The Ancient Egyptians had it right. Cats are Gods to be worshipped and given all of the Dreamies. And it seems to me, a whole bunch of board gamers agree. Let's talk cat games today. Scrolling through the photo’s of the many board game groups I am a member of, it’s never long before you see a cat curled near Catan, a slinky-paw swiping at components or a Chonky-girl proudly sitting in the Isle of Cats lid.
These felines deign to grace us with their presence, and as such, we should honour them. Let’s take a look at some of the great games that feature these magnificent creatures.
You’ve seen cats on an island, cats in a café, cats on duvets. We’ve had exploding cats and even ninja cats. But hear me out ok, what about a game about stacking our furry feline friends!? Kittin is a game of kitty’s in a tin! This uber small box (tin) dexterity game sees cat fans go head to head in kitten grabbing, table jogging, meeple stacking fun.
In Kittin’s little tin you’ll find 48 adorable multicoloured cat meeples and 20 unique cards. Each card shows a unique configuration of colourful kitty’s artfully stacked for you to copy. Up to 4 players or 4 teams of 2 can compete to complete each card and be the cat that gets the cream!
If you’re the fastest player to stack the correct meeples in the correct order with the right orientation then shout “meow’! Everyone will check your stack. Watch out for the sneaky table joggers or emphatic exhalers because if it’s not right or falls over at this stage you’re out! If it is right then you win that card. The first to 3 cards is crowned “Chief Cat Cuddler”! I mean who wouldn’t want the honorary title of chief cat cuddler, am I right!?
With each game lasting between 5 and 10 minutes, Kittin is fast, lighthearted fun. The production values are incredible. The Kittin meeples are gorgeous, easily recognisable and practical building blocks too. Suitable for young or old, Kittin can be enjoyed by all. If one person’s hogging all the cat cuddling kudos, you can always make them play with one hand! If you’re looking for a quick, addictive dexterity game to get everyone giggling then Kittin’s a solid choice. Throw in the fun feline theme and this has got to be top of your list!
When Cat Lady first came onto my radar, I knew immediately, I must own it. I’ve been a cat person my whole life, and now there was a game to prove my prowess in taming these majestic apex-predators?! With cute kitty cards and adorable kitty names (one of which being my cat's nickname)...Say no more. HAVE MY MONEY.
Cat Lady is simple to play, yet requires skill to master. After setting up a 9x9 grid of cards, in each turn you must take three cards and add them to your hand, exchanging food cards for tokens that represent that food, placing cats in front of you and keeping the rest of the cards to yourself. You then draw new cards into the space of those you took and block that row by placing that cat meeple by its side. And that’s it. It really takes just a minute or so to learn.
But there are so many scoring options within these few card types.
You need to carefully balance the various cards you acquire in order to succeed. Toys are worth more for each variety you have, catnip is only valuable if you can get two or more and do not forget the kitty costumes!
And if you take on too many cats and not enough food? That’ll lose you points. You don’t want to have the cat who DIDN’T get the cream.
What I love about Cat Lady is you’re never quite sure who has the upper hand. Unless you’re a whiz at remembering who took which card and how many of each they have, you’ll be kept on your paws until the end of the game.
So stock up on tasty treats and collect those kitties! Who said being a Cat Lady was a bad thing?
I am a huge cat fan. Since lockdown began I have been working from home with my furry rescue duo every day. Every day they do cute things like fall asleep on my shoulder, and sleep so hard they fall off the sofa (cats do not always land on their feet). But without fail they also do annoying things like scratch things that aren’t a scratch post and argue and cat-slap each other. Cats are cute, fun and frustrating and Cat Cafe perfectly embodies this.
Each pip value on a die represents either a level on one of your five cat towers or an icon. You use one die for the level you are writing in and the other determines the icon. The icons are cat bowls, cushions, mice, you know cat things. Some you want to have more than everyone else, some you want to all be connected, some want to be surrounded by unique items. Cat cafe is a puzzle to maximise points, whilst also being the first to fill up towers with icons. The first to complete a tower snags a juicy amount of victory points. In true you snooze you lose fashion, being second or third has a comparatively paltry reward.
