Saturday, June 15, 2024

‘Nimalia’ Lets The Animals Roam… On A 6×6 Grid

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Nimalia is a quick card game about building animal sanctuaries over 5 rounds. The game is a card drafting and tile placement game that includes a good variety of animals ranging from panda bears to penguins, to lions, to otters. For 2-4 players and less than 30 minutes, the game is published by La Boîte de Jeu, but also localized to the USA by Lucky Duck Games. The game is designed by William Liévin, a french designer, and is a great coffee table like game, which means it can be enjoyed in many different situations. 

What’s in the Box?

  • 4 Player Tokens
  • 4 Player Reminder Tokens
  • 1 Round Counter Token
  • 60 Animal Cards
  • 11 Double-sided Objective Cards
  • 5 Score Track Cards
  • 1 Round Card

How’s it Play?

During each of the five rounds, the scoring criteria changes, which is shown on the round card. Players begin each round with 3 animal cards each. Each animal card has 4 squares with 1 of 4 different types of terrain and an animal of that terrain type shown. Players take their hand of cards, choose one to add to their own grid area, and pass the others either left or right depending on what number round it is. So, each round you add 3 cards to your own reserve. When placing your new cards, they need to overlap at least 1 other square on another card, but can cover up to 4. You can never slide a card under another card. And your reserve can’t ever be more than a 6×6 square at any time.

Each round ends with a scoring phase where you gain points according to the scoring criteria listed on the cards. You can score points by placing certain animals in specific places in your reserve, by placing specific terrain in certain places, by having the most or least of a certain animal, or by forming specific patterns according to the card.

The first 3 rounds have two scoring cards to score points with, and the last 2 rounds have three. After the fifth round, the player with the most points wins the game.

The Verdict

For us, this is the perfect coffee table game. Nimalia is easy to wrap your head around as you are forming your own reserve and building it out little by little and scoring more and more points as the game progresses. We played the game with some friends who don’t play a lot of board games, and they were able to pick it up pretty easily and enjoyed the game. 

Nimalia allows for different scoring each time you play, and the scoring cards are randomly placed out in different orders as well. This allows for the game to flourish without getting old and dull. The scoring and how you score points is the main focus of this game, and games can be very overwhelming or underwelcoming according to these cards. 

The art contributes to the approachability of the game. Each animal is easy to identify and connects with the terrain type shown on the cards. When you build your reserve, you feel like you have your own little zoo! The components are mainly a group of squared cards. As an aside, you definitely need to make sure you don’t lose any of the cards because you use all of them when playing the game with 4 players. 

Overall, Nimalia is one of the best coffee games we have played in a long time. My kids liked playing the game, and I think it helps them with planning skills. There were some games where the placement made you strategically decide how you wanted to gain and lose points all at the same time. While other games, it was easy to decide which card you wanted, and sometimes a card wouldn’t affect any of your scoring.

We will leave it on our coffee table to play with guests when time allows and will definitely play it ourselves when we want, too.

Images via Lucky Duck Games

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