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FLOTTER OTTER (Google translates this to Great Otter, the game says Brisk Otter) by Daan Kreek is another ZOCH zum Spielen family game that benefits from the illustrative work of Dennis Lohausen.

Whether you call it Flotter, Great or Brisk, Otters have nothing to do with the game except as a fun story to tell kids - the otters in Otterdam Harbour excel at collecting crates that have dropped from ships, due to Smugglers, and returning them in the correct order as required by the Shipping Waybills. Yes, it makes no sense to me either, but luckily you are playing a children's fast-paced 'grab' game so you have no time to think about what it's all about anyway.

Each player is given a set of five Lego™ style building-blocks, one of each colour, Orange, Red, Green, Yellow and Blue. Grab cards, 1, 2 and 3 are used for each Round whether there are two players or four players, these are placed on the table within easy reach of all players. 

The Waybills (square cards showing boxes of varying colours stacked willy-nilly on one - the back - side and five small items in each of the five Brick colours under a magnifying glass on the other.  The items on the cards are shown under a magnifying glass that has a coloured rim, this colour is important for gaining the Bonus scoring of the card.

Each player is given a Waybill which they keep face down (Boxes up) in front of them. This will show they have Two Otter points (VPs) at the beginning of play. If they need to spend an Otter Point (deducted for making an error) they can flip the card over to the side with the items, this is worth only one Otter point; if you lose another point you discard the card.

When everyone is ready the top card from the Waybill deck is flipped over so that everyone can see the five items and the coloured rim. At first glance, apart from their colours, all the items look the same, but it is quite obvious that there are differences between them all; in fact there are two sets of differences. Players have to quickly see the difference and stack their blocks accordingly. 

The colour of the rim is a factor to be taken into account as it determines the first colour of one of the different sets and should be used as the base on which to build. However, as this is so obvious it is possible all players will see it at the same time and then it is the first player to complete their stack and grab the lowest available Grab card who will score the points for it.

If you look at the Bicycles on the picture you will see that there is an Orange rim around the magnifying glass, denoting that Orange is the predominant colour for the bikes. The two different sets are the Width of the Tyres and the Height of the Saddles. As Orange is the bonus colour you should look to the Orange bicycle first. It has very fat tyres but quite a low saddle thus you know that you need the Orange block first followed by the coloured block that equates to the next fattest tyres - in this case the Yellow block, then Green, Blue and finally Red. It doesn't matter if you build the tower Orange to Red or Red to Orange as long as all blocks are in the correct order.

It may pay to play it safe and go for the second set of differences. This may be a little harder to immediately see, but if you are not in the rat-race for the bonus score (2 pts) you have more chance of gaining the 1 point score for completing it. If more than one player completes a correctly built tower then only the person who has the lowest Grab card scores the point/s.

Determining who scores points is interesting and the fun part of the game. The items can be, as shown Bicycles or Aliens, and can also be Computer monitors, Chandeliers, Socks, Kites, Ships in Bottles, Flags, and many other familiar objects (of course everyone is familiar with Aliens) which everyone can relate to.

1. Player A builds the Bonus colour Tower and grabs #1. Player A scores 2 points and no one else scores because player A has taken the lowest Grab number and scored the Bonus colour.
2. Player A builds the Bonus colour Tower and grabs #2. Player A scores 2 points if no other player completes the Bonus colour Tower and grabs #1. 
3. Player A builds the Bonus colour Tower and grabs #2. Player B builds the Bonus colour Tower and grabs #3. Player A scores 2 points. Player C builds the non-Bonus Tower - Blue, Yellow, Red, Orange, Green (or Green, Orange, Red, Yellow, Blue) and grabs #1. Player C scores 1 point. 

All the Good Things!
The rules are simple. The cards are good quality and the "Lego" brix are strong, large and colourful. It is easy to teach to other players of any age from about 7 upwards (8+ on the box - but kids brought up playing games will quickly understand). The Waybill cards are easy to shuffle, deal and slide off the top of the deck.

The Not So Good Things!
The Grab cards are not particularly thick card which means they easily bend, possibly tear, when being grabbed, especially by younger players. 

Overall a good fun, family game that needs quick eyes, quick brains and quick hands (for building and grabbing).
Apparently it's not allowed to knock other players Towers over or steal/hide/drop on the floor their bricks.



© Chris Baylis 2011-2015