Mary had a little lamb from her flock and it tagged along with her to school, but did it really want to be seen as just a cute little lamb? Probably not. In fact, it probably harbored the secret desire that many sheep have: to be human. To be… Sheeple. That’s the rough premise of the terrifically fun family game Sheeple from Aaron Smith.
A family game for 3+ people, your goal is to actually think like everyone else, not be ewe-nique, uh, unique. Because sheep. The game is also simple to explain and play and revolves around timed brainstorming of words or phrases or ideas, then gaining points for those that are similar to someone else’s guess, but not too similar. Along the way you’ll encounter plenty of sheep puns – some of which are pretty baaa-aaa-ad – and a lot of laughs.
I tried out a prototype game from Aaron, so the final design might be slightly different and it’s a sure bet that the board will be flat! Nonetheless, here’s how it all set up:
You can see all the essentials in the above photo. The light green cards are Category Cards and the darker blue cards are Pun Cards (yes, an entire category of cards oriented around sheep puns). Pencil and paper? Definitely needed. The egg timer, also a key part of the game. And, of course, the track where you try to be the first person to travel from E-lamb-entary school to graduate from Ewe-niversity on the top right. Look closely too; there are three stands on the track indicating the relative position of each of us.
The current player is the Shepherd and picks a Category Card. On these cards are three possible categories of words or phrases, as you can see:
Each of the other players has a pencil and some paper and when the Shepherd picks the desired category, they read it out, yell SHEEPLE! and flip over the timer. Now the other plays have 60 seconds to write down as many things as they can in that particular category. For example, for the category “What do you think of when you think of… Lord of the Rings” I wrote down:
- my precious
The other players simultaneously write down their lists for the same category. Answers that occur on exactly one list are worth zero points. Answers that occur on exactly two people’s lists are worth two points and answers that are on three or more individual lists are worth one point. Being unique, but not too unique is the order of the day. In this instance, the other player also had smeagol, ring, my precious and hobbits. Each was therefore worth 2 points for a total of 8. Each of us therefore moved 8 spots along the track towards Ewe-niversity.
One of us landed on a blue Pun card, however, and had to read it out loud and take the action specified. Here’s a sample of ’em so you can get the sense of these:
While there were just three of us playing the game, it clearly works better with four or more players, so keep that in mind. 8-10 players would be hilarious and even with our modest size group there were lots of “WHAT? HOW DID YOU GET THAT?” shouts and general hilarity as each of us read out our lists for categories like “Words That Start with H”.
The game theme, puns, and general lighthearted nature of the design and graphics really helps set the tone for this family friendly game too. Heck, the Stand-Up Characters are terrific just by themselves:
There’s nothing racy or particularly adult about the game too, so it’s definitely family friendly. If you’re playing with younger children, a variation of the rules has people choosing between the blue dot categories on the Category Cards to avoid stumpers for the short folk (look at the cards earlier to see what I mean).
That’s it. A simple, fun, and fast game that is good for three but is great for 4-10 people. While I like complex games that take a while to master, there are plenty of folk who don’t want to study rules and instructions, and Sheeple is a perfect fit in this category. It’s also a splendid filler game with your more serious gamer group while you’re waiting for that one slacker to show up.
Currently on Kickstarter, Sheeple is about 25% towards its funding goal. Grab a copy for your family, your lake cabin or as a fun addition to the game cupboard!
Disclosure: Aaron sent me a pre-production copy of Sheeple to play and write about. Hurray, thanks Aaron!