Published on May 27th, 2015 | by Luke Turpeinen0
Why Can’t I Hold All These Goats?
A We Have Goats Review
You know how sometimes you just can’t keep your goats all together in one place? That’s where We Have Goats! by Oliver Smith and Michael Massey comes in! We Have Goats is currently on Kickstarter, and we were lucky enough to be given a chance to run the prototype version of the game.
We Have Goats is a quick-paced tile placement game with a racing element. There are four goat pens on the board, one in front of each player, who each have three goat tokens on the board. Your goat tokens are evenly divided between the three pens not immediately in front of you, making the goal of the game to place tiles and move your goats such that you are the first person to have all three of your goats back at the pen in front of you.
That is easier said than done, and there are a number of obstacles that your misguided animals will have to navigate in order to get all the way back home. The tiles that the goats navigate are mostly four way crossroads, but boulders can occasionally block mobility, and crafty players will take advantage of this. There are also Slip ‘n’ Slide areas on the map that let your goats speed through squares, which is a great advantage if you can set it up properly. Players may also sometimes unleash the goat-nami, or Internet Trolls to sew confusion and mess with the board state.
I like that in We Have Goats, tiles and cards are the same thing. Instead of having thick cardboard tiles, the game is played with coaster-sized card stock. This lets you hold tiles in your hand along with your Move Goat cards and special goat-tastrophies, which means you’re never sure what your opponent will play next turn. For those times that you don’t want to play any of the cards in your hand, you can always ditch cards to research goat-wrangling technology. By sinking enough cards into them, you can get great passive bonuses to use for the rest of the game.
We Have Goats was easy to learn, had straight forward goals and plenty of chances to lightly obstruct your opponents. Where We Have Goats succeeds is in giving you just as many ways to get around obstacles as there are obstacles. By not skimping on the counter-obstacles, We Have Goats makes the game more about timing the use of your special cards instead making the players pray to the RNG god. I like the level of conflict the game encourages, it’s not useful to spend too many resources messing with others, but there are a couple cards that are too good to pass up.
The art in the game is at the low end of the budget scale, but as long as the price of the game reflects that, I don’t have a problem with it. I would prefer a little higher quality art from a cartoonist though, even if that makes the final goal for the game a couple hundred dollars more. As it is, the current goat looks too much like something from How To Draw Funny Cartoons dotcom. I absolutely love cartoony styles, but I prefer my art more than a couple of steps above clip art. That said, the art does use the simple graphics pretty effectively, and those bug eyed little devils do have their own kitschy appeal.
Like many Kickstarter projects, We Have Goats is full of casual, off hand nerd and 80s pop-culture references. While some of these were funny, I don’t know that many really added to my experience with the game. Thematically I’d prefer more goat puns, or the addition of other barnyard animal shenanigans instead of Back To The Future references. Deviating too much from your theme dilutes your players’ game experience, so it’s not something to be done lightly. Be funny, have jokes, just keep them goat related when you’re making a goat game.
As part of the playtest experience, we also got a look at the “Not For Kids” cards that could be included in the final product. It always baffles me why people call sex or fart jokes “adult” humor. In my experience it’s almost entirely more appropriately called “juvenile” humor, at least when it comes to who is actually laughing at those jokes. While I don’t look down on anyone who thinks shaping one of the slip ‘n’ slide zones like a penis is funny, I just don’t get why someone thought that was an interesting thing to add to this game about goats. The Not For Kids cards are not included in the base game.
Despite these minor theme issues, I really enjoyed playing We Have Goats. It is a fun game for playing two player, as well as with a whole group. We Have Goats has a great balance between advancing your goals and disrupting your opponents. We Have Goats also is easy to learn, doesn’t take very long and has light humor, making it a great family title as well. Find We Have Goats on Kickstarter right now.