Look at it! Look at it! It’s so cute! I do not care if it rarely reproduces. It’s sooooo adorable. Kick the elephant out and get that panda on my boat! Immediately.
What you get for your money:
55 cards, 5 scoring tokens, 1 Noah token, 4 parts of a scoring track puzzle and the rules.
How do you play the game:
This is a game about Noah, so it’s probably no surprise that the goal of the game is to get animals on a boat. You start with eight animal cards and you need to load them on a boat as quickly as possible. An animal has at least two attributes. It certainly has a gender and a weight, but it can also have a special trait and/ or an amount of sadness points.
There are five boats and every boat can only carry a weight of twenty-one. In your turn you have to place one animal on a designated boat. There are two placement rules. The first one: there can only be animals of the same gender on a boat or a perfect alternation of female and male animals. The second rule: the weight cannot exceed twenty-one. When you cannot place an animal in your turn, you have to take all animals from the designated boat into your hand (then you must start a new batch of animals on that same boat). After you’ve placed an animal, you must move Noah to another boat. When you’ve placed a male, you have to place Noah on a boat across to the left or to the right. When you’ve placed a female, you have to place Noah on a boat directly to the left or right of the current one. The next player must place his or her animal card on that specific boat. When you place an animal of the same species as the animal on top, you may, after moving Noah, place another card.
Whenever a boat has reached a weight of exactly twenty-one it sets of. The player who accomplishes that must give another player or players one or more cards from his own (one if it’s the first boat that leaves, two if it’s the second etc.).
Some animals have a special trait. These traits can be exploited when you place the card on a boat. When you place a giraffe, you can look at another players hand. A donkey, prohibits the movement of Noah that turn. A lion gives you the option of taking a cards from a player (and give another back). The woodpecker drills a hole in a boat and therefore that boat cannot carry a weight higher than thirteen.
The game takes three rounds and a round ends when someone has no cards in their hand or when three boats have left the shore. Then everybody counts the sadness points on the cards in their hand. Generally, smaller animals have more sadness points, but of course there is nothing sadder than a drowning panda. At the end of the three rounds, the player with the least sadness points wins the game.
Noah is an easy game to play and learn. A filler. The game is going the feel different with more players than with a few. With two players you can plan a couple of turns ahead. You still have to take into account that every player has a choice of two boats when he places Noah, but you can still make some sort of plan (especially when you know your opponent’s cards (the Giraffe trait)). The more players there are, the more happens in between your turns and the less tactical the game can and will be. You just have to wait until your next turn and decide then what’s best for you (or maybe the worst for the player next to you). Luck gains the upper hand with more players.
I think the animal traits aren’t all as interesting. The woodpecker and the donkey have the most fun traits, because they change the rules a little. They have the biggest impact.
The most important choices are related to the gender and the weight of the animal in combination with the sadness points that these animals might have. Do you get rid of the heavy animals first? They have no or very little sadness points, but you might not be able to place them later on and then you have to take the whole boat into your hand. Or do you get rid of the cutest, lightest animals with the most sadness points first? They are easier to place later on, but you don’t want to have them in your hand when a round ends.
You have to have some luck when you relocate Noah. You may know a little about your opponent’s cards, but you easily forget.
The theme is obvious. There are boats, you place animals and Noah is there too. I could not find a thematic explanation for the single gender boats or the perfectly alternating boats.
The game has a very adorable look. The animals are all very cutesy and the colours are very bright. The game might look a bit childish for some people, but don’t have a problem with this look.
Quality of the game parts
Just fine. The board consists of four puzzle pieces. Normally I’m not very fond of these ‘puzzle boards’, because they warp easily. This one is quite small and it can fit into the tin because it’s a puzzle. So I’m OK with that. The cards have a decent quality. I’m still not a fan of tins though.
This game is pretty fun. A light, breezy game. I would recommend two or three players: more meaningful decisions, more tactical gameplay. A game with more players might feel more random, more luck dependent, and while a two or three player game has a perfect length, a four or five player game might be a bit too long for what it is.
The game is just a bit interactive . There’s a bit of confrontation with the traits and by placing Noah you directly influence where your opponent has to place his animal card.
The story of Noah is old and has been told many times. Like the story, there’s nothing really new about this game, but if you want a cheap and easy game for the whole family that still has some interesting things to think about, I would suggest you try it.