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Although the title might suggest some kind of weird fantasy, the new AMIGOgame Herr der Ziegen (= Lord of the Goats) has nothing to do with Sauron, the One Ring or similar beings. Instead Günter Burkhardt has created a challenging scoring game about the collecting of different kinds of goats, and although the goat cards used in the game admittedly look hilarious, these illustrations serve as an eyecatcher and a funny element which should not lead to an underestimation of the strategic elements available in the game. The game comes with a deck of 121 cards, with 15 cards featuring dogs, 16 cards showing cocktails of goat milk with values of "1" or "2", and 18 different sets of five goat cards with values from "1" to "5". In a fiveplayer game all of these cards will be shuffled and a 7 times 7 cards playing area is created with each of the players having a goat pen at a specific point around the outer border of the playing area. All remaining cards are placed at hand as a drawing pile, and each player receives a starting hand of two cards from the pile. Finally, a larger goat figure is placed adjacent to each player's pen outside the playing area, and during the game these larger figure will be moved around the playing area. It will be the aim of the players to place tiny goat figures onto some of the goats on the playing area in order to collect points for the final scoring. At the end of the game the players will receive the value of each card with a figure as victory points, and these points will even be doubled for each card which is an a direct line adjacent to the players pen. However, there will be a lot of competition concerning the question which player has a right to place a figure on a card, and this competition will be decided by the collection of majorities. Thus, a player begins his turn by choosing one of the two cards from his hand and placing the card openly in front of himself, and then he moves his larger goat figure for a number of steps corresponding to the value of the card which was played. The larger figure comes to stand next to a row of 7 cards, and the player then is allowed to chose one of these cards as a new card for his hand, provided the card is not already occupied by a goat figure of any of the players. This results in the fact that each of the players will develop a growing collection of goat cards in front of himself during the course of the game, but these goats should be kept in groups to make it easy to see the values of the goat cards of each kind which have been placed in front of the player. The visibility of these values is important, since a scoring is initiated if a player either succeeds in playing goats of the same kind with a total value of "8" or more ("8" means the majority, since fife cards of each kind of goats exist, adding up to a total of "15") or if the fourth card of a kind of goats is placed in front of a player. In either occasion the player with the most valuable cards will win control of the group of goats, forcing all other players to discard the goats of that kind. As an effect, during the rest of the game any goats of that kind which will still appear on the playing area will be marked with small goat figures of the player's colour, symbolising his ownership and counting as victory points at the end of the game. As a sidenote, it is important to note in this context that the cards placed in front of the players will not count as victory points. These cards are needed to win control of a group, but only the cards still available on the playing area (or in the drawing stack) can be marked with a goat figure. The milk cocktails which can be found function similar to the goat cards, allowing the player who uses such a card to move his big goat figure by one or two spaces, depending on the value of the milk card. However, these cards will receive a slightly different treatment in the final evaluation, since only the player with the highest value of milk cocktails will receive this value as victory points at the end of the game. The player with the second highest value will receive half the value as victory points, but all other players with milk cocktails remain empty handed. The final type of cards available are the dogs. As known from shepherd dogs, they are expected to chase the goats around the playing area, and so a player who uses a dog forgoes the possibility to move his larger goat figure and instead moves two goat cards on the playing area. These two cards change their positions, following the restrictions that both cards must come from the same column and that one of the cards must be occupied by a goat figure of the player who wishes to use the dog. The other card may be either an empty card or a card with an other player's goat figure, but the latter only can be moved by this exchange if the other player gives his consent. So, as can be seen, the dogs give a player to chance to move goats closer to his own pen, thus getting a possibility to double their values. Although the theme is light, the threefold way in which the players have to think about their cards, the positioning of their (small and large) goat figures and the gaining of majorities make the game a highly entertaining challenge. I have put the game to playtesting with occasional gamers and seasoned players, and it was interesting to observe that these different target groups played it quite differently but likewise enjoyed the game. The occasional gamers were rather fond of the possibilities to annoy others with a bit of good timing, whereas seasoned players quickly got deeper into the mechanics so that they could enjoy a fastpaced, brainteasing challenge. 
 
Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games! 

 
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Copyright © 2008 Frank SchulteKulkmann, Essen, Germany 