Saturday afternoon at GenCon I came across a demonstration of Shoot Cows getting started at the designer’s booth. The little cow cards looked interesting, so I volunteered to participate and within 5 minutes we all had the rules down. I picked up a copy for myself and vowed to play it within a week.
Yesterday I did just that. My husband, myself, and our 13-year-old daughter gathered around our gaming table at lunchtime for a quick game.
Opening the box and examining the cards, I found them to be of average thickness. Not impossible to bend, but thick enough to stand up to repeated usage. The artwork inside the box compliments what’s on the cover – a black and white cow palette that fits the game’s theme.
I don’t often delve into step-by-step gameplay in my reviews (too complicated; read the rules) but as the rules and play for Shoot Cow are rather simple, it’s reasonable to given them some coverage. Two survivor cards are distributed to each player and put face up in front of them, six cards are dealt to each player for their hand, the main deck is shuffled and placed face down in the center of us, and the location deck is shuffled with the top card revealed and the number of main deck cards specified on the location card are laid out face down in a row below the main deck. FYI, the location sets some of the rules for play – how many points one needs to rescue a survivor, whether the cows or survivors win ties in battle, and so on.
Ready to begin!
The game play is simple but with a lot of variability. The player begins their turn either equipping items such as weapons or accessories to their survivors - gaining the benefits listed on the card such as increased attack power, or stocking items under survivors, increasing their survivor point rating. They can also add survivors to their tableau if they have any in their hand (up to three max can be in one’s tableau). Then each survivor they have may either explore the location (draw a card from the main deck to add to their hand and reveal one of the main deck cards laid out in the row), fight a cow previously revealed that wasn’t destroyed, or pass. Next the player may opt to play a cow from their hand against one of their own survivors or an opponent’s to prompt a battle. Each time a battle takes place, other players can contribute cows to the game on either side to influence the results. When they do this, it’s called “upping the steaks” …hahaha get it? If the cow wins, the survivor they attacked loses stocked items and/or dies. If the player wins, the cow card gets stocked under the survivor attacked, adding to its survivor point rating. Once this part of the turn is finished the player evaluates if any of their survivors have enough points stocked to reach the minimum level required for rescue and if so their survivor is set aside, having been rescued. Finally, the player can once again equip or stock items and play new survivors. There are also event cards, many of which are “take that” kind of cards, that can be played during different phases of the turn for oneself or against other players, including some that can be played at any time. Game play continues in the same manner until a player has rescued three survivors (they win) or until the location deck is depleted (at which point the player who has rescued the most survivors wins the game).
Fast, easy, and fun was promised. Two of out three ain’t bad right? The game took us an hour and a half but was pleasurable the entire time. My time was divided equally between trying to strengthen or rescue my survivors and trying to tank my opponents’ survivors. A few times I excitedly played an event card to a devastating effect on my husband or daughter only to have the smirk wiped off my face when one of them immediately played an event card canceling my card or exacting some other worse revenge. I really enjoyed playing Shoot Cows, and I’m looking forward to picking up the expansions.
Publisher: Self-Published by Jon Ong and Ben Petry
Players: 2-6 (We played with 3)
Actual Playing Time (vs the guideline on the box): About 90 minutes
Game type: Card game, take-that
Jenni’s rating scale:
OUI: I would play this game again; this game is ok. I probably would not buy this game myself but I would play it with those who own it and if someone gave it to me I would keep it.
OUI OUI: I would play this game again; this game is good. I would buy this game.
OUI OUI OUI: I LOVE THIS GAME. I MUST HAVE THIS GAME.
NON: I would not play this game again. I would return this game or give it away if it was given to me.