Triple Threat – 3 Backpack Games from Fight in a Box
Not all games come from the publishers that show up on every shelf. For every Fantasy Flight or Z-Man there are dozens of independent board game publishers, trying to make their way. Today we’re looking at three games from Fight in a Box Games: Squirrel or Die, Hedgehog Hop, and Mouse Cheese Cat Cucumber. All of these games are rated 14+, and take less than 15 minutes to play. We’ll go simplest to most complex.
Squirrel or Die
Squirrel or Die is a tile laying memory game where 2-4 players are trying not to die.
Begin the game with a starting grid of cards according to player count. Then, each player takes a turn drawing a card from a central deck and placing it face up into the grid. Then, they exchange one face up card for a face down card from their hand. Once the face up cards are gone, players will simply put cards from their hand face down until the grid is complete (4×4 or 5×5 depending on player count). Then the game switches to the second phase.
Players take turns turning cards face up. There are a few special cards (with a key in the box) but most of the cards are either food or death. Players get eliminated after flipping their third death card. The last player standing wins.
In Hedgehog Hop, players are dance battling to lead the most spectacular Hedgehog dance crew. The game supports three players (but only has two-player rules in the box).
Start with a 3×3 face-up grid of Hedgehogs and deal each player seven cards. All starting and played cards must have the arrows in the upper left hand corner.
On a player’s turn, they play a Hedgehog from their hand into the dance mob, placing it on an edge. Each Hedgehog has a color, a style, and dance move (with arrows). These arrows determine whether the Hedgehog pushes a row or column and in what direction. Once a player plays a Hedgehog they get a “Backup Dancer” from the deck for every Hedgehog that is orthogonally adjacent to the Hedgehog they played, as long as it has the same move and either the same color or style (or both).
Players put Backup Dancers face up in front of them. A player can play a backup dancer instead of a card from their hand by discarding from their hand first.
Play continues until each player has one card left. That card is the player’s Lead Dancer.
- One point for each Backup Dancer.
- One point for each Hedgehog in the largest group (orthogonally adjacent) of Hedgehogs matching the Lead Dancer’s move.
- One point for each Hedgehog in the largest group matching the Lead Dancer’s color.
- One point for each Hedgehog in the largest group matching the Lead Dancer’s style.
Whoever has the most points wins!
Mouse Cheese Cat Cucumber
The most difficult Fight in a Box game is Mouse Cheese Cat Cucumber – an asymmetric tile game. Each player wants to complete their Secret Agenda by placing maze tiles and moving the cat and mouse trapped inside.
Mouse Cheese Cat Cucumber (MCCC) has four asymmetric player roles: the Mouse, the Cat, the Cheese, or the Cucumber (shocking, I know).
Start the game with four tiles out: the Mouse, the Cheese, and two maze tiles matching the rulebook. Set up the deck of maze tiles with the Cat near the middle and the Cucumber near the end. Put four Maze cards face up to form the Conveyor Belt. Distribute the roles secretly to the players.
On a player’s turn, they can Reveal, Place, Rotate, and Move on their turn, in that order.
A player may Reveal their identity to use their special ability once per game. Next, a player selects a card from the Conveyor Belt and Places it in the maze, adjacent to another card. The maze can never exceed 5×5. If a player wants, they can put their card over an existing card as long as the walls line up. Cogs do not need to match.
Then, for each Cog on the card placed, Rotate any adjacent tiles as shown.
If the Cat or Mouse are adjacent to the card just placed, Move them through that card as far as the hallways are connected. Finally, place a card face up from the deck into the Conveyor Belt. If it is the Cat, place it in the closest empty space counted orthogonally from the Cheese, and place another tile in the Belt. If it is the Cucumber, the game ends.
- The Cat wins if it ever has an unobstructed path to the Mouse at the end of a turn.
- The Mouse wins if it ever has an unobstructed path to the Cheese at the end of a turn.
- The Cheese wins if the Mouse cannot reach the Cheese and the Cat cannot reach the Mouse when the Cucumber appears
- The Cucumber wins if the Mouse can reach the Cheese and the Cat can reach the Mouse when the Cucumber appears
There are some variants, and a solo mode in the rulebook.
All three of these Fight in a Box games have about 35 square 3×3 inch cards. However, they’re very different games in mechanics, art style, and weight. Squirrel or Die is a light memory game, while Hedgehog Hop is an interesting game with tile placement and arrangement. MCCC is the only asymmetric game and it’s got a unique art style and mechanics.
Squirrel or Die
Squirrel or Die is a pass for us – it takes a special game to make a memory game, well, memorable. Unfortunately, this one didn’t do it.
We unanimously agree at The Family Gamers that Hedgehog Hop is the best of the bunch. It’s got some interesting mechanics and the most direct back-and-forth battling between the three games.
Mouse Cat Cheese Cucumber
MCCC feels like the little game that couldn’t. I really liked the ideas, but it’s broken. The player with the secret role of the Mouse can win on the first turn, even before the Cat card is revealed. The Mouse has such an incredible advantage in the game that everyone has to play against it to start. Even that only works if the player who is the Mouse is buried behind enough turns that the other players can actively work against it. There are too many ways the Mouse can win for it to be a compelling game. This one hurt the most, because I really enjoyed the idea.
I cannot more strongly recommend supporting independent creators. Fight in a Box is trying new things and I want to reward that. I don’t think these games are winners, but I would encourage you to head to fightinabox.com to see what they’ve got. All three of the games featured here are available on Sovranti as well, and you can play them for free with our promo code FamilyGamersAA which will give you 60 free days of Platinum Access.
Fight in a Box Games provided The Family Gamers with promotional copies of Squirrel or Die, Hedgehog Hop, and Mouse Cheese Cat Cucumber for this review.
Triple Threat - 3 Backpack Games from Fight in a Box Games
Age Range: 14+
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: 10-15 minutes