Saturday, June 15, 2024

‘Hens’ Makes You Raise Chickens, Not Eat Chicken.

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Hens is a fun abstract strategy card game where you become a hen breeder, making groups of similar breeds to score more points. In each round, you play down a card trying to make a harmonious barnyard with different hen breeds. The game uses hand management, some pattern building, set collection, and card placement. The game is for 1-4 players, can be played in 20 minutes, and published by Little Rocket Games. The game is recommended for ages 10+, but I have played the game is my 8 year old who did fine. The game is a puzzly abstract game of hens… lots of them. 

What’s in the Box?

  • 72 Hen Cards 
  • 4 Rooster Tokens
  • 10 Goals Cards
  • 4 Aid Cards
  • 1 Scorepad
Hens box art

How’s it Play?

Players play as a hen breeders, playing out hen cards from their hand of cards to create a harmonious barnyard with different breeds of hens in a 3×4 or 4×3 grid. Players want to create large groups of hens of the same breed to score more points. Points are gained at the end of the game, and you gain points from your largest group of hens of the same breed in your barnyard (counting the eggs for points), from your rooster token, and from the goal card that is placed out at the beginning. Rare hens also are desired and give bonus points at the end of the game.

Players take 12 turns total in the game, and first draw 2 cards. These cards can be from the top of the deck, or the player can choose to pick up the card card from another player’s discard pile. A player can never draw a card from their own discard pile. 

Hens components

The player then places a card within a 3×4 or 4×3 grid following some placement rules. If the hen card is the same breed as the adjacent one, you can place it next to it regardless of its number. If the hen card you are placing is a different breed, it must be a number 1 less or higher than the adjacent hen. Each side of the placed card must always respect these rules.

If you cannot or do not want to place a hen in your barnyard, you can place the hen card face down, always next to another previously placed card, as a chicken coop. This earns you -1 points at the end of the game.

Lastly, you discard a card from your hand, putting it face up on the top of your discard pile, as you must always have 4 cards in your hand at the end of your turn. Pay attention though, because the card you discard can be a card another player can potentially claim, so players can check all other player’s barnyard before they discard. 

Hens on a player's personal grid

When all players have placed their 6th card into their barnyard, everyone places their rooster token on top of a hen card.The goal is to not place it on the largest group, because at the end of the game it will score already. The rooster cannot re-score the largest group if placed on it at the end of the game. Otherwise it scores its group by counting the number of eggs on the group of cards. 

After 12 rounds, each player will have a 4×3 or 3×4 grid. Scoring is done by counting eggs in the largest hen groups. You score the eggs from the group of cards where you placed your rooster token. Medals on cards are counted up, for every 3 medals, 2 points are awarded. Each chicken coop is -1 point. Then goal cards are scored scoring the top and bottom goal. All points are tallied up and the player with the most points wins the game.

Hens hand of cards

The Verdict

This is one of those puzzle type card game, where you are trying to place cards, obeying the rules to make the most points. It’s a pretty easy game to teach, but the complexity might be a little more geared for those over 12 years. I have little kids and they were able to play the game, but didn’t really grasp the strategy.

Players may like the game due to the theme as well. For those who have hens or want hens, this is a game that touches that love for some people. Players are trying to group cards together but also figuring out how many eggs are on each cards and where to place them. Players also will be placing the goals cards, and the rooster token mechanic into their strategy, so the game isn’t purely on just how you place your cards. 

Another point in its favor is that it’s a small compact game that can be taken places. Plus, turns are fast and there is little down time between turns, making it a game that’s quick to play.

Overall, for those you like small card games, Hens has a fantastic theme and the mechanics and game itself are done very well. The game can be placed quickly and taught without needing to put a lot of time into it. 

Hens goal cards

Images via Little Rocket Games

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