Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Kitty Cataclysm

Game: Kitty Cataclysm

Publisher: Stuff by Bez

Designer: Bez Shahriari

Year: 2018

Kitty Catacyclsm is a terrific collection of cat puns packaged up into a game. Can you make sure that you earn the most meowney to avoid cat-astrophe and not go home with your tail between your legs?

Kitty Cataclysm is the next project from Bez Shahriari who is probably best known for In A Bind, a game of contorting your body in ways that is pretty much guaranteed to make your friends laugh, especially after a few drinks. Kitty Cataclysm is a much more laid back card game, but definitely still has some humour and I assume it will come in a typical very small box, much like the rest of Bez's games. Read on to find out more or check out the project on Kickstarter.

Kitty Cataclysm is a simple card game. You start the game with a hand of 5 cards each and you take turns playing them. When you play a card it gets added to a face-up collection of cards known as your kitty. In addition to this most cards have an ability, these vary from giving cards away to your opponent, stealing cards, or simply drawing more from the deck. There are even a few attacks that can be used should your opponents have too many cards in their hands.

The game ends when any player would take their turn, but has no cards to play with, at which point players count up the value (in meowney) of all of the cards in their kitty, and any remaining cards in their hand. Each card can vary in value from -1 to +3 meowney, with valuable cards often having undesirable abilities. At the end of the game the player with the most meowney wins.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

I was very pleasantly surprised by Kitty Cataclysm. While it is a very basic card game, there has obviously been a lot of play testing and balancing to make something this well-tuned. Depending on the hand you draw a round could be incredibly short, with only a couple of cards in your kitty. Alternatively games can look like they are about to end, then suddenly after a couple of plays everyone's hands are full of cards. Either way a game should be complete in way under 10 minutes.

The core mechanic is really the ability to donate cards, as many cards give negative meowney you want to dump them on your opponents. However many of these cards also have situational, but game-changing abilities. The cat puns, both on the cards and in the rules, are infectious. You may be able to resist at first but you'll soon be forced to at least smirk at one of them!

Kitty Cataclysm is never going to be my game of the year. What it is is a quick card game, with rules that can be explained in a minute. A game that is so easy to get to the table to fill those 5 minutes while you are waiting for someone to turn up. It probably will be more popular with families than with gamers, but you shouldn't turn your nose up at it just because of the theme!
A preview copy of Kitty Cataclysm in play, each player has a hand of cards, along with a kitty that they build up infront of them as the game goes on.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Take-that games are typically not my thing. I love being mean to other people in games, but I don't really like it when the tables are turned on me. That said, Kitty Cataclysm is only a 5 minute game and even with two players, where you are always the target of your opponent, I didn't feel too victimised by the game.

I enjoy the variety of mechanisms with the ability to draw cards, donate cards or steal cards to manipulate what you and your opponents are holding. With two players, this was particularly interesting as you had full control of the cards being passed back and forth which could inform your decisions about the right moments to push your luck. The game feels very well balanced with the points value of the cards reflecting the relative strength of their ability.

My only issues with the two player game were the end game. Your points are based on what you have on the table in addition to the value of cards in your hand, but with one person completely out of cards, it quite hard to be the person who finishes the game and still win. It would be good to get the opportunity to play this with more players and I see no reason that it wouldn't scale well up to its maximum 5 player count.
This is, of course, not the finished artwork. The art is part of the puns and I hope that's reflected in the final art Bez will develop.
The Kickstarter campaign for Kitty Cataclysm truly embraces the grass roots of board game design. Its a campaign from an independent UK designer who wants to get their design into the hands of gamers. With just one prototype copy, some puns, a lot of honesty and a game that's actually pretty good fun, I hope Bez will succeed!

The Good
  •  It's a humorous take-that game that doesn't take itself too seriously and encourages you to push your luck and have fun.
  • It's a very quick game that often makes me want to play again.
  • There's some real decision making to determine how to make the best of your hand of cards.
The Bad
  • It's a mean, 'take-that' game. Some people might get hurt feelings!
  • Sometimes it will feel like you've had a game that was dictated by luck, but that's quite infrequent.
The Verdict
5.5/10 Kitty Cataclysm is a well thought out push your luck style game. It has some interesting mechanisms and is a nice, light filler game that should be played with a group of laid back friends.

Kitty Cataclysm was a preview copy provided to the Board Game Exposure reviewer collective. It is currently live on Kickstarter.

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