Another Market Day has come to the farm. As we scramble to gather animals for Farmer Brown, I fear that I will once again be duped by my fellow farm hands. I’ve tried so very hard to get the most, and best, farm animals, but I always seem to fail. Every time I think I’m going to get three sheep, they always end up being crows in disguise, and Farmer Brown DOES NOT like crows. I know, I know. How can someone mistake crows for sheep? If you saw them, I think you would be just as convinced as I was. The other farm hands like to try to trick each other and I am the only one who still falls for the bluff. *sigh* One day I WILL get those sheep, and ya know what, they WILL actually be sheep!
Barnyard Roundup will be the first title released by Druid City Games and designer James Hudson. This is a light bluffing game that is family friendly and a good tool to teach kids the bluffing mechanic, as well as what it means to be correct.
- 2-6 Players
- 10-20 Minutes
- Age 6+
Barnyard Roundup is a light bluffing game, where players are trying to gather the most valuable animals to bring to Farmer Brown on Market Day. Players will pass any number of the same animal to another player, and they will either bluff the animals or tell the truth. The player being passed the animals must decide whether or not the player passing is lying or not. If the player passing successfully pulls of their bluff they will get the animals and place them in their Pen. If the other player is correct they will get the animals. The unsuccessful party will get crows if they are the animals being bluffed away. Other players also have the opportunity to intercede and try to take cards for themselves. At the end players will count their points and any bonuses they earn. The player with the most points will be declared the winner.
Tending To The Farm
The Setup (for a 4 player game):
Place the 5 Animal Bonus Cards in the center of the table descending from the cow (5) to the chicken (1). Place the Set Bonus Cards in a stack near the Animal Bonus Cards, then shuffle the draw deck and set it aside. There should be one Robber Token and one Excuse Me! token per player; place these face down on the table then mix them up. Each player will take one token and keep it secret. Once players have taken their tokens, add in the Scarecrow token and mix up the pile. Now it’s time to deal out the cards. Deal each player 6 cards, then remove 8 cards from the deck and set them aside. This prevents players from card counting during the game.
The player who has most recently visited a farm will be the first player.
How To Play:
There are three actions that players will take on their turn:
- Bluff a Farm Animal Card or Cards
- Player may play a token
- This can be before or after the bluff
- End their turn by drawing back up to the hand limit
During the bluff, players may pass 1-6 cards to another player and say that they are that number of some type of animal. When bluffing you may never combine animals. For example: If you pass three cards to another player and say that they are sheep, the cards may be either all sheep, if you are telling the truth, or they will all be the same of another type of animal. You may not call the three cards sheep and then try to pass 2 pigs and a crow. They must be either all pigs, all crows, or all sheep. Crows must always be bluffed as some other animal, so you could never pass cards and say, “These are three crows.”
Once the bluff has been made, the player receiving the cards must determine whether or not the current player is telling the truth or lying. If the receiving player is correct, they will receive the animals being passed. If they are incorrect, the current player will get their animals back. In the case where the animals being bluffed are crows, the player who lost the bluff phase would receive the crows. All animals gained during the bluffing phase will be placed in front of the player gaining the animals; this area is called, “The Pen.” Once the current player has completed their turn, they will draw up to the hand limit and play will continue until the draw deck runs out.
Players begin the game with one token. Whenever a player gets three crows in their pen, they get to draw a new token– this is the only way to gain tokens during the game. Once a token is played, it will get mixed back into the token pile.
There are three different types of tokens:
- Excuse Me!
- The Robber
- The Scarecrow
Excuse Me! tokens are played during bluffing phase. Once the current player has made the bluff, the player who would like to use their Excuse Me! token will flip it over and say, “Excuse me!” The player who was originally being passed the cards is no longer allowed to guess whether the current player is lying or not. The player who played the Excuse Me! token now has the opportunity to make a guess and gain the cards being passed. The bluffing phase will then continue as normal. The Excuse Me! Token can be used up until the time that the cards being passed are flipped over. Even if the original target player has made their guess, a player may still play their Excuse Me! as long as cards have not been flipped. Only one Excuse Me! Token can be played per bluff.
