Battle Sheep is a light-hearted game where two to four players vie for territorial dominance on the grazing pasture. Players take control of their tokens, which represent herds of sheep, and move stacks of them around the hexagonal board to fence in their fluffy foes. At its core, Battle Sheep is an abstract strategy game (quite similar to Hey, That’s My Fish!) that has the ability to entertain many different age groups with simple but engaging gameplay. It’s a sheep-eat-grass world out there, so may the best herd win!
Before the game begins, the players set up the pasture by taking turns placing groups of identical hex-sections adjacent to each other. Games, therefore, will have a slightly different starting board set-up. Then players place their corresponding stacks of sheep tokens in a single starting space on the border of the pasture. Turns are then taken by each player moving elements of their herd in a strategic manner, trying to spread out their sheep tokens to occupy as much pasture space as possible. On a turn, each player selects any number of tokens from a single stack of their herd with the stipulation that at least one token is left behind. The selected tokens are then moved in a straight line as far as they can go in any one hex-direction. You must plan your moves carefully, because sheep tokens create a barrier that players cannot move through. Sheep tokens also may not be jumped, and a moving stack may not stop along the way – it must carry on until it reaches the edge of the board or runs into another sheep token. As the game progresses and more sheep are spread around the board, the movement choices necessarily dwindle. The game ends when all players no longer have any movement and the player who controls the most spaces wins!
Battle Sheep is a simple game to learn and play. It is also very fast-paced with the average length of a game being fifteen minutes or less. We think it’s a great game for ages 7 and up, but don’t be fooled by the fluffy sheep on the front – Battle Sheep can definitely be enjoyed equally by all ages. It has a high degree of strategic interaction due to the fact that your movements will limit your opponents’ choices on the following turns, and this creates an experience that favors bold tactics, clever planning, and lots of right-brain thinking about possible moves later in the game. The modular board set-up ensures that Battle Sheep is very replayable and it can easily accommodate balanced sessions for two, three, or four people with no trouble at all.
Overall, Battle Sheep is a great game for pretty much anyone, simple enough for kids to play but with enough strategy to keep adults challenged. As typical of so many in the Blue Orange line-up, it’s been awarded numerous accolades even after only a year of being on the shelf (including Parent’s Choice and Spiel des Jahres Recommended), and rightfully so. So grab some friends and head out to pasture for some woolly fun and get ready to rile up some sneaky sheep!