I’m going to say, right off the bat, that I was skeptical about 4 the Birds when it first arrived on my doorstep. Just from reading the flavor text on the back of the box I though it may be a bit boring.
I was wrong.
That isn’t to say the game doesn’t have any issues, but the ones it does have are easily remedied.
Let’s start with those.
My main complaints about the game were:
1) The rulebook isn’t very clear on a few issues. Mainly what to do with you roll a Hawk and a Crow. There were a few other bits the rules aren’t clear on, but this was a big one.
2) There’s little asterix tokens that come with the game that aren’t mentioned at all in the rules.
3) A card reference printed on the board references the cat piece. This doesn’t exist. The actual card has you move a Hawk.
OK. There’s my 3 biggies. Out of those three, two of those issues are fixed with a v2 ruleset available on BoardGameGeek. This rulebook is much better than the one provided with the game.
The last issue about the cat? Just ignore it. The card has the proper text, and it really has no effect on gameplay.
How’s the game overall? Really fun! The Crows, Hawks, action cards, and Pecking Order rules make it so much more strategic than your run-of-the-mill four-in-a-row games. The game takes a few minutes to really get going, but once the board starts to fill a bit you really need to make some decisions. There’s some cases where a well-placed Hawk will displace one of your birds in a direction you want them to move. Placing a crow in the right spot may force someone’s hand, making them play a card to get that crow out of their way and possibly making room for you to sweep in for the win. Well rolled doubles may land you a great action card back in your hand that’ll give you the upper hand.
As for the components, they’re colorful and well made. Each bird is put together from two thick pieces of cardboard, and stands really well on the board. The board is more functional than anything else, but fits well among the multitude of colors and birds on it at any given time.
Games rarely take more than 30 minutes. There’s virtually zero setup except sorting out birds to the players and placing a few Crows/Hawks on the board at the start. For a game I went into with zero expectations I was really surprised my how much fun we ended up having. The kids are upstairs now, supposedly sleeping, but actually talking about our last play and what they could have done differently.
To me, that’s the sign of a good game.
Worth the $40? You bet.
A copy of 4 the Birds was provided free for review by Breaking Games