Updated: Oct 24
It's a testament to the light-hearted nature of Furry Foodies (Cat Edition) that the first page of the rule book is not dedicated to a component list or even rules but flavour text in the form of bios of the six cats: should you play as Snowball, the high-energy furball, or Fluffbucket who likes ice cream but will only eat it with a spoon? It has no bearing on game play but is such a gentle lead in that no-one (unless they're a 'dog person' *boo, hisss*) will be overwhelmed by the game going in.
After you've put your 'pre-furred' feline standee into its chunky base and set up a 5 x 5 grid of randomized foodstuff tiles, play is as simple as pushing your cat two spaces each turn and collecting any tiles that 'fall off the table', ie, come out of the grid. There are eight types of food, from the unique Plaice (Rank 8) to the common Ice Cream (Rank 1), as well as catnip (extra move), cat sack (wild), and the doggone broken plates which attract humans (score minus points).
Furry Foodies' designers Dave Gage and Kylie Latham keep it simple in the scoring too: you can arrange your sets into any number of Rank sequences (2-3-4-5-6-7, 3-4-5) or sets (1-1-1-1, 3-3-3-3-3-3-3) to score on a scale of increasing returns. Knowing that you need some Pizza to complete your eight-tile straight, or that an opponent is getting way too much Spaghetti informs the more tactical decision of where to move within the grid on your turn. Knocking one plate off the table isn't a problem, but four or five will make a big dent in your score. A little more player interaction is caused by the rule that cats cannot push each other, giving good opportunity for blocking. The game ends when there are no more tiles to fill the gaps created by the orthogonally padding pussies.
All the tiles are used whatever the player count, so scores are higher with just two, necessitating some triple-digit maths, but that's a small price to pay; at three players, the balance feels about right, while at four individual players there's perhaps too much change in the board state to really plan ahead: the rules include a decent team variant for 2 versus 2 which addresses this.
While it doesn't have quite enough meat to serve as a 'serious' game-night filler, USAopoly's Furry Foodies (Cat Edition - is there a Dog Edition? *hiss boo*) is a cute, streamlined set collection game which is clearly aimed at families and ailurophiles that should leave a big Cheshire Cat sized grin on the faces of kids, non-gamers and gamer parents.
(Review by David Fox)