reduces by two. On the right, your monkey pounces ahead. That no-multi-monkey icon on the top right means if more than 1 player play this card, it loses its effect. The icons at the bottom mean you advance your monkey by four spaces, and the tiger sleepiness reduces by one.


Fuzzy Tiger is all about the psychology of choosing your action cards. It may appear to be a simple game, but the action cards are actually a little tricky and it'll take some time to get a grasp of the strategy. Non-gamers may find the game too complex. I'd describe the game as quite condensed. There are quite a few things to consider when you play. Making sure you don't take too much damage is one, positioning your monkey for when the tiger wakes up is another, guessing whether the tiger will wake up is yet another. To do all these, you need to guess your opponents' intentions. When you get it right, it's a lot of fun, e.g. in one round, I guessed correctly that Chong Sean and Michelle would pick the card that allows their monkeys to pounce ahead quickly. This is one of the cards that loses its effect if more than one player play it, so basically they both wasted this very powerful card, while I chose a less powerful card, and managed to make some progress approaching the tiger. After that, I knew I could safely use that pounce card, because both of them had already used it. This is how the game feels.

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