I heared, they have big ears. But no one has seen them for ages. These little friendly creatures, that our ancestors had at home as pets. They are hardworking and obedient. Their claws are good for a lot of activities. I would like to have one such marmot at my house.
And it is about these little eared creatures, that designer Wolfgang Lehmann has done his The Hearmees board game about. He then placed his work in a yellow box at HABA company, adding Raimund Frey‘s illustrations. This is a children’s game, that saw the light of the world at the end of 2017.
The lid of this small box shows us these creatures in full flesh. Beautiful earthen houses and everyone is doing some work. Fortunately, they will reserve time for us and as soon as we open the box, they start to entertain us. Players each take one folding screen, that shows the scene from the village on its front side, but there are also icons and a list of task icons on the back. Each of rivals then becomes one of these eyed creatures and chooses a matching token with his own portrait.
While one of the players becomes a warden and gets a plate and claw (a wooden stick), the others will get a big expedition card. They place this one side or the other up (depending on the difficulty chosen). It will also determine 25 cards, that will be used, with the back of the matching color to be shuffled and then dealt one card to each player, but the warden. The next thirty pieces of house will then be placed down to the center of the table in a five-row and six-column table.
Then the player taking the role of the interpreteur takes the top card from the drawing deck of tasks and places it behind his screen. With the help of a claw and a plate (claw-talky) slowly re-draws the whole picture. The plaque makes a sound and all other players straighten their ears. Because of the sound of scratching, they have to try to identify one of the twenty-five images, that are placed on the plans ahead of him. Player marks his guess with a token of his character. They may also ask the warden to draw the image again.
All participating players will cast aside their screens. If anyone guessed correctly, the teller was successful. He, and everyone who correctly guessed the picture, can choose one of the plates in the center of the table. Everyone is trying to collect one house tile of each kind. These pieces also have a point value, so even if they get the same color again, they can get more valuable one. The unnecessary piece is then returned back to the center of the table. An exception is a broken tile, when the player does not build anything in this round.
The claw plate then moves to the next player, who becomes the new warden. The game continues with scratching, guessing and picking up the pieces until one of the participants succeeds in acquiring all four different buildings. This player becomes the winner of the game.
The Hearmees is another child game, that attacks us from the HABA stables. But while most of them have been focused on our eyes, whether in shadows or in common rivalry, this time everything will turn around our ears.
And it’s really a great adventure. Players will have to guess the image among others, according to the sound of drawing on the scoreboard. But even warden is not out of the game, and if his careful circling on the plate is successful, he also gets a point and opportunity to build a house.
Second phase of every round is a bit too much. Here the game is a little over-combined, because it will not reward the most skillful, but the luckiest. If someone succeeds in sound guessing, they are not guaranteed improvement in general. This is because everyone tries to get four different color plates as quickly as possible, but he has to find them.
Unfortunately, luck plays an important role at this stage. So while listening players need to be attentive and demonstrate their qualities, it is not everything a moment later. Fortunately, the game is aimed at five-year-olds, who do not even notice the negative impact of coincidence, and they do not mind.
But if the game does something great, it’s really a listening experience. Everyone must have ears pointed to hear every scratch. Depending on the length, time taken and the number of taps, he must correctly reveal, which image was drawn. Each picture is really different with its number of lines, dots and circles, so its not impossible. With truly clever ears and good memory, player is really able to identify individual pictures. Everything, of course, also depends on the player in the role of the warden.
Players participate in every round, so no one is waiting for anything. Both roles are fun. With drawing, however, smaller children have problems to correctly grasp all the lines and especially the dots so they can be heard well by all the guessing players. And the individual matches are about a quarter of an hour long, which is beautifully linked to the recommended age.
Processing is great. Beautiful illustrations and a well-crafted plaque, that will not stop scratching even after many games. Inclusion of two difficulties and the ability to combine these cards differently ensures uncertainty even for more experienced listeners. Even adults have to really focus and it often happens, that children can beat them. And these moments are very few in such games.
The Hearmees is a fantastic kid game with a great idea on top. It’s all a great fun, despite the fact, that the winner is ultimately decided by great deal of coincidence. But the players will have great fun while playing The Hearmees, and that’s actually the most important thing you need to know.
+ great idea
+ trains listening
+ players have a guess part
+ short game time
+ two difficulties
+ low player age required
- coincidence in the second phase