Nobody But Us Chickens

Reviewer Reviewed On Publisher Designer Published In Rating
November 11, 2003 Dancing Eggplant Games Kevin G. Nunn 2003 8
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Diet Evil Games is one of the strangest names for a company I’ve seen in a long time (right up there with Eight Foot Llama). Of course, it seems that it is customary for companies with strange names to make excellent games, so I assumed that Nobody But Us Chickens (Diet Evil Games, 2003 – Kevin G. Nunn) would be a good game. Chickens seem to be a popular topic in gaming these days, so the theme wasn’t that original, but the game play sounded quite interesting, so we tried it out.

And good first impressions changed to extremely high second impressions. This is a great, fun little bluffing game, and one that kids and adults can both play with pleasure. I know that I say that about quite a few games, but this one gets higher points in that area than almost no other game I’ve played. When I played the game with some children, they picked it up extremely quickly, and gave me a good game – in no time did I feel as if I was “playing down” to them. That alone makes the game worth playing; but, as usual, I’ll elaborate further.

At the beginning of each round (there are as many rounds as there are number of players), each player is given nine cards of their color. Each set of nine cards is identical, with the only difference being that each set has a different colored back.. A set is made up of one fox, one dog, one rat, and six chickens – one sickly chicken (worth –1 point), three healthy chickens (1 point each), a plump chicken (2 points), and a prize chicken (4 points). Each of the players put their cards into their hands, and nine turns are then played. One player is given a “Fox King” marker, and the player to their right receives the “Top Dog” marker.
Each turn, the players select one card from their hand and place it face down on the table. These cards are then simultaneously turned face-up, and one of several things happens….
- If only chickens are played, they all stay on the table – available for future rounds.
- If only one player plays a fox, they receive every chicken currently on the table – placing these chickens in a pile in front of them.
- If more than one fox is played, then the Fox King (or, if the Fox King hasn’t played a fox, the fox-playing person who is closest clockwise to him) chooses one of the chickens from the table. In clockwise order, each other player who put down a fox takes a chicken, until all the chickens are gone.
- If a rat is played, the player playing the rat can steal only ONE chicken, and must wait until all the foxes get one pick.
- If a guard dog(s) is played, along with only chickens, nothing happens, and the player(s) who played the dog discards it.
- If one guard dog is played along with some predators (foxes and rats), then all the foxes and rats are discarded, and the player who played the dog takes all the chickens on the table instead.
- If more than one guard dog and predator is played, then the dogs take turns taking the chickens, just like the foxes do, but starting with the player who has the “Top Dog” token.
After all nine turns are over, each player receives (or possibly loses!) points for the chickens they have, and scores are recorded. Chickens still on the table are worthless. Each player then takes their cards back into their hands, and both the “Top Dog” and “Fox King” markers are moved one player to the right. The next round then commences, until the game is over – at which time points are totaled, and the player with the most is the winner!

Some comments on the game:

1). Components: The box is nice and sturdy, but certainly bigger than it needs to be. This may or may not be a good thing. I personally like slightly bigger boxes, as they’re easier to find on my gaming shelves. But the game really could have been condensed into a small card box, one that could easily be transported. I’m glad that the bigger box was included for another reason, however – Diet Evil Games was able to include a very nice score pad – an unnecessary addition, but oh so nice. The cards themselves are very bright, and easily distinguishable one from another. While not the greatest quality (they do seem to take a bit of wear and tear – I’d rather have white borders over black), they do get the job done, and should last for quite a while. The Fox King and Top Dog markers are nice double-sided cards that are placed in plastic stands.

2). Rules: The rules for the game are very simple, and could probably be condensed even smaller than what I’ve written in this review. However, the two-sided page of rules included with the game is VERY thoroughly written. I wouldn’t have minded color illustrations and diagrams, but really, the game is so simple, it didn’t need them. Not only are thorough rules included, but some strategy tips are included – although frankly, I thought only a simpleton would not pick up these tips after one round of play. Two variants are included in the rules: the “healthy coop” –highly recommended, and “short summer nights” – a change in the game, but not as big of a deal.

3). Family friendly: As stated in my introduction, I really feel that this game really works well in mixed age groups. Adults will find themselves really trying to keep up with the younger set, and kids will figure the game out quickly. In my school’s board game club, this game has become a game of choice.

4). Strategy: However, that does not mean the game can or should be excluded from the “gamer” folk. Played by six serious gamers, the bluff factor in this game could really get intense, and I find that it’s rather enjoyable. There is really no set strategy for the game at all, except to figure out what your opponent is going to play. Some people don’t consider bluffing a strategy, but I do – and it’s the basis for this game. Unlike Poker, and You’re Bluffing, however, this game is very easy for children to get into.

5). Fun Factor and Time: The game is quite a bit of fun. When I played with the children, there was a lot of laughter. When I played with adults, there was almost as much, if not more laughter. To me, unless the laughter is derisive scorn directed at the game (which it wasn’t), that’s an excellent sign that everyone is having a great time – and that this game delivers on the fun factor. The game is fairly quick – only lasting about five minutes per player – and so before the game gets repetitive, it’s over – and everyone had a great time!

6). Clones: This game reminds me of another of my favorite fillers – Pick Picknic. They both have similar themes, and have dogs, foxes, and chickens. But the feel is very different. Pick Picknic has a bit of luck (a die) and a lot of cubes that are being moved around. Nobody but Us Chickens is just cards – and it seems easier and quicker. While I love Pick Picknic quite a bit, Nobody But us Chickens is just as fun, if not more – and owning both games is not much of a duplication.

So I really recommend this game! Diet Evil Games is putting out small, fun, quality games, and if they continue to produce excellent selections such as this, I have high hopes for their company (despite their strange name!) Nobody But Us Chickens is fun, fast, and easily accessible to all ages. It’s a great filler, a fun family game, and an excellent choice for those who love bluffing. Pick it up, and you’ll easily find opponents who enjoy this three to six player game!

Tom Vasel