So, you have heard the classic fable about the tortoise and the hare, haven’t you? The tortoise is mocked by the hare for being so slow and in an effort to humiliate the tortoise, the hare challenges him to a race. The hare is over confident so takes a nap whilst the tortoise takes it slow and steady. The tortoise ends up so far ahead that the hare couldn’t catch up and so the tortoise ends up victorious. So why is this relevant? Well, hare and tortoise board game by Gibson’s games makes you a part of the fable and puts the strategies of the hare and the tortoise to the test! Will you race ahead like the hare but risk running short of resources or, like the tortoise, will you take the race slow and steady at the risk of falling behind. Which strategy will you choose? or could incorporating both strategies be the secret to success, put on your running shoes and let’s race to the finish line!
The good news is this section will be very short as the set-up is so easy that you can be ready to play within 5 minutes! All the set up involves is laying the board out in the centre of the table and placing the carrot cards on their corresponding spaces. The players are then each provided with 65 carrots, 3 lettuce cards, a race card and a playing piece which they place on the starting space. The hare cards are then stacked to the side of the board and that’s it! Quick, easy and now eager to play.
Carrots, Carrots & More Carrots
The Hare and Tortoise game uses carrots as currency and the gameplay is based purely on how you spend them. This is a classic racing game where the winner is the first to cross the finishing line but there is a great twist where movement is based on carrots instead of a dice roll. To win you need to make it to the end first but you also need to get rid of your 3 lettuces and only have a limited number of carrots in your possession (depending on position in the race). If you haven’t stuck to the carrot and lettuce quota then you will not be allowed to pass the finishing line. This could cause you to have to move backwards or someone else who has done better in their resource management could swoop past and win. You can move as many spaces as you want each turn but you have to pay for the movement with carrots. Players are each provided with a race card which details a conversion chart for the movement and the more spaces you move the more you are going to need to pay. For example, if you want to move 3 spaces then you will need to pay 6 carrots but if you want to move 9 spaces then you will need to pay 45 carrots. It is more efficient to move in smaller spaces but there can be a big benefit in hanging back in the race to save up your carrots and then move 20 spaces at once.
Tortoise Vs Hare Tactics
The spaces on the board can benefit you whether you choose to do the tactic of the hare or the tortoise or a bit of both. Quite often you can decide to race ahead like the hare but then the circumstances of the other players or your resources can cause you to need to take some strategies of the tortoise. There are 5 different types of square that you can land on and they are repeated throughout the whole race track in a random order. These different types of spaces are detailed below;
Number Squares (between 1 and 6) – These are a way of earning more carrots if you are running out or saving them up. Nothing happens when you first land on these squares, however, if at the start of your next turn your position in the race matches the number you are on then you take 10x the number of carrots. For example, if you were on the number 3 and on the start of your next turn you are third in the race then you would take 30 carrots into your supply. This is something you will need to keep an eye on with other players as it may be worth dismissing a planned move that you have so that you can overtake someone and stop them from earning a large number of carrots on their next turn.
Carrot Squares – These spaces are used to earn more carrots or they can also be used to spend carrots if you have too many at the end of the race. Nothing happens when you first land on the square but on your next turn you can choose to miss a turn to earn or spend 10 carrots. You can stay there and miss as many turns as you would like until you have taken / used as many carrots as you wish. It can also just be used as a safe space to land and move off next turn.
Lettuce Squares – one of the winning conditions is that you have to ‘eat’ all 3 lettuces before you are able to pass the finishing line. You can only land on a lettuce square if you still have a lettuce in your hand. When you land on the space you turn your playing piece upside down. On your next turn you can turn your piece upright and hand in a lettuce card to the compost heap on the board. In exchange you can take 10x the number of carrots as your race position. You then have to wait until your following turn to be able to move off of the space. Eating the lettuces is time consuming process but everyone has to do it at some point so it is all about the timing.
Tortoise Squares – The only way you can land on a tortoise space is by moving backwards. To go back to a tortoise space doesn’t cost you anything but you can take 10 carrots per square that you have moved backwards. You can only move back to the closest tortoise space and only if the square is unoccupied. This action can really help if you are trying to stop other players from earning carrots on the number squares or can be a really quick way of earning more resource without having to miss turns.
Hare Squares – Hare squares are the only places that rely solely on luck and for taking risks. If you land on a hare square then you draw a card and follow the instructions. These can be really good and benefit you in the race however, there is a high number of really negative cards so it is a choice of whether you are willing to take a risk for a potentially high reward.
From my overview above you can see that this game is very simple to play and easy to understand. It is a great family game that will appeal to all ages but it may not have enough depth if you like heavier games. Racing games are not normally a genre I like as they are normally too reliant on luck of the roll and can get boring very quickly.
Hare and Tortoise really mixes up this genre and makes the race so much more strategic. I love that you never really know who is winning as someone could be really far back on the racetrack but could be secretly planning to suddenly move 40 spaces which would then make them in the lead. You have to watch what the other players are doing to try and predict what tactic they are trying to achieve and this makes it so much more fun than just waiting to roll a double 6.
The game can be played at 2 players which is good but I would recommend playing it with 4+ players as this makes it a much more interesting race. In terms of the components, the cards are really satisfying to use with bright artwork and they feel really good quality, however, the playing pieces are quite disappointing in design and seem like a bit of an afterthought. I really like the colour scheme of the board as it has a dark background and a bright race track which makes it really easy to see where your pieces are supposed to move, the artwork is simple but effective.
Overall If you are looking for a fairly lightweight game with an added element of strategy then Hare and Tortoise game is a great option and who knows, maybe you can not just outrun but also outwit your competitors to win the race!