Poule Poule (2019) review
Making a movie can be a difficult process of casting the right people to fit the story. Choosing the scenery and settings while keeping everything under control and stopping outside influences from strolling in front of your camera. Balancing the action scenes with the plot points, to keep your audience guessing and enthralled. Not going over budget and finally, remembering that someone else has to edit this footage into the final film.
Poule Poule takes all of this and narrows it down into a fun and mind stimulating family card game. A game where one player will direct the movie by revealing cards, while other players are the movie editors, poised to make a cut at the right moment.
This memory and slightly mathematical puzzle is played out with a deck of cards. The deck can be set up for a very simple basic game, involving very few actors and props. With increasing difficulty levels depending on the amount of extra characters, walk on parts and additional props you wish to add. The game also offers some blank cards for you to draw your own characters and create extra rules of your own. Getting back to the basics game, your constructive a deck containing 10 chickens, 10 foxes, and 15 eggs. And the gameplay is very very simple…
One player would take on the role of a Director, who is making a film about Poule Poule. They will take the deck of cards and shuffle them ready to present to the other players, who are the Film Editors. The Director only want to see 5 uncovered eggs in their film. These editors will then watch the film reel that the Director has captured, as they play their film by revealing the top card of the deck. This will then be followed by the next card, which is placed on top of the first card. This continues at the speed the Director wishes to flick through their flic. And what the Editors are looking for is a place to cut the film. This cut should be when the fifth uncovered egg is revealed. This, in itself is very simple, as the Editor will slam their hand on the cards and shout, “Cut”. At which point the film stops rolling from the Director. Before anything else happens, any of the other Editors could challenge the one who has stopped the film, if they believe that they have missed counted the number of eggs. But if there is no challenge, this Editor wins themselfs one of three points, which are made up of egg shells. Winning three points, or completing the egg, will win you the game. But there’s a little more to it than what it sounds…
Remember that there’s not only eggs in this deck of cards but there are chickens and there are foxes, each of them has a role to play in this film. Whenever a chicken is revealed, if an egg has been played before it arrives in the scene, this chicken will sit on the egg. If there are no eggs in the film already or the previous eggs have been sat on by other chickens, this one walks off set. Remember that you are cutting the film directly after a fifth egg is available. Yes, you may have seen seven egg cards during the films playing, but how many of them were covered by chickens. And that is where the fox comes in. If a fox comes along and no chickens have been seen, it goes on its way. But if there is a chicken or two sat on an egg, guess what…? Let’s keep this child friendly. The Fox chases away one of these chickens, revealing the previously covered egg. This can throw a fun spanner in the works, as your brain is trying to recount from memory. And before you know it, someone has already won a point or lost a point if you are playing with a variant. After which the deck is passed to the next player and they become the Director.
You can probably tell by now if this game is for you or not. But I will add that you shouldn’t pre-judge this game juuuuuuuust yet. I would say that this is not only a game for children, but adults too can have great fun (especially when playing with all variants). The game is a simple memory game of adding one or minusing one every time a chicken or a fox comes along. Teaching your young ones logic and simple math while being a cerebral challenge for you and your drinking buddies, as there are 7 extra characters to play roles in these films. For example, the dog, who will wait around for the next fox to arrive and then chase it away. The ostrich egg that counts as two eggs, and cannot be sat on by the chicken. Or the farmer, who will collect all previously uncovered eggs, resetting your count to zero. As I mentioned earlier, there are blank cards for you to draw and create your one rules and characters. On top of that you can penalize players who make mistakes with incorrect gases or failed to call the bluff on another. All of this will add complexity and extend the extremely short five minute playing time into and longer challenging party game.
With a very interesting color palette and unique art style from Pauline Berdal (Kami) that makes every character unique and stand out from the others. This all leads to gameplay that is smooth and the roles of each character easy to differentiate. The rules themselves are extremely simple but deciphering them from this very small rulebook can be head scratching. Although the text is written in a lighthearted manner that reflects the theme of the game, it is unfortunately in a shorthand that you need to have some background on before you can play. Or at least watched a video on. Charles Bossart (75 Gnom' Street, Stumblewood) has found some interesting combinations in memory games to create and interesting rapid past time. Although the theme is very present on the cards, and kind of reflects cell by cell movie reels as you reveal the cards, it doesn’t translate well into the game and is quickly forgotten.
Once you know the rules, the gameplay is very very quickly. In fact, I've had some 5-minute games due to the fact that one player at the table was very observant and very speedy at cutting the film. Within 3 turns, they had won the game. This can sometimes destroy the morale of those who are not quick or retentive and put them off playing this game in the future. Sometimes while playing you will see these players slide out of the ambience of the game, leaving victory with a slightly sour taste in your mouth. So I can see this is probably just a fun game that adults can play to have a laugh. Or this is for adults who think that they are intelligent and can challenge each other with. But mainly I can see this game working with parents and their children. Possibly best with the parent playing the directing role throughout the game. Definitely a good laugh with 4 or more players. Anything less is a little drab, like being the Director and not being able to participate in a challenge or the count itself. The game states that it can go up to 8 players, although that maybe a squeeze around a table. But there's a good chance there's a lot of giggles and laughable arguments.
Oh, I forgot! I also was commissioned to create music for the game. You can find it on Spotify, Deezer and many more streaming sites.
Technical score 9/10
Sweet looking art, quality cards (with different coloured backs) and a small box that can travel anywhere. A good like insert for the cards but no baggie to hold the point making egg shells. The rulebook lets it down by using its own language and does not explaining these terms, that hinder learning the game.
My BGG score 7/10
Good - usually willing to play.
A game that pleases me and makes me feel clever. I am a sucker for this logical mathematical game. Enjoyable if you like challenging others with you reflexes and brain power (of counting 1,2,3…) Although, it's not everybody's cup of tea and playing with these players hinders the game. And again, the game can be unbalanced depending on the level of the players playing. A good quick filler game when you have a group of 4 or more.
Combined score 8/10
And now it’s over to you