GAME REVIEW: Angry Sheep

I never heard of this game before until I saw it released on Coolstuffinc back in September.  I ended up getting 2 copies of this game from the publisher, Iron Box Games, for my board game class.  So I thank them for their donation.

Angry Sheep is a dice game for 2-4 players, plays in 15-30 minutes, and it says on the box 12 &up……  That’s ridiculous!  You can easily play this with kids much younger than that.  I would say 8 & up.

The theme for Angry Sheep amuses me.  It’s so elaborate for such a simple dice game.  The players are barbarians and they need sheep for their festival games, but these sheep fight back, led by the freedom-loving Black Sheep, Sheep Guevara.  Ha ha.  I get it.  Don’t worry, there’s no theme really.  It is just a dice game.  Not that there’s anything wrong with “just a dice game”.

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Each player starts with a certain amount of sheep (depending on the player count).  In the middle of the table will be a supply of more sheep, and the evil black sheep.  The object of the game is to get more sheep from the supply and steal sheep from other players to reach the end game goal (which again, is determined by the player count.  It will either be 15/16/20 sheep).  Once a player has reached the end game goal, they immediately win the game.

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There are 7 white shepherd dice, and 1 black sheep die.  On a player’s turn, they will roll all 8 dice.  Shepherd dice will allow you to get more sheep, while the black sheep die will possibly take sheep away from you.

Each icon on the shepherd die means something different.  There are six different icons.

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This means you can take one sheep from the supply.

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This means you take 2 sheep from the supply.

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This means steal one sheep from another player.

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This means take 2 sheep from another player.

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This means steal a sheep from one player, then give it to another player (in a 2 player game, you just return the sheep to the supply).

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And this one means everyone gets a sheep from the supply.

To use any of the these actions, you must have 2 of the same icon.  Of all the dice you don’t have doubles of, you can always choose to push your luck, and roll again.  But if you don’t get any doubles, you lose all of your dice and your turn is immediately over.

The black die also has different icons.

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This one means everyone loses one sheep to the supply.

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Move the black sheep to your pasture (anytime the black sheep moves to a new player, they lose 2 sheep).

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Move the black sheep to another player.

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Return one sheep to the supply, then roll the black sheep die again.

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The player with the black sheep  returns 2 sheep to the field.

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This may be used to complete any double you roll with the shepherd die.

And that’s it.  Players will be rolling dice and deciding which combinations will score them the most sheep on their turn.

Reading the rules, I thought this sounded like it could be a potentially fun, quick, take-that dice game.  And it comes with little sheep!

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But when I sat down to play my first 2 player game, something happened.  The game went on, and on, and on, and on, and on……. And on!  It felt like it wouldn’t end.  We just kept going back and forth, taking sheep from each other.  Anytime someone would get close to the end game goal, the other player would just steal more sheep.  I mean, the mechanics of all the icons were okay, and during the first 5 minutes, I was having fun stealing sheep from the other player…… so what happened?  Maybe it just doesn’t work with 2 players.  We finally ended up quitting after 35 minutes.

So I brought it to my board game club I run at a middle school.  We played a full 4 player game.  That’s got to be better, right?  Nope.  The same thing happened.  The game seemed to be on an infinite loop.  We didn’t quit though.  After about 25 minutes, someone did win.  So it wrapped up quicker than a 2 player game.

Here’s what I think the problem is for me:  It’s too long for what it is.  This should be a 10 minute game, tops!  There’s no reason why this type of dice game should be 30, even 20 minutes.  There’s just not enough there.  So, I didn’t really care for it.

It is a nice portable game, easy to teach, but is lacking the one thing small games should be.  Quick.  It’s not quick.

That being said, some of my students really liked it.  In fact, one kid in particular said it’s his favorite game that I bring in.  Now, I’m not going to question this kid’s taste.  To each their own.  I’m glad he likes it.  I try to encourage kids to play all types of games, even if I don’t like that particular game.  No reason to rain on their parade.

Angry Sheep is redundant and takes too long.  I love dice games, but this one disappointed me.  So for me, I didn’t like it.  However, like I said, some of my students really enjoyed it (even asking where they can purchase a copy), so there is an audience out there for it….. I’m just not a part of that audience.

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