Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: Noah


Most of our games have a story behind them and Noah is no different. My husband wanted to buy something special for our 10-year-wedding anniversary. It was our tin anniversary, so he wanted to get something in a tin. We had just done tea for Valentine's Day and he couldn't think of something awesome that was a tin. That was. . . until he looked over at our game collection. He was determined to find an adorable game for our anniversary and he sent out a call for recommendations on Twitter. What came back was the French game Noah. From there it turned into a game that stole our hearts.

Title:  Noah

Geeky Specs
Designers: Bruno Cathala, Ludovic Maublanc
Published by: Asmodee
Year Published: 2012                 Rough Game Time: 30 mins
Players: 2-5                                   Suggested Ages: 8+
Type: Family, Card Game
What’s the Story, Morning Glory?
A flood is coming and Noah needs to save as many animal as possible before the water gets too high.  Noah, though, is a big ol' softy and his heart is breaking for certain animals more than others. His tears are falling, which are probably making the flood waters rise even faster! So you need to save those animals as fast as possible so that Noah stops crying and the animals won't drown.

What’s in the Box? (err… Tin in this case.)
  • 1 Noah token
  • 1 tiny puzzle game board that is in 4 pieces
  • 5 scoring tokens
  • 55 cards (47 animal cards, 8 ferry boat cards)
  • 1 Rules Booklet

How To Play or Not to Play, That is the Question
  1. First, set up the board and everyone picks a colored piece. Depending on how many people are playing, you may have to take out or add in cards. If you have 4 or 5 people playing, you need to add the cards that have a 4 on them or the cards that have a 5 on them. If you're playing with less, take them out.
  2. Put one ferry card next to each pier and then the remaining three ferries in the middle.
  3. Place Noah on one of the ferries. Then shuffle the animals and place one animal, at random, on each ferry.
  4. Deal 8 cards to each player (even if you have 4 or 5 players.) Place the remaining cards aside (you won't be needing them).
  5. The shortest player begins where Noah has been placed. Play either an animal of the same sex as the animal on the ferry or play an animal of the opposite sex. The ferry will then follow that particular pattern.
  6. If you play an animal that couples the previous animal, go again.
  7. The point is to fill each ferry with 21 tons of animals. You have to look at the weight in the corner of the card. If a boat is over 21, it will capsize and you take all the cards, adding them to your hand. Put one card back on the ferry from your hand if it does capsize.
  8. The ferry has to be exactly 21 and then it can sail. Once it sails, add a new ferry to the spot from the middle. Whoever plays on that card due to Noah placement will start the first animal.
  9. Play until you reach one of the two end scenarios. Play three rounds to determine the final savior of animals!

The End
Each round ends with one of two scenarios:
  • Someone runs out of cards!
  • There are no more ferries to replace an empty ferry slot.
You score the game by looking at the amount of tear drops on the cards left in your hand. Tally up the amount of tears in your hand and move your marker that many on the board. That is why it is important to get rid of the higher tear drop cards and not necessarily heavier animals.

At the end of the third round, the person with the LOWEST tear score wins!  Luckily, if that's not your cup of tea, there is a variant end of game which allows for the group to play until one player reaches 26. Then tally for a winner with the lowest points (clearly not going to be that sad soul that reached 26).

Rules Weren’t Meant to Be Broken (Or Were They?)
The biggest rule that sometimes is easy to forget because of all the cards and thinking ahead is moving Noah. You have to remember to move Noah at the end of your turn. Don't just let his token waste away lost under your played cards.

Don't forget to use your special skills. For better or worse, you have to use the skills. For example, if you have the Donkey, which has the do-not-move-Noah skill, you have to leave Noah where he was on your turn. You don't get to opt out of it.

Also, remember with the hermaphroditic snails, you need to declare your snail's sex before you play it.

