Boomerang – Draft Your Way Through Australia
G’day mates! Up for some travel? We’ll partake in activities, collect goods and admire the wildlife in Boomerang, a draft and write game for 2-4 players ages 8 and up. Boomerang was designed by Scott Almes (Best Treehouse Ever, Tiny Epic series) and published by Grail Games.
Boomerang is played over five rounds. Each player starts with a hand of seven cards. After that, players select a Throw card, then draft, and finally score.
Select a Throw
Each player selects a Throw card and places it face down in their play area. The goal of selecting a Throw is to be less than or equal to the number on the Catch card, the last card drafted.
Players then pass their hand to the left and begin drafting.
To draft, players select a card from their hand and place it face up next to their throw card. Then they pass their hand to the the next player and draft again.
The seventh (last) card received is the Catch card. Place it face up immediately.
Now its time to score the round using the drafted cards.
End of Round Scoring
Throw & Catch. Compare the Throw and Catch card. If the Catch is greater than or equal to the Throw, score points for the Throw card.
Tourist sites. For each site visited, cross out the corresponding letter on the map. If you completed all the sites in one region before anyone else, circle that region’s bonus star. All other players must cross this bonus out.
Collections. Many cards have green icons referring to things you collected on your travels this round. Total up the value of of those items and write them in the box. There is a catch: each round’s collection score must be higher than the previous round. If you fail to do so, enter in zero for this round. Try again next round!
Make pairs of Animals to score them, from kangaroo (worth 3 points) to platypus (worth 9).
Activity scoring is optional. Score points for one selected Activity across your cards. It’s important to note that each of the four Activities (swimming, bushwalking, culture, and sightseeing) may only be scored once per game.
To prepare for the next round, collect all the cards, shuffle them together, then deal out seven to each player. Change the drafting direction between each round.
After the fifth round, the game ends. Score as the round as usual, then tally up points for each category along with two bonuses: total Tourist sites crossed off (one point each), plus the sum of all regional bonuses circled. The player who scores the most points wins. In case of ties, the player who scored the most Throw & Catch points wins.
At first glance I thought Boomerang was another entry in the roll and write genre. I saw the score sheet and immediately thought I’d be chucking dice and scrawling off boxes on a scoresheet.
Boy was I wrong!
Boomerang is a draft and write game where strategic card drafting and collecting sets lead to victory. I like that players have a lot of agency. You’re always in the driver’s seat picking which cards to collect and score.
There isn’t a ton of player interaction in Boomerang, only your awareness of what other people are drafting. Do you select cards to prevent others from completing sets? Then you risk not meeting your own goals; there’s an opportunity cost to each card taken.
Tourist bonuses were one of my favorite goals to work for in scoring. Visiting all those places left me feeling very satisfied by the end of the game.
But don’t let all those glorious sites entice you; higher scoring opportunities reside in collections and animal pairs. Snagging animals with higher values can prove quite challenging, because there are fewer of them.
Throw and Catch scoring can be tricky; often players will play a low, conservative number for the Throw.
In drafting games you have limited control over what comes back around; each player has a final say in what Catch card lands in your hands. Keep a watchful eye, since this is one more way you can affect an opponents score. Can you pass a card that makes them fumble that Catch?
Boomerang is a phenomenal small box game. It takes up very little room on the table, perfect for a coffee shop or pub. And it plays just as well with two players as at four.
The art style is reminiscent of art deco, with bold fonts and contrasting colors. Clear iconography and smart color coordination of regions make scoring a walk in the park.
Unfortunately, Australia’s beauty isn’t prominent on the cards. The photos are black and white and rather small. The maps could have been de-emphasized to better showcase the tourist sites.
However, Grail Games addressed this problem in a new edition, titled Boomerang: Australia. It contains new artwork that better showcases Australia’s landmarks, along with some minor scoring changes. In addition, there are also Boomerang Europe and USA stand-alone games releasing in 2021 that offer the same great gameplay with different geography.
I’d highly recommend Boomerang for folks that enjoy drafting games and travel. Roll and write connoisseurs will gravitate towards it as well.
If this sounds like a game for you or a globetrotter you know, pick up a copy of Boomerang on Amazon or ask for it at your friendly local game store. Catch ya later mate!
The Family Gamers received a copy of Boomerang from Grail Games for this review.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Number of Players: 2-4
Age Range: 10+
Playtime: 40 mins