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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Thursday 19 March 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Fast Sloths

 Game: Fast Sloths

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Friedemann Friese

Year: 2019

Sloths are pretty slow! If I had to name slow animals, I might list snails, tortoises and then sloths. But, there's plenty of fast animals out there, and what if they could simply lend a hand, or a trunk, or a very long neck to help sloths get around?

In Fast Sloths, you're a sloth who's trying to visit all the trees in the local area. Other species are around to lend a hand, and traditional predator-prey relationships appear to have been set aside. You, the sloths, are the cargo in this pick-up-and-deliver game where players race to be the first to visit 8 trees. With twelve different species and only 6 used in the game, you can use a crocodile boat, be thrown by an orangutan, or travel between villages on the shoulders of a human.

Fast Sloths is a fast-paced, accessible, pick-up-and-deliver game for 2-5 players and its endearing cover and use of our favourite genre in gaming, shot it up the list of games we were excited for post-Essen. So let's see if it really delivers.

Fast Sloths uses a two part board, so the map of interlocking hexagons might be different every game. The animals you play with also vary each game, with only 6 of the 12 being used. The rulebook has some suggested setups, some guidelines on what works well together, or you can pick randomly. Once the board is seeded with animals, the game begins. On your turn you draw new animal cards and then play animal cards from your hand to move the corresponding animal disc. Each card shows an animal and a movement number, and perhaps some other special rules. You can play as many cards as you like of a certain animal for more movement points. From one space away, your sloth can typically hop on board and take a ride and then be dropped off at the end of the animal's movement. Each player is racing to collect all the leaf tokens of their colour from the tree locations around the board, and the first to collect all bar one, will win.

The joy in fast sloths is really in the variety of the animals on the board. The way in which they move is super thematic and adds a really good level of puzzliness to the game. All of our games have ended up being extremely close, but the winner tends to be the player who most carefully plans their card selection so as not to have an excess of movement or cards, and to have just the right amount to be able to perform all their collections in an efficient number of turns. You can't simply plan it all upfront though. The animals belong to everyone, so that crocodile might not be where you wanted him to be, right when you need him. Only the eagle can really be summoned upon demand, to pick you up and drop you six spaces away. You need to be adaptable and second guess other players, and that's only in a two-player game. With more players, predicting the location of the animal discs might just be a touch too tricky.

There's no doubt that Fast Sloths is a very simple game within its genre, but it's not without some interesting moments. At two players, I've certainly found myself as the master of my opponent's victory. Selecting which cards to add to your hand can be a critical error if you reveal the higher value movement card beneath that lets your opponent move that one extra space to secure victory. Some of the more complex animals, like ants and orangutans, certainly let you exercise your logic skills too.
I love pick up and deliver games, and I can definitely see how Fast Sloths would make a great gateway into a genre that can get very complex. Its theme is extremely endearing and way less dry than the trains or merchant trails that seem predominant in this category of gaming. But, with simplicity comes an experience that doesn't have a lasting impact. From opening the box to having everything packed away took us as little as 20 minutes with two players. It's barely worth sitting at the table for a game of this size for such a minimal experience. I love what Fast Sloths does, I love how thematic it is and the variety and fun in the box, I just wanted a bit more from the game. For the Yellow Meeple, it's a 6.5/10.

Fast Sloths was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £59.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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