Publisher: Haba Games
Designer: Klaus Miltenberger
Ages: 4-99 (Sorry great-great grandma, apparently you don’t get to play…)
Duration: 15 min
Sometimes I feel that animals are misunderstood. You see all those nature shows where the predators are stalking prey, but in reality, I think they all want to get along and party. Wouldn’t you? You know, hang out and then climb on top of each other and see how high you can make a pyramid? Is it just me?
Animal upon Animal is kinda like that. Except its not a party, its a fierce competition where you must carefully balance animals on top of a crocodile or else face defeat! Ok, It’s a children’s game… I’m getting a little carried away. But what lies in this cute yellow box and does it “stack up” to the competition?
Yes, I just said that.
What’s in the box?
Inside this yellow box there are 29 wooden animals and one die. There’s one crocodile, and 4 each of sheep, penguin, monkey, toucan, snake, hedgehog and lizard. Its quite the eccentric collection of animals but I assume they all get along.
The animals feel great. As I write more reviews, you’re gonna see a lot of these yellow boxes. HABA (the publisher) makes some of the best kids (and more recently family) games out there and my daughter has quite a few, and I know we will just be getting more and more. And each one has great components, this one included. I love the little animals and quality is high up there.
So how do you play?
Each person begins by taking one of each animal, and for 2-3 players the remaining are put back in the box. Place the crocodile in the middle of the play area. Then, the staring player (which is the one who can balance the longest on one foot like a flamingo. It’s in the rules!) rolls the die, and he has to do one of the following 5 actions:
- If one dot is rolled, they must place one of their animals on top of the crocodile or another animal in the pyramid
- If 2 dots are rolled, then you have to place 2 animals instead of one in the pyramid
- If the crocodile is rolled, then you take an animal and place it next to the crocodile, thereby extending the base of the pyramid
- If a hand is rolled, then you take one of your animals, and pass it to one of your opponents and they have to put it on the pyramid instead of you!
- If the question mark is rolled…. then all your opponents decide which animal of yours you have to place on the pyramid!
But uh oh! You tried to put that toucan off and he just didn’t want to stay on and took a few of his buddies down with him! Well, if at any point during your placement you cause a collapse, your turn ends immediately. Then, depending on how many animals you knocked down you gotta take them in your stock. If you knocked 1 or 2, you take the animals you knocked down. If you knocked down more than 2, you choose 2 of them and put the rest back in the box. Then the next person rolls.
You keep playing until one person has put down their last animal. Then they are declared the animal stacking king or queen and the rest of you hang your head in shame of defeat.
Is it any good?
This game is great. Not only is it a great kids game, it’s a fun game period. I’ve played it with all ages and can say that I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t enjoyed it. The tension of trying to put that sheep on top without knocking anything over and everyone watching you just adds more excitement (or stress). It’s not a game to base your game night around… but it fits so well as a filler between some games or just something fun to start out with. Depending on the game, sometimes it can be as quick as 5 minutes so it won’t take up too much of your time.
But at it’s heart its a kids game… but it also helps kids out with their hand-eye co-ordination and helps them to think outside the box a little. Yes, it will get comparisons to Jenga but its a lot more dynamic because there are so many more placement possibilities, and the rolling of the die really adds variety. And my daughter also loves playing with the animals, they’re great quality and yes, they are “cute”.
Overall, if you have kids or not, this is a fun little game. It’s not deep or super-strategic but its fun. It’s hard to beat this game as a quick filler or something to play with your kids. It’s one of the best out there.
- Great little wooden animals
- Teaches kids hand-eye co-ordination and motor skills
- Quick gameplay
- Fun for all ages…
- …except if you’re over 99.