Hippo (2017) Review
During the holidays, we often look for a way to take the most games with us. Thus, when we have less space, we do not hesitate to mix boxes, using the largest to carry several other smaller games. A clever system, but that can sometimes be a bit problematic to navigate. It is true that the current trend for publishers is to make more larger game boxes without the content following. We end up with boxes sadly half empty or with thermoformages that hide miseries. In a context of lack of spaces, this notion can be used as motivation in the purchase factor or on the contrary, be a cause of non-purchase.
Helvetiq understood this problem in a new range of games. Here, we are close to the Japanese "minimalism" in terms of size and content. Small box, little material but a fast game that works and is not just there to make a tapestry. So I have decided to tell you about this range that surprised us pleasantly. The first one on the grill is the recent Hippo.
Hippo is a game by Martin Nedergaard Andersen to whom we owe especially the famous Bandido which launched this range. The few illustrations are from Sarah Bourquin who has already operated on the friendly Forest. You’ll be facing a fast game of around ten minutes, open to players as young as six.
The game consists of three dice, small cardboard buoy tokens in the colors of the four players, and twelve box-size tiles that act as pools. After taking the time to align the tiles in numerical order (normally it's not too complicated), you're ready to play. Each player has twelve tokens. The goal of the game is to be the first to get rid of all of these tokens. If that happens, it's an immediate victory.
On each players turn, you will roll the three dice. Once the three figures are obtained, the player whose turn it is will be able to try to get rid of their tokens. For this, they will be able to put them in the pools according to the numbers. So you can choose to put a token on the three numbers or combine the dice values to make stronger combinations (but in this case discard less tokens).
But beware, in the pool there are not enough places for everyone. On pools 1 to 6, you have three possible lines, each of which can accommodate a buoy. From 8 to 12, there are only two locations per digit. So when you have to put a buoy and there are no more places where you want to go, you just push everyone. In other words, the player whose chip is thrown out of the pool, retrieves it and will have to get rid of it again on a future turn. Simple but cunning.
As you have probably noticed, there is a number I did not tell you about: 7. The 7 is a special combination that gives the right to a special action. Pool 7 is occupied by Hippo. He decided to help you all. Thus, on his space, there is no expulsion. All buoys are welcome. But that's not all. Hippo to thank you for playing with him, even allows you to take another turn. And this, without limitation. In other words, if the turn after you redo a seven, you start again. And so on.
As you have probably deduced, Hippo is a little dice game where luck is important. It can happen that in a turn, a player gets rid of all or almost all their dice without the others to stop them. But Hippo is above all a simple, fast and fun game.
It's great accessibility makes it possible to play in families big or small without problems. This is one of it great strengths because you can easily play with the youngest. The rules are explained in a few seconds and the games can be linked quite quickly. The youngest will even see a way to learn the calculations without really feeling it. The little cunning side of the game is a real pleasure. Expelling another to settle a score will make you laugh through your little smile. We then witness a reversal of the environment factor situation.
Pool 7 provides a safe place for the youngest children, where they can make a roll feel safer and less likely to be excluded from a location. Although it ultimately makes the game easier, it also allows the game not to drag on. Which is a big plus for this type of game.
For the big players, as much as you prepare for it, you will finally have little influence on the game. The strategy is quite limited and the degree of action too. Repetitiveness can sometimes show it’s ugly head. This aspect is however counterbalanced by short and lively games.
It can of course be blamed for being too easy (I think in particular with the pool 7) or its buoys tokens being a bit below the quality of the rest. This remains quite minimal and not at all disturbing especially when compared to the proposed price. By cons, two players, the game loses its interest, the available space being too important to effectively benefit from the exclusion system. From three players, it works very well.
Very simple, quick to install and offering short games, it is ideal as an aperitif game or as a travel game. Easy to carry thanks to a very small box, the game is ideal to accompany you on vacation and to be played in any type of transport, especially with young. The turns are linked quickly, the game is dynamic and has no timeouts. In its category, Hippo will find his audience and especially entertain you.
Technical note 8/10
We can blame the cheap side of the buoys tokens compared to the rest of the components. The rules are simple and well written. The game offers a pretty cute look that can be easily apprehended by the whole family and any type of players. Its small size ensures a transportability difficult to beat.
My score BGG 7/10
(Good - usually willing to play)
Simple, fun, fast. We are clearly in a range of games studied to provide immediate pleasure. Hippo adapts to any type of audience (especially family and child) and allows to spend a short time without getting bored. Random allergic move your way. Its short duration clearly plays in its favor compared to what it brings in terms of gameplay and sensations.
Combined score of 7.5 / 10
And now it's up to you...