Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kid Games Review: Hungry Wolves

Hungry Wolves (Würfelwölfe)
  • designer: Marco Teubner
  • publisher: Haba
  • date: 2009
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/7.50
  • age: 5+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $12.59 (
One of my favorite Haba games from 2008 was the delightful push-your-luck dice game, Cheese Snatching, which was part of the "Bring-Along" line from Haba. ("Bring-Along" is Haba-ese for "small yellow box that's slightly larger than a paperback book.") So when I saw that Haba was doing another dice game, I was very excited.

Hungry Wolves isn't a push-your-luck game, however... it's a real-time race, complete with player making animal noises & rushing about the room like, well, hungry wolves. It's also an absolute blast to play.

Each player gets a single custom die & a wooden dog. The board is put together (it's a 4 piece puzzle - it's not daunting, ok? My 4 year old can do it) and the dogs are placed on the track at an equal distance from each other. (A nice touch from the folks at Haba: the board is double sided. One side is for 2 players & the other side is for 3-4 players.) The sheep counters are placed next to the board... or, if you're the Jackson family, they're placed on the sheep pictures on the board, because that's the way Collin likes it.

At an agreed-upon signal (you can yell "Go!" or shake your fists a la Rock/Paper/Scissors while saying "Woof! Woof! Woof!"), all the players begin rolling their dice & doing the appropriate action:
  • If a player rolls a dog, he says "Woof!" and moves his dog one space forward.
  • If a player rolls a sheep, he says "Baa!" and does not move.
  • If a player rolls a wolf, he runs around the table. (Or, if space is tight, he stands up & spins around.)

Players roll & do their various actions simultaneously... and as quickly as possible. There are no turns, per se... as fast as you can roll, make animal noises & do whatever you're supposed to do, you can roll again.

When one of the dogs catches up to another dog, the player yells "Stop!" and the round ends. The player who ended the round gets a sheep token and the game is reset for another round of controlled mayhem. The first player to get three sheep tokens wins the game.

It is as loud & crazy as you can imagine... and kids as young as 4 can easily join in the fun. What's unusual with Hungry Wolves is that it works as well with 2 players as it does with 3 or 4 - typically, raucous "run around the table" games don't work as well with smaller numbers of players.

As always, games like this come with the standard "don't play in a room full of collectible knickknacks or valuable electronics" warning. Of course, I think that's a feature, not a bug.

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