We were recently sent a copy of the Scandanavian board game Fox and Geese to review, and I have to admit I was completely sold by the old-fashioned, retro style of the game design. The first thing I’ll say about this game is don’t be intimidated by it! It took us weeks of looking at the instructions and deciding to try again when we weren’t so tired/hurried/late in the day etc etc, but once we actually sat down to it, it was really rather simple, and good fun.
What’s in the box?
The beautifully designed box is covered with oldy-world images that hark back to the origins of the Fox and Geese game. The box contains the instructions, a square board and a smaller box with the game-pieces: 15 white geese and one red fox. I absolutely love the game pieces. They remind me of the children’s wooden toys when they were babies. It makes me very nostalgic.
What’s its history?
Fox and Geese is a hunt game from Northern Europe. It dates back to medieval times and is a game of inequality. While there’s a note in the box that tells us this, there’s not much more history and my partner did say that knowing something of the history of the game would be rather a nice touch. There’s certainly space in the box for more information on the history.
How to play?
As I said, at first I really struggled with the instructions. They seemed terribly complicated, but once I realised that the dots on the board actually indicate where the geese can start, it all suddenly made a lot more sense. Once the game is set up (the geese on the dots, the wolf on the centre dot) the objective is for the fox to capture each goose until it becomes impossible for him to trap them. The fox wins when all the geese are off the table and the geese win if they can hem the fox in so that he can’t move.
This is an unequal game, so chances are the fox is always going to win – since it can move in any direction – but the aim is for the geese to try win. There are variations on the rules and you can make up your own rules too – for example, we decided that if you get two geese to the other end of the board, the geese can be the winners. It’s fairly adaptable to your audience and has similar rules to chequers, but with the strategy of chess.
My partner and daughter enjoyed playing this game together. They are both very smart people and tried hard to outsmart each other. The instructions said it could take up to 90 minutes to play, but I think they play a round in about 20 – 30 minutes. They probably adapt the rules a fair amount to suit the shorter time limit.
I love the game pieces and the whole style of the thing. It’s beautiful and does hark back to a simpler time. Personally, the fact that it doesn’t make any sounds or require screens or batteries makes it a winner for me, and the fact that strategy and planning are taken into account makes this a really good game for developing brains. I also just love the family time that comes with bonding over board games and this game that is so geared towards the fox makes for really interesting real-life conversations.