I’m the King of the Castle, and the publisher for this game is a Dirty Rascal! That’s right, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to play the preview copy of Dirty Rascal Games’ Survival of the Fattest. Whilst I don’t usually like to explain how to play games in a review, it’s necessary for Kickstarter preview games as few people else will know how to play.
Survival of the Fattest is a family friendly hybrid worker placement and deckbuilding game where you’re taking the role of one of several animals ranging in size from a bear to a very small bird, trying to grab enough food to last you through the winter, but also squirrelling away food to complete recipes for nice meals during the hibernation season in return for victory points at the end of Autumn.
This is done by sending your respective animal to one of three locations where you can snag some mystery ingredients, the trading post where you can… well, trade your food for something which might work better for you, and the market where you can snag – or potentially complete a recipe.
You also have your own tableau where you can reserve recipes, or put completed recipes for bonuses. It also contains your stash where you can place ingredients to complete recipes later on.
You play through three seasons which gives you time to complete recipes, but the most interesting thing is that if you don’t manage to feed your animal during these three seasons, then all of the work you have done will be for naught because your animal will be an ex-animal.
Survival of the Fattest at first glance seems to be pretty sweetness and light, but there’s an undercurrent of meanness that can run through it with trap cards. Thematically brilliant, these actually clog up your hand until you either add them to your stash or add them to your discard and hope you don’t draw another one. These trap cards can make their way into your hand through either you accidentally nabbing one from the foraging spaces or you could be given one by another player depending on their player powers.
The first thing I really want to mention is that even though this is a pre-production copy of Survival of the Fattest, the quality of the standees, cards and mini’s was fantastic, and the art which is all done by Lee Smith, is totally charming, which made me want to get the game to the table in the first place.
The second thing I’d really like to mention is that it is very clear that a lot of thought and testing went into the asymmetric player powers, also with theme kept in mind at all times. For example, Lottie the Otter gets to have a look at the top three cards in the Pebblebrook foraging space because of her water based home. Or, Huni and Bunz being a pair of rabbits can actually visit two different spaces on your turn opening up your options for what to do on your turn. This also reminds me that each player has their own types of tricks that they can play on their turn to give them an advantage – another detail which adds to the depth; but not complexity of the game.
I’m not going to mince my words here: I really enjoyed playing Survival of the Fattest and honestly, I was pretty sad that I couldn’t get it to the table a couple more times before sending it back. I’d liked to have been able to try it out with my children, but even with three adults… OK, two adults and a manchild, we were all gripped enough to get it back to the table a couple of times after the kids were in bed.
The biggest surprise for me was how much we were able to game the game as long standing board gamers. In our first game, someone was playing as Lottie and managed to complete some recipes which gave her bonuses which she was able to milk to maximum effect making us all look bad.
Conversely though, one of the players did have somewhat of a sucky first game though. As I mentioned the frustrations of trap cards, as you can see, he didn’t fare too well.
In closing, I’d just like to say that I was genuinely gutted that I couldn’t keep this game. However, I have joined an approximate 2000 other people waiting to be notified once the Kickstarter goes live. I’ll be backing Survival of the Fattest for sure and I’m grateful to have gotten my mitts on it already.
Adult and Manchild rating: 8.5/10
Survival of the Fattest is live on Kickstarter