Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘We Have Goats!’

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Sample of some of the cards from 'We Have Goats'. Image by Rob Huddleston.
Sample of some of the cards from ‘We Have Goats.’ Image by Rob Huddleston.

We Have Goats! is a fun, somewhat silly tile laying game designed by Oliver Smith. There’s sure to be a lot of laughter at your table as you play this game that’s great for the whole family.

Overview: In We Have Goats!, each player takes the role of a goat herder whose goats have escaped to other pens. You need to build a path to get your goats home, while simultaneously trying to block your opponents. The game is for 2-4 players, and takes around 30 minutes. The game is officially recommended for ages 10 and up, but my 9-year-old didn’t have any issues with it. It launched last week on Kickstarter, where you can get a copy of the game for $29.

There is a “NSFW” deck with more suggestive themes that are less appropriate for kids. The designers describe it as a “PG-13 add-on,” and I’d tend to agree. There’s nothing overtly offensive in the deck, but there are some things you might not want to have to explain, either. A $39 pledge gets you the game with this additional deck.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

Components:

  • 152 White Cards
  • 4 Goat Pens
  • 10 Goat Locks
  • 72 Goat Funds (gems)
  • 8 Red Goat Lab Cards
  • 12 Goat Tokens
  • (optional) 16 NSFW “Not for Kids” Cards

I was sent a prototype for testing. The artwork on the cards is nice, matching the game’s light-hearted theme, but I don’t know if that artwork is necessarily final.

Gameplay:

Setup is pretty fast. Each player takes a goat pen matching their chosen color and their corresponding three goat tokens. They place their pen in front of them, and one of each of their tokens in each of the other pens. Note that if you are playing with fewer than four players, you still set up all four pens. Pens should be placed so that there is roughly five cards’ space between them and the pen across from them, so that a grid of cards can be formed linking the pens as the game progresses.

You then shuffle the red Goat Lab cards and deal two to each player. The white cards are shuffled and five are dealt to each player. The rest of the cards are placed on the table in a draw deck. The gems and Goat Lock tokens are also placed on the table.

The first player is chosen at random.

On your turn, you draw a white card, and play a white card from your hand. Most of the white cards represent land tiles that help you build a path from the other players’ pens to yours, while also placing obstacles in those other players’ paths. These cards can be placed anywhere on the table so long as at least one edge touches the edge of either an existing pen or an existing white card. This way, the players work together (and simultaneously against each other) to create paths between the pens, filling in the grid between them.

Some white cards are Goat-astophe cards. (That isn’t by any means the worst pun in the game.) These cards allow you to mess with the tiles on the board or with other goats, so you may be able to rotate an existing card to block your opponent’s path (and hopefully open your own path at the same time) or swap a goat’s location with another goat.

The green move cards allow you to move your goats a set number of spaces along the path as it is built. You need to remember that your goats start out in your opponents’ pens, so the goal is to build paths back to your pen, and then move your goats along those paths. It gets tricky when you don’t get enough move cards, but can be helped by special slide cards that let your goats move further faster. You can also run into situations where your goats are blocked by obstacles or other goats, as two goats cannot occupy the same space at the same time (at least not without special cards).

Finally, the white deck contains orange action cards that let you do things like draw additional cards or swap hands. There are even a few cards that have you do out-of-game tasks, such as the “All Play – Gratuitous Selfie” card that says that the first player to post a selfie gets to move 5 spaces.

You also have the option of discarding a card from your hand in exchange for “goat funds,” small green gems. When you have enough funds, you can lock, and thus activate, one of your red Goat Lab cards. These are basically power-up cards that allow you to perform extra actions, move your goats further, and the like. Red cards are vulnerable to be stolen during the game, but once you lock the card to activate it, it is safe. We found that choosing when to play a card and when to spend a turn discarding for funds to be one of the more strategically challenging aspects of the game.

Once you get one of your goats into your pen, it is safe. The first player to get all three goats to her pen wins the game.

The Verdict:

We Have Goats! is a simple yet deceptively deep game. There’s a lot of strategy to deciding where and how to play the land cards, because often you find that the roadblocks you put in your opponent’s path end up blocking you instead. You also have to carefully choose how to use your single action each turn. Do you play a land tile, move, play a special card that impacts your opponents without necessarily directly helping yourself, or spend a turn trying to get funds to activate a red card?

The artwork and puns on the cards keep the game light and fun. It’s hard to get too involved in overthinking the strategy when you realize that your goal is to move silly-looking goats around on the board. It’s rare to find a game that is both light enough for casual gamers and deep enough for more serious types, but I think this one finds that balance nicely.

My entire family, from my 70-something parents to my wife to my kids really enjoyed the game. We even got our newly-minted teenager to put down her phone for a bit to play, and that’s saying something these days.

In the end, I’d definitely recommend We Have Goats!, and I look forward to seeing the finalized version.

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