Do you ever play (the undeniably brilliant) Sagrada and think “I wish there were enchanted woodland creatures in this game!”? Well, if that had ever crossed your mind (or even if it hasn’t), you’re in luck. French publisher BLAM! is bringing a small green box across our shores called Loco Momo. And I for one am loco for it.
I must confess that I have only played a preview copy of the physical game. I play a lot online at the moment, but my first taster was in cardboard form. And that was enough to make me do a little dance when I saw it appear on the beta list of games on the digital platform.
Box Of Woodland Delights
So what is inside the little green box? Nothing revolutionary; a whole heap of little tiles, a few boards, and two mini-expansions. Enough for 1 – 4 players to get snapping at any rate. But it’s what you do with them that makes this game hit my sweet spot.
Just like Sagrada, Azul, and many others, Loco Momo is a pattern building. To set the scene; you’re a photographer in a magical wood trying to take pictures of the creatures who inhabit the trees and forest floor. It’s an interesting mix; rabbits, ducks, bears, leopards, and eagles on blue, green, and brown-backed tiles. But they all seem on quite friendly terms.
To win, you have to take the prettiest group shot. And in this game, points = pretty.
The mainboard has four groups of four randomly selected tiles. On your turn, you select an animal tile, move it, collect any friends (see below), and then place those tiles on your board. Empty spaces then get refilled from a random draw pile and the next player takes their turn.
Your own player board shows the different scoring criteria.
- The first row will score points depending on the number of unique animals.
- The second row will score points depending on the number of matching animals
- The third and fourth rows score if the animals in each match.
- The fifth row scores a bonus if it matches those in the third and fourth rows below it.
There are also bonus points for rows or columns completed using a single colour. And if you add in either mini-expansion (using the flip side of the board), there are also more points if you have the least of an endangered species or habitat (colour) in your photograph, or you manage to place a specific animal on a specific spot (indicated by a flower motif on your board).
Friend Or Foe?
Now I said, “quite friendly”, but I actually mean very friendly. Because the animal you choose will determine which other tiles you can collect on your turn. Plus, when you place a tile, you must buddy it up next to a tile already in play – the adjacency rule is a prickly pickle indeed in this game!
The animals all move in different ways to collect friends of the same colour tile too.
- Bears stay where they are.
- Leopards move one tile along clockwise.
- Rabbits move one tile back anticlockwise.
- Eagles move diagonally.
- Ducks will move to another duck of the same colour (or stay where it is if there are none)
Played over just 6 rounds, you only get six chances to fill your board. And that means you never have enough tiles to fill your board and score everything you want. And that means this game can play fast. It definitely has the highest shutter speed at 2 players. With 3 and 4 all looking for the perfect shot, there is more downtime. Trying to work out what is going to maximise your tile haul that turn can be tricky.
And it is not just a quantity calculation. The tiles you pick are going to need to avoid messing up your emerging patterns and you will want to keep an eye on what others are going for too! In truth that is the only way, you can mess with their montage. But you’ll probably be too focused on your own photograph to worry!
Loco For Luck
Randomly drawing tiles means that there is an element of luck in Loco Momo. You might be building a row of eagles and then the bird tiles fly away never to be seen again. Conversely, you might hit upon a veritable warren of rabbits. But, with lots of different ways to try and score, flexibility in your strategy is going to be the mitigating factor. Plus, this is what makes every gameplay different. Some animals can be easier to collect for sure. But then again, some games are full of fuzzy lovelies!
Final Thoughts On Loco Momo
This is definitely easy to learn, hard to master, puzzle game. And I am really enjoying it. 2 player games are running to around 20 minutes for me, which is just right for a quick, light game like this. The solo is simply beat-your-own-score which is a little disappointing, and I haven’t seen the quality of the final components.