Two dogs are lying around one day discussing their life. One says, “Those creatures feed us every day, make sure we have plenty of water, entertain us and take care of our every need.”
“I know,” says the second pooch, “they must be like gods!”
Two cats were lying around contemplating their existence, too. One says, “Those creatures feed us every day, make sure we have plenty of water, entertain us and take care of our every needs.”
“I know,” says the second kitty, “we must be like gods!”
Yep, that pretty much explains it.
How to Play
For some undisclosed, insane reason you’re actually trying to collect the most feline critters in Here, Kitty, Kitty! Why you would want to do this is beyond me. Then again, you’re not just any old stereotypical cat lady taking in every random stray. No, you want to try to collect as many from the same litter as possible. Because, breeding? You know the old idiom, “Keep no more cats than can catch mice?” Fur-get about it!
Here, Kitty, Kitty is a card game about herding cats. Ten felines in each of four colors roam the neighborhood. Players want to lure these kitties onto their property – consisting of a yard, a porch and their house. You may need a lot of litter boxes.
Each turn you take two actions from among three options, repeating the same one twice, if you’d like. You can move a cat one space. You can play a card. Or you can discard any number of cards from your hand. After taking two actions you draw back to your hand limit of three (two if playing with 6 players).
There are three kinds of cards in the deck. Instant cards resolve immediately when drawn and stipulate how they affect all players. These can be pretty paw-some or cat-astrophic. Defense cards may be played on another player’s turn either for protection or general mischief. They’re good for starting little cat fights. Standard cards are what you do most of your caterwauling with. These let you do a number of interesting things that break the normal movement rules like move extra cats, move them additional spaces, force them from other players’ properties or even steal them – the infamous Cat Burglar!
When the last card is drawn, each player purr-forms one final turn and then counts up their points. A handy score sheet is on the back of the rules for reference as the more collections you have, the better. You do get five points for each kitten inside your house and three for each on your porch. Better yet, you earn another five points for a set of five or more of the same color. Score four points for each set of one cat of every color. You earn another three points for each color majority you’ve gathered. Two points for owning the Best in Show card. And finally, a whopping ten points if all of the cats in your house are of the same hue.
Whoever has gathered the most valuable herd of kitties is the winner. But that just means you have a lot of kitties, so I’m not sure where the win is…?
Hiss-terical or Cat-astrophic?
Yeah, I’m not a cat person. However, I am very much a kid person. It’s the majority of my gaming. While my kids are getting older, I still have a few younger ones, so I’m constantly on the lookout for games that engage and challenge them while still bearing passing interesting for adults. In that department, Here, Kitty, Kitty is the cat’s pajamas.
I don’t think I’m letting the cat out of the bag when I say this one has little charm to gamers beyond an interesting bridge to their kids. In appealing to younger gamers it certainly succeeds. The pet theme is immediately one they can relate to. The rules are simple while giving them options rooted in both randomness and choice. And that forces players to plan ahead in terms of which cats to gather and when and where.
The design’s scoring creates the most interesting strategy. Cats in the yard do not earn any points by themselves, but any wandering about there still count towards majorities and sets. And while kitties in your house are worth 5 points, it’s likely more valuable to gather only the same color inside. So even though a cat is worth a mere 3 points out on the porch, it behooves you to get a stray color or two out of the home in order to nab that 10 point bonus. Managing the majorities, sets and locations that you want can prove a bit like trying to catch mice with gloves on your paws. Cards are useful in doing more than normally allowed, but are dependent on luck of the draw – and often situational, at that. At least you have the usual “move one cat one space” option to keep the bare essentials within your control.
While those choices challenge and engage younger players, Here, Kitty, Kitty’s wild randomness only turns adults into fraidy-cats – at least for peer gaming. My daughter won one game by creating 23 points with her last two cards in her hand as the final player that session. There was no way to stop her and no way to counter. It just so happened she had two extremely nice cards at the very end of the game. Those moments are funny, memorable and rewarding for kids and parents, but generally not the fare experienced gamers seek out for game night. It could work as a filler, but there are more interesting options even then.
Ironically what some seasoned players might enjoy could actually pose a hissy-fit for some children. A number of the cards in Here, Kitty, Kitty can turn affairs into a bit of a cat fight. Some spite is acceptable. Like the cat burglar that lets you steal a kitty from an opponent’s house and tuck it snuggly away into yours. Others present more of a hairball. Playing open window forces another to move a cat from their house to their yard. There are similar abilities that mess with other players’ work. Setting an owner back while receiving no immediate benefit in return notches the nastiness level up a significant tick. Thankfully there are several defense cards to protect yourself from different attacks. Again, it’s all dependent on drawing the right card precisely when you need it.
That inherent randomness influences the design in two other ways. One, it doesn’t work as well with the full complement of six. With that count the hand limit is reduced to two, which limits your choices in a game already beset by luck of the draw. Second, the instant cards affect play in wildly varying ways from session to session. They’re resolved immediately when drawn (a few good, most bad for one or more players) and the game doesn’t end until the entire deck is used. That means you’ll see every one of them in every play. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Some games they create minimal chaos if they pop up early with less to impact or still plenty of time to address. Other times they’re spread out evenly enough to pose fun and interesting tension. But other games they can be quite frustrating by wrecking your plans towards the end with no time to recover.
Given its mix of accessibility, direct interaction and production, I would likely add this design to a revised Progressive Top 10 to Introduce Player Interaction. For the most part, kids will handle it adequately. But, hey, every child is different. Overall the pet theme, cutesy art and nifty looking cat figurines serve to soften the spite by telegraphing a certain vibe that the game wants to convey. The production values exude a charming playfulness. No ball of yarn included, though. And the litter of feline references entertains adults, too. The cards are thinner than I’d like, so be careful shuffling – and monitor your kids’ hands!
While not as hot as a tin roof, Here, Kitty, Kitty is a simple little card game that kids will enjoy even though they’ll be clawing away at each other before they’re through. It’s random, so experienced gaming tomcats beware. Luck of the draw clearly proves that herding these cats can be, well, like trying to herd cats! Still, it’s not simply draw-and-play, like many other types in the breed. Thanks to the three-card hand and the scoring system, younger gaming kittens will need to think tactically and also plan ahead to account for set collecting. And that aspect is interesting enough at least to not kill parents’ curiosity. So pin your ears back and let the fur fly in this fast-paced game of cat and mouse.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Fireside Games for providing a review copy of Here,Kitty,Kitty.