Keep Out of My Pasture! A Review of Battle Sheep

Battle Sheep

Battle Sheep is a new abstract strategy game by Blue Orange Games. And no, these are not sword-toting samurai warrior sheep. However, when it comes to duking it out for control of Farmer Pat's pastures, these sheep can be rather vicious and conniving.

Gameplay

The object of the game is to control the most pastures on the board by strategically placing your sheep and blocking your opponents.

At the beginning of the game, players arrange several pasture boards (each containing 4 hexagonal spaces) into the final game board. Each player then takes turns placing their stack of 16 sheep tokens anywhere on the outside perimeter of the board.

On a turn, the current player splits any one of his stacks into 2 separate stacks (there will only be one stack to choose from at the beginning of the game). The original stack is left in place, while the new stack is moved as far as it can go in any direction until it cannot go any farther or it reaches another stack.

When all the players can no longer move any of their sheep, the player who occupies the most pastures wins.

Battle Sheep components

Review

Battle Sheep is remarkably simple to learn — the rules can be explained almost instantly. However, forming a winning strategy requires some thought and planning.

Successful gameplay comes down to blocking out your opponents so you can claim large areas for yourself. As such, the game has a competitive quality that may not be very enjoyable for players who are too nice to each other. Similar to other abstract games, Battle Sheep consists of 100% strategy with no element of chance — meaning that it is more a battle of wits than a random game that anyone of any skill level can end up winning.

While this is truly an abstract game at its core, it is a good one that incorporates a light theme that makes sense to the gameplay. With its modular board, each game session introduces a new challenge rather than a series of repetitive moves (as is true of many similar games). It also has endearing artwork and durable components that should easily last through many plays.

If you like casual abstract games like Checkers or Blokus, Battle Sheep is definitely one to try.

Pros: Simple gameplay, endearing artwork, durable components, modular board

Cons: Not so good for "nice" players

Full disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.