The Robber tokens are played during the current players turn and may be played before or after the bluff. When the Robber is played, the current player will ask another player for a type of animal (crows are excluded). If the player being asked has those animals, they must give all of that type of animal to the asking player and they are then placed into that player’s Pen; the player being targeted then draws back up to the hand limit. If the player being targeted by the Robber does not have that type of animal, the player who played the Robber, will get nothing. If the target player does not have the type of animal they are being asked for, but they have crows, the player who played the Robber, would receive the crows instead, and they will go into that player’s Pen.
The Scarecrow token is played immediately after being drawn, and it is the only way for a player to get crows out of their Pen. When the Scarecrow is drawn, it will scare away the last three crows in a player’s Pen. The player will distribute those crows evenly amongst the other players. So, in the case of a 4 player game, each other player will receive a crow. If there are more crows than other players, the left over crows are removed from the game. Once the player who drew the Scarecrow has finished getting rid of their crows, the Scarecrow token is returned to the token pile and mixed in.
End Of Game And Scoring
The game will end immediately when the last card is drawn from the draw deck. This could occur after a player loses cards to the Robber token, or as a player draws back up to the hand limit at the end of their turn.
For scoring, first determine who has the most of each type of animal in their Pen. The players with the most of a type of animal will receive the +5 Animal Bonus Card for that animal. Next determine who made a set of 1-5. Players able to complete a set will receive a 10+ Bonus Set Card per set they have made. Once these are out, players will add together their bonus cards and their animal cards, then subtract any crows. The number on each animal card is also their point value. The player with the highest amount of points is declared the winner.
Farmer Brown Approves
Honestly, I am not a big fan of bluffing games. Specifically, I’ve never really liked games like Cockroach Poker or Skull. Mostly, I’m just really terrible at bluffing. So, it is a rare occasion when I say that there is a bluffing game I actually like. Barnyard Roundup is really fun for me, and I think that it is because it has more to do with point acquisition than it does player elimination.
For me, Skull and Cockroach Poker aren’t fun because of the elimination aspect. With Barnyard, I actually feel like I am playing a game, I feel like I’m working towards something. Even though it shares similarities to Cockroach Poker, they are two very distinct games. There is slightly more strategy going on in Barnyard, in my opinion. Who you pick to pass your bluff to could potentially hurt you and help them gain a bonus in the process. Also, this is a game where you feel like you have earned your win. There is no single loser, so no one feels shamed at the end either… Well at least not shamed alone.
As an adult, the theme isn’t really my thing, but the designer created the game with his young children in mind. That being said, the theme is definitely fitting for its target audience. It’s cohesive, and makes sense with what you are ultimately trying to accomplish. Parents can enjoy the game’s mechanics and kids can get excited by the theme. This game also provides an easy way to teach children some intro bluffing mechanics, and it is a great way to get them ready to start playing deeper games. Because this game is fun at any age, it can also grow with your children. As they leave the fun of the theme behind, they can transition to working on and perfecting their own strategies.
Mechanically, the game is sound. However, I would like the instructions for token use to be clarified. For example, I’d like to know if a player could use a Scarecrow token on their own bluff. Having that sussed out would be great. What I really love though, is that the rulebook, overall, includes a lot of really good examples of play, as well as a nice display of setup. It is easy to ready and easy to learn the game from.
Overall, I have really enjoyed getting to learn and play Barnyard Roundup. It is quick, simple, and a lot of fun. It’s super accessible to a wide range of ages and skill levels. If I have to play a bluffing game, it will be this one.
The game will go live on Kickstarter on July 15, 2016. So, if you’d like to grab a copy of this game for you and your family, be on the look out for it then.
Once the campaign is live, I will add in a link to the Kickstarter.
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