Game Name: Botswana
Publisher: Gryphon Games
Designer: Reiner Knizia
Artist: Charlie Bink
Genre: Safari themed hand management game
Players: Two to five players
Playing time: 20 to 30 minutes
In what seems to be the umpteenth reimagining of Reiner Knizia’s original Flinke Pinke, Botswana comes with a bevy of plastic safari animals to differentiate it from the pack. These animals now serve as stock that players collect to earn points. Each player begins a round with a hand of animal cards and each turn consists of playing a card containing an specific animal value (for example a 3 point zebra) then taking one animal of any type; the animal taken doesn’t have to match the animal on the card played. A certain number of animal cards, depending on the number of players, are held out of the deck so no one knows exactly what values may be in anyone’s hand or sitting out this round. Once one of the animal types has all six of its cards in front of it, the round ends. Each animal in a player’s stock is then scored in accordance with the value determined by the top card in the animal’s stack and the values run from 0-5. After a number of rounds, matching the number of players, the highest score wins.
That’s pretty much the game play in a nutshell.
I don’t mind a light game as a filler but, for myself, Botswana is just too light. Powder puff light; dandelion light; Unbearable Lightness of Being light – ok, the last one was actually a pretty heavy movie but I think you get my drift. I understand that the age for players is graded 7+ but I think my eight year old nephew would probably think there really isn’t much here either and get bored rather quickly. I don’t see any challenge to the game whatsoever and I’ve heard other versions of Botswana described as painfully simple.
At least one of those words is correct.
Is it a terrible game? Ummm… I won’t burn it…Yet it isn’t something that would make its way off of too many gamers’ shelves very often. It could be a nice gift for someone who has children and is looking for something a bit deeper than Candyland. The components are nice; there are a load of safari animals included (your kids will probably have more fun playing zoo with the pieces than playing the game) and the cards are printed on good stock. I suppose this a little better themed than many other versions. Yet the game itself, as in every incarnation – Quandry, Flinke Pinke, Loco, etc – in my opinion doesn’t bring much to the table.
Outside of inducing yawns.
Are you starting to get the impression there are much better offerings out there from Gryphon? And I do understand this is a rehash, but is it me or are most of Knizia’s designs over the past few years more yawn inducing misses than hits? It’s starting to get to the point if I see his name on the box I start to cringe. Granted Reiner has created many classics but I think it’s high time to start looking at his output as a whole.
Botswana’s box states that it’s for two players but I couldn’t imagine giving this a run through with fewer than four. Unless someone’s suffering from insomnia that is…