Finally, there is that dreaded woodpecker. It's easy to forget to decrease the weight of the boat from 21 to 13, so make sure you keep that card easily displayed on that boat to remind everyone about the change. I love to ask the question, "So why does the woodpecker decrease the weight?" I always get the answer, "'Cause he pokes holes in it." Then I always say, "Stupid woodpecker."

A rule that I like that is often forgotten is that for each boat that departs, a certain number of animals from your hand are given to other players. When the first ferry leaves, the person who sailed it gets to give away one card. When the second ferry leaves, the person who sailed the second ferry gives away two cards to one or two players (and so on). This helps you get rid of your cards faster and gives you that extra edge for saving all those awesome animals.

Best Played Under These Conditions
This game is another great game to play in-between more intensive or competitive games. It plays fast and is easy to play through. I've had rounds that go very quickly and rounds that have lasted a little longer.

I found this game plays at a reasonable speed and with enough exploitation of special skills, can go faster than 30 minutes. I've found that 3 people feels like a great number for the best play quality, but if you play with 4-5, you have to add in the 4-5 additional cards. Two people are still fun, but playing with young people, especially, 3 people is perfect.

Spice Up Your Game
We've been having tons of rainy and nasty, almost flooding, weather where I live. We also have a very anxious daughter who can't stand staying inside. What we do to spice up these rain days is play Noah (or a 3yo altered version). Something my daughter said, once, was that we should wear raincoats so the flood doesn't get us. So if you're playing with a family that enjoys being silly, maybe you wouldn't mind dressing up in rain gear to shield you from all the rain and tears!

If you'd like to get creative with food, I had to tap into the best part of the rain and, if you know it, the Noah story and that's. . . The Rainbow! All the rage on the internet has been rainbow cakes and rainbow cupcakes. One of the coolest ones I found used sour rainbow strips on top to create a rainbow. I would then make the inside cupcakes rainbow cake mix. How adorable and fun!

From a snacking perspective, I had bought these little cookie cutters a while back and it's a little Noah's Ark set. It has all the little mini animals and a little Ark. A cute little snack to serve are cheese and sauce cut using the animals and serve with Ritz cracks or a preferred cracker. The cracker are boats and the cheese and sausage animals are the 2-by-2 animals you need to save on the boat. My daughter LOVES these. Save the leftover cheese for grilled cheese. You can also put out the sausages with the animals cut out of the middle, as an additional snack.

 And finally, I think it would be shameful if I didn't suggestion Animal Crackers (the box is a must)! You can make little Nutella or Peanut Butter sandwiches out of two crackers or serve them with a Nutella dip. You can even check Pinterest or search the net for adorable Animal Cracker fun tasks. If you're a minimalist, just set out a bowl of Animal Crackers! Don't forget to eat them two at a time! Frosted or unfrosted will make someone happy!

To tie it all together, you can provide rainbow colored Twizzlers. They're easy to eat and won't load you down. It's a great little snack to just have out for munching and then surprise your gaming group at the end with the shocker than they've been eating the rainbow! Or not. I mean, it could be funny with the right group of people!

Finally, if you LOVE to do this kind of thing, I found a guy who made this adorable little rainbows with marshmallow cloud treat baggies. Just use rainbow Twizzlers and mini marshmallows!

I hope these help to spice up your next gaming night.

Noah is an adorable game that is wonderful for playing with gamers of all ages. It's simple and lovely and the art (Xavier Collette) is so adorable the women or girl gamers will squeal with delight at the adorable Panda (who Noah feels the saddest for). The game is challenging enough and tapes into some great skill building for younger players, such as adding and subtracting, as well as pattern recognition. It also has enough mechanics in the game to keep it interesting for adults, such as the animal features and trying to beat the other players to fewer cards or the third ferry launched.

I've played this game with all different age groups and I have enjoyed it as a light game for those long game nights or a quick game while enjoying a day out on the patio. I give this game an 8 out of 10, because I will play whenever it is offered and I love recommending it to people. I probably also have a fondness for it, because it was, after all, a 10-year anniversary gift (don't worry… he gave me other stuff, too).


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