The version of Fauna we have been lucky enough to play is the latest from Montreal game company FoxMind and is the English-language version of the original German game from 2 years ago. The components are simple, excellently produced, and do exactly what they need to do. The board and cards are well-illustrated and I really can't complain about anything. This is a high-quality production of the kind you'd expect from Days of Wonder or Queen. The rules booklet, too, is quite well-done and covers a lot considering how simple the game really is.
|This is an easy card?!?!?|
Every player who placed a cube in the correct natural habitats of the animal score points (more or less depending on how rare the animals habitats are) and the players who are in a region adjacent to one of the natural habitats almost always score points as well. Similarly, players who guessed the right characteristics score big points and those adjacent to the correct answers on the scales also score some points. So it seems like you should just throw down all 6 of your cubes in as many spots as possible, right? But here's the tricky part - any cubes which don't score (on or next to a correct answer) get taken away temporarily and you only get one back at the beginning of every round, given that you'll always have a minimum of 3 to bet with. Oh, nasty. So now one wants to be a bit more careful with their betting cubes as they could lose half their cubes on a rather obscure animal on one turn and then not have the cubes to bet when they know all the correct habitats of the animal in the next round.
So what seems like a rather childish game of animal trivia ends up turning into a tight little game of pushing-your-luck, betting wisely, and still knowing a bit about animal biology. It's not deep but with 4 or 5 players (the sweet spot, in my mind) a player has to decide the most important places to bet before the spots get taken by other players. The tension in choice can almost feel a bit like during the worker placement phase in Caylus, although much, much less painful. So there is some strategy to the placing of the bets but knowledge plays a factor as well. The game has the same lovely feeling that Wits and Wagers gives, of not needing to know every answer to be able to play well. In fact, you can often bet cubes close to the "smart" player and score at least for adjacency points. Of course this backfired in our last game when the world traveller amongst us had us all convinced that jaguars roam the savannahs of Africa and we all ended up losing our cubes (they reside mainly in South America, dontcha know!) She was thinking of cheetahs.
|Honey badger don't give a #@%$!|