When I first got into Eurogames about six years ago, Clans and Hey, That’s My Fish! were two of the first games I learned. Both are simple area control games where all of the randomness takes place before the game begins.
In clans, five different tribes are equally spaced around the board, which contains four types of land (as well as assorted lakes). The board is broken up into sections of five areas each, but these sections are used only for setup: each section gets one hut of each color. Each player also takes a tile which shows his hut color, which he keeps a secret.
Gameplay is very simple: on your turn, you move all huts on a space into an adjacent space, where the space you’re moving to must also have huts in it. A group with seven or more huts cannot be moved, except into a larger group.
If your move causes a group to become isolated (meaning every adjacent area is empty), that forms a village. You take a scoring token from the side of the board and score the space. Here’s the interesting part: you may not know until the end of the game exactly who benefits from the scoring, because you score the colors and you don’t know what colors your opponents are! To score, you add up all of the huts and each tribe involved scores that many points. For example, if there are three blue huts and one yellow hut, yellow and blue get four points each.
However, there are two exceptions. First, the scoring tokens (which also act as the game timer) modify how much a village is worth. When you take a token, the land type pictured to the left of the token shows that you get a bonus for villages on that land type, while villages on the land type to the right of the token score no points. In the picture below, for example, taking the topmost token would add three points to a village in grasslands, but a village in forest would score nothing. The last village of the game is worth a bonus five points no matter where it is.
The second exception has to do with the number of different tribes living in the village. One, two, three, or even four tribes can live together in harmony, but if you get all five tribes together when the village is scored, they start fighting! At that point, anybody who has only one hut in the village gets kicked out. For example, if green and red had two huts each in a new village, blue had three, and yellow and black each had one, then yellow and black would be kicked out and green, red, and blue would score seven points each (plus any bonuses).
When the game ends, you reveal your color and add a point for each scoring token you took during the game; high score wins. The trick, of course, is to arrange things such that your huts end up scoring a lot of points, while wasting your opponents’ huts – preferably by putting a bunch of them in an area where they’ll score no points!
Clans takes two to four players, although a new player can give an advantage to the person playing after him by failing to see where he can make a village, thus allowing the next person to get extra points.
In Hey, That’s My Fish!, you control between two and four penguins (depending on the number of players), who are trying to eat as many fish as possible. The board is made up of a number of hexagonal tiles, each of which contains one, two, or three fish. At the start of the game, each penguin is placed on a one-fish tile.
A move consists of picking up any of your penguins and moving him as far as you like in any direction, subject to two restrictions: you can’t enter a tile that another penguin is already on, and you can’t jump over a hole. After moving, you pick up the tile you just moved off of and add it to your stack.
As the game goes on, the board will get smaller and smaller. While some players will attempt to grab bunches of three-fish tiles, more experienced players will concentrate on sectioning off the board, leaving large areas with only their penguins while cutting off their opponents’ penguins on small pieces of ice. Once you can no longer move, you pick up your penguins (along with the tiles they’re standing on) and count up your stack. Most fish wins!
Hey, That’s My Fish also takes two to four players; I find it to be quite good with two but a bit chaotic with four. Although the colorful penguins and simple rules may make it an attractive game for children, it has enough tactical depth to also be quite enjoyable for adults.