Round Up Some Farm Animals in ‘Barnyard Bunch’

Evergreen Gaming Reviews Tabletop Games

It’s up to you to help the farmer and Lilli, the sheepdog, to keep the Barnyard Bunch from wandering off the farm.

What Is Barnyard Bunch?

Barnyard Bunch is a game for 1-4 players, ages 4 and up, and takes about 15-30 minutes to play. It’s currently available to purchase for $14.99 directly from HABA or check your FLGS.

Barnyard Bunch was designed by Justin Lee and published by HABA, with illustrations by Anna-Lena Kuhler.

Barnyard Bunch Components

In the box you will find the following:

  • 1 rulebook
  • 1 barn board
  • 8 path strips
  • 1 wooden die
  • 1 barn
  • 8 wooden animal meeples
  • 40 card deck

Like most HABA games, the components are straight forward and of good quality. The barn board and path strips have brightly colored spaced to clearly mark the path with minimal design while artwork on the cards reflects the various farm animals and is of a style that my kids found very engaging.

The cards depict cute farm animals that my kids loved! | photo by Michael G. Pistiolas

How to Play Barnyard Bunch

You can download a copy of the rulebook here.

The Goal

The goal of the game is to keep all the animals from leaving the farm. If you can get through the entire deck of cards without any of the animals walking off their respective paths, then you win! However, if an animal escapes before the deck runs out, you and the farmer are out of luck.

Setup

To setup the game, place the octagon shaped barn board in the center of the table and randomly abut the 8 path strips, one per side. Then randomly place the 8 animals on each of the colored spaces on the barn board. Shuffle the deck of cards and place them within reach of everyone. Now you are ready to coral some animals!

Setting up the game is quick and easy | photo by Michael G. Pistiolas

Gameplay

In Barnyard Bunch, a player’s turn consists of two parts – a dice roll and a card draw. During a player’s turn, they will roll the die, and depending upon the result, one of the following will happen:

  • If a colored side is showing: Move all animals currently on that colored space 1 space away from the barn.
  • If the farmer is showing: Move any 1 animal 1 space closer to the barn.
  • If the dog is showing: Move any 1 animal all the way back to it’s starting position on the barn board. Good girl!

After that, you will draw one card and perform the action indicated:

  • If it’s an animal card: Move that animal 1 space away from the barn.
  • If it’s the farmer: Move any 1 animal 1 space closer to the barn.
  • If it’s the dog: Move any 1 animal all the way back to it’s starting position on the barn board. Here’s an extra treat for my good girl!
  • If it’s an animal lure (i.e. a carrot for the horse): Move that specific animal 1 space towards the barn.

After that, the next player takes their turn.

Turns are quick and simple in Barnyard Bunch. | photo by Michael G. Pistiolas

Game End

The game ends when either there are no more cards to draw, or one of the animals has strayed off the path.

Why You Should Play Barnyard Bunch

Barnyard Bunch is a light kid’s game with a high luck factor. In fact, the cover of the box says, “lucky dice rolls will lure the animals back to the barn.” I appreciate the honesty. Regardless of the fact that the outcome of the game is heavily influenced by random dice rolls and card draws, my kids and I really enjoyed this one!

The reason for that is the fun, simple nature of the game combined with the cute artwork, vibrant colors, and impressive table presentation. When the board is set up, you have this colorful spoke on your table with a 3D barn in the middle and 8 little animals, ready to run off. Then you start rolling and drawing, and the board comes alive as the animals move back and forth on their paths, like the gentle swaying of wind through a wheat field. The push and pull of animals running away from the barn only to be lured back creates this fun tension throughout the game, especially when one of your barnyard buddies nears the end of their path. Then if luck is on your side, you roll a farmer or dog, pulling that animal friend back from the edge. It’s very rare to have a turn where no animals move and that keeps the the game very interactive.

That being said, my one big negative is that the game can get repetitive. To win, you have to get through the entire deck of 40 cards. Which means that you will have 40 rounds of roll the die, move an animal(s), draw a card, move an animal(s). When playing 2-player with a three-year-old, that is a lot of turns each! However, the game moves quick and there will be times when an animal runs to freedom, ending the game early.

Also, if you are someone who wants all the components to remain perfectly in place on the table, Barnyard Bunch might not be for you. My kids were constantly bumping the paths, causing the entire board to shift. I found myself regularly realigning the paths with the central barn board. I didn’t mind, but I did contemplate whether there is an easy way to connect the paths to the barn board, but still be able to take them apart for storage in the box?

I should note that I taught this game to my 3-year-old and 6-year-old, and since then, I have played it at least once a day since for the the past week. In fact, the mechanics of Barnyard Bunch are simple enough, that the two of them have played it several times by themselves. And when the game is over, they put the cards and dice away and just play with the other components! And because of that, Barnyard Bunch is a keeper in my household. It provides a quick game that my kids can play, with or without me, with engaging components, a fun theme, and just the right amount of tension to keep you involved despite the repetitive turns.

Look at the cute animeeples! | Photo by Michael G. Pistiolas

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

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