Welcome to Sheepland. Town governed by sheep. Right now, there is one black sheep in government. And it has not only other sheep (especially white) as its subordinates, but also the human shepherds are its servants. Sheep have domesticated little shepherds and they now have to guard curly citizen against the danger, take care of the freshest pasture, and navigate them home. Maybe would not like to visit this world dominated by bushy bleating creatures, but what if we tell you, that there will be warm and friendly fun over there. Would you change your mind? We recommend you to do so.
Once you are settled there, you should hurry and guard sheep, which are running away and around, just like in the game Sheepland. Why should you? It will be explained by us, ambassadors of authors Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini, who designed the game system. Their idea endeared Cranio Creations, Italian company, which helped them to complete the game and release it in 2012. Illustrations of the game were created by Giulia Ghigini. This game is not very well known and we would like to change it with our review. But now we are getting a little ahead of ourselves.
On the square packaging box, you can already see a flock of sheep with herdsman and commanding black sheep on the run in the back. The man in the fur may look happy, but in reality, sheep are his masters. But we must leave their furry faces and scare peace-loving and open the box, where a game board awaits us.
It bears illustration of the sheep island with the capital, Sheepville, right in the middle. Map itself is divided by roads with numbers to the total of eighteen regions. On them will walk your shepherds, feed their sheep and care for everything they need. Even help them cross the road to a new pasture.Now that’s your mission.
You will need a number of cardboard components. Thirty square pieces presenting different surfaces found on the island. There are a total of six different surfaces on the map, each of them is assigned five cardboard tiles numbered from zero to four – specifying the price of their purchase. These tiles are kind of stocks of sheep areas.
Apart from these sheets, you will also punch out sixty round coins called dinars in different values, 32 fences (20 classic daily fences and 12 night fences). You also cannot miss a special marker for the starting player, consisting of two pieces put together.
And now only few wooden pieces are separating us from rules section. Everyone must of course include sheep in a game about sheep, where would otherwise be the game? And it is really so. You have a total of eighteen white sheep and special ruling black one, which is twice the value. There is therefore literally black sheep in other sense, then we have become accustomed – its good for you to guard it and have it on your pasture, just like you would be happy to feast a king. Wooden components also include six colored pieces of shepherds, who will run the roads and navigate sheep across available pastures. Entry into the plains is banned for them, so they will not step on the rare pottage. Sheep rule this land, remember?
Sheepland is a family game, which reflects not only in the theme, but also in the preparation and game mechanics. In each of the eighteen regions, you put one white sheep as a starting inhabitant. Each sheep is satisfied to have its own pasture, filled with grass. Black sheep, the queen, starts this story inside the city in center of the map, where it can sit on the throne for a while. But soon it will descend and go to see for its own eyes, how the country prospers. And you can invite it to your own pasture.
You sort terrain according to typa and lay it next to the board in an orderly stack in ascending order according to the printed value. In addition to the six different surfaces, you must deal also starting piece to every player. These randomly provide each player with one share of some terrain and the unsused rest is returned to the box. Players choose one shepherd in their favorite color and gets a wealth of twenty dinars. There is no way in the game to raise money, so you have to protect it. Players can put their pawn on any unoccupied road on the board. The rest of the money and all the fences are piled up on the table and will be used later on.
Who wants to play with sheep first? The starting player can jump into the game simply with a total of three action points, that can be spend for almost any combination of three actions. He has the option to purchase terrain tile with the lowest price available, move sheep or move shepherd. He can choose any action multiple times, but he must between these two actions move his human pawn to some other road – so its never possible to lead two sheep over one road or to buy two identical terrain tiles from the same place.
We have explained to you during preparation, that shepherds can stand only in place, where you can find the number in round shape. This represents center of the path. Each route has two adjacent pastures and several routes, which it leads to through crossroads. Both of these relations are important to the entire course of the game.
The aim is to end the game with as many sheep on terrain tiles you own, as possible. This means, that you have to not only skillfully move sheep, but also buy terrain tiles (stock) for dinars. Only the right combination can draw you closer to victory.
Now we will look better at all three actions, we mentioned. Each of them has its specific, but easy rules. For example, you can move to any distance with shepherd, but you move him freely only to an adjacent road. Any other step above this limit will cost you one dinar from your pocket, which is definitely not bottomless. Moreover, once you exit road you started on, you immediately place a fence token there. Why? Because you draw yourself closer to the end with each fence placed.
Now we can start leading the herd overe the road. In one action, you can move only one sheep and it always has to be from one terrain adjacent to your road to the other. You therefore simply lead them over the road you are standing on. But always only one sheep and no more!
