Review: 1984 Animal Farm – George Orwell would wonder

1984: Animal Farm - packaging

None of us expected it. We have lived a peaceful and happy life, full of senseless desire. And then it happened. Animal uprising. Our dogs secretly trained themselves in handling all of our machines and weapons, when we were not looking. All gathered in an alliance against humanity – dogs, cats, as well as pigs and cows – and attacked at the appointed date. Although ultimately forgetful piggies screwed up, but rooster commanders eventually saved the day. For them, not us.

Situation in the world is now completely different. Head of the army is strict and meticulous eagle, moving animal units on map of Earth in his office. Last remnants of the human resistance were dispersed in Berlin and in American Florida. Donkeys, elephants or kangaroos stands now nothing in their way of total control of the entire globe. But this hardly calmed down entire situation. Individual animal species have begun to put their demands. Human history repeats itself, war filled the front of newspaper and bloodsheds have no end.

Until this moment, unthinkable apocalypse of the human species, invites us into board game published by company . Authors of malicious and dirty trick filled Alcatraz: The Scapegoat (review) created not only expansion Maximum Security (review), but also a brand new game, that launched in Essen . You may remember their names: , and . Illustration were this time prepared by .

1984: Animal Farm - game is ready

1984: The Animal Farm arrives in relatively large red box with large portraits of animals on the cover. You will not doubt even for a moment, just by looking at the animals, they really rule the world. Let them be our guides, when entering the box and their world.

First thing, that welcomes you, is map of a reborn world. At first glance, you can see, that east-west division of powers remained and a total of five politically unstable powers will fight for supremacy. Parrots of Latin America, Far East Donkeys, Elephants of India, Africa Lions and Kangaroos from Australia. It is precisely at these positions, where are large colored circles plotted, with rim divided into quarters, where you will place your agents. Above the map, you can find a place to watch turns and slot for mood.

In addition to motherboards, there are also board for each player in the box. Everyone will find picture of one of their leaders there, whether it’s a panda or a bear. 112 tokens should be punched out and divided into 52 with VP values and sixty tokens of influence (twelve for each of the five parties).

1984: Animal Farm - game is ready

Wooden pieces (cubes and disks) are available in five colors, nine pieces for every gamer. These are your agents, that will be sent to service. Five other color tokens are used for selecting actions, but we are missing also one tall black column for the starting player and two smaller ones for marking first region and current round number.

Cold War begins with placing a world map on the table. White turn counter is placed on number one. You randomly select starting region and put second of these tokens there. You should have cards categorized according to their back – fifteen of political mood and twenty action cards (basic and advanced).

Randomly uncovered two mood cards determine initial tension on the globe. These two cards are put on the bottom edge of the board, where are three positions reserved for them. Last position remains free for now. Rest of the deck is put aside and will be needed later.

1984: Animal Farm - game is ready

In addition to the board, you prepare an offer of basic and advanced action cards. They will be always two pieces from each continent. You choose one basic and one advanced card from each continent and put them visibly near board. As a result, you will have a range of ten cards in two columns of five.

Players take all wooden components of their color. Round ones are layed next to board, but agents have their space in lower left corner of your board. Among them and both their neighbors, you put a revolution card on the table. There will be revealed same number as is amount of players. Each player sends one agent to each location on map. In the case of the game with a reduced number of players, you add additional agents to locations of your choice.

is played in rounds. Whole round is divided into six phases, which players go through together. First one is movement. Each player can move one of his agent from one region to another. Moving more spies for one round can only be done as a result of played action card.

1984: Animal Farm - game in progress

So we jump straight into the second phase, which is crucial for outcome of the game. This is called Alliance. Players do not alternate here in the traditional formula of the first player. Regions are evaluated in a fixed order instead. In each stage of alliance on one given location, players are trying to agree and form alliances with other players present on that continent.

Such negotiations are done in an oral form. Players have strenght corresponding to the number of agents in the region. Once groups are firmly arranged by parley, their powers are compared. Alliance with greatest power in the region may be composed of one or more players. Such a winning coalition gets one counter of region influence for each its agent present there. These tokens are all placed on their player board.

But to make it even more fun, players must agree with their promises (no one says, that they will keep them afterwards) not only on combining their forces, but also on distribution of the influence tokens. You put them on board with new influence, which can not be used immediately in next stage of card activation.. Tokens division is not fixed in any way, mainly due to upper limit, which is set to the number of players in the game plus two. This means, that players often do not get as much tokens as they should. But if you are not able to split them with your companion, it’s as if the alliance never existed and tokens forfeit. After that, evaluation continues with next region in the direction of the arrows.

1984: Animal Farm - game in progress

The third phase is devoted to spies. You can use your kangaroos. They are known as infiltrators and can very well and exactly as jump out of airplanes. They were even used in Vietnam, where they helped John Rambo, but this information still did not get out to the public. Successful deployment of explorers brings you option to play kangaroo action cards. You pay for using them with tokens of influence, but only with those from raid zones..

Following is the Revolution, through which you will finally earn victory points. This time, you can spend any tokens of influence, you have in your possession. Such a revolution can always be carried out only with your neighbors, so you puts tokens on revolution card between you and your opponent. However, there are limitations, that token must wear the same symbol, which is shown on this randomly placed card. During this phase it is possible to negotiate again.

To make revolution a success, players must together use a sufficient number of specific tokens, depicted in the bottom of the card. Number of sacrificed tokens affects joint players profit in the form of victory points. Specific rounds are then always favoring one player according to place, where they sit – either to the left or to right of the revolution card . This one gets bonus points.

