Build Fences with Cards and Dice to Capture Magical Creatures in Merlin's Beast Hunt | Casual Game Revolution

Build Fences with Cards and Dice to Capture Magical Creatures in Merlin's Beast Hunt

 Merlin's Beast Hunt

Merlin has invited you to a competition of wizards. Capture chimeras and enclose centaurs, in a competition of wit and strategy.

In Merlin’s Beast Hunt, players use dice and cards to set up fences around magical creatures which they have manipulated around the board. Earn points from fence building and animal capture to win the game — but plan carefully, as each creature has its own unique capture rules.


Each player takes a set of colored dice (ten to twenty of them, based on player count) and cards. Shuffle your cards and draw four. The board is set in the middle of the table. The board features a grid of twelve squares; at the corner of each are holes where dice can be placed. The holes in the center of the board have room for four dice, while those around the edge can hold two.

The goal of the game is to build fences and entrap the magical creatures on the squares. On your turn, you take four dice and roll them. Results can be water, thorn, lightning, bamboo, beast, or wild (you may only use one wild on your turn). You must set aside at least one die and reroll any dice you did not choose to keep, one time. You then place cards and dice on the board.

Cards in your hand represent fences. There are four types of fences: water, thorn, lightning, and bamboo. Players place dice in the holes on the board, then slide a fence card between two dice to hold it up, creating fences to divide the board. There are a few rules to follow, however.

All dice in a single hole must share an identical icon (or a wild). So if there are three lightning dice in a hole, you cannot add a bamboo. You must also place a card or dice so that it forms a continuous line connected to other dice and cards. A fence card must have two dice that match its type on at least one side. So, if you have a bamboo card connected to two lightning dice at one end, the other end must be dice showing bamboo. Dice and cards cannot be moved after the round in which they were placed.

Beast results on your dice allow you to choose to either move a creature from one square to an adjacent one (a creature can never move through a fence) or place any creature of your choice on the board, on one of the edge squares. You may not place a creature in an already completed enclosure and there can only be one creature on each square.

After you’ve finished placing any dice and cards, any fences that were completed are scored. A fence is completed when it is held up at both ends by two dice each. The player who owns the completed fence card scores two points (three, if it is a reinforced fence, with all four dice matching the fence type). That player can also score an additional one to three points if she has the most dice holding up the fence or if all the dice holding the fence are hers (with or without wilds). If a creature was captured that round, the player who completed the enclosure takes the creature.

An enclosure is completed when all of a square’s fences have been built. The squares in the center of the board require four fences to be complete, those in the corner only two, and the remaining squares along the edge of the board need three.

The different creature types have different requirements for being captured. The unicorn only needs its enclosure to be complete, the centaur requires that at least one of the fences in its enclosure be reinforced, the chimera needs three different fence types used, and the basilisk can only be successfully captured in one of the center squares. The different creatures are worth a different number of points ranging from five to ten.

Finally on your turn, you may discard as many fence cards still in your hand as you choose and draw back up to four. Then if you do not have four dice left in your color, you may take neutral black dice to get up to four, and it is now the next player’s turn. The game ends once one player has no more dice in their color or all the spaces on the board have been filled with dice and cards. The player with the most points wins.

Merlin's Beast Hunt Components


Merlin’s Beast Hunt is one of those games with a unique mechanic at its core that instantly piques your interest. The building of fences with dice and cards is visually appealing and it’s pretty fun to watch the board slowly fill up with walls. But the strategy that pins the game together makes it more than just one clever idea.

There are a lot of factors to consider as you take each turn. You only score points for your own fences (and capturing creatures) but you also want to prevent your opponents from earning lots of bonus points. So there is a nice balance between focusing on completing your own fences while also trying to ensure your opponents’ won’t be worth too many points.

Adding the creatures to the board and moving them around adds an additional layer to the gameplay, and the different criteria for capturing each creature adds even more factors to keep in mind when making choices during the game. All of these elements add depth, without making the game overly difficult to teach and learn.

For the most part, the components of the game are good. The dice are nice and solid and fun to roll, the board works really well, and the cards stay up nicely. However, the cards themselves are semi-transparent and the images of the fence type and player color are quite dull and faint, and harder to read than what’s shown on the back of the box or in the rulebook. Also, not all dice are included in all player colors. Only two player colors have the full set of dice required for a two player game, while orange only comes with enough dice for a three player game, and yellow for a four. It may make practical sense not to include more dice than needed, but players generally like to choose their color based on preference and not solely on player count.

Merlin’s Beast Hunt is light mechanically with plenty of strategy packed in. Thematically, the game doesn’t really have a magic mechanic that ties into its story, but the gameplay is quite satisfying, and it’s a fun moment when you successfully capture a creature.

Pros: Good strategy and player interaction, interesting requirements for capturing the creatures

Cons: A couple of issues with the components

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.