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Bye-Bye Black Sheep


Torsten Landsvogt

Jolly Thinkers

No. of Players:



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

I spotted Bye-Bye Black Sheep at the news show during SPIEL 2017, mainly because of the funny artwork. I must be honest: I have never heard from the publisher before, and I was curious about its origin. Chinese rules, next to English and German ones, were a first hint. But I would never have guessed the truth.

Well, JOLLY THINKERS, that's a gamers' cafe club in Hong Kong, researching educational and entertaining board and card games from all over the world. Among the most played games in that club are games of the Pick-a-Pig series by Torsten Landsvogt, first published as Formissimo by the German publisher SCHMIDT SPIELE. After SCHMIDT SPIELE had stopped the production of Formissimo, JOLLY THINKERS contacted Torsten, and so the cooperation between the German author and the Hong Kong gamers club had begun.

The Pick-a-Pig games are small family and party card games with speed recognition mechanics. The new game Bye-Bye Black Sheep continues this way concerning the type of game and the funny, great animal artwork on the cards. But while the Pick-a-Pig games are all speed games, Bye-Bye Black Sheep is more a game of luck and risk. It is strongly inspired by Jackass, but further develops the mechanisms to collect your cards.

At set-up, all players randomly draw five cards from the draw pile. This pile consists of 12-16 sets of animal cards, depending on the number of players. Each set has 4 cards, but only three are necessary to get a triplet, and with a specific number of animal triplets (also depending on the number of players), the game is won. But next to the normal animal cards, a player also receives a Black Sheep and a special card with its own function. All cards are shuffled and form the players' hand cards.

Now, on their turns, the players draw cards from each other. They can do so as many times they wish. In addition, they can draw from different players in the same turn. But it is a rule, that every new card must be played face-up on the table, so all players can see what was drawn. The drawing phase is stopped immediately, if a player draws a Black Sheep. In that case, a player takes all new cards in his hand, and returns the Black Sheep to its owner. But a player may also stop voluntarily, and then he takes all cards to his hand, but may also play some cards from his hand onto the table in front of the player. This is callsed the his zoo and all cards are played face-up. The number of cards that may be played in a zoo equals the number of drawn cards minus 2. As a result, the more cards a player draws, the more he may play into his zoo, but of course this gets more risky with every new card.

It is not necessary to play a triplet into the zoo at once, so a player may choose to start with a doublet or a single card. But in the end, only cards in the zoo count for the victory conditions. So a doublet in the zoo is nothing, even if the player is holding the third card for the triplet in his hand.

So up to now, the game is quite simple, but there are also 3-6 special cards, depending on the choice of the players, that influence further the gameplay. These cards make the game more dynamic and increase the interaction between the players. For instance, if you draw an eagle, you may ask a player for a specific card and if the player has that animal in his hand, he must place it on the table next to the drawn cards of that round. If, however, he does not have the card, the turn ends for the active player as if he has drawn a Black Sheep.

With progressing time, players behind are forced to increase the level of risk. This is their only chance to catch up with the leading player, and that's also, what makes the game so interesting for me. Sometimes you are unlucky and draw a Black Sheep in your first draw. But if you are good in memorizing which player took which card, you have really a chance to catch up. At the moment Bye-Bye Black Sheep is the favourite game of my youngest son. Although the rules recommend the game for eight year olds and older, my six year old son has no problems to understand the rules and play the game. The only problem for him is to arrange the cards in his hand. With the great artwork and the short game duration Bye-Bye Black Sheep is a perfect game for parents and grown-ups, to play as a family game or a filler. Well done, and a lot of entertaining game sessions for JOLLY THINKERS, I would think.

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Copyright © 2017 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany