When I was asked to preview the “We Have Goats!” board game, I really did not know what to think. I, in real life, am not a fan of goats. I do not like goat cheese, I have never owned a goat as a pet, and I have never really thought about goats existing as the central characters in a board game…until now. Just like goats out there in the real world eating anything within their reach, this game of goats has eaten up all of my recent board gaming time…read on to find out why.
I received a prototype copy of “We Have Goats!” to review, and to my surprise, much of the contents were “retail-ready” other than the container. Sure, some of the components did not have the polish of a Fantasy Flight production, but much of the game was of better quality than some professionally-published titles. Included in the review package were 152 quite large white cards, 4 Goat Pens, 10 Goat Locks, 8 Goat Lab cards, goat tokens in various colors, and a set of add-on cards “for adult eyes only”. These “adult” cards are completely optional, but add some extra humor and mechanics for kid-less gaming sessions.
The rule book is approximately 2 pages long, and includes full-color references to the starting layout and card references. There was very little rule ambiguity after the first read. Although the rules are quite simplistic, as you will read below, there are many different layers of strategy which can be implemented in the game.
“We Have Goats!” is a 2-4 player game, which uses a common setup, regardless of the quantity of players. Each player chooses goat tokens and a goat pen in their color of choice. The four goat pens are assembled in a cross-pattern, leaving space for 5 land cards between each pen. One goat of each player’s color should be placed in each alternate color goat pen. Each player receives 2 red Goat Lab cards, and 5 White cards. Goat Lock cards are shuffled and placed off the board.
Gameplay in “We Have Goats!” is relatively simplistic. A turn consists of the following actions:
- Draw a White card
- Play a White card (can contain a green movement card, orange action card, blue Goat-astrophe card, or land card)
- Resolve earned Goat Lock bonuses
- End turn with 5 cards
White Cards are the essence of the game, and come in multiple styles:
- Land cards – Allow the player to build out paths between goat pens. There are hazards (rocks, electric fencing) to avoid, as well as Goat Sliders, which allow a bit of bonus movement.
- Green movement cards – Allow the player to move a goat a designated number of spaces.
- Orange action cards – Give the player unique one-time abilities to aid his goats, or hinder his opponents’ goats.
- Blue Goat-astrophe cards – Events such as “Goat-quakes” and “Goat-nadoes”, which can really mix up the board on the fly…such as swapping adjacent land cards, removing land cards altogether, or adding random land cards on demand.
Also included are red “Goat Lab” cards. These cards, once unlocked, grant the player’s goats with “super abilities” such as double movement points, the ability to disregard grass movement squares, and jump over boulders. Each Goat Lab has an acquisition cost. In order to unlock these abilities, the player must use his turn to play a white card with a “Goat Fund” currency printed on it. Once the currency played below the Goat Lab is equal to or above the Lab’s cost, a Goat Lock is played on top of the Lab, and it becomes active. In addition, each Goat Lock can contain movement bonuses, so the act of acquiring one of these “Goat Lab” abilities can be very powerful.
Turns are alternated until one player has all three of their goats safely returned to their goat pen. An average game took our family about 30-45 minutes to complete.
I honestly only have one minor ding against this game, and that is the initial setup. At first, the game setup is a bit finicky, as you estimate the proper spacing between pens (my OCD wanted exact spacing prior to game commencement!). After several plays, setup was not as big of a deal, and actually getting the spacing “exactly right” is not tremendously necessary at the outset of the game. The players merely need to keep in mind that the maximum play area is 5 x 5 land tiles.
“We Have Goats!” with the “adult humor” tiles removed, can be enjoyed by kids as young as mid-to-late elementary ages. But do not be fooled—there are many layers of strategy which can be employed, making the game fun for seasoned board game players alike. Do you spend your time sabotaging other players and squeak in movement now and again, by exercising Action cards? Do you invest in a Goat Lab early, in order to maximize mid-and late-game movement and actions? Cards are plentiful and varied, so there is a lot of replay value contained within the game.
My family and I have immensely enjoyed our time playing “We Have Goats!”, and look forward to seeing the finished product. At the advertised price of admission for a Kickstarter copy of the game, it is a fantastic value which will provide hours of laughs and gaming enjoyment.
Oh, by the way, I am a fan of goats now, but still will not eat the cheese.