Flock of Fame
Year Published: 2021
No. of Players: 2 - 8
Playing Time: 30 - 45 min
Main mechanic / Theme: Family Game, Set Collection, Take That
Birds of a feather make a pen-demic chicken game together.
Disclaimer: Publisher provided a copy of the game for this review.
This game was designed and completed during the Coronavirus Pandemic when this family of five took home five hatchlings from their son’s kindergarten class. Chicken keeping has apparently become quite a popular thing to do during this age of virus. This family was inspired by their new feathery family to make a board game full of chicken puns of famous people.
“A fast paced card game where you build your own coop of famous chickens to lay the most eggs. Attempt to form cliques of hens or pair them with roosters for bonus points. Stop your opponents progress with downgrades and predators, while protecting your chickens and upgrading you(r) coop. Beware of climate change and deadly outbreaks that unexpectedly change the course of the game. You never know when a hen may be lure away or your free range upgrade stolen, as you fight until the last card is laid! It’s a squawking good time.”
—description from the designer
Gameplay and Mechanics:
To preface this review, I played 1 3-player game and 1 2-player game, of which have slightly altered rules and card exclusions.
Flock of Fame is a very simple game. You have a hand of 7 and every turn you can play 1 action card, play 1 hen to your coop, have each hen lay 1 egg that you play from your hand, discard any number of cards from your hand, and finally redraw back to 7. In board game parlance, this game plays essentially like a “draw one play one” style of family game, though you actually go through the cards fairly quickly despite the massive size of the deck. But since the deck is enormous and resources are mixed in with actions, penalties, and hen cards, it leads to inevitable clumps no matter how well you shuffle. I suggest wash shuffling because the cards are grouped together and bridge shuffling cannot break up these groupings.
There are productive and disruptive cards that do things like protect your own chickens or steal from your opponent. Included are the infamous “Lose One Turn” and “Everything Dies” cards that are very polarizing in today's modern games climate. I always found the optimal strategy was to make sure others lost their ability to play with the repeated use of these cards, which wasn’t fun for me or others at the table, who also hate those infamous mechanics. Just make sure your game group doesn’t mind those types of cards. The jury is still out if mechanics like these deserve to live on in modern games.
Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout:
The theme is quite cute, and the story behind it’s conception is very wholesome. Many of the pun names and references were grade A. I could feel that this must have been a fun game to make. However, as a professional artist and graphic designer, it’s obvious to me that the illustrations were not professionally drawn, nor are the cards, or rulebook well designed. Some may find the amateur art style charming, but as a professional, I unfortunately do not appreciate the inconsistencies in the vectors, or the copy and pasted elements. Luckily it is a simple game, so we were not outright sabotaged by the layout, though we were occasionally foiled by ambiguous card wording.
The famous people referenced varied in gender and race, but were largely American pop culture, political, scientific, and historical icons. It is ethnocentric to western cultures, so people with international backgrounds may not understand many of the references. As an American with friends in STEM, I appreciated the representation of important female figures especially in the sciences, who may be less well known.
The pun theme and the chicken pandemic context were a strong combination. I think the game could win people over with the jokes, family background story, and proceed donations alone. A game like this will be great for a few laughs in a casual gaming family setting. I appreciated mechanics that were constructive and flavorful, like the Easter Bunny, Generous Neighbor, and Free Scramble, rather than destructive and exclusionary like Poopy Coopy, Salmonella, and Tornado.
This game is similar to Uno and other such simple family card games, though the pacing is slower and slightly more complex. I can tell a lot of love went into this game and it would be appropriate to make a few copies for friends and family to have, however it is attempting to market to an outside audience and has been sent for review, which it doesn’t feel ready for. If the backstory and the portions of the proceeds going towards those in need is enough to convince you, the game will at least entertain you with funny names and randomness. Though the gameplay is probably best for children, many of the name references will probably fly over their heads for the parents instead to enjoy. I certainly chuckled at the punny references. Overall, I think this game is missing one last step in visual polish and text editing, as well as some critical thinking about the inclusion of polarizing mechanics like “skip one turn.” For the right family, it is a simple funny game utilizing classic family card game mechanics.