By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on March 5, 2019
Welcome to the colourful forest, where bugs try to make their way home and very friendly Echidnas roam the forest floor, happily giving the travelling bugs a ride to their destination. These Echidnas don't mind taking these bugs along, who jump on and off like tourists on the double-decker busses in London. Only without the actual London, busses and tourists. Besides, busses in a forest would just be silly, wouldn't you agree?
Echidna Shuffle is designed by Kris Gould and published by Wattsalpoag Games. The box looks good and has a very good insert for all components. Inside, you'll find twelve echidnas, a double-sided game board and a double-sided number board. There are three of each kind of bug, like: ladybugs, butterflies, ants, bees, grasshoppers or beetles. Each group of bugs has its very own colour and comes with three stumps in the same colour. Aside from all of this, the game comes with a two to seven special die and a dozen markers and tokens.
The game is setup with all the echidnas on the board. Each player chooses a colour, or bug type, and take three stumps, a pick-up marker and a number marker in their chosen bug's colour. Then all players choose a pick-up space and place their marker. After that, the three stumps are handed over to the player to their left, who will then place them on the board. The number markers will be placed near the number board which, in turn, has been placed next to the game board. The number board's purpose is to eliminate the luck factor of rolling the die. Personally, I don't mind the luck factor too much, so I played most of my games without the number board. After everything is set up, the starting player gets the die and it's, as they say: let the games begin!
During the game, it is allowed to move every echidna, whether it's carrying a bug or not. You can choose to move one echidna for multiple spaces or move a combination of multiple echidnas. As long as you follow the arrows and you don't end up on a space with another echidna on it, you'll be fine. There's one thing to keep in mind, though; you are also not allowed to jump over other echidnas. When another echidna is in your way, you'll have to move it out of the way first, before moving the echidna you originally had in mind.
While all the echidnas happily wander around the forest, a player's bug can jump onto the back of an empty echidna when he is visiting their pick-up space. When that same echidna steps onto a space with a stump in the same colour as the bug riding along, that bug has returned home and ends up on the stump. When all three of your bugs are brought home safely, you win the game!
The overall look of the game is fantastic; when it's all laid out with the echidnas and bugs on the board, the game looks very nice and colourful and everybody just has to become happy instantly. The board has two sides, which adds variety to the game and gives the game a different look, but also a different setup as the arrows are now pointing in other directions and, with that, the flow of movement has changed.
In essence, Echidna Shuffle is a board game aimed at kids, mostly due the bright colour scheme and the overly cute look of the components. The gameplay is straightforward and simple to understand, even for younger children. Nevertheless, the game is also suited for children of a somewhat older age; it has enough depth to it and offers much in the way of pestering each other. This is mainly due to the fact that everybody is allowed to move every echidna, which can lead to you having to travel the board in a complete different way as you initially planned. As an adult, this game has a lot to offer when playing it together with your children. I wouldn't recommend this game for a adult only group of players, unless you all have a playful mindset.
Although my oldest son is not yet old enough to play Echidna Shuffle, he is already very eager to do so. Every time he catches a glimpse of the box, he wants to play with the bugs and the echidnas. And even though he isn't even three years old, he already likes pinning the bugs on the backs of the echidnas, naming the colours and even the names of the different bugs. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to share the joy of playing this game with him.
Year of release: 2018
Designer: Kris Gould
Artist: Damon Brown
Players: 2 - 4 players, ages 6 & up
Playtime: approx. 30 minutes