Animals are hiding in the jungle, among the trees and bushes, where no one could find them. That is the only place, where they feel safe after one attack of a hunter and its not easy to draw them out again. Nearby are three other overgrown areas and each has its own residents. The only way to persuade different creatures to leave the shelter is to call them convincingly. But even so, from time to time, some creatures run from jungle to jungle.
Bringing together just the right animals will be challenge for players of the board game 4 zu mir! or 4 for me in English. That is name of a new game from Noris Spiele created by author Heike Baum, meaning the entire entertainment originated in Germany. Illustrations are made by Johann Rüttinger. This is the edition of 2013, but the game itself was first created already in 1996.
Lid shows us animals, that with enthusiasm run away from their shelter. But it really will not be that simple, as you will soon learn for yourself. Rulebook will help us with that as well as four screens, that can be folded and it is their job to keep hidden, what others should not see. Each of them looks like jungle, where animals are hiding up front, but has a list of animals on its inner side.
Now those animals are the most important thing, that we will find in the box. In the bag, there is a total of 24 of them and there are no same wooden miniatures. There are different species and although we do not know, how can a dolphin survive in the jungle, it does not really matter. We will never know secret of this air-breathing fish, but maybe there will be somewhere very large aquarium in the jungle. Pets are included on a package of 24 cards. Each has printed a displays of four animals, their name and silhouette, as well as matching wooden figurine. Along with them lies at the bottom box also a canvas bag.
At the beginning of the game, each participant puts one screen in front of him and draws a group of animal figures. They must first be put in a black bag, so each player can select them randomly and mostly in secret, so nobody else can see. The more players are participating in the game, the fewer pieces everyone gets, but pets are always divided equally among all (except game with five, where the oldest player gets one figure less). All competitors get also two cards from a shuffled deck.
Then players will apply for favour of animals one by one. Everyone is able to get several animals during his turn, but must not make mistakes. He looks at the cards and miniatures on his screen and try to call to his jungle one missing animals from his cards. But to do so, he must choose the right jungle to call upon. He tells one of his opponents name of the animal. If this player has it hidden in his jungle, he must immediately surrender it. Turn of active player can continue with another call until a player does not succeed for the first time. At that moment, immediately his calling ends and another player is now on turn.
Players are calling one animal after another and yet have little idea, which figures are hiding where, at first. But as soon as one of the battling sides manages to collect all four animals from one card, that player shows this card to all opponents. But the game does not end, but just the opposite, its only starting. Player keeps the card face down as his score and draws a new one. Next round of calling will now get much more interesting, because game continues without animals changing their owners. So players already know identity of animals in one jungle and then two and so on. Tug of war ends only, when supply of cards runs out. Winner is player, who has collected the most cards.
4 zu mir! is an elegant variation on the quartet card game. At first, when you do not think about the rules, you expect really just simple questions and random drawing pieces from behind their screens. But this time, this description can not be further from the truth.
This simplified description captures only the first few turns until the moment, when any player completes his first card. At that moment, he must reveal all his animals and completed card. Thanks to that, other players sees, what creatures are lurking in his jungles and player suddenly becomes an easy target for them in the coming rounds. But since all players are completing cards, situations gets equalized very quickly. Then it’s all just about good memory.
Ability to keep track of the positions of all the animals is the basis for success. Once you know, where the animal is, you can follow its movements further and always know, who to ask. But it is not as easy as it looks, because there are two dozen pieces and to watch the whole situation is properly difficult.
It is clear, that this can not be done in two players. Minimum number is set on number three and even then, it still feels relatively low. Real fun begins with four rivals and still further increases in favor of five or six. Here, game offers a thrilling and interesting situations and is generous about great moments to laugh at. Even the slight disadvantage for the oldest player (at start) does not have some overall effect on the game, because everything is very fast leveled. Additionally, first rounds are still purely goverened by chance and everything is decided by future rounds, when situation is much different.
It is of course clear, that 24 cards means the same number of cards to be collected to finish the game. But once players get to know animal positions, search for them is suddenly much easier and animal cards are finished with higher speed. Making it to the end does not need more, than half an hour of your time. If you think it is too much, you can easily reduce the number of cards in the deck and shorten the game time as you like.
All this is of course focused primarily on children’s audience. This corresponds to beautiful processing, which clearly dominated by wooden figures of animals. However, simple quartet rules as a basis guarantee, that already pre-schoolers can start testing the game. Although they still will not exercise full potential, their skills will develop with time.
As we come to the final evaluation 4 zu mir!, it should be emphasized, that this is how a successful children game should look like. This box is a beautiful blend of processing, fun and simple principle, which does not simplify players influence on the game. 4 zu mir! are great animal entertainment for every family and should be there on your shelf too!
4 zu mir! Is excellent news for all lovers of children's games. This is a great feat, that entertains even adults and will be airing their memory. The game may look at first glance like random variation of the quartet card game, but all the animal pieces from time to time peek out and show their position. Players must keep track of the constantly shifting figures. This is a really fun game and it works great, especially in higher numbers. Now the lower ones are the only allegation, which can we name against this whole game. 4 zu mir! is fast, simple and sophisticated entertainment for children, you should have at home, if you have any children!