Christoph Behre's card game for AMIGO Spiele is aimed at players of 8 and upwards.
It is for 2-5 players and for once it is a game for multiple players which actually works for just 2 players without losing any of its charm or playability.
It is a double-action game, being part bidding and part memory and as such is excellent in both mechanics.
As a bidding game the players use small counters, of which they each begin the game with the same number, and they use them as coin to bid for one of the animal cards in
the centre of the tabel - these having been drawn from the top of the deck, one card per player face up (as shown below in a 4 player game).
The rules for bidding are unusual in as much as they are like a closed bid (where everyone chooses the number of coins they wish to bid with and holds them secret until all are shown
at the same time) except that the first player makes a bid (from 0 up) and then the next player in clockwise order and so on. The thing is that in a closed bid players may bid the same amount
and in an open bid players usually have to offer a higher bid than the previous amount or opt out. The bidding is thus a sort of open/closed bid. After the first bid the next player can bid the same,
less or greater and so on and so on.
The winner of the bid then has first choice from the cards available, then the second highest etc.. Tied bids are determined by who is seated closest in a clockwise fashion to the first player. Each
round sees a new first player. The bidding is for one of the cards that are laying face up - there is a special rules that allows 2 cards to be taken from the centre and I'll mention that in a minute.
The idea of the game is to collect animals in pairs for your Ark. The problem you have is that each round, unless you are lucky, the animals on display, of which you must generally always take one,
aren't the type you are collecting. Of course as you are so busy getting animals opnto the Ark you forget just what animals you have loaded already and they are now stowed away below decks and you
cannot spare the timd to keep checking on them, so you rely on your memory (the cards you win in the bidding are collected face down in a single stack which you may not look at).
Apart from the small purple tokens for bidding, the players also have 3 large green tokens each. These are very important and if played at the right time can be game winners. The green tokens are
played at the time when it is a players turn to take a card. The player who made the highest bid gets to take a card. Then if they wish to play a green token they may now do so. Thistoken allows them
to either take NO card from the centre of the table or to take TWO cards, otherwise they may only take ONE card. Then it is the next highest bidders turn to choose a card and maybe play a green token.
Of course if someone plays a green token and takes 2 cards this will mean one player will not get a card this round. The rules get a bit harsh here too because as a bid was made anyone is unfortunately
left out of winning a bid (ie gets no tokens) also loses the tokens they bid.
After the bidding and the cards have been taken (or discarded if someone plays a green token to prevent taking a card), new cards are placed onto the display and a new round of bidding begins with a
new start player. The complete round ends when all of the animal cards in the deck have been discarded or collected. Now all players turn over their collections and pair up the animals they hold. The
animal cards are numbered 1, 2, 3 & 4 (four cards per animal) so when pairing them up you want to ensure putting the higher values together, especially as any single cards count their value against the
player. For example: If I have 3 snakes valued 1,2 & 4 and 3 hyenas valued 1, 3 and 4 and 1 toucan valued 4 my score would be calculated as follows. 5pts for the snakes (2+4-1), 6pts for the hyenas,
(3+4-1) and -4 points for the toucan as it is a single animal. 5 + 6 - 4 = 7pts total score for me. Any Purple Tokens not used count 2 for 1pt.
The score of each player is noted and the animal cards collected and shuffled to form a new deck. As in the starting setup, each player is given one card which they look at and place face down as the start
of their collection (also as in the first round, once looked at and placed face down it may not be looked at again until the end of the round when a scoring occurs). The players retrieve their Purple Tokens
but NOT the Green Tokens - the green ones are used only once per game whereas the Purple ones are returned at the end of each scoring. This is why I said careful (or tactical) use of the Green Tokens could
be game winners.
After the second complete round - when the deck is again exhausted and the centre display collected or discarded - the winner is the player with the most points. Green Tokens have no value in the first round
but have a 1pt value towards scoring at the end of the second round.
The cards are beautifully illustrated by Doris Matthäus and the rules define the gameplay well. Overall this is a splendid double-mechanic game, enjoyable by fun players of all ages.