Friday, 24 June 2011

Leaping Lemmings

Plays: 3Px1.

The Game

Each player controls a team of lemmings, and tries to get their lemmings to throw themselves off a cliff spectacularly in order to score the most points. How's that for an unusual theme? Players also control two eagles, which will try to catch and eat one another's lemmings before they can kill themselves for glory.

On a player's turn, he rolls dice to move the two eagles, so he only has partial control over how they move. After that a movement card is turned over, and every player moves one of his lemmings. It is possible to stack your lemming on top of another, pinning it down, but if that stack of lemmings is caught by an eagle, the eagle eats the topmost lemming.

There are bushes which protect lemmings from eagles, so lemmings are often scurrying from one bush to another. There are pellets on the board the lemmings can collect. They either give points or can be used to trigger special abilities. Each player also starts a game with some randomly distributed special power cards. These are one-time use cards.

The gameboard. Lemmings can only move forwards towards the cliff at the far end. No moving backwards. Only one sideway step is allowed per turn.

When a lemming jumps off the cliff, its score is how many surplus movement points it has. So it is tempting to move a lemming right to the edge, and hope that the next movement card is a high valued one. The cliff edge is open ground though, so there is risk of getting caught by an eagle.

The game ends when a game-end card is drawn. This card is pre-shuffled into the last few cards of the deck.

A table for recording the cliff-jump scores.

The Play

My clan marker card on the left, and my team of 10 lemmings. Each of them is named, and is either male or female. These are just flavour and do not impact gameplay. The player marker card is special ability card too. Once per game you can treat a movement card as a 5 (the maximum possible value).

Allen, Han and I played a 3-player game. I had lots of my lemming eaten up by the eagles. Allen too, but not as badly as me. I did better than Allen in lemming suicide scores, but he collected more points from pellets, and that pushed him ahead of me and he came in second. Han won by a comfortable margin, since his "divers" did best, and he had the least lemmings becoming eagle snack.

Eaten lemmings go here.

Two of the special ability cards. That one on the right is naughty.

The Thoughts

This is a game with a light-hearted theme, but gameplay actually didn't feel as light-hearted. You do need to plan carefully how to position the eagles and how to move your lemmings, taking into account turn order.

The special ability cards make the game more interesting and allows some longer term planning. There is some manipulating of opponents. You want to appear weak so that others are less likely to use the eagle to catch your lemmings.

Overall the game was so-so to me. The theme is novel, but the novelty didn't do much to me.

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