Welcome back to another board game review of our most loved games. I take the time, break down the game play, rules, and design aspects, and try to make the decision easier for you to make. This week, we are reviewing the newest game to my collection, The Hare and The Tortoise. I would classify this game as a casual betting game, with some tactics needed. Mainly though, it really comes down to a little luck, a lot of skill, and a whole lot of perfect timing.
The Hare and The Tortoise is a game based on the classic children’s story. Adding in a few characters from other popular kids stories, such as the big bad wolf, the clever fox, and a little scared sheep just for good measure, and in the end, they are racing each other for positioning, for points, and I will assume to showcase who is the big swinging king of the land.
The game is fairly simple, as our whole table learned to play the game in less than ten minutes. This makes it a great starter game to pick up when playing with either new players, or players who are not used to rules heavy games.
The first thing you do is go about building the board, as it changes every time you play. You deal out the pieces, one at a time, and the person who is given one can decide which side of that board piece to play. This means that the actual board itself can change game to game, but one consistency is there is eleven pieces, a start, a finish, and two rivers, which we will get to soon.
The following is the breakdown of each racer, and how they are used, also the listed order is the order the characters actually get to move.
The Hare – The hare is of course the first to move. If there is one to four Hare cards played, the Hare will move two spaces. So it does not matter how many or how few you put, he will still move two. The exception to this rule is if the Hare is in the lead and four cards are played, he decides to take a nap and not move at all that turn. This means you can really mess with the Hare in a few different ways.
The Tortoise – If you play zero to three Tortoise cards, the Tortoise moves a single space. This is really good though, because it means that no matter what (except in one single case, which we will see when we get to the wolf) the Tortoise moves every turn. If there is four Tortoise cards played, than the Tortoise will move two spaces instead. Constantly moving, and always quoting, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
The Big Bad Wolf – The Big Bad Wolf will move forward one tile if one or two cards are played. If three or four are played than the Big Bad Wolf will move the amount of cards played, minus one. So three cards means he moves two, and four cards means he moves three spaces. The Big Bad Wolf has a special ability though. He can howl (there are three Wolf cards in the deck with a howl icon on them) making all of the other animals too afraid to move this turn, meaning only the wolf gets to go forward. Played at the right time, this can be absolutely crucial, especially with the Wolf only going third in the list.
The Fox – The fox is a clever one, and that means he gets to move a bit faster than everyone we have seen so far. He moves exactly how far the amount of fox cards played tell him to move. One for one, two for two, etc. He is one of the only characters that moves well, but does not have any negatives to him.
The Sheep – This is one of the best, and worst, cards to bet on. The Sheep moves one space plus one for the amount of cards played. This means he can haul a lot of tail, but remember those river cards I talked about earlier? There is two of them always on the board, and the Sheep must stop, ending his turn, at each one. This can mean the waste of a lot of movement, a lot of momentum, and can cost you the game. Remember that the Sheep only gets to move once all the other four racers have finished their movement. Moving last is not a benefit, but moving so fast is.
How To Start The Game
Each player is given a random one of the five characters that they will be trying to have place in the game. You get five points if your character comes in first, three points for second, and two points for third. We played the Championship version, meaning we did three races and combined the points scored to win.
Once those random two to five cards are dealt out, then each player is given a hand of seven cards. Each player must place a second card (choice for one of the five, can be the same one as previously selected) under the first card they had received. These are the two you want to win, and the remaining six cards make up your hand.
The turns are simple. Player one will go first, and play one to four card of the same kind (three sheep for instance), afterwards player two will do the same, and it will keep going around the table until one of two things happens. Either one of the animals has a total of four cards played by any number of players OR if there is eight total cards played during the round. There is not allowed to be more than eight played, so if player four begins their turn and there is seven played so far, player four must, and can, play a single card. The racers make their movements in order, and the whole process starts again with player two now starting the round of movement.
After the third race is finished, all of the points are tallied and the racer with the most combined points is the fairy tale race champion. Fairly simple concept and game play, which was awesome in our group. We had a lot of fun with this one, so let’s see what we rated it.
This game is based on a very well known fairy tale, which is exciting in its own right. Many people know the story, and know the concept of the race. It brings a level of familiarity into starting the play.
The game box is designed to resemble a story book, which in my own opinion is downright awesome. I loved the box design, and the entire concept of its look.
The game is really unique to anything I have played, with an easy to learn concept, and a really fun one to boot.
The rules are super simple, very well laid out, and designed to make things as easy as possible for new players, as well as hardcore players too.
They add a small token which can be used in one of the other four story book style games they have out, which is an amazing marketing gimmick, and one that actually makes me want to own the others.
The main critique for me is I wish there was a way to interlock the board somehow. Playing on any surface that has a slight give to it will make the pieces slide, but this is just me being nit picky.
Being a racing game with so many different characters, there is a lot of scenarios to have to go through. There is a thousand different combinations that can end up happening, each one changing the game slightly. Maybe you need the Tortoise and the Hair, or the Fox and you doubled up on the Fox, either way it makes a near infinite amount of possible combinations.
The game never plays the same way twice, as the board itself is mixed up each time you play. Along with that, they cards you get/play will completely dictate how the game will go. I have seen three out of three howls come into play, essentially destroying the game for anyone other than the Big Bad Wolf, and I have seen the Fox completely destroy everyone, while the Hare barely even left the starting gate.
It may have just been the way our group was playing, but that damned Big Bad Wolf came first in two of the three races, and second in the third one. He kept getting the “random” howls, nullifying anything we did, which made betting a lot easier to do. Took a little bit of the mystery out of the game, but not much of the fun was lost.
This game is super simple to learn, which makes it fun for people of all ages, and players of all skill sets. We all had fun playing it, and in turn, had a good time all around.
The game runs quick, with the whole championship round lasting around thirty minutes, which included explaining the rule, set-up and tear down. This is an amazing example of an in between game, that you can play without a lot of thinking, but still needing a decent strategy.
The concept is a good one, and it is a captivating style of game play. A betting game with a few twists in there for good measure.
This is definitely not one of those games to play three to four times in a row (Love Letter, Coup, Zombie Dice, Etc) so that does take away from it a bit, especially being a quick to play game.
Being a two to five player game, there is no possible way to make it work for more than that, so it is meant for smaller groups, but that can be both a good thing, and a negative. Either way, it is good to know.
This game is definitely one of the easiest decisions I made in board game purchasing. It is not terribly pricey, it comes with actual wooden pieces, with a hard cardboard on the board. The case alone is an amazingly cool concept, and the game itself is super fun. This is one of those games you should hop into, and sit down to enjoy a bit, just before you judge the game itself.
As always, feel free to comment on here, Email me at email@example.com, or message on The Comic Hunters facebook page what other games you want to see reviewed, or message me if you want to jump into board games at The Comic Hunter or elsewhere.
We look forward to hearing from you soon, and for now, may the dice roll ever in your favor!