1984: Animal Farm - game in progress

Before we get to the end of the round, you can spending influence again, this time for cards of basic and advanced actions. This cards are not moved into your property, but instead you put your marker on it and buy chance to use it during the next round.

Before you begin a new round with agent’s movement, you can move some of the influences into raid zones, which can be spent for attacks on other players (kangaroos, remember?). But on both places, there can be maximum of two such tokens, so sometimes you have to move them. Then you shift cards of political mood one box to the right and uncover new one influencing game for three round.

Game is played for a given number of rounds. Players add up their tokens with victory points. The one, that garnered the most, wins the whole game. Earth is now under domination of his nation!

1984: Animal Farm - cards

1984: The Animal Farm is an interesting game full of conflict, negotiation and deceiving. The entire course of the game forces players to compete not only with each other indirectly during your turn, but also completely without scruples and apron.

Negotiations and agreements with others are moving elements of the game. Alliances can be easily formed, but also as easily broken with no penalty except enemy rage. It is then clear, for whom is this game suitable. It certainly will not be thoughtful and introverted strategy lovers, who like to follow exactly their way without any interference. Here you frequently look to your collapsing plans, twisting you in a completely different direction.

Direction is determined at the beginning with distribution of revolution cards. Each has its specific conditions, which ensures, that each player will have slightly different requirements. But at the same time at least two neighbors will always try to influence similar continents, which makes for a really nice situations.

1984: Animal Farm - game in progress

You can see at first glance, that this game is created by same authors as Alcatraz: The Scapegaot. Exceptional level of your profit at the expense of others has a slightly different form, but still remains much fun. This time, everything revolves around temporary contracts, which are contantly created and demolished during the game, and only the most eloquent player succeeds in them as he convices others to become his partners. Promise and please, that’s the rule.

Interestingly, players negotiate directly twice in each round, and they have to consider new situation each time, because world is constantly changing. In each region someone else’s spies are present, and also number of agents varies with each continents every time. At first glance, while the forces are clearly evident and each party has a clear position on the circle at each of the five sites, the outcome is not strictly given and you have to fight to win, even when you have the most spies somewhere.

But there is also strategy present in the game. Thanks to moving agents (and sometimes not only yours!) you can constantly build and rebuild situation to better suit your needs. You know and are able to react to the movements of your opponent’s forces.

1984: Animal Farm - game in progress

Although revolution phase is also important, by far the most important to your success is right deployment of agents on the board. Only then you have a chance to be in the majority and gain influence, which is necessary to do other stuff. It’s actually a bit like the some elections, and even here may arise similar coalition agreements of two strongest, more or less tolerated by anyone. Prizes must be agreed among players themselves and are not fixed, although the reward itself is clear in advance.

Thanks to negotiations, length of the game is different with each players, numbers and also differs across games. Fortunately, you can choose the length by selecting number of rounds at the start. But sometimes it just takes time to close a deal. Otherwise, clear planning and anything else does not obstruct gameplay. Due to continuous passing through phases, none of the players gets bored and everybody is constantly involved in the game, because most of the agreements relates to all participants.

Still, there remains a condition of age, when children are ready to play 1984. Theme is milder this time, but due to the large amount of betrayal and broken agreements, children under 14 years do not make good opponents.

1984: Animal Farm - cards

1984: Animal Farm refers to orwellian world, but we find no brother here. Neither large nor small. Humanity is instead cornered and have to shake for their existence inside a bunker, while there is animal nation triumphantly running through once their world. Atmosphere is nicely underlined by the game interesting principles, based mainly on negotiating temporary and very short-term alliances. And it is interesting, that you will not get fed up with their creation even after several attempts..

DesignerRafał Cywicki, Krzysztof Cywicki, Krzysztof Hanusz
ArtistIgor Myszkiewicz
PublisherKuźnia Gier
Year Published2012
# of Players3 - 5
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4 players
Recommended with 5 players
(3 voters)
Playing Time90
Mfg Suggested Ages12 and up
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(2 voters)
CategoryAnimals, Bluffing, Negotiation, Novel-based
MechanicArea Majority / Influence, Team-Based Game
Expansion1984: Animal Farm – Spiel 2012 promo cards
FamilyTheme: Animal Battles, Theme: Anthropomorphic Animals
Primary Name1984: Animal Farm

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: 1984 Animal Farm – George Orwell would wonder
Final word
1984: Animal Farm is board game destined for lovers of negotiation, but also betrayals and conflicts. Players will be transformed into body of one animal race, conquering earth and leading it to supremacy over other animals. Usage of force is allowed, but also negotiating and tactical taking of positions. You will not rule continent, unless you promise others something in return. But you have to make a deal, otherwise no one gets anything. At the same time you can communicate with your neighbouring rivals and get access to more actions. Action cards are not bought, but activated and are available throughout whole game. Match is filled with betrayal feeling and you cannot get sick o fit. Its cleverly designed mechanic, which will force you constantly look at others, their positions and devising plans to get them interested in working with you. This leads sometimes to longer game time depending on human communication at the table. Columns can sometimes fall, but its compensated with interesting illustrations on all components and also spy setup on board. Game should be called only Animal Farm without 1984, but that’s not main deal in the end. If you are searching for a game, where you have to constantly maintain some short-term alliances, then Animal Farm is your third choice of available new games - after Spartacus and Aztlan -worth thinking about a based only on your personal preference..
Reader Rating0 Votes
constant negotiating
one open diplomacy, second with your neighbours
nice topic
players have to attack and betray each other to win
you pay with influence gained from territories for action cards
moving tokens on player boards
longer gametime
tokens in columns are easily flipped
1984 is just a garnis, Big Brother has nothing to do with this
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