“Duck! Duck! Go!” from APE Games first appeared on my radar at the GAMA Trade Show in 2009, but I did not get a chance to play it. This year, with the release of the sequel “Duck! Duck! Safari!” I contacted APE for review copies of both games and they kindly obliged. Though I have both games, I decided to split the reviews in to separate posts for the sake of length.
“Duck! Duck! Go!” brings the classic rubber ducky race of many childhood bathtubs to the tabletop. The game comes with four random duckies and a bird dog ducky. The rubber duckies are all themed and randomized for each box. I got a surgeon, surfer, construction worker and a surgeon in my set. The bird dog is in every set. Also included are ten, double-sided tiles to build the play surface, some tokens and a deck of movement cards.
Components are good quality and the play tiles are heavy-duty cardboard. Printing quality and colors are very clean. I even liked the box design.
Play begins with players deciding on a board configuration. The configuration in my test game came off the beginner list and makes navigation relatively easy. More advanced boards have more choke points and increase the game’s complexity. After building the board, players place their ducks and play begins.
The goal is to visit the “buoy” hexes and then get to the drain to escape. Each player has a hand of movement cards and these decide how your duck moves. The cards have a pre-programmed set of moves (two hexes forward and then you may choose to turn right, left or forward at the end, as in the example below) that determine your movement. Movement is simultaneous, so the lowest value card moves first. Order of movement is critical due to the “bonking” rule. Bonking is when a ducky hits an obstacle, either another ducky, the edge of the board or the escape drain before visiting all the buoys. You movement immediately ends and your duck spins 180 degrees. Since ducky facing determines your next movement starting direction, “bonking” is something to avoid.
These rules and setup are for a basic game. Advanced players may use the bird dog option. The bird dog moves around the board under the control of the player in last place. The bird dog is an offensive weapon that sends bonked ducks back to a starting space. On some of the more complex board setups, this is a serious threat. Advanced game players also have some movement tokens available to move their ducky without using cards. Players receive these “Action tokens” when they achieve a buoy, so they are quite rare and powerful.
I enjoyed ”Duck! Duck! Go!” from APE Games, but the target demographic is clearly families. Though the strategy component is relatively complex in an advanced game, I think the theme is a hard sell to hard-core adult board gamers. That said, the easy, no reading required mechanics and kid-friendly theme make this game a guaranteed winner with younger children. The game does need strategy, so parents will not face serious boredom playing with younger children. A low price-point of $24.95 for nice components that will last for years is also a bonus.
If you are in the market for a family game that keeps both parents and kids entertained, Duck! Duck! Go! is a great choice.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer