Published by: Breaking Games
# of Players: 2 to 6
4 the Birds comes with some very colorful and eye catching components. Each player will have 6 birds of their color and a deck of square cards to use as special actions. The birds are cardboard in 2 pieces that create standees. The art on the birds is very unique and I found it to grab players to the table. When the birds are on the board they can be very hard to tell apart such as the red and orange, and the purple, Hawks, and Crows. To solve that we had our birds face us at the table and the non-playable birds face a different direction from all the players. The board is very color full and contains a 9x9 grid with numbered spaces to place birds on. Branches will connect to the various spots to show different areas that can be moved to. The first printing of the rules is on a double sided sheet with no illustrations. When I received the game, I was informed that future printings will include illustrations to help understand the rules. The rules themselves are actually very easy to understand and should not take long to learn. I am curious as to why square cards were chosen instead of a regular size card. They work fine with the game, but just seems like an odd touch. Everything stores well inside the box though you may want to invest in baggies to separate the different birds.
4 the Birds is an abstract strategy game like Checkers or Go. The goal is to get 4 of your birds either in adjacent spots or in a straight line connected by branches. Each player will start with 6 birds and a deck of six action cards. During set up, a player will roll the 2 dice 3 times, placing Crows at these spots. If a Hawk is rolled on a die, you will place a Hawk instead. Depending on the number of players, the board will either be 7x7 or 9x9 grid and use 2D8 or 2D10 dice. Players take turns going clockwise from the first player. The player will roll 2 dice and either place a bird on the spot or play an action card. If they are placing one of their birds, they will select a spot based on the roll. For example, if I roll a 2 and a 7, I can place my bird at 27 or 72. If a spot is occupied, you can displace the bird if you have pecking order over it. Each player has pecking order over the player to their left. If you roll a Crow on the black die, you will place a crow on any spot along the line of number that the other die was rolled. For example if I roll Crow and 4, I can place the crow in any of the 40s spaces or any space that ends in 4. If there is a another bird in the space, that bird becomes displaced and must slide over to an available space. If it can not do so, the bird will fly back to the owner's supply to be placed on a new turn. If a Hawk is rolled on a brown die, you will place that Hawk on any "x" (crossing branches that has a red dot in the middle) and all birds that have branches connecting to the Hawk must move away from that space. If you decide you do not want to place a bird, crow, or hawk, you can play one of your six action cards. This will let you do a special action like move a bird 2 spaces or place a hawk anywhere of your choice. If you roll doubles, you get to pick up the top card of discard pile and add it back to your hand. Once everything has been resolved it is the next player's turn. Once a person has accomplished 4 in a straight line or adjacent, they win the game.
4 the Birds did not hit my radar till right before Origins. No matter if it is at a convention, a brick and mortar store, or online pictures and reviews, the art and color will grab your attention. 4 the Birds is a game that will play well with a family of all ages. If your kids are bored of connect 4 or tic tac toe, then this is a great step up for them. While you still have the element of trying to get 4 in a row or set, the strategy and action cards set it above the standard of those games. I played this all adults a few times and we were very cutthroat with each other and it felt like Chess in trying to lock down the King for a checkmate. The game claims to play in 20 to 30 minutes, and that is true if you are playing with kids and young adults. However, if you are just playing with adults, you can expect a play time around an hour or longer depending on number or players and how aggressive everyone is. I wish the birds were a little easier to tell apart as the colors do blend with each other. The action cards provide some great strategy options and I like the way of rolling doubles gives you the top card back. While this is not as heavy thinking as Chess, it does provide a step up from a lot of abstract strategy games that target younger audiences. I enjoyed playing it, though waiting for others to take their turn in larger player counts can be boring and the game feels the best if it ends in under 30 minutes. I would recommend this one to families, especially those that are wanting to expand their child's gaming options. I will be gifting my copy to a family I know that will enjoy this with their young kids who are approaching this depth of a game.
+ Color and Art stand out and bring players to the game
+ Action cards add a layer of strategy to the game that reduces randomness of dice
+ Easy to learn and teach
+Appeals to a wide age range and experience level
- Some of the bird colors are very similar and hard to tell apart
- Not for your Heavy gaming group
- Could use baggies to store the different birds