Saturday, 23 March 2013

Animal Upon Animal: Balancing Bridge

Plays: 2Px1.

The Game

Animal Upon Animal: Balancing Bridge is a standalone game based on Animal Upon Animal. It is a children's dexterity game where you stack up wooden animal pieces. In this version, as opposed to simply racing to get rid of your animal pieces, you don't hold any animals. You hold some animal combination cards instead, and try to get rid of them by having animals stacked in specific configurations. On your turn, you roll a die which determines from which of the four sides of the box you must pick an animal to be stacked with the other animals already on the bridge. To achieve a combo, you need to have the specific animal combination linked together in the stack. If the stack crashes down, your penalty is drawing another card, which means it becomes harder to get rid of all your cards. The first player to get rid of all cards wins.

The game box is also the game board, although strictly speaking only that bridge is the game board. Every game starts with a crocodile already on the bridge. Other animals are randomly scattered along the four edges of the board. Each side is associated with an icon, which appears on the dice.

Some of the animal combo cards. The die is in the background. Question mark means you can pick an animal from any of the four sides of the box. Pay attention to the rightmost card - two giraffes and a panther.

With this configuration of the animal stack, I achieved that two-giraffes-and-a-panther card.

The artwork is gorgeous. Hey you tourists! Beware the crocodiles!

One of the four sides of the box. This is the desert side, the icon being a sun.

The Play

I did a two-player game with Chong Sean, while waiting for others to arrive. It didn't work very well with two players. Chong Sean made the stack topple once, and that was enough to doom him. The game was over in probably less than ten minutes. It felt rather uneventful. I think the game would be much more fun with more players. Also it was probably not a good idea to play a children's game with all adults in the first place. With more players, it will be harder to make the combos you want, because there will be more other players to unintentionally (or intentionally) spoil your plans. There will also be more crashes, which is fun.

The Thoughts

I prefer the simplicity of the original Animal Upon Animal. If you have played the original many times and still enjoy it, then Balancing Bridge can be an interesting variant. There is some luck in the card draw, and also in how you can be accidentally hindered or even helped by your opponents. As I write this I realise there is no such luck element in the original game. But then this is a children's game, so some luck doesn't really matter. Children's games are not supposed to be serious and fully-skill-based.

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