3 Balancing Games You Should Try
Following our last post about how things stack, some of you wanted to know more about the three balancing games we mentioned. We love a good balancing game here at Fabulous Beasts so we are more than happy to oblige.
Tier Auf Tier (Animal on Animal)
Animal on Animal is a super-simple stacking game where actions are dictated by the roll of a dice. You might have to place one or two animals on the stack, give one to the next player, or add one to the base of the stack for other players to build upon. If any pieces fall off whilst you are building, you get up to two of them back. The first player to have used all of their animals wins.
We love this game for the cute pieces, simple mechanics and the complexity of how the objects stack together. As you can see in the picture, all those ridges and curves make for very interesting moments. One of the elements we’ve incorporated into Fabulous Beasts is the idea of differently shaped pieces and the need to evaluate a move by eye versus feeling the move when you actually try to place it.
Bandu (probably renamed from the original Bausack because of some unfortunate homophones) is my favourite all-time stacking game. It is a big inspiration for Fabulous Beasts. The amazing game designer James Wallis introduced me to it about five years ago, calling it “an education in game design.”
As you can see, the beautiful wooden pieces introduce a great deal of variation and are incredibly hard to stack. As the tower grows, it becomes a series of opportunities and risks for placement – if I play the egg here, where will the pawn go? It’s a dynamic system where every move has meaning.
Where the game really gets interesting and more engaging is group play via the number of variations that Designer Klaus Zoch offers for playing the game with the same set of pieces. Different game mechanics for each mode, like bidding for the right to play a piece, or the right to pass it on, expand the replayability and enjoyment of this simple game. Understanding these different modes is the education James W was talking about; each mode is a simple variation that alters the experience in delightful ways.
Sadly this game doesn’t involve any rolling hamsters but it does take place inside what must be the most extraordinary ‘board’ of any board game I’ve ever played. Players start with a set of differently shaped wooden blocks, which they must add to the rolling hamster wheel pictured above. The weight distribution of the wheel is in continuous flux, and if the balance shifts too much then pieces fall out and are added to the offending player’s hand. The first player to get rid of all their pieces wins.
While the concept is great, Hamsterrolle is a bit less fun to play. It doesn’t have the same depth of strategy as either Bausack or Tier Auf Tier – but it’s definitely one for the balancing game connoisseur’s collection.
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