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Sheep, Sheep and Sheep

Just in case the title left you in any doubt, this is a game about sheep. The triplicated title also distinguishes it from the game Sheep (Piecepack) and Sheep Sheep (Azao).

Sheep, Sheep and Sheep is a small box children's game from MoZi. It's designed by Poki Chen and the cute art disguises quite a challenging little arithmetic game that can help to hone younger children's mathematical dexterity.

The game itself is simple enough. It comprises a pack of 30 'pasture cards'. These each display varied numbers of black and white sheep. Four cards are laid out in a 2 x 2 tableau and players race to count the number of sheep. The rest of the cards are divided up so that all the players (2–4) have their own facedown deck. Each turn a player nominates the card they are going to cover up with the card they flip from their deck and, with the new card in position, the players again race to be the first to count the total number of sheep that are displayed.

Although that's the entire game mechanics in a nutshell, the game itself is not quite that simple. In addition to the sheep on each card, some cards also show a wolf. A wolf will eat one of the sheep (ie: reduce the total by one). If there is a sheep dog on a card, it will chase a wolf to the next card in a clockwise direction (where, of course, it may be able to eat a sheep). If there is a farmer, he will chase away any wolves on his card (ie: negating their chomping ability). Finally, some cards have closed or open fences. Open fences have no effect but a closed fence isolates whatever is inside from interacting with anything else; so, for example, sheep behind an enclosed fence are protected from wolves but farmers inside an enclosed fence have no effect on any wolves on the card or wolves chased there by a dog on the neighbouring card.

All of this makes for some swift adding combined with the need for nimble observation to ensure that any wolf effects are properly taken into account. It's a fast-paced game so this is one time where counting sheep won't have you nodding off to sleep.

The age range on the box stipulates 5+ but many five-year olds will find this quite challenging. Older children will enjoy Sheep, Sheep and Sheep as a speed game, and it's another of those games where older children can compete with adults on fairly equal terms.

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