Monday, 7 April 2014

Animal Upon Animal (Tier auf Tier)

An animated and wobbly stacking game - designed for kids, but still fun for the young at heart.


Original cover


What I would call an impossible stack as depicted on the back cover: I have never seen a stack built that high with adult players - so how did these kids do it?!



Name: Animal Upon Animal (aka Tier auf Tier) (2005)

Different Versions:

Animal Upon Animal: Balancing Bridge (2010) (which looks more interesting than the original - I don't own this though)

Balancing Bridge, as advertised by Haba on the back of the box (at the time of writing, on Amazon.com, this version costs approximately $59 including shipping for this version of the game).

Because I already have the original I wouldn't go for this (well, I might in the future, but it's definitely not a priority given what the new games I could obtain for the same amount of money). However, in hindsight, if I had known this version existed, I would probably pay the extra dollars to get this version.

However, it probably doesn't matter too much - the graphics do look nice though.


Animal Upon Animal: Rotate

The Rotate version seems to incorporate a spinning element - which makes the game considerably harder (play a piece and spin the wheel once? and I read that you also have to make an animal noise - if you want to play it that way..)


Publisher: Haba

Designer: Klaus Miltenberger

Players: 2 to 4

Age: 4+

Time to play: 15 minutes

Price Range (AUD): $32 to $65. The lower end of the range I just game is more reasonable but it's still slightly pricey. The pieces are made from good wood though and are coloured well.

Availability:  Not commonplace but it exists online - just like most games, shipping can make this game unreasonably expensive.

Genres
  • Dexterity
  • Kids
  • Stacking

Andre Lim's Rating and Brief Summary:

6.5+* out of 10. (Decent - See my Rating Scale)

Stack all your animal pieces without collapsing the stack. That is essentially all there is to this game.

I think though that this game suffers from being slightly too easy from the perspective of an adult - It is quite easy to get rid of all the pieces in your hand with a few lucky rolls of the die (I will explain this in the Rules section below, but basically the die tells you what action to perform, such as: how many animals to put on the stack; giving pieces to other players; letting the whole group decide what piece you should put; and expanding the base). As such, there isn't too much competition in this game. Your group may have a good laugh though playing it - and that's basically it.

Just to mix up the rules a bit, I could see the merits of playing this game as a cooperative exercise - for example, getting everyone to build the highest and most stable stack possible - that would be much much harder and an interesting challenge.

And I can see that the expanded versions of the game (as listed above) might provide more of a challenge and have a higher fun factor.

However this is still a decent game to play, even if you are not-so-young anymore.

*27 July 2014: Revised down from 6.8+. It's more of a kids game rather than offering any substantial difficulty or challenge to teenagers or adults. - the dexterity required in this game isn't so substantial. The figures are cute and colourful though.

The Good:
  • Simplistic, clean fun for all (but more for kids than adults!!)
  • Quick filler game
  • Good for kids and open-minded/curious adults
  • Great and solid wooden components
The Bad:
  • Best to play on a stable surface - playing on carpet produces shaky results
  • May not be suitable for adults who might "look down upon kids' games" - although the game is still fairly fun.
  • Perhaps too easy for adults!! Especially if you roll the crocodile and hand symbols too often (see below)
  • Not something you would continuously replay

What makes this game fun? 

Balancing dexterity-type games are generally quite fun - here the added element of rolling dice to place lively animal characters makes for an enjoyable treat.








- This concludes the basic overview of the game.
If you are interested in reading about the components & rules to the game, please read on -









Rules & Components (Photos courtesy of my mum, Joanne)

The Crocodile is placed in the middle. This is the starting base from which all play originates from.

Each player receives 7 animals: A toucan, a sheep, a frill-necked lizard (if I'm not mistaken), a porcupine, a monkey, a snake and a penguin.

Crocodile in the foreground - this is the base from which everything is stacked upon.
Each players' playing pieces in background.


Players must stack up their animals ON the crocodile UNLESS they roll the crocodile icon (see below).

A player's turn goes like this: they roll the die and perform the action of the dice. And then they pass on the die to the next player who then does the same thing and so on.

First person to get rid of all their pieces wins.

Die Actions

So, for example, if a player rolled a symbol with two dots, this means they must place two animals onto the crocodile like below:

A two is rolled. Notice the one on the side - that means the same thing except only 1 piece must be placed by the rolling player.

If the crocodile symbol is rolled, it means the player can EXPAND THE BASE by placing a piece NEXT TO the crocodile (hence, other animals, from now on, can be placed on the newly placed piece). For example, a player could simply place a sheep next to the crocodile like so:


Other Symbols

The Question Mark means that the other players, by consensus (or majority I suppose - up to you), get to decide which piece you have to put onto the stack

The Hand symbol means that you can GIVE a piece to someone else and they must put it on immediately - this, along with the Crocodile symbol is therefore, from the perspective of wanting to win the game, the best thing to roll as you don't have to do anything (but, from another point of view, I feel it makes the game too easy sometimes to win, depending on your luck - hence arguably ruining the fun of the game)

What happens if the pieces fall?

If, in the process of placing a piece, only one piece falls, then the player who caused the stack to fall must take back the piece that fell.

If, two or more pieces fall, then irrespective of the number of pieces that fell (to make sure the game isn't too cruel to someone), the player who caused the stack to fall must only take back two pieces (rather than everything that fell!!!).

If no one caused the stack to fall and it just fell by itself then no one is punished.

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