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Safari Splash!

Safari Splash! is a super-quick real-time children's game from 2Tomatoes. It's designed by Eugeni Castano and Eloi Pujadas, with cute animal art by Oliver Cereto and Clémentine Descamps, and it plays in literally 90 seconds - indeed it comes with a QR code link that should take you to a 90-second timer app.

The game is played using a set of 120 safari cards. These all show three animals on the back but have only two of those three on the face of the card, which also shows a river. The cards are placed face down in a mixed pile in the centre of the table. There are no turns: players just take cards at will and add them to their individual river tableaus so that the river on each card they place connects up to the river in their tableau. That's pretty much it, except that if anyone turns up one of the six safari cards that show a 'splash' in the river, they must call out 'Splash!; and every player has to pass the card in their hand onto the player to their left. Play continues as before until the 90 seconds are up, and players score their rivers. The 'Splash!' interlude doesn't hugely affect play but it adds a certain punctuation to the game and children will enjoy the extra excitement it generates.

At the start of each game, players decide which set of start and scoring cards to use. Those with a 0 on their back are the simplest: they show just one 'favourite' animal, and you'll score a point for each time that animal appears in your tableau. Game play at this level will simply mean players looking for cards with their animal among those on the back and hoping that they also appear on the river side.

Play with the starting cards that have a 1 on the back and they'll show a 'favourite' animal and a 'disliked' animal. Those with a 2 on the back show two 'favourites' and one 'disliked'. The favourite animals score 1 point for each appearance but the disliked animal scores -1 point. Play at level 1 or 2 and it calls for a tad more deliberation when you pick up cards from the central pile - so less of a mad scramble.

At level 3, you score as per the earlier levels except that your starter card also shows a pair of animals that are neither your 'favourite' or 'disliked'. For each of these pairs that are orthogonally adjacent in your river, you'll score 7 points. And whichever level you play at, there are set collection bonuses of 3/7/12 to be claimed for every group of 2, 3 or 4 identical orthogonally adjacent animals.

The gameplay for Safari Splash! makes for an initially frenetic free for all but the scoring usually rewards more considered play. Nevertheless, you're playing in real time against a ticking clock so there's no time to dilly dally - you just have to jump in and make a splash. We especially like the scaleable 'difficulty': this even affords families the option of setting players different start and scoring levels in the same game; so, for example, a younger child could play at level 0 with just a single 'favourite' animal while an older child plays al level 1, so has also to try to avoid their 'disliked' animal.

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