Thursday, 23 April 2015

Hey! That's My Fish!

"This is a boardgame; where's the board?"

[reply]

"What, those little cardboard hexes? You want me to line them all up in a big rectangle?"

[nods]

"And then we're going to pick them all up?"

[nods again]

Five minutes later, friendly rivalry results in fist fighting and a bitten nose.

It's not quite like that, of course, but if you're looking for a way to firstly confound your chums and then see them turn into savages before Thy Very Eyes, Hey! That's My Fish ticks more boxes than you've drawn up.

The tiny box contains a pile of thick card hexes that represent the iced over sea at the South Pole. On one side is plain blue sea, on the other is a slab of ice with 1-3 fish displayed. Also in the box, you'll find some little plastic penguins, sculpted mid-pose while getting up to all sorts of capers. The premise of Hey! That's My Fish! is that your little gang of penguins needs to munch up more fish than any of your opponents manage to much up.

As noted above, there's no 'board' as such, in terms of the classic fold-out variety. Instead, every game has a slightly different board, as the hexes are randomly laid down to provide a varied sequence of fish. Once this board has been laid, place place their own penguins.

And battle commences.

The rules could hardly be simpler: when it's your turn, move one of your penguins as many hexes as you wish, so long as it is a) in a straight line and b) doesn't jump over a break in the ice. Whenever one of your penguins moves, the hex it started on is picked up and goes into your hand, the number of fish on it counting towards your final score.

As play progresses, the ice breaks up as players remove hexes; this narrows down your movement options, and this is the point at which your former friends become your worst enemies. Just as important as collecting fish, you'll be wanting to try your hardest to cut off your opponents to limit their fish haul… and you'll want to make it look like an accident lest they target you on their own turn.

And that's it. Play until all penguins can no longer move, collect up the tiles they stand on, and add these to your total fish count. Highest scorer wins; everyone else protests and asks to play again immediately.

What can I say? Hey! That's My Fish is a superb game with just about the simplest mechanics you could imagine. It plays well with 2-4 players, scaling up or down nicely, and I've played with kids and old folks, all of whom have enjoyed it.

Conclusion: A great introduction into the world of un-PC gaming. Affordable, easy to play, and most of all, easy to explain to slightly baffled non-gamers.