There are sheep. You are a wolf. Sheep taste nice. There are dogs. Dogs are scary. Catch the sheep, avoid the dogs: that's Swip'Sheep, from Djeco, designed by Yann Dupont and aimed at 3 to 5 players, aged 5 and up. If you don't like the goofy art by Elise Gravel on show in our 360 picture, then this might not be for you.
Each round, the deck of 32 cards is shuffled and players are dealt three each. After passing one left and one right - partly to seed knowledge, partly to distribute wolves - players reveal any wolf cards. Starting with the first player, each wolf attacks another player's hand, hoping to find sheep. If the target has a dog, though, the tables are turned and the attacking player loses a card instead. Stolen cards are added to hand; played wolves and dogs are discarded.
After every wolf has been resolved, sheep in hand are added to a player's score pile and the discarded dogs and wolves are shuffled back into the main deck. This intensification means there is more action later in the game, though fewer sheep to munch and little chance to catch-up other than picking on the leader. After a set number of rounds, dependent on player count, the player with the most sheep wins.
If one were to use the rule of thumb that you should not play a game at its highest or lowest player count, Swip'Sheep would be best with four, and that feels about right: enough turns to make a difference, enough targets to spread the odds. At three, there is only a choice of two other players to attack; at five, the two rounds mean it's all over before you've had a chance to do very much. At every player count, though, the game is quick enough that you can bite back straight away.
Djeco have made a few of these small box quick'n'simple card games, like Kotakote. A diminutive form factor need not be a sign of lack of depth - Chronicle (Z-Man Games), Coloretto (Rio Grande) and Piepmatz (Lookout Games) can attest to that - but be aware that Swip'Sheep is aimed at younger players enjoying social activity and building up core gaming skills while doing so: a wolf in sheep's clothing this is not. Fortunately, it's fun enough for adults to play at full pelt, too.
As a bonus, with a highly laudable ten languages catered for on the game's rules cards, you can learn the word for dog, wolf and sheep in the other nine languages... eg: moutons, schapen, Schafen, far (x2), ovelhas, ovejas, pecore, and barashkam. (And if you'll permit me a non-game related diversion, you might be interested in how sheep sound in different languages...)
(Review by David Fox)