Hey, That's My Fish! Has The Most Anguished Miniature I've Ever Seen

Boardgame Review, By Kisa Klein -

Hey, That's My Fish! Has The Most Anguished Miniature I've Ever Seen

I’m actually pleasantly surprised - I thought the most disheartened figurine I ever saw would at least be from an apocalyptic survival game, if not from whatever dark RPG that White Wolf came back from the dead with. Instead the most anguished miniature I’ve come across is penguin-shaped. And furthermore, I’m pleased, because penguins had it coming.

Sketch-as-shit flightless birds.

Look at these shady fucks.

Penguins are cute and cuddly little bastards or whatever, I get it, fine, majority rules and all that. I still maintain that I have not slept well since that evil little fucker from Wallace and Grommet was hand-molded by some sick fuck in an animation lab sometime during my childhood.

So I’m glad to see someone has taken my childhood trauma and molded it into something friendly so I can begin the healing process. In Hey, That’s My Fish!, I can shove as many penguins as I want into sub-freezing open ocean. Every miniature is in a varied state of loss, betrayal, and victory - and I personally love to be able to kick a penguin when it’s feeling down or feeling high. I heal by way of aggression due to my personal flavor of chronic manic depression, so this gameplay works for me.

Nightmare fuel known only as The Evil Claymation Penguin.

BOOM, there’s a nightmare, you’re welcome.

So about the game. Hey, That’s My Fish! is fun and all that, and I will play it over and over because you never get the same board twice, so you don’t get bored very easily. The variability of the board is crucial, but I don’t think it’s the best part - my favorite bit of this game is the playable chaos (which is a little different from “variability”) that is, in my opinion, pretty well done.

This is what I mean by playable chaos. Each player gets four penguins to move around a board with 60 hex tile spaces. With a handful of pieces for players to choose from, a board with three or four players looks completely different by the time it comes back around to your turn. It becomes quickly difficult to predict what the objectively best “move” is for a player to make - I’ve played this game and have many times been thrown for a loop when an opponent makes a decision that I would consider weird - and more often than not, the discrepancy is due to the player’s style, not necessarily errors in judgment.

For instance. I want to get an opposing penguin trapped on an ice floe so that I can worry about one less opposing penguin on the main area of the board. I make a move to lure that penguin into a trap. The player instead moves so that their penguin and mine are both trapped and float off into open ocean together, presumably beginning a journey of romance and adventure. The player could have gotten a few extra fish, which I was willing to sacrifice for a bigger objective. However, the player decided that it was a better strategy to take my penguin down instead of going for more fish. Because I didn’t account for the other player being an asshole, I am now stuck trying to figure out another strategy to plunge the opposing penguins into the cold depths of Hell.

Smooth sailing on an ice flow.

“Ted, one more word about global warming being a hoax and one of us is leaving the boat.”

So playable chaos. The more players you add, the less predictable the game becomes, which generally equals greater variability, which generally equals more fun - but only if the chaos is playable. Games like Fluxx are generally fun, but keeping track of every rule that comes into play can be difficult. With Hey, That’s My Fish!, you can look away from the game board (I know that’s rude as hell, bear with me for a second.) and return to the game without being completely lost or even needing a minute to catch up. The board becomes completely different, but the game is just as engaging and playable as it always was. This is what I mean by playable chaos.

I’m in love with this concept - I love that the board is constantly changing, because that means there will always be a new and interesting scenario to suss out, and I love that there aren’t a lot of rules to keep track of - I enjoy and thrive on basic strategy, because it makes it that much more satisfying when I’m able to see something that someone else can’t. However, like all games, Hey, That’s My Fish! isn’t necessarily perfect.

By which I mean who the hell designed this board. This is just tiny catan without any border pieces - there’s a bit of not-so-good chaos involved when tiles begin to drift away from the board, and god forbid anyone breath too hard or else the whole game goes flying. I understand that this version of the game was downsized from a previous, bigger version - I still contend that any hex tile game without border pieces is a game designer’s way of telling players to go straight to hell. I have a sneaking suspicion that this game’s designer was involved in some kind of vendetta regarding this game. Then again, maybe they were just traumatized by the same movie I was. If someone told me to make four different tiny penguins I’d be tempted to cuss them out and break their legs, so the poor design of this board could have been a compromise.

Hey, That’s My Fish!: chaotic in more ways than one, usually in a good way, sometimes in a hellish way, and useful for some catharsis if you’re a special brand of weird like I am. Maybe I’ll make some tiny evil penguins to slip onto the board so I can further deal with my childhood damage, who knows.

Beady-eyed little piece of claymation demon shit.

 

Hey, That's My Fish! Score: 81%

Would play as a drinking game despite my dislike of penguins.

