“Welcome to the Duck Sanctuary! Come enjoy the company of the ducks while visiting the different locations around the park.” “This game will Quack you up!”
Ducks in Tow is a 2-4 player Pick Up and Deliver game designed by Stephanie Kwok, with artwork by Andrew Bosley and published by First Fish Games. This game is currently on Kickstarter. Click through to check it out!
Box Game Length: 30-60 Minutes Actual Playtime: 30-60 Minutes
Setup Time: 5 minutes
Player Count: 2-4 Players
Game Mechanics: Pick Up and Deliver, Set Collecting and Pattern Building.
Game Weight: No current BGG rating, however, it’s definitely a lighter game, I would expect this to hover around 2.
Thematic Integration: High! This is one of the most unique integrations of theme and game components I’ve seen in a game with the ability to actually pull your duck friends around the park after you’ve collected them.
Objective: To make friends with all the ducks in the park of course! To do this, you feed them their favourite food and then take them to their favourite location which will allow you to complete location cards for points. Yay! Duck friends!
Game Round Summary: During your turn, you can choose to do up to 4 actions in any order or combination. Of the 4 actions, there are basic actions or special tile actions described below.
When you are done doing actions, you must disperse any ducks that you’ve removed from your tow from either completing a location card or from adopting.
First to complete a set number of location cards or when all formation cards are taken the game will end, all other players will get one more turn.
1- Move: To an adjacent tile.
2- Feed: As many ducks as you choose. Food must match the colour of duck and then add the duck/s to your tow! (This is the super cute and fun part!)
3- Shake the Bag: Randomly draw a duck from the duck bag. If you have food of the matching colour, you may add the duck to your tow. If you choose not to add the duck (because you don’t want to) or if you don’t have matching food, you must disperse the duck.
4- Drop Off: (This is the meat of the game) Turn in the ducks needed to complete a location card. Remember, you must be on that location tile to complete the location card. You can even complete multiple location cards if you’ve made enough duck friends!
Add the completed location card to either the right or left of previously completely location cards. This will matter for completing the longest rows of matching ducks, (how you score points) and for scoring formation cards.
Special Tile Actions:
1- The Gift Shop (seeds and Polaroid icon on tile): You may gain 2 food of your choice from the food bag, discard down to 4 food OR draw two location cards from the available face up cards or from the top of the deck, discard down to 4 cards.
2- Adopt (hearts icon on tile): Remove 2 ducks from your tow and keep one which will be placed on one of your completed location cards matching the colour of the duck on the card. Again, this is important for completing your longest rows of different coloured ducks as well as for scoring formation cards.
*You may also claim a formation card which wants a specific formation or pattern of duck. This does not require an action.
Artwork: Artwork is by Andrew Bosley, artist for Everdell, so he doesn’t needs much of an introduction. His style is beautiful, soft, and perfect for a game about exploring a park and making friends with ducks. His use of colour and soft edges makes this game feel as cutesie as you’d hope.
Components: Please keep in mind that I did receive a prototype, so the final product will vary, however, for a prototype, the quality of the components, especially the player meeples and tow are excellent. But more so, it’s really an ingenious design.
So rarely do you come across something so very unique in a game. Particularly for a pick up and deliver, you typically “pick up” whatever item you need and then store it on a player board or in front of you, then you “deliver” it by returning it to the supply.
With the meeple and attached tow, you actually add the item, in this case, the ducks to your tow and you drag them around the board with you to where you need to deliver them. Ugh, so so so good!
Scales Based on Player Count: Most of the game scales based on player count really well. The tile set up at the start of the game, the location cards as a result of the tiles used, the quantity of each colour of duck used and finally the number of location cards or formation cards needed to end the game. Everything feels quite balanced between the different player counts.
The only difference I would say with playing with 2 VS 3 VS 4 players is that because each player takes their turn in full before continuing to the next player, you can plan your turn and often not have that turn change when playing with a lower player count.
With a higher player count, the location card, ducks, and formation cards you might have wanted might not be there when it comes around to your turn, it’s not a bad thing, it’s just that you might take longer to decide what to do when it comes back to your turn. So AP definitely increases as the player count does.
I would say in my plays, I’ve preferred my 2 and 3 player counts more than 4, but all player counts have been thoroughly enjoyable.
Replayability: The set up at the start of the game is different with each player count but also with tiles used if playing at a lower player count therefore which location cards are available.
There’s a HUGE stack of different location cards to be used so each game will offer some variety in game play, the basics are however the same as it’s a fairly simple game. With that said, that huge stack of cards and varying set up will offer enough variety to keep you busy for a long time!
Overall Thoughts: With three games under their belt, Get Off My Land, Town Builder: Coevorden, and now Ducks in Tow; First Fish Games is really starting to make a name for themselves in the board game world. Their designs are thoughtful, cute, with beautiful artwork and components and excellent game play. The games are family friendly and great for new gamers.
This game is no different, it offers a fun gaming experience without being bogged down by rule after rule, it’s fast and cute AF. If you think this is something you’d like, they are on Kickstarter right now and with both previous projects fulfilled without a hitch, this one is a safe bet!