Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘Goatfish’

Gaming Tabletop Games
Image courtesy of Chad Gray

Have you herd? You need goats, and you need them fast. Watch out for goat thieves though!

What Is Goatfish?

Goatfish is a 2-5 player collecting game, similar to the classic Go Fish, for anyone ages 8 and up. The game takes about 15 minutes to play, depending on the number of players. Great artwork and flavor text make this game great for kids and adults alike. It is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer, and visit our Kickstarter curated page for more projects we love.

Goatfish Components

Photo courtesy Sean P. Hallenbeck

Higher levels of support on Kickstarter will include a Goatfish game mat. The game as tested contains a rule book and 64 playable cards:

40 Goat Cards

  • 4x Alpine Goat
  • 4x Angora Goat
  • 4x Boer Goat
  • 4x Cashmere Goat
  • 4x Fainting Goat
  • 4x Irish Goat
  • 4x Kiko Goat
  • 4x LaMancha Goat
  • 4x Mountain Goat
  • 4x Pygmy Goat

16 Action Cards

  • 1x Goat Rodeo
  • 4x Goat Roper
  • 2x Goat Sacker
  • 1x Honey Badger
  • 4x Milk the Goat
  • 2x Milk the Goat: Double Udder
  • 1x Mutton Busted
  • 1x Stop & Eat the Brambles

8 Defend Cards

  • 1x Farmer D.B. McGurkin
  • 1x Guard Donkey
  • 1x Maremma
  • 4x Screaming Goat
  • 1x Security Llama

Goatfish Gameplay

Photo courtesy of Sean P. Hallenbeck

The object of Goatfish is to collect herds of four matching goats. The winner will collect a set number of herds: four in a two-to-three player game, and three in a four-to-five player contest.

After SetupGoatfish is played in 2 phases: Herding Phase and Action Phase


The person chosen to be dealer deals seven cards to each player, face down. The remaining cards are then placed in a pile in the center of the play area. This will be the Draw Pile. The youngest player goes first, and play proceeds clockwise.

Herding Phase

Photo courtesy of Sean P. Hallenbeck
  1. In the Herding phase, you can either ask your opponent(s) for a Goat card that matches one you have in your hand, or draw from the Draw Pile and go to the Action phase. Asking for a Goat card is called a herding request. You cannot ask for a Goat card that doesn’t match one already in your hand. If you have no Goats in your hand at the start of the Herding phase, you instead draw from the Draw Pile.
  2. If the player you ask for a Goat has the cards that match your request, he must give you all copies of that Goat card from his hand, and you may continue asking other players for Goat cards. Optionally, if he has a Defend card, he can use that instead if it is playable during the Herding phase. If a player has no cards that match your request, he will say to you, “Goatfish!” At this point, you draw one card from the Draw Pile.
  3. If you draw the Goat card you requested, you may show it to the other players and then continue as if you had received the card from a player. You may also choose to end the Herding phase and move to the Action phase. If you do not receive the card you requested, the Herding phase automatically ends, and you move on to the Action Phase.
  4. Once you have a herd of four matching goats, place them face up immediately in front of you. This can take place during the Herding phase or the Action phase.
  5. Once you draw a card from the Draw Pile that does not match your goat request, you end your Herding phase and move to the Action phase. If the Draw Pile is empty, shuffle the discard pile and place it face down as the new Draw Pile.

Action Phase

Photo courtesy of Sean P. Hallenbeck
  1. Playing an Action card is entirely optional. If you choose not to play an Action card, or don’t have an Action card to play, say “pass” and your turn ends, and play proceeds clockwise to the next player.
  2. When you play an Action card, you resolve the effect listed on the card. This may include taking an additional turn.
  3. A player affected by an Action card may play a Defend card, if applicable, in response.
  4. Used Action and Defend cards are placed in the Discard Pile.
  5. When a card effect ends a player’s turn, it ends immediately. Play then continues clockwise.
  6. As you play the “Screaming Goat” card, do your best “goat scream” impression!!

Collect This Goat

Seemingly simple, Goatfish has a deeper level of gameplay than one would imagine, considering the game upon which it is based. The Defend text and Action text offer strategies not available in similar collection and matching games, such as Go Fish.

I played the game with members of my family ranging from seven years old to 45 years old. We found it engaging and fun, with laughs galore as we did our goat impressions. The game became quite competitive when goat rustling began taking place. No one wanted to lose their precious herds, and defended them most diligently.

This game was a good way to introduce my seven-year-old to new card strategies, such as timing, planning, and card interaction. She quickly learned to use her Defend cards at the most opportune time, and when to save the card for a better use. She learned the idea of restrictive play as well. Certain cards could only be used during certain phases, and this was a concept she quickly became proficient at. Memorization was encouraged, so as to help determine who one would ask for a certain Goat.

I thought the herd concept to be a clever way of teaching a younger player a word they might not have previously known. Rather than just match numbers, the player used text or imagery to collect similar groupings of cards. Observation skills are developed as one plays as well.

The artwork on the cards is very well done. Whimsical and colorful, the goats pictured are actual goats, researched for the game. Many of the cards used the goats as a basis for the card text. The Boer goat, for example, is a sturdy and powerful goat. His card art reflects that in the use of weights and sweatbands to illustrate his strength. His flavor text also takes his strength into account.

Photo courtesy of Sean P. Hallenbeck

We have been playing the game for nearly three months now, and we are not tired of it yet! We enjoy the fast pace, the “gotcha” feeling when playing certain cards, and the constant laughter at the “screaming goat” impressions. My wife and I will play the game without the kids when we need a relaxing game to play quickly.

Photo courtesy of Sean P. Hallenbeck

A two-player game can become tedious, with the number of goats available to be “herded.” The developer has mentioned to me that the rules may be adjusted to reduce the number of herds available, from ten to seven, to speed up the game and allow for quicker interaction between the two players. Even without the reduction, we enjoy the game, but after I implemented the reduction at home, it did increase the entertainment value.

I feel that this is a fun game, well designed and produced, and a worthwhile Kickstarter to back. Anyone with children ages 7 and up will find the game to be a great time for the family. Younger players could play the game without the Action or Defend cards; just as a matching game. I did this with my three-year-old and he had a good time. The adults will even enjoy playing without the kids, for a simple fun game to pass a few minutes of the day.

Goatfish’s website can be found here.

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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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