Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Stefan Kloß

ZOCH 2014

No. of Players:
2 - 4



In recent years cardgames like Revolver or Invaders have become quite popular because they use asymmetric decks for each player, but despite this comparatively new trend games with each player using an identical deck have not fallen from focus. This is in part due to the fact that the aforementioned games sometimes can come to a rather abrupt end when one player simply cannot counter the other player's action, and such an ending tends to be a bit unnerving if nearly an hour of playing time boils down to a rather simple "I win if you don't have the right card"-situation. Of course, some of this can be blamed on the players because they should have known their decks and saved a card just for this instance, but it still feels like games where everybody has to play with the same deck usually come to a more balanced ending. Sometimes games falling into the latter category can be very complex, but in case of Beasty Bar newcomer designer Stefan Kloß succeeded in creating a rather manageable game because each player possesses a deck which is composed of just 12 cards. These cards represent different animals, and during the game these animals will enter the waiting line in front of the famous Beasty Bar, using their sneaky skills or sheer force to get to the head of the line and enter this infamous establishment.

As indicated, Beasty Bar features a rather straightforward gameplay, and so all preparation needed is that each player shuffles his deck of 12 cards and takes four of them as his starting hand. On the table two cards representing the head and the end of the waiting line are placed, leaving enough space between them to allow up to 5 animals to join the queue. As can be seen, the game is ready to play in seconds, and when everything is ready the first player starts the game by placing an animal from his hand into the waiting line, at the position closest to the bar's entry. This already ends the turn of the first player, and his final action is the drawing of a replacement card from his deck to his hand. Now the next player is allowed to place one of his animals into the waiting line, and this procedure continues until a maximum of 5 animals have joined the line. At this point the door of the bar opens, and the first 2 animals from the line are admitted inside, whereas the last animal in the line is an undesired guest and is discarded. The game then continues with the remaining two animals of the line moving up to the bar's entrance.


This may still sound boring, but the real spice is added to the game by the special abilities of the 12 different animals which can be found in each player's deck. So, the lion is King of the Jungle and he is allowed to move directly to the head of the queue if he is played. The giraffe on the other hand has a long stride which allows it to pass smaller animals, and the crocodile deals with smaller animals in front in of itself like a real gourmet - by eating them! (off they go to the discard pile). Protection against hungry crocodiles or jostling hippos is provided by the bedazzling stripes of a zebra standing in the line, and confusion gets complete when the seal makes a juggling act and exchanges the beginning and the end of the waiting line.

It should be clear from these exemplary descriptions of animal abilities that each new animal has its own specific impact on the order and number of other animals in the waiting line, and in order to get a good number of his animals into the bar a player needs to analyze which of his hand cards would serve him best in the current situation while at the same time trying to remember which harmful cards might still be out in the other players' hands or decks. Of course players only can make a guess which animals may be played next, but it is exactly this element of speculation from which Beasty Bar derives much of its attractiveness. A clever times card can have quite spectacular effects on the waiting line, and to make things a bit more difficult some of the animals feature recurring abilities which are triggered each turn after the active player has played his own card's action.

As indicated, the game features a total of just 12 different species, but despite this seemingly small choice Stefan Kloß succeeded in creating a rather enjoyable family game which shows all signs of a modern classic. All players remain constantly involved in the game because they must keep an eye on the waiting line even when it's not their turn, and the small number of available animals sets a good frame in which speculation, luck and timing come together on a rather even level. Coupled with a classic animal theme, the game wins the players over just after the first two or three cards, and it will stay on the table for a long time because all loosing players will feel an irresistible urge for an instant rematch!

Goodbye bouncer, hello bartender!


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