Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Frank's Ark: Thematic rules but tricky to master

So shy animals cannot be placed here....
I requested Tina to bring her game to office so that I could give it a go. Usually its me bringing my games and this time I wanted to play something I don't have and new to me.

Frank's Ark is essentially themed on Noah's ark with a whee bit more fiction than usual. In this game, players are trying to place their wooden markers (shaped in little dinosaurs) onto 5 scoring cards which denote different attributes. These attributes are usually found on different animal cards which make up a player's hand. During your turn, you can perform 2 actions but certain animals (for example the Shy ones) will require 2 actions. Actions include placing animals (with certain rules) and taking cards from the deck.
The rules for placing the animals is rather thematic but can be quite challenging to remember all of them. Shy animals for example cannot be placed in a pen that is orthogonally adjacent to carnivores and carnivores cannot be placed in a pen with another animal unless it is smaller than the other animal and so on and so forth. So you can see its thematic and makes sense but can be challenging to remember all the different rules. More importantly, each animal has a weight and depending on where you place the animal, the boat can tip. You are not allowed to place an animal that will cause the weight to shift entirely off the boat card. Whenever you play an animal card, if there is an attribute with the card, you get to place your wooden marker on the card. Midway through the game, players will get to place an animal card from their hand face down and that will be your pet and will most likely give you 1 more wooden token to place when the game ends.
Once the 5th rain card is drawn from the Draw deck, the game will conclude. Players then reveal their pet, place their wooden token if there is an attribute available and then count who has the majority for each attribute and score points accordingly. There are also wooden discs which are used when you want to start a new pen in the boat and for each disc you did not use, you will score points as well. The player with the most points will win the game.
Art wise is pretty cool though the choice of animals is amusing. One player had a unicorn as her pet! The general concept and play is quite interesting and fun except for the animal placement rules which can be a whee bit tedious to remember. Play time will vary depending on how well you have shuffled the rain cards into the 2nd half of the deck so that can be hard to prepare for. But since everything is open knowledge (in terms of your wooden tokens on the scoring cards), you can try to jostle and take cards which will help you gain majority during the game. All in all, it may seem like a light filler but I think it can be a light-medium weight game. I had fun but I am not sure if it will be everyone's cup of tea. Try before you buy!

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