Updated: Mar 31, 2020
Published by Flying Games and distributed by Blackrock, the playing pieces for Little Big Fish give it an instant charm that invites players to give it a go. Without the fishy theme and appealing plastic fish, this might otherwise have seemed a drab abstract two-player game.
In Little Big Fish, each player starts with three small fish. Moving to a square with a fish on it allows the player to spawn another small fish. Moving to a plankton square allows the player to grow their fish from small to medium or from medium to large. Each player can only use each colour of plankton once. Landing on a question mark square generates a random effect, though the effect is more likely to be good (an extra spawn or grow action) than bad (your fish is caught by a fisherman and taken off the board).
In a player’s turn, they can move one fish two squares or they can move two fishes one square each. All movement is orthogonal. Only small fish can move through shipwrecks, and movement through the wrecks is free. An opponent’s fish can be eaten only if they are the same size or smaller, and the game is won by the player who is first to eat five of their opponent’s fish.
Because fish of the same size can eat each other, and because each fish has a movement capacity of two, the strategy for this game is likely to be quite defensive. Players have only limited opportunities to grow their fish, so players will tend to deploy their fishes so that they can retaliate when an opponent eats one of their fishes. In that sense, theme notwithstanding, Little Big Fish can become something of a cat and mouse game.
The playing board is modular (made up of four smaller boards). This means that there is at least a small variation between games, although the four boards are quite similar to each other. The modular element mainly comes to the fore through one of the random effects, which allows a player to rotate the board his fish is on. That can sometimes prove an effective way of undermining an opponent’s defensive set up.
Little Big Fish takes no time to learn and plays in around 15 minutes. It can be a diverting filler for seasoned gamers but it is likely to function best as a gateway game, introducing children to strategy games that demand a little bit of thinking a move or two ahead and which are a step up from roll and move games.
Players keep track of their score in Little Big Fish by the opponent’s fish they have eaten, so there is no need for any other system for tracking score. This means, of course, that Little Big Fish doesn’t come with chips. Never mind. It’s still worth checking out.