01/12/2021

Kittin: Grab and stack the colourful cats! [Review]

Despite being a dog-person, I shut no door for cats, only if they are cute enough. Even though it feels like they always have this evil plan to conquer the world, I think board games with felines has been selling in the past few years. If you remember, we have seen The Isle of Cats and Calico in Kickstarter. Kittin (and its cousin Tinderblox) was crowdfunded via the same platform in Q1 2020. Both titles are showcased in small tin boxes. Out of topic, the only grumpy cat on the cover is my spirit animal. How well can this kindle of Kittins entertain me and my group? Anyway, during your time reading, try to find as many cat puns as possible.

Disclaimer: I am an avid euro gamer and a hardcore Legend of the Five Rings LCG player. I am not a fan of solo game/variant. This statement will give you an overview of what kind of bias I might have while writing.

I’m not sure why I backed this project at the first place. Maybe because I thought the cover looked interesting and funny. Perhaps my decision was driven by the fact that Kittin is a dexterity game, a genre I’m currently lacking in my board game shelf. Certainly people who understand me so well may think that I am out of my mind purchasing this one (read my disclaimer). However, Kittin has shown me how effective it is to attract casual players and even those who have never played tabletop before. Here’s a purr-fect preview video from Board Game Geek.

This video was on-air during the SPIEL.Digital 2020, a way to accommodate the cancelled SPIEL Essen this year.

KITTIN’S FIRST IMPRESSION, WILL IT CHANGE?

After reading the rulebook, Kittin has that feel as if it were a light version of Tuki. The game revolves around the fastest to build a tower of cats based on the drawn cards. The structure has to be exactly the same as depicted in the card. While Tuki lies more in the zen-game spectrum where your sole reason playing is to solve the puzzle, Kittin offers a slice of chaos in the game flow. My first trial was loud and messy, yet I felt the fun. So fur so good!

Another reason to cherish Kittin is its compact size. Most games nowadays tend to get packed inside a huge box, what a monstrosity. All components in Kitten can be neatly stored in the white tin can. I often travel a lot, so this is truly a blessing for me and fellow travelers who like board game. In addition, it saves space to store it in our shelf. In my humble opinion, the conventional corrugated cardboard would have been more lovable. Nevertheless, it’s all cosmetic, so I don’t really mind it.

EXPERIENCE WITH KITTIN

Kittin
Well, try to spot which cat is my spirit animal. I feel sorry for him/her.

Chaotic and loud, it would be best not to play Kittin in the evening, especially with high player count. The tension is felt even before flipping the card. In a short period of time, your brain does multiple tasks together. Starting from pattern recognition, pattern building via stacking, the mayhem ends up when someone meows, telling others to stop because he/she wins the round. Yes, you read it just right, one must meow to give the cue. As ridiculous as it sounds, you can always tune this dopiness by just normally yelling “Finish!” Truth be told, Kittin is meant to be silly. It is a party game after all.

Despite the silliness from the meowing, the game flow is not stupid at all. Just like Tuki, players need to solve sets of puzzles to win the game. Instead of eliminating players, here we just have to win the race three times to be the champion among cats. Unlike Tuki, each player starts with nothing. The pieces are the colourful cats in different poses, scattered in the middle of the table. Players must take the appropriate pieces for the current structure before building. The different shapes prove that it’s not an easy feat to differentiate them amidst the disarray. You must cat fight the other players to take the pieces needed to build the pattern.

Kittin
There are six different cats in various colours and shapes.

Your job does not end there. Sometimes, we got distracted so much there was this “Wait a minute! I build in the wrong direction!” meow-ment. And the task goes on, you need to start over if you mess up so big, especially on the base. As a fast-paced game, Kittin lasts up to 20 minutes top, but this really depends on the number of players.

Recommended player counts

Kittin
The structure has to be exact as shown on the card.

We played up to 5 players and it was already crazy enough. Caezar Al-Jassar and Simon Milburn mentioned that up to 8 players can play Kittin together. I think the people from Alley Cat Games want to kill us (Haha, kidding). If you don’t like the hiss-terical tumult, play with up to three players and you’ll be fine. Two-player session felt a bit stale with no tension at all, but I guess it will do during the pandemic if you are not into some deafening scrimmage.

Kittin’s replay value

Besides the different sets of puzzles, there’s no aspect to give variation to the game. However, the fun…

…feline and the laughing we experienced from playing Kittin attract us to play it multiple times. This can be a good warm-up and filler, before and between more complex games during your board game night. With how short the period to play Kittin, I don’t think you will chow this as your main course, though.

TARGET MARKET, IS KITTIN FOR YOU?

Kittin fits the meowst for players who seek for party games. With the ability to delight up to 8 players at the same time, and the compact size, you can always amuse the crowd in a go. With too many party games bring only social deduction into play, perhaps this can be a refreshing breeze once in a while. Following the game’s fast-paced and light nature, the game is a hit among casual players. In addition, the illustration on the cover may charm younger audience, maybe your kids or your smaller cousins. This makes Kittin a favourable option for family with children.

If you like puzzles with a dexterity aspect in it, Kittin can be an interesting choice. It’s definitely not…

Kittin
The various cards ensure replay value.

…attractive for heavy-hitters who eat Tekhenu for breakfast and order Smartphone Inc. for lunch while savouring Iwari as desserts.

VERDICT

Kittin may not be the first party game designed with dexterity segment, but that does not mean it is less fun. While it is possible to think “Hey, this game is familiar to (insert the game’s name here) I have tried be-fur!” that does not mean the game is not claw-some. Well, absolutely, there’s nothing new under the sun. With the simplicity and prompt game flow, Kittin can boost the variety to your crowd. Do I like it? It is not my cup of tea, but it’s okay. Will I play it again? I guess so, when played with potential new gamers and/or some casual ones. Should you buy it? Depends, are you willing to part with your €12,00 for a small game?

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