Gameday First Play – Wombat Rescue
Evening: Ate grass.
Night: Ate grass. Decided grass is boring.
Scratched. Hard to reach the itchy bits. Slept.
~ Jackie French, Diary of a Wombat
Did you know that wombats poop cubes? It’s true! Scientists theorise that, due to extremely poor vision but an excellent sense of smell, wombats use their poop cubes as “smell markers” to help them navigate their environment. Because their poop is cube-shaped it is less likely to roll away or be moved.
You play Mama Wombat and your goal is to get your 4 babies home…
The board is setup from various tiles allowing for various setups with some examples in the rule book, with starting spaces for all the animals and food tokens…
You also have a player board with some food starting in your tummy and increases values of food depending on turn order.
Last player takes the dingo die and puts the dingo on any dingo space on the board…
Before I go into gameplay I want to talk about smell areas… Yep, Smell areas… The food you eat and digest on your player board will eventually come out as Poop cubes… Each cube gives a smell area of 2 spaces, 2 cubes of the same colour in a space is 3 spaces and 3 of the same colour is 4 spaces… Players have a max 3 cubes per space.
Once you know about the smell area you can understand movement. Firstly, normal movement goes in a straight line, stopping if you leave your smell area. You stop at any Food, Baby, Board Edge or Dingo… or an opponent’s poop cube…
If you’re outside of your smell area you can move 1 space onto a space with food or yo one of your Babies…
If you’re out of range of your smell area and can’t use a special move, you can draw a Wander card. You reveal the cards until you find a card that shows you a terrain symbol you can legally move to and discard it. If it has a food symbol on it put it to one side for now…
When moving, Mama Wombats can’t share a space so you push them up to 2 spaces then stop moving. If you land on a baby wombat put it in your pouch on your player board.
A turn played over 4 phases – Movement, Digestion, Cleanup, Move Dingo if you control it.
I’ve explained the movement types but on your turn you can move up to 3 times putting food tokens into the mouth space on your player board if you land on one.
You have 4 action tokens and can flip any number of them to immediately go to your home tile, prevent food tokens moving on your player board, move 1 space in any direction or move the rightmost set of food disks out of the body into a Poop cube… These are once per game so use then wisely!
After movement you Digest your food, Move each set of food in each digestive tract to the right and if they move out the last space, remove them and place a poop cube on your space. If the disks in the Wombats mouth total 3 or more then move them 1 space to the right.
At this point if 3 Wander cards with food icons one have been put aisde, you put them in the regular discard pile and refill all of the food spaces.
The last player no gets to move the Dingo…
They Roll the die and move it that many spaces towards the nearest Mama. Any ‘Caught’ Mamas return home and babies they’re carrying return to the space they were found. That player now controls the Dingo.
The first player to get 4 Babies home wins…
First off, how perfectly did this piece of nature line up to make a board game? 🙂
Secondly, it’s a race to a target and I generally don’t like them… Unless it’s an actual race.
Thirdly, the mechanisms of the game are very good. Movement at the beginning of the game is S-L-O-W, but as you eat and poop and get your smell area up around the board, overlapping smell areas, you can eventually go a full length of the board in one move if unobstructed.
It’s also simple and very cute… Getting to your babies can be tricky and getting them home can be VERY tricky…
That dingo is quick! It moves on the roll of a die but generally moves faster than you early to mid game and if you control it you don’t have much ‘control’… You only decides where it goes if the distance between two Mama Wombats is equal.
So, for me, the mechanisms and thematic integration are great but it just felt like a ‘good’ game, and today, good ain’t good enough!
Note: The copy I played was a review copy generously provided by Eagle-Gryphon Games, big thanks to them for this game.