Games Gazette Logo


(CAT ON A) HOT TIN ROOF is a 3-4 Player (10 years+) game from the curiously strange mind
of the game-fluent Leo Colovini, published by MAYFAIR Games (under the Mayfair rather than
FUNFAIR) label. That was a surprise, Mayfair instead of Funfair, being as this is really a family
game inflicted with minor strategy possibilities.

If you hear the phrase "Hot Tin Roof" the first word most people associate with it is "Cats" and then
"Cat on a" followed by either the Paul Newman, Elisabeth Taylor, film or the original story from
Tennessee Williams. Not that any of this has anything to do with the boardgame, except of course that
there are cats in it, I just wanted to show how my single brain cell works when it isn't on vacation.

Please Note: During this review I refer to "sardines" this is simply because it is easier than to continually
type "sardine cans".

Each player has two pairs of cats, each pair in a different position (either sitting or laying), plus 3 Shelter
tiles, 6 Catwalks (bridges) and 10 cans of sardines to begin with. The winner, when the game ends (as the
column of Fish expires), is the player who has the most Sardines (each single Fish = 10 cans).


The first player is determined by one of two ways:
a) The player with the longest whiskers
b) The player whose breath smells more like a fish

The idea is, as previously mentioned, is to collect sardines and the way you do this is to bring your cats
together on the Hot Tin Roofs of the town. The actions available to the players are quick and need little
thought: The first 2 actions are mandatory, the others are choice, but they must be taken as they are listed.
1. Pay the sardine ante (5 sardines at the start of each player's turn).
2. Dumpster Dive. This is where you get sardines back for the turn. You collect however many sardines
    are on the chosen dumpster.
3. Place either a Catwalk or a Shelter on the board or
4. Choose a Home card from the 3 on display and place one identical pair of your Cats onto the named
    spaces  or
5. Race across the rooftops - move and or all of your cats.

If you do not have enough sardines to pay the ante you either have to miss your go, and just collect two
sardines from the supply, or you can, if you have one, change a fish at the supply for 10 sardines and use
5 of those.

The ante is paid into the Dumpsters, one sardine into each. Then the player gets to choose one of the bins
and empty it. They get all the sardines in it plus, for the first 3 bins, they take the Home card, for the 4th
bin they get to place a Catwalk and for the 5th bin they can place a Shelter. Thus as each player begins their
turn one, and only one, of the bins will be technically empty - the Home cards are replaced as removed.


Catwalks are placed between buildings - there are specific places to place them; these allow the cats to
move easily across the skyline. Roof edges lead to patios and it is on the patios that players can place their
Shelters; patios are also the places where Cats are placed when the Home card is taken - each Home card has
two Home names on them and for speed of finding each house name is in alphabetical order on the board; the
houses are named, Addams', Bromley's, Colovinis' etc.

When you race your cats across the roofs you use whichever patios (with/without Shelters) and Catwalks you
need to. If you use a Catwalk of another player you have to pay that player a sardine. It costs two sardines to
land on or pass through another player's Shelter. Cats that move have to end their turn on a patio - there is no
limit to how far a Cat can move. If two identical (colour and position) Cats meet each other on a patio then
the player gets to bring them off the board plus the player scores a Fish from the column. Once the column is
empty the game immediately ends. At the end if anyone still has Cats still on the board this will cost them, 15
sardines to the supply or the cost (if any) of moving the cats so they meet up.


So that's how it plays, each player places or moves their cats or places a catwalk or a shelter. The options are in
general limited, as once you have placed your cats on the board you need to build routes for them using catwalks
and the houses where you put your cats when they enter the board is always determined by which card you choose.

Games last about 30 minutes, strategies are limited, you move your cats or you place a shelter or a catwalk. This is
why I consider it to be more a family game, thus Funfair, than a strategy game from Mayfair.

This isn't a roll a dice game - there aren't any dice, nor is it card driven - the only cards are more like tiles, and it
isn't a tile placing game. There is no resource or man (cat) management and the only things that are collectible are
the fish/sardines which are both VPs and cash. All that sounds negative, but without all those things to worry about
or keep track of. HOT TIN ROOF is actually a good fun game. Certainly one to play with friends and family, even
younger than the 10 years the box reckons - our 8 year old grand-daughter had no problems with it.

The components are sturdy and in it for the long haul - it's a game you can and will play over - and the rules are well
written and laid out, easy to understand and short. My only disappointment came from the cats being small wooden
shapes of ID colour, when colourful pieces (in the manner of the Penguins in "Hey That's My Fish" except, obviously
cats instead of penguins) would have given the game so much more visual appeal. 


© Chris Baylis 2011-2021