This cute little roll and write has dice drafting which increases player interaction above your bog-standard roll and writes. You each use two dice in each round, one that you have drafted, and then a public one that you all get to use. This die is the one no one else wanted. Often there is a bit of frustration when you are trying to force a die you didn’t want to fit into your sheet. This puzzle is an ideal cat-themed filler that will get those synapses firing.
Cat games? Purrfect patterns and kitty-riffic colours galore, Calico is the Top Cat of tile-laying games. Designed by Kevin Russ, illustrated by Beth Sobel, and published by Flatout Games and AEG, Calico truly is the cat’s whiskers.
Now, I know I have waxed lyrical about this game before. I have even named it my game of 2020. But this is not without just cause. Calico is a brilliant and versatile game, and not just for cat lovers.
Underneath that cosy, quilted box lies a whole host of fickle felines who may or may not decide to honour your quilt with their presence. And that in itself could not be more on-theme if it tried. Why? Well, because we never really own or control cats. We curate their space. We are human slaves to these clawed commandants.
Calico is a beautifully crafted abstract, tile laying, a strategic spatial puzzle that makes me simultaneously happier and crazier than a kitten in a catnip factory. It can be played with talons drawn, tiles being hate drafted with a view to sabotaging your opponents’ quilts and point-scoring objectives. Alternatively, it can be an altogether more relaxed affair. The feline focus turned on players’ own boards. This happens without a thought for what the other neighbourhood cats are doing.
Beware, however, that competition can slink in through the cat flap even after a game has begun. What started off as a multiplayer solitaire can suddenly erupt into a competitive catfight if your tiles just aren’t coming out of the bag. Or if they are being unknowingly swiped by another tricky tabby!
The adaptability doesn’t stop at playing style either, as the game works brilliantly in both solo mode and at higher player counts.
Analysis paralysis can sometimes slow down the momentum of the game but being able to gaze upon a developing quilt (hopefully!) replete with colourful buttons, cosy cats, and point-scoring patterns is hardly a hardship for those next in turn!
Ultimately, Calico is a fantastic game and, as Sigmund Freud once famously never said, “Time spent with cats is never wasted”.
Cats and cat games are the best! They greet us when we come through the door and keep our feet warm while we sleep. Yes, they wake us up with their claws at 4 am demanding food and sprawl themselves over our board games, but we love them for it! As this blog proves, there are even some great games featuring our feline friends.
Cobra Paw is a game I would not usually be drawn to. However, when my husband, our two friends and myself saw the nice, chunky dice and stones on a stand at the UK Games Expo a few years ago we could not resist giving it a try. Cobra Paw takes minutes to learn and set up, and only about 5 minutes to play, which is perfect for this type of game. Plus, there’s a cat on the box dressed as a ninja, so how could we refuse?
This is a game you probably want to be standing up for! The 21 ‘Clawfuku’ stones are placed face-up on the table. The player with the smallest paws rolls the two ‘Catnippon’ dice. Then the players must all try to snatch the one stone with the pattern that matches the dice. Whoever snatches the stone is next to roll. The winner is the first to reach six stones. That’s it – let the hilarity ensue!
Stones are snatched from the common pool, but also from the other players, and trust me, there is a lot of shouting and laughing when your precious stones are whipped away from you! The game includes a Code of Conduct. For example, stones must be snatched with just one paw, and with the fingers, not the whole paw. These little rules only add to the amusement of the game!
Cobra Paw will not be for everyone. It only hits our table every so often. When it does, there is always a lot of fun and laughter. And that, after all, is one of the reasons I love to play games.
And if you’re still in the mood to celebrate cats after these, there are plenty more games to scratch that itch! You can also check out Beth’s rundown of Bush’s Board Game Thing, episode 16 is all about Feline Fun!