This strategy-based card game might seem cute and fluffy at first, but after a couple of turns, the back-stabbing begins. Protect your critters while destroying others.
Quick and easy to learn, this game can be played with 2-8 players, so it is perfect for any occasion.
The aim of Llamas Unleashed is simple: be the first person to have 7 Animals in your field.
Everyone starts by choosing one baby animal to place in their field. The options are: Baby Llama, Baby Ram, Baby Goat or Baby Alpaca. Once everyone has picked their favourite critter, a draw pile is created. 5 cards are dealt to each player and the fun begins.
Intriguingly, the person who has spat mostly recently is deemed the most llama-y and therefore gets to start the game.
Each turn is very simple:
First, check the cards in your field. If any of them have an action that says “If this card is in your Field at the beginning of your turn...”, that happens first.
Then, draw one card from the deck.
Next, play one card from your hand or draw an additional card
Finally, discard cards until your hand is back to the set limit of 7.
As the turns go, you try to place animals into your field. But on top of Basic Animal cards, there are also Magic Cards, Upgrades, Downgrades and Instant Cards. They each have a unique ability from the Velcro Barrier that stops people stealing Llamas and Alpacas from your field to Berserk Llama Syndrome which forces other players to sacrifice their own animals. You give yourself upgrades, others downgrades and hope that no one has Embrace Diversity which lets them win with two fewer animals in their field.
The end of the game can come very quickly! Make sure you are keeping a close eye on your opponent’s fields. As long as their animals aren’t basic, they will have a special power and could be well on the way to winning them the game.
Llamas Unleashed is very similar to Unstable Unicorns, not surprising as they both come from the mind of Ramy Badie. They both have the same basic turn structure, kitsch artwork and occasionally painful puns. The main thing that sets this game apart is the additional of the herd bonus. Once you get 3 or more of Animals of the same type in your field, you get a bonus effect. This can be part of your tactics when picking your original baby animal, or, like me, you can just go for the doodle you enjoy the most.
As there are so many variations in the card types and lots of different effects to get your head round, the rules can seem a little impenetrable at first. The best advice I can give is just to follow the turn structure, read the effects on your cards carefully and get stuck in. It makes perfect sense once you get going.
Focus on collecting the cards that help you and don’t forget that you can place downgrades in other people’s fields and completely mess up their game plan. Keep hold of your Instant Cards too; they often work in a similar way to the Nope cards in Exploding Kittens, stopping other people’s actions. They might be the one thing that stands between you and defeat.
Llama Unleashed is quick, silly and simple. The artwork might be a bit too cutesy or the puns a bit too terrible for some, but for me it is all part of its charm. Even when you are losing, picking up a Jetpack Ram or Surprise Emu Attack is going to amuse you and keep the momentum going.
The fact that it can be played with 2-8 players is also a big positive. This game can sit on your shelf and be pulled out when you have any number of guests round. It is definitely a gateway game: easy enough for inexperienced gamers to grasp quickly while still having enough potential for tactics and deviousness to keep more seasoned gamers entertained.