Goats’ Day Out
The goats have escaped the local petting zoo and are wreaking havoc around town, eating everything in their path!
In this polyomino shape placement game from Thinkfun, players ages 8 and up fill the belly of their goats with food, clothing, sports equipment, and school supplies. The player who most strategically arranges the shapes in their goat’s stomach after three rounds wins the game.
Each player chooses a street tray and goat at random, then selects and places a colored goat score keeper and matching disc on the appropriate scoring tracks.
Place bonus pieces and stones in a pile within reach of all players.
Place food pieces in the box lid and mix before each player randomly chooses ten for their street tray.
Each player silently chooses a food piece. Once everyone gives a thumbs up they all simultaneously place their item into their goat’s belly. Players may rotate or flip pieces for strategic placement.
Placement Strategy for Scoring
- Players score points for fitting as many pieces as possible into the goat.
- Players score bonus points for having the largest group of each color in the game (red, yellow, blue) and their largest group of “chomped” pieces.
Once players place their shapes, pass the trays to the left. Then, follow the selection/placement rules, repeating this process until all trays are empty.
When a player covers all dark squares on their goat, they may choose a bonus piece or a stone. A bonus piece is placed in their personal goat. A stone is placed in an opponent’s goat as an obstacle that remains until the end of the round.
Round and End Game Scoring
Players earns three points for each food piece and bonus piece in their goat. The player with the largest group of each color earns one point for each piece in the group. Players earn one point for each chomped piece in their largest chomped group.
Players lose one point for each uncovered square in their goat. Any player with a filled goat earns five extra points. All points are tracked on the score tracker.
Set Up for the Next Round
Players remove all pieces from their goats, mix them back into the box lid, and pass their goats to the left. Everyone chooses ten new pieces from the box lid and play begins again. After the third round, players score one last time.
After several plays of Goats’ Day Out and the subsequent reflection while writing this overview, I realized that our 8-year-old has played very few polyomino (Tetris-type shape) games. Her first, and still one that hits the table occasionally, is Tiny Park from HABA (see thoughts on how Tiny Park supports emotional learning). We have also introduced her to the family variant for Isle of Cats, which she hasn’t asked to play again.
Goats’ Day Out falls between those two in level of complexity. However, I still consider our daughter a newbie with this type of board gaming mechanism. (It’s also not a mechanism my husband and I seek out in our board games.)
That said, our family had a shared response to our plays of Goats’ Day Out: The game is…fine.
What I Liked
- The game challenges younger players to develop their spatial skills. They’ll need to choose appropriate pieces and look at the incoming tray to plan for their next turn.
- Drafting a piece from a group of options, rather than randomly pulling one from the box lid, encourages strategic thinking.
- Exchanging goats after each round keeps the game feeling a bit fresh by providing different layouts to play on.
- The goat boards and food pieces are cute and cartoonishly playful.
What I Didn’t Like
- It’s nearly impossible to cover an entire goat game board. This means each round almost always ends for at least one player after turn seven or eight. The last few pieces are nearly impossible to place. That’s not fun for anyone.
- You can only earn one bonus piece per round. While this helps fill in 1-2 spaces on the board, empty spaces remain highly likely.
- Sabotaging other players with stone pieces isn’t necessary in a family game. Completely filling a game board is challenging enough without this negative aspect of play. We experimented with stones a couple times but preferred bonus pieces to help our personal boards instead.
- With the addition and subtraction of points at the end of each round, we often lost track of the scoring. You move your goat piece around the perimeter of the board to score 1-30. Then, you move a center track disc that scores +30, +60, +90, +120. The entire process felt awkward every time we played. (Not to mention, scoring by threes and the game board scoring in groups of thirty just felt…weird?)
- The color majority/chomped group scoring added a complexity to the game that, even after several plays, I didn’t know if I liked or disliked.
- While the game boards and pieces are sturdy, we had issues with the pieces fitting into the boards properly. This often caused them to pop up a bit.
- We stopped doing the thumbs up after our first round, and instead just chose pieces when our tray was pushed into our play area. (No one really cared what anyone else was choosing.)
- Overall, the game didn’t feel fresh or fun for our family, and our 8-year-old lacked interest after our first play.
The game box recommends ages 8+ and I think this is accurate for the spatial puzzle and skills required.
The game does not have an approximate play time on the box. BoardGameGeek says 30-60 minutes, but our games at three players clocked in around twenty minutes each.
Besides the awkward scoring track, I can’t pinpoint anything that makes Goats’ Day Out a bad game. However, it’s not one we felt excited to play and have decided it’s ultimately not for us.
Ravensburger provided The Family Gamers with a promotional copy of Goats’ Day Out for this review
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Goats' Day Out
Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 2-5
Playtime: 20-60 minutes