Summary:

Hey, That’s My Fish! is a tile game that is simple to learn and offers a remarkable amount of variability for something so rudimentary. However, watch out for MIA pieces if you breathe too hard.

Players: 2-4 

Space Needed: at least 2ft x 2ft

Play Time: 10-15 min

Time to Learn: 3-5 min

The Good:

  • The game can be played with casual boardgamers - there are only a handful of rules, and even if you have players with limited attention spans, they can dip in and out of the game without much confusion.

  • Turns are short, which helps keep players engaged.

  • Not much space is needed to play.

  • High variability of the board means more potential for fun.

The Meh:

  • The game requires careful setup and can take a good chunk of the actual play time, and even when it’s set up, it’s easy to knock tiles or mess up the board.

  • The game says 2-4 players, but the game becomes exponentially more varied and therefore fun with 3 and 4 players.

Advice for Players:

  • Get 4 players - it’s chaotic but intensely more fun when you can’t predict the outcome of the game.

  • Invest in a stable surface to play on, preferably away from pets or children, or there’s a good chance the game will go flying.

Score card: 81%

Disclaimer: The Score Card is currently evolving. We’re looking for the best scientific approach to scoring boardgames, so the first few we review will be on vastly different difficulty scales. (As evidenced by the “3 out of 5 stars” versus percentage scores between Tokaido and The Oregon Trail Card Game reviews.) We also realize that the value of a boardgame is difficult to quantify - different people find different boardgames fun, boring, frustrating, or exciting for different reasons. What follows is our best estimation of the common factors that make a game fun. But hey - if you know the kind of game you like, you’ll know better than us if you’ll like this one.

Poor Meh Neutral Decent Good

Time: 2/5 (10% of Score)

  • Setup/Cleanup Time: Setup and cleanup combined take maybe five minutes if you haven’t played before. Neutral

  • Play Time: 10-15 min Neutral

  • ROI of Setup Versus Content: While play time and setup are both fairly quick, the tiles make setup substantially difficult compared to the length of actual play time. Meh

The Rulebook: 5/5 (20% of Score)

  • Time to Learn: 3-5 min Good

  • Logical Flow of Rules: Gameplay follows a logical pattern. Good

  • Ease of Rule Recall: There aren’t many rules, so it’s easy to remember them all. Good

  • Organization: The rulebook is organized logically - with an objective followed by setup, an overview of game pieces, gameplay rules, and end game rules. Good

  • Succinctness: The rulebook is a two-sided sheet and easy to get through within a few minutes. Good

  • Explicitness: There are only a few scenarios that the basic rules don’t cover, and these scenarios are explained quickly within a few sentences just a little deeper into the rules section. Good

Concept: 3/5 (15% of Score)

  • Originality: The concept of the game is fairly original, but still basic. While I haven’t yet played a game about penguins collecting fish, the concept doesn’t offer anything particularly interesting. Neutral

  • Wow Factor: People generally like penguins, so that’s neat. Decent

  • Cohesiveness: The concept is consistent throughout. Good

Aesthetic: 5/5 (5% of Score)

  • Printing/Material Quality: Printing is good - the materials are sturdy and the colors are rich. Good

  • Visual Flow: The box art and game pieces have a general cohesiveness, but the artbook is a little under-designed compared to the rest of the game. The difference isn’t distracting, though. Decent

  • Visually Stimulating (Adds to the game experience): The visuals are cute enough despite not having a stellar concept. The rule sheet, however, has concise visuals to explain rules but offers no visual stimulation. Decent

Engagement: 4/5 (25% of Score)

  • Involvement: Considering that turns are quick and every player’s decisions impact the rest of the players directly, the game has a high level of involvement. Good

  • Ease of Attention: If a player isn’t competitive enough to pay attention to other players’ turns, they could be easily distracted, but this doesn’t usually impact gameplay. Decent

  • Player Interactivity: All player decisions impact all other players, but there’s no need for players to actually interact with each other. Decent

Variability: 4/5 (25% of Score)

  • Variability of the Outcome: The game board starts out different each time, and players’ strategy changes accordingly. Compound this with the board continuing to change throughout the game, and Hey, That’s My Fish! ends up hey variable throughout gameplay. Good

  • Difficulty of game: Depends entirely on the ability of other players. Neutral

  • Fast vs Slow play pace: Gameplay is quick and makes for very little time between a player’s turns. Decent

  • Luck or Skill? The game depends entirely on skill. This may sound optimal, but it does not encourage new players to keep playing when they are soundly beaten by slightly more experienced players. Neutral

  • Predictability of Outcome: Fat chance predicting what the board will even look like by the time you’re done. Good


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