While every species dies out in a game of MammuZ, the dinosaurs will survive. Extinction is the goal. Deer, hares, gophers and mammoths; they all meet their doom. You just have to make sure that you get rid of your animals first in this, three to seven player, card game from Nikolay Pegasov.
What do you get for your money?
You get 44 animal cards, 6 dinosaur cards, 8 overview cards and the rules.
How do you play the game?
The goal of MammuZ is to get rid of all your cards. You can play fair or you can cheat. It doesn’t matter, as long as you reach your goal.
You start the game with shuffling a couple of dinosaur cards into the deck of numbered animal cards. There are two twos, three threes and so on, up to nine nines. Depending on the amount of players you take out the nines and/ or the eights and shuffle in three to five dinosaurs, cards with no number, but with a special action.
The player that starts a round declares one species, one number, and places one to four face-down cards on the table. ‘These are three hares.” This is the start of a herd.
Then in all the other players, in clockwise order, can do one of two things. They can expand the herd by playing one to four cards in front of them of the same species. “These are two hares.” And the next player: “These are three hares.” You can tell the truth or lie, like the pictures above.
Or a player can challenge the previous display. There are only six hares in the game, so, obviously, someone is lying. But, you can only challenge the last player if you think that the player did not place three hares on the table.
The active player then chooses one card from the previous display and reveals it. If it is in fact a hare, the active player must take the entire herd in his or her hand. If the active player revealed a bear, for instance, he challenged correctly and now the player who lied has to take the entire herd into his hand. When the active player reveals a dinosaur, the applicable action is carried out, the active player takes the dinosaur into his hand and starts a new round, with a new herd.
What do the dinosaurs do? There’s a dinosaur that forces the previous player to take the entire herd into his hand, there’s one that forces the active player to take the herd into his hand, there’s another one where the active player can choose which player must take the herd, the Stegosaurus tells you to shuffle the herd and deal it to all players, yet another dino lets you place the entire herd in the middle of the table and the player that loses the next round has to take it into his hand and the last one, the T-Rex, removes the current herd from the game.
There’s one other rule and that is if you ever have all the cards from a single species in your hand, you immediately show them and place them underneath the overview card from that species to show that the species in extinct.
Once a player placed his last card or cards on the table, the next player must challenge her. If she still has no card left after that challenge, dinosaur actions are still executed, the game ends and that players wins the game.
Well, it’s a little bluffing game with simple rules and cute artwork. A nice filler, I would say. There not much to say about it really.
Not much to say? That’s not acceptable!
Calm down, OK!?
Sometimes the bluffing seems a bit forced or obvious. It’s not always very exciting. You know he or she is bluffing, but because this is a round where you have to play squirrels and you have a lot of them, you don’t want to challenge the previous player, because who knows how long you have to wait until you can safely play your squirrels again.
Let the next player challenges you and fail, of course, because you, in fact, have played squirrels. Or the next player has to bluff, whether he wants it or not. That’s what I meant with ‘forced’, you are forced to bluff because the other players don’t want to or don’t dare to challenge.
So, you can get the next player in trouble by not challenging other players, although you know they are surely lying. It’s therefore not only the bluffing that’s important, but also knowing when to challenge and when not.
Plus, it’s not always a bad thing when you have to take the herd, because if you have all the cards from one species in your hand, you can discard them. This extinction mechanism is nice, because the game is working towards an end and that’s good.
Flipping the wrong card
The dinosaurs are a nice addition, but they do add some more randomness to the game. Because, to be honest, the challenging and turning over one card from a player’s display is already pretty random. A player can be lying constantly, but because the challenger just has bad luck when she flips over one of his cards, he gets away with it.
And when she reveals a dinosaurs she can take it into her hand, which is nice, but before that she has to execute the action, which you can’t prepare for. Although later in the game, when you know which dinosaur is in the game and you have a better idea who has one is their hand, you can prepare for them of course.
More like a cute little mouse than an impressive mammoth
So, MammuZ is an OK game for me. It’s charming, it works, but it’s not a game that’s going to be played a lot. I do think it will appeal to families and people with younger children, because it’s simple and it has lovely artwork. I do not recommend it to families with too young children though, you do have to understand how to bluff.