The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Board Games

All Cooped Up? Try ‘Hens’!

Now those are some fancy fowls!

Designed by Giampaolo Razzino Art by Marco Salogni Published by Little Rocket Games.

Hens is a game for 1–4 players with a playtime of 15–20 minutes for ages 10+.

“Place hen cards in the yard, create large groups, gather eggs, and collect medals.”

I recently had a chance to play a prototype copy of Little Rocket Games' latest Kickstarter success, Hens!

Little Rocket Games was gracious enough to provide me with a prototype. I’ll go over some of the basics and then get into my thoughts on the game.

I’m a sucker for farm-related games!

Hens is a thinky-filler. The type of game that should last for about 20 minutes, but you may find some of your friends agonizing over the decisions that present themselves. Hens fits into a collection that wants a few more games that are accessible, fast, and easy to carry around (and it’s inexpensive!).

Game Play

In Hens, you will be drawing and discarding various numbered and colored hen cards to create large families of same-colored hens. You will earn points at the end for your largest family of hens, your rooster-placed family of hens, your medals, and your ability to achieve the goals set out on the goal cards.

You start the game with a hand of 4 hen cards. On each turn, you must draw 2 cards, place one of your cards, and discard one of your cards. Those are the basics, here are the nuances.

  1. You can draw blindly from the draw deck or you can draw cards from the top of your opponent’s discard piles. Sometimes, you’ll want to hold a card your opponent really wants until it’s clear they can no longer benefit from it. Sometimes, you’ll discard a weaker card an opponent might want, in the hopes of locking them into a color you don’t want to play.
  2. You must place a card in your “barnyard” in front of you. This barnyard must be built in either a 3x4 grid or a 4x3 grid. You decide as you go. Build in the direction that suits you best. But once the 12th hen is placed in every player’s barnyard, completing the rectangular barnyard grid, the game will end and scoring will begin.
  3. As I mentioned, there is a strategy in the discard phase. Players will want to consider what cards they know the opponent has in hand and what cards they’ve already played.
Rooster meeple and goal card

How does hen placement work? This is a set collection game. It helps to acquire hens of the same color but goal cards will often encourage diversity in the hens you’ve collected. Your largest family of hens will score at the end of the game. Each hen card has a number of eggs associated with it. These eggs are the points scored for the largest family. After all the players have played their 6th card, the rooster meeple can be placed on one of the cards in each player’s barnyard. If, at the end of the game, this rooster is on a hen card in the player’s second-largest hen family, that family’s eggs will be scored as well!

You can always place a hen next to another hen of the same color. When placing a hen orthogonally adjacent to different colored hens, the different colored hens must have a number that’s one higher or one lower than the others.

For example, placing a red hen with a number of 5 next to any other red hen is a legal placement, but any orthogonally adjacent hens of different colors would need to be a 3 or a 6. One higher or one lower than the red 5. It’s really quite simple but as the spaces become limited in the barnyard the placements become tougher.

What do I like?

Hens is a well-produced game with nice cards, meeples, and a sturdy box. It’s easy to carry around or even keep with you if you think you’ll have some downtime with friends, co-workers, or classmates later in the day. It’s also on the inexpensive side. The crowd-funding campaign was a nice success for Little Rocket Games.

It’s easy to teach. Even non-hobby gamers have all played set collection games before. It’s easy for anyone to understand that they need to find the same colors and place them with the simple adjacency rules.

It plays fast! This is a good one to pull out while you are waiting for a late player to show up or after a heavy game when everyone is too burnt out for another long game.

The art is appealing. Maybe it’s just me and my love for pastoral and farming themes but I like that the theme is quaint and not trying so hard to appeal to popular trends. They could have made a set collection game with any theme, but it’s hens, and it works.

Finally, I think there are enough goal cards to keep the game interesting.

Why it might not be for you

It’s a very light game. If your group is full of advanced gamers, they might not want to play this. It also falls into a category of games that is pretty saturated with similar products. If you don’t like the theme of hens and you don’t want another light game then you might reconsider if this is the right game for you.

Final Thoughts

For me, this game is a better version of Verdant. I love the plant art of Verdant but I feel like it’s trying to do too much for being the set collection, grid map game that Hens is. Hens isn’t trying to be extra complicated. Hens is also cheaper than Verdant. I think it’s a good comparison because even though I much prefer the Verdant cards I would rather have a game like Hens in my collection because it does what it sets out to do very well.

Overall I would rate Hens as a 7/10 and one I recommend! = )

Thanks for reading and keep on gaming!

- BoardGameNerd

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BoardGameNerd

BoardGameNerd

A board game enthusiast and author.