Monday, April 13, 2009

#18: Tante Tarantel

Tante Tarantel
  • designer: Doris Matthaus & Frank Nestel
  • publisher: Doris & Frank
  • date: 1991
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 2307/6.32
  • age: 10+
  • # of players: 3-5
  • print status: way OOP
  • cost: this is a very difficult game to find... it was a limited edition game that was published over 18 years ago - expect to $70+ IF you can find a copy for sale
Auntie Tarantula (that's how the game translates into English) is an odd blend of think-y movement decisions (the movement of your bugs is fixed at one space per turn) and wild swings of random craziness (Auntie T., on the other hand, moves at the whim of a die roll). When you add the variable point scoring chart to the game, it's difficult to play this too seriously.

It isn't difficult to play, though - my oldest son was playing it (with an adult supervising the spider move) by the time he was 5 years old. I think that the age 10+ requirement is due to the movement of the spider & the odd scoring system.

Each player has 3 (or 4, if there are less players) bugs who are attempting to travel across Auntie Tarantula's spiral web to the "exit". So, in turn each player moves one of their bugs (pawns - though Doris & Frank did retail some plastic bug pieces to go with the game) a single space. Some of the spaces in the web accommodate multiple bugs while others allow only a single bug - so when one bug leaps into these spaces, it pushes the current occupant one space forward... and, yes, there can be chain reactions.

After all players have moved a bug, a die is rolled and Auntie T. begins to patrol her web. The die roll indicates both her movement (how many spaces she travels) and a modification to her movement. On a 1 or a 2, she moves one lane to the outside before moving. On a 3, she turns around. On a 4, she moves one lane to the inside. A roll of 5 or 6 doesn't affect her position.

If the spider reaches a space where there is a bug, she stops her movement. The first few bugs that are caught are simply tossed off the web to a space behind start. (While a player has bugs here, they cannot shove another bug or get a bug off the board through the exit.) But Auntie T. eventually reaches a point where she's ticked off at all the bugs crossing her web and begins eating the bugs.

The mechanic to make this work is a scoring track that serves three functions:
  • it shows the current value in points for a bug who exits
  • it shows a possible number to add to Auntie T's movement as she gets more & more angry
  • it is the game timer

Every time a bug is caught or exits, the scoring track/timer is advanced one space. When it reaches the end, the game is over & points are added up based on how much each bug was worth when it exited the board.

I'd love to see this game reprinted - though I'd hate to have anyone but Doris do the art.

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