Posted by: gschloesser | August 2, 2011

Galloping Pigs

Designer:  Heinz Meister
Published by:  Rio Grande Games & Abacus Spiele
Players:  2 – 4, 30 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser  

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This review first appeared in Moves Magazine #106 

OK … I can understand some racing games.  I mean, it’s pretty logical to race cars – stock cars, Indy cars, even dragsters.  Heck, there have been dozens of games based on the racing of all types of vehicles, including bicycles, hot air balloons, boats and even rickshaws.  And let’s not forget our friends the animals.  The most obvious racing animal would be the horse.  Horse racing is pretty popular – I can think of nearly a dozen games based on the equestrian sport.  Other animals have not been left out of this racing frenzy, however.  The gaming world has been blessed with games based on the racing of dogs, rabbits and tortoises, elephants, hedgehogs and even worms.  But pigs?  C’mon … when will this all end?  And more importantly, when will the humane society step in and object? 

I guess technically speaking, Galloping Pigs (Schweines Gallop in German) is not really about racing pigs.  It’s more about ‘leap-frogging’ pigs, which is an equally bizarre concept, if you think about it.  

This is what I call a ‘frame of mind’ game: you have to be in the right ‘frame of mind’ in order to truly enjoy the game. If you take this one too seriously, you’ll be greatly disappointed.  However, if you enter the game imagining the humor of running and leaping pigs, and realizing that the game involves minimal skill, you can have a grand old time.

The game comes complete with a deck of small, yet sturdy cards picturing pigs in five different colors.  In addition, there are cards depicting an assortment of vegetables and sections of a race track. But so much more important are the five colored plastic pigs. The game just wouldn’t be the same using wooden cubes or cylinders to represent the pigs. Its just gotta have 3-D pigs … and it does! 

The track consists of individual cards and is laid out in an oval fashion.  The plastic pigs are then placed in a line at the starting gate, which can really be any spot along the track. Each player is then dealt seven ‘pig’ cards at random.  The vegetable cards are stacked in the center of the track. 

The idea of the game is simple enough: play a card and move the correspondingly colored pig forward, leaping over any pigs which lie on the track before it. If the move causes that pig to leap into the lead, then you can take a vegetable card. Carrots, potatoes, turnips, lettuce, corn … it doesn’t matter which type of vegetable you acquire (well, I guess it matters to the pigs!); they are all the same. 

If the move doesn’t cause the pig you moved to leap into the lead, you do not take a vegetable card.  No food for the piggies. 

Play continues in this fashion until all players have played their seven cards. If the final card each player plays in a round causes that pig to leap into the lead, the player gets to keep all of the vegetable cards he collected that round. If not, he loses ALL of the vegetable cards he collected that round. The pigs are then re-set at the starting gate and another round is played. Play a pre-determined number of rounds (we play three) and the player who has collected the most food cards wins. That’s it! 

In spite of its simplicity, there are some fairly basic strategies to employ.  Players should examine their hands to determine which ‘pig’ color they possess in the greatest quantity.  It is wise to play most of these cards to keep that pig in the front pack, particularly if a group of pigs makes a breakaway from the rest of the herd.  (OK … this is sounding silly!).  Make sure you conserve one of these cards, however, as your final card so that you can leap that pig into the lead with your final move.  This insures that you will keep all of the vegetable cards you collected during the round. 

Sure, it’s very simple and is clearly designed for a younger audience.  Ahhhh … but to play this game making pig grunts and noises, rooting for the various colored pigs, shouting ‘sooey‘ at various points … this truly becomes a game for the ages!  Well, OK .. maybe not a game for the ages, but it still can be loads of fun.

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