Animals On Board is a family game about collecting animals to save them from a world engulfing flood. It uses the popular “I split, you choose” game mechanic.
At the beginning of the game, each player receives one food tile, a flag and an ark (a cardboard rack that tiles can be placed upon). They then randomly choose three animal tiles, choose one to keep and then discard the rest onto the play area. There are lots of different animal tiles to choose from: elephants, lions, tigers, camels etc and they come in groups of five, numbered one to five. Up to twelve of the animals are placed next to each other face down in the playing area.
The aim of the game is to choose animals from the play area and obtain the highest score by the end of the game. You may have one, three, four or five of the same animal type, but any pairs of animals do not score as Noah claims those for his own ark (what a greedy spoilsport).
Playing the game
On your turn you have two choices. Split the animals apart forming a separate group or use food tokens to lure an animal onto your ark. Each animal costs one food token regardless of the number on it. You may buy up to five on your turn if you have enough tokens. (you may never have more than five tokens at any time). When you split animals into groups you receive a food token. So it may take several turns to save up enough for you to get the animals you want. That is unless someone else tempts them onto their ark first.
Once you have captured an animal your turn is over. The first player to obtain a tile gets to go first in the next round. Animals that have been split into groups can’t be combined again until the round is over. Which is after each player has chosen or the animals can’t be split any more. The rounds continue until one player has ten animals. This ends the game and all the points are counted up. Remember any pairs must be discarded and no points earned from them.Each animal on their own is worth the points on the card. Any groups of three or more animals score five points each and any leftover food tokens count as one point each.
My family and I enjoy Animals On Board regularly. We might play three or four games in a row until we get bored of it. It’s an easy game to understand and play. But although it’s very basic there are a number of strategies to employ to try and get the most points. You can try and collect as many of the same animal as possible. Thus scoring five for each tile. Or just focus on collecting the highest numbers on the tiles. (this method disrupts the other players hands as well but is more difficult to gain a good score).
My favourite strategy is to try and finish with five food tokens when the game is almost at an end and then take another five animals. This enables me to have more than ten animals in my hand and achieve a high score, but it’s a risky gamble because I often end up with a low score if other players choices don’t go in my favour.
Animals On Board is an entertaining family game that I will play for many years and will always go back to time and again. My kids love the colourful, well made components and the artwork is delightfully cute. I would definitely recommend this game to any family and given it’s low price it is an absolute bargain!