Squirrel: Kickstarter board game review

Squirrel Kickstarter? Sure, I don’t usually do this sort of thing. But the designer reached out about this little pocket children’s game and it simply charmed me. Better still, he sent me a review copy to take a look at. And while I’m not going to do a full review, I thought it deserved some love.

Squirrel is on Kickstarter right now until April 11, 2019. At time of writing it had doubled its goal (over £2,000 of a £900 target), so will fund. A pledge of just £12 will get you a copy of the game, which will be £15 later at retail. But don’t delay – it is only up on Kickstarter for less than two more weeks.

Squirrel has charming components

Each copy of Squirrel is made by hand. The cute little box, the 18 cards/tiles and the rule sheet. Only the two cute little wooden squirrels are crafted in Germany. There’s no plastic in sight, while the card for the box is recycled.

The only issue I had was with the cards themselves. It’s lovely that they’re screen-printed and also on recycled card. But they’re going to get a fair bit of use and may not stand the test of time. They’re also not easy to shuffle and handle. Designer Tom Sudall has acknowledged this and future editions may be factory made. But for the environmentally conscious, or those happy to get a piece of art, it works.

Simple game play

A game of Squirrel takes two players about five minutes, or 10 with the rules. Simply lay out the 18 cards in a two-deep three-by-three grid, green leaf side up. Each player then puts their squirrel on a pile, and the game begins.

On a turn, simply move your squirrel to an adjacent pile and then take any top card adjacent to its new position. The reverse of the card will either have a brown leaf, or a number of brown acorns (1-3). Acorns good, leaves bad. Also, once you have three cards in hand, you must drop one when you grab a new card – brown side up.

This means you may have to drop an acorn. If a player then lands on said acorn, they can choose to take a random card from your hand rather than the ground – which is going to be an acorn. It’s a small but smart piece of interaction that balanced the blind draw luck a little bit. The game ends when there are only brown leaves/acorns face up. A smart thematic touch, showing the forest going from summer to autumn.

Squirrel Kickstarter pros and cons

While my girlfriend and I were charmed by the production, we got nothing from the game. For gamer adults there’s too much luck and very little strategy. But we’re clearly not the target audience. So, she took it home to play with her daughters and the youngest (eight) in particular loved it. So much so that the next day, she was sitting playing it alone. She’d made up her own (unfathomable) solo rules.

The girls loved the theme, loved the changing of the seasons, loved the squirrels. It was a hit. You really are foraging. And it really is portable. The box is roughly 3x2x1 inches and weighs next to nothing. You could easily play on a train or plane fold out table. Or on a spare bit of table in a restaurant while waiting for your food (boooooring). And the luck is going to balance out over multiple plays.

If this sounds like its ticking a few boxes, do go check out the Squirrels Kickstarter. Its cheap, ethical and hand-crafted. And fun for kids. Enjoy!

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