Monday, November 02, 2009

MIA #2: Chicken Squabble (Zoff im Huhnerhof)

  • designer: Marco Teubner
  • publisher: Haba
  • date: 2006
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 3349/6.35
  • age: 4+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $35.99 (
It's a good thing that the crow is warning the chickens about the approach of the fox... otherwise they wouldn't have enough time to dash back to the hen house when he appears. Of course, you'd think the rubber-armed farmhand who's flinging wooden chicken feed at them would figure that out himself, but that's the way it goes in agribusiness.

Zoff im Huhnerhof (literally "Trouble in the Henhouse") brings this whole farming thing down to a very simple level - the individual chicken. Players are hungry hens who venture deep into the pen, hunting for spots where the lowly farmhand has thrown the feed. At the end of the game, the chicken with the most feed amassed wins the game.

So, other than sounding like the least interesting Agricola spin-off expansion ever, why would I put this game near the top of my MIA from the Kid Games 100 list? It really boils down to two things:
  1. It is a gorgeous game - chunky wooden chips, a very responsive farmhand/flinging figure, and an inside-the-box playing area complete with individual "pits" for the feed, a hen house twice as high as the box side & the crow/fox timer built into the side of the board.
  2. It is loads of fun - I happily played 3 games of this (with adults!) in one afternoon at a gaming convention... and with other "important" games calling for my attention. This just has such a high FPM (Fun Per Minute) ratio that I gladly jumped into it again & again.

Each player begins the game with 10 chicken feed - and, in turn, they flick a piece of feed onto/into the game board, both seeding the board for chickens to feed and, by the nature of the space they shoot into, determining how/if their chicken will move & if the crow (game timer) moves forward. Accuracy helps... you need your chicken to fly (so to speak) if they're going to get out to the highly profitable spaces that are seeded before the game with feed before the fox appears.

Wherever a chicken ends their move, they pick up the feed in that space & put it in their supply... the same supply they fling into the pen in order to move. So, a safety tip: you don't want a lot of turns where you aren't moving & picking up feed, because you're spending it regardless.

When the fox appears, the chickens turn & run back to the coop - only now they are in full panic, so they can't stop & pick up feed... so every turn burns feed until the chicken reaches the safety of the coop. Burning feed = bad, btw, since feed = end game score. (I'm so math-y.)

I think the game is playable by 4 year olds (as claimed by the box) but real accuracy won't kick in for a year or two after that. Of course, there are a number of adults who will never grok the Way of Feed-Throwing Farmer... doesn't lower the fun factor of this game one bit.

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