FX Schmid, £25

The 'big' game from FX Schmid this year has a hard act to follow in Adel. That is no excuse for actually managing to fail spectactularly on virtually all counts. I won't slam it, because it is a disappointing and lacklustre game rather than downright bad, but the gameplay really lacks excitement, the artwork is of the German Naive school and the end game seems to have some real problems. It isn't exactly cheap or quick to play either. Neverthless, I hear rumblings around the hobby that this is one of the better games to emerge for a while and that it is much played out in the provinces. If that is the case, my earlier comments about German games are definitely more accurate than I thought.

The basic theme is to build a farm by enclosing a section of the board with fencing while at the same time filling the area with face down white sheep counters which score you points when flipped. In turn, you are trying to stuff your opponents by giving them black sheep which are minuses. There is an element of memory work in trying to remember which sheep are which, but nothing that is going to get you overheated with the wonder that is Bauernschlau. The only saving grace is a sheep rustling rule that lets you go and bag sheep from other fields with a dog and re-locate them! A small mercy, involving a miniscule amount of bluff, in an uninspiring game. The rather odd end game, I think, always leaves one player without a score if he hasn't finished his field so you have to watch the other players' fences all the time. When your field is finished, you count up the points inside and that's that. Yours for any reasonable offer.

Back to Manchester or on to Die Bosse.

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