The Good Shepherd is a light 2-6 player card game that's aimed at children but there's enough of a game here for families to play together. Like some of the other Bible-themed games we've featured recently on Board's Eye View (including Parable Parade and Bible Animals: Click Clack Match), it's published by Bible Games Central, so there's a broadly Biblical theme in that the rules naturally reference the metaphor used to describe Jesus in the Gospels. That said, the game doesn't otherwise have an overtly religious tone, with the exception perhaps of the single 99+1 Sheep card which has such a disproportionately high value (all other Sheep cards are in the 1-10 range) that it's bound to prompt an account of the Biblical story of the Shepherd who leaves his flock to search for a single lost sheep.
Players are dealt hands of three cards and, on your turn, you draw a card and play or discard a card to bring your hand size back to three. This is a hand management game where, when the game ends, you want to be left with the highest total value of Sheep and Pasture cards but you score nothing at all unless your hand includes at least one Sheep and one Pasture. You'll therefore be hoping to pick up higher value Sheep and Pasture cards and you'll usually discard lower value cards. Not all of the cards are Sheep and Pastures, however...
Sundown cards act as a game timer, in that once a certain number have been played to a central display then the game immediately ends. With 2 or 3 players, that's when just three Sundown cards have been played, which means games can end quite quickly. If you think you are likely to be in the lead (ie: you have at least one Sheep and Pasture card and the cards are of reasonably high values), then you'll want to lay out Sundown cards in order to bring the game to end. With 4-6 players, the game only ends after five Sundown cards have been played.
You can play a Sparrow card on another player to require them to show you their hand. Playing a Wolf card on another player lets you take a random card from their hand. You have to return a card to them; that could be the same card or it could be another card from your hand. Unlike cattle, we've never really thought of sheep as prone to Stampede but play a Stampede card on an opponent and they have to discard their hand and pick up three new cards. Stampede cards are especially useful if you think an opponent has a strong hand, and especially if you think there's a chance they might have that 99+1 Sheep card, which would guarantee a win when paired with any Pasture card. If a player hit with a Stampede has a Sundown card in their hand, then that card is automatically added to the Sundown display, so it could cause the game to end!
As you might expect, the other card type is a Shepherd card. If you have one of those in your hand then you can discard it to protect against the effect of a Wolf or Stampede card. If you use a Shepherd card in this way, you immediately draw another card to replace it.
That then is The Good Shepherd card game. Tho' the rules are simple, players do have choices to make over what cards to play and whether to discard a card or to play a card on an opponent. In particular, players will usually need to make a judgement call on when to play Sundown cards to hasten the end of the game.
We especially liked the clear cartoon artwork for this game, which definitely adds to its appeal, tho' a couple of our younger players griped that the publishers chose blue rather than green for the Pasture cards. With 2 or 3 players, our games tended to run for less than 10 minutes. With higher player counts and more Sundown cards required to trigger the game end, our Board's Eye View plays generally ran to around 15 minutes, making The Good Shepherd a good family filler.
For anyone looking for more Bible game content, publishers Bible Games Central have made a Bible Trivia game available for free download. Click here to give it a try.