Kickstarter Preview: Cat Rescue

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This preview is dedicated to Dora who had to be put down earlier this year. I rescued her from one of the worst owners I’ve ever met. She immediately became my review partner and kept me company every night until her final days. Long live Dora

Designer: Ta-Te Wu

Publisher: Sunrise Tornado Game Studio

Plays: 1-4 players (5 players with expansion)

Play Time: 15-30 minutes (Solo play is closer to 15)

A prototype copy of  Cat Rescue was provided by Ta-Ta We for preview. I would like to thank them for supporting my blog. Everything you see in today’s preview is in prototype form and does not represent the final product. Cat Rescue is live on Kickstarter, Please use this link. For this preview, I was only able to play this game solo, so I will project my thoughts on what the multiplayer experience. I think my perspective as a solo player might be valuable to some potential solo only backers.

Here Kitty Kitty

In Cat Rescue, players work together to find forever homes for cats. You will place cats from off the street and foster homes into your shelter and prepare them for adoption. For each cat that’s adopted, players will score points at the end of the game. Cat Rescue has a sweet and light hearted theme, but the best part of this project is bringing awareness to cat adoption. I’m down that!

Setup

The setup is quick and takes up the space of a small table or a bar top (I actually played this in a bar once). You place four cat cards in a 2×2 invisible grid and set up table space for a 4×4 grid (Shelter). I found this to be a little fiddly because you’re guessing the size of a player area, but I wasn’t really bothered by it. You place a little two-sided delivery card on the bottom right cat, deal yourself two cards to create a hand (Foster Home), and keep the rest of the deck to the side as your Street Deck. All set! Let’s rescue some cats.

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Gameplay Overview

On a player’s your turn, you place a card from your hand (Foster Home) or from the street deck to the board and push the cat card or cards in one direction. You cannot push cats diagonally. You’re attempting to create rows or columns with 3 or 4 matching cats. If cats are together, the middle card or cards are flipped over to the face down side (ready to adopt). After a cat is ready to adopt, the challenge of the game is to find a way to move them outside of the shelter border. The ready to adopt cats that are pushed outside of the shelter are considered adopted and are worth points points. With some solid strategy, you can have multiple adjacent ready to adopt cards be adopted together.

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The Puzzly Part

Don’t be fooled by the cute and cuddly little kitties on the cards. Cat Rescue is a puzzly little package. I was pleasantly surprised by how this microgame had me cat scratching my head a juuuust a little. You definitely want to spend time planning a couple turns ahead and attempt to pull of a couple consecutive adoption turns. One big issue you’re try to avoid, is pushing face up cats out of the shelter. I forgot mention, when face up cards get pushed out, that’s not so good. A cat that is not ready for adoption is moved to the player’s Foster Home (Hand). You can use the card again, in fact, it may play into a combo you’re attempting to pull off later on. The game can end suddenly if you have to add a third card to your First Home. I lost two games earlier than I expected because I just wasn’t paying attention to cards building up and sometimes you naturally get too focused on pushing one card out instead of planning for the future. The double-sided Delivery card adds another layer of thinky-ness (Look, I made a word) to Cat Rescue. When you play a card from your hand, the delivery card is flipped to the black street side and placed on the card you played. You also have to place it in the direction you played. Why is that important?

The restriction rules:

  • When a you draw a cat your hand, you must draw from the street deck on your next turn
  • You can’t push the cat you just placed at all and you can’t push in the direction of the delivery card

It’s Not All Puuurrrrrfect

During my solo play, I didn’t feel Cat Rescue is so challenging that it lead to a ridiculous amount of analysis paralysis. For some reason I feel like not having a board or pad to play on leads to a lot of mistakes during gameplay due the fiddly set up. In a 4 player game, you would have a lot of hands sliding cards around cards and trying to keep things in order. I had a couple moments where sliding cards was a little messy for me. Keeping cards inside an invisible boundary was a minor issue at first, but still it wasn’t a major problem. Seasoned gamers know this, but cooperative games sometimes lead to dominant players making choices for everyone. Hopefully everyone is on board for a lighter and low stress gaming experience. I don’t like to be negative at all, but I have to address the minor issues that might bother potential backers.

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If someone is attempting to dominate your game, hand them this card and say, “Hey this game isn’t all about you, it’s about little Felix who needs a home”

End Game

The game ends when the street deck is empty or any player has three cards in their foster home. You receive two points for every adopted cat and one point for every ready to adopt cat left in the shelter. That’s it! There is a rating system from zero to thirty points, if you’re looking for a way to track your progress.

Why Should I Back Cat Rescue?

  • I look for fun, small table presence, solo/cooperative game.
  • Good filler game for the family, game night, and during lunch
  • Easy to teach, especially for kids to join in
  • Right amount of puzzly touch for a micro game
  • Let’s be honest, the cats are too cute 
  • The theme of taking cats off the street and finding homes is a nice touch

Concerns?

  • Some people see the words coop and keep it moving
  • Too light for some people’s taste
  • You hate cats
  • Not enough replayability or interesting cat mechanics

Important note: I did not play with the expansion, which has cards for a 5th player. It also has a five color wild card cat worth negative three points if it’s flipped or adopted. I might throw all the cards in there and see if it ramps up the difficulty.

Final Impressions

Solo gamers like myself appreciate a nice challenge. I’m a fan of coop/solo games that I can take anywhere and buckle down for a solid 30 minutes or less of fun. Cat Rescue passed my “is it fun?” test with flying colors. I can’t say it’s all positive. I want more to do, more cat variety or modules to sub in and out. Maybe I’m looking for goal cards, but there is definitely room for….more. I think some of my concerns will be addressed during the campaign and I’m really digging deep for concerns here. Cat Rescue may be on the lighter side, but I had a pleasant experience playing solo and I assume it’s a great game to share with more players. If you’re looking for quick family fun and engaging solo play, I suggest you give Cat Rescue a look. Maybe you’ll be inspired to adopt a cat. Fair warning, they like to invite themselves to game night 😊

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