The last event, which can be done by your shepherds, is a bit unusual for their occupation. You can purchase a terrain tile of those two, you are neighbouring. You can decide for yourself, which one of them is more advantageous to own, regarding its current price. As you progress through each deck, it gets more expensive. Purchased terrain tiles have no immediate effect and they are important only at the end of the game. But you can never win otherwise, because these tiles bring you the only points, you can get. And each turn, you can buy only from those piles, that match neighboring land of your shepherd pawn.
It would seem, that we have solved everything, but we have still forgotten something. After all, the black sheep! Its moving on its own always at the beginning of your turn, although you can too move it across the road in the same manner as the white ones. But the black sheep has a mind of its own, so it moves by itself. Each player rolls the dice as the first act each turn and determine the direction, where the queen sheep should move. That is the only reason, why they are numbers on routes on board – sheep runs across a path, that corresponds to the number thrown, but only if there is not shepherd or fence present there. Gradually, you will reduce the possibilities of movement with putting up fences, and players can better estimate, where it will completely end its movement.
And why should you care for black sheep? It has a double value, than all other ordinary sheep. And it really counts. End of the game is coming near, when you place the last day fence. The final phase begins at that very moment – all players then have a chance to act, until the round gets back to the first player. That means, that all players have the same number of turns. This is reason, why it is really important to have consistently indicated a starting player.
Each card has value corresponding to number of sheep on that terrain in moment, when the game ended. So if you have more cards from any kind (which is quite certain), then you can simply multiply number of cards times sum of sheep on these fields. Players then get dinars for these investment and the one with the largest property is the winner.
Sheepland is a quite simple family game, which nevertheless conceals within itself a nice strategic elements. The game lacks any luck except movement of the black sheep and all results depend on the decisions of players and moving of their shepherds.
Moreover, money spent for the cards of terrain shares can be saved, because they are counted toward victory in the final evaluation. So you should not be totally mindlessly shopping them, because your dinars can be worth more, than empty tiles.
The game has a significant element of joint-shares. At the beginning, players have no desire to buy cards of terrain, because they have no idea, where sheep will be in the end. They would only limit their possibilities of sheep movement. So it pays off to wait. But not for long, because first cards are the cheapest, while the deeper you get in the pile, the more you pay. Finally, up to four dinars for the last card, where you really have to think twice before investing.
Number of sheep on meadows can players affect very well. Its the main theme of the whole game. Of course, you can return with your shepherds to paths enclosed by a fence. Likewise, you can lead sheep over the fence, because you simply open a door for them. Fences are therefore in a game primarily purpose of watching the game length and limit black sheep movement.
Sheepland can be with difficulty compared to a similarly family-oriented games such as Ticket to Ride (review). There is nothing complicated for children and thanks to its beautiful appearance and sheep figures, you can try playing Sheepland with them since sixth year of age. The only thing you have to help them with, is counting.
At first glance, it would seem, that the game lacks any interaction. Players are running around with their shepherds and sheep move. But there is one important but. While watching, what terrain types are collected by others, you can move sheep out of their meadows.
Minor deficiency can be discovered while reading the rules. It provides one constraint for combining actions, which is especially confusing for younger children, little intuitive and they have difficulty to act according to it during the game. What are we talking about? When you perform the action, you cannot make the same again, until you move your shepher. If you want to repeat an action twice, you have to do it as your first action, then change the road with your shepherd and then do it again. You have no time left for anything else. This is logical, because it is currently impossible to make the game last forever, but players easily forget this principle in the heat of battle.
In fact Sheepland is a little abstract game hidden behind a simple theme. You simply move sheep from one place to another and buy shares to benefit from it. But just the touch of a tactical options make for pleasant consequence, that you control yourself really everything in the game.
Sheepland is a family game, in which players are struggling for the sheep. Players drive sheep away from themselves and are still trying to grab share of grasslands, which are best for them. The whole match fits easily within half an hour and offers a really simple, yet strategic fun for the whole family. This game certainly deserves more attention, than it gets, and is very suitable as entry game for anyone, who is starting with board games.
Sheepland is essentially very simple family game, which has large tactical options. You walk across land with a pawn representing a herdsman and make sheep cross over roads, herding them together. You can buy shares of your neighbouring lands, which can be really valuable at the end of the game. Whole match lasts until you lay last fence on the board. Players are then rewarded according to number of sheep on tiles, where they have shares. There is only one luck factor in the whole game, when you move black sheep according to throw of the dice. Everything else depends solely on decision of players. Result is therefore totally your work and you have nobody else to blame for your success or failure. Each turn consists of three actions, which can be chosen by you, although you might get little heavyheaded, when it gets to rule about repeating one action twice. But the game itself contains really nice tactical concepts and players are constantly stealing sheep from each other. Sheepland is game, which deserves more attention, than it gets and not only with families, but also among advanced players. They can discover surprising tactical options here.