There have been some interesting themed games coming out in the past couple of years, games that if you had to do the task in real life, you’d be like, “That doesn’t sound fun at all!” However, board game companies have done a fantastic job of making the games visually appealing and just fun to play, that no matter how preposterous the game might sound, you’ll find yourself not only wanting to buy the game and play it, but NEEDING to. The game I am reviewing today is called Happy Pigs from IELLO Games. It is an economic game designed for 2-6 players, ages 10+. It takes approximately 40 minutes to play and retails for $35. In this game, you are a pig farmer trying to raise healthy pigs and selling them for the highest profit available.
1. Place the Market and Field boards in the middle of the table.
2. Give each player the four Action tiles of their color, one Field, and $45.
3. Sort the Pig tiles by size (Piglet, Small, Average, and Big), and place them where all can reach them.
4. Sort the Item tiles (Vaccine, Dietary Supplement, and Amulet of Life) by type, and place them where all can reach them.
5. Set the coins and bills next to the market.
6. Sort the Season cards by season. Shuffle each season separately and then randomly discard two cards per season. Then, organize the remaining in chronological order (four Spring, four Summer, four Fall, four Winter).
7. First player is given to the player who does the best pig snort.
8. Before the first round starts, each player can buy five items (Pigs, Items, or Fields).
The game takes place over sixteen rounds (seasons), and consists of five phases per round.
1. Turn over the Season card – The Season card indicates how many times each action can take place during the round, i.e., eight feed actions or nine mating actions.. It also has an effect at the bottom of the card, i.e., a modified price.
2. Select an Action – Each player secretly chooses one of the four Actions and places that tile face down in front of themselves. The four Actions are as follows:
a. Feed – Increase the size of a Pig in your Field.
b. Buy – Visit the Market and buy a Pig, Item, or Field.
c. Mate – A Pig old enough to mate (Average or Big) gives birth to a Piglet that you must add to your Field. (Note: This can only happen once per Pig per round.)
d. Sell: Visit the Market and sell one of your Pigs at the market price
3. Reveal Actions – Players simultaneously reveal their Action tiles. (Note: If multiple players took the same action, the amount is shared starting with the First Player and continuing clockwise until no more actions remain. Eight actions among three people would be divided as follows – A, B, C, A, B, C, A, B)
4. Take Actions – Starting with the First Player, each player performs his action as many times as possible. (Note: After several rounds, familiarity will set in and these actions can be performed simultaneously among players.)
5. Apply the Seasonal Effect – Apply the effect on the Season card and the round ends.
Change of Season – When the last card of a Season is played, the season changes and any Pigs not vaccinated die. (Note: If you have vaccines in your personal reserve, you can use them to save some pigs.)
End of Game – The game ends when all Season cards have been played. Players suffer the effects of one last season change (losing any pigs not vaccinated). Player then sell all their vaccinated pigs at market price and the farmer with the most money at the end of the game wins.
The first thing I noticed about this game was the artwork. It is very vibrant and colorful in its presentation, which makes it very appealing to young and old. The piglets are adorable, but as the pigs get bigger, they start to look a little less cute and more bloated, which is what I expect when looking at big pigs. 🙂 Even the money is nice in this game! Most games just give you cardboard coins for the currency. Happy Pigs comes with cardboard coins and bills, which is a very nice touch!
Speaking of cardboard, let’s talk about the component quality. I have a lot of my games in collection that involved a bunch of cardboard tokens to punch out. Usually, there’s some issues with the cardboard not being thick enough or worse being mis-printed and mis-cut. That was not the case with this game. All of the components were of the highest quality and the only “issue” they had was one pig not having the proper vaccine on one side. For all the components included in this game, this is a minor issue which I can forgive.
As for the game itself, this is a nice introduction to economic games. You only take one of four actions per round. There are only sixteen rounds, and each round is only five steps. This makes the game simple to learn/teach and quick to play, making it ideal for children, families, and first time gamers. What I like best about the game is the delicate strategy of reading your opponents and trying to figure out what action they are going to take. Are they going to go for the action that has the best reward this round, or are they sizing up other people as well and going to go for the second or third best action in hopes of getting it to themselves? Like poker though, sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong. That’s what makes it fun though. You’re not just playing your farm; you’re playing your opponents’ farms too.
So get your family and friends together and find out who the most successful swineherd will be. Then, be on the lookout later this year for a mini-expansion which adds sheep, chickens, and cows to the mix. They won’t change the gameplay any, but they will add more aesthetics to an already beautiful game.
This game was provided to me for free by IELLO Games in exchange for an honest review.
Copyright 2016 Stuart Dunn