Hickory Dickory is a game where you and your opponents all play teams of four mice, each with their own special abilities, out to gather special items scattered around the clock they call home. You do this by climbing up the clock, making it to the face, and riding the minute hand around to the specific places you need to go. However, the minute hand can only hold so many mice, and if you’re not careful you’ll get bumped off and lose progress. And, of course, as this is a game about mice, there’s a cat for you to worry about.
The basic goal is to gather all the items you need to before everyone else does of course, but the sheer scope of the board can make that…intimidating. We’ll talk more about that in a bit.
All in all Hickory Dickory is a very charming, somewhat rustic, grandmotherly looking game. And I mean that in the best possible way. Everything is charming, colorful, and distinct, but in a way that I don’t see in many games.
Everything is solid, well constructed and creatively done while sticking cohesively together for an overarching theme. It really does look like the fantastical dwelling of some funny little critters who all live on or in a clock.
Okay, we should get something out of the way first. For the first time playing, Hickory Dickory…is a lot. There are twenty-three steps to getting the board and players ready in the manual. The board itself is big and elaborate, with lots of pieces and things to prepare and manage. Fortunately, it’s mostly large pieces that slot together and once you get your head around things it goes much faster. So this isn’t a nightmare game, just an…intimidating one.
For the actual game itself, things are more complex than your casual board game, but not to an ‘only adults can grasp this game to its full extent’. At the most basic level, you play mice riding the hand of a cuckoo clock, collecting tiles that you can turn in for points while plotting to get particular pieces for extra points. Each round is based on a full rotation of the minute hand around the clock, with it stopping at each number.
Hickory Dickory calls each number a Tick, meaning twelve Ticks per round. Mice can act based on their order on the minute hand itself (front goes first), so careful strategy is in order to make sure that you’ll be at the front when you need to be. And, of course, you can also have your mice jump onto the minute hand when it comes around again, which has the potential to knock other player’s mice off the minute hand altogether, further slowing them down (there’s even a mouse on your team whose whole thing is increasing the odds of knocking a mouse off the hand).
In addition, the cat is there. It can’t eliminate mice or anything like that, but it can completely deny access to two of the Ticks for a round. At the end of each round you roll the twelve sided cat die twice, and whichever numbers get rolled get blocked off for the upcoming round.
And that’s not even all of the little things present in Hickory Dickory. There’s a separate set of mice climbing the clock chain, the Itsy Bitsy Spider has a bargain bin, there are quest cards to get extra points by collecting specific combinations of items and quantities, there’s a searching mechanic to fetch pieces out of a bag, and more. But I’m here to review Hickory Dickory, not itemize every mechanic, so I think we’ll stop there.
Hickory Dickory…is a lot. Like, a lot a lot. There’s a lot going on and there’s a lot to keep track of. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun. Once you get into the swing of things, it actually functions quite smoothly!
If you’re intrigued by the premise, but intimidated by the sheer number of mechanics, take a breath, and take it one step at a time. Odds are that everyone you’ll be playing it with the first time will be playing it for the first time themselves after all, so some slowdown as you all adjust is to be expected anyway.
Approach Hickory Dickory with a deep breath and an open mind, and you’ll find a charming game well worth your time.
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Hickory Dickory can be bought from the Plaid Hat Games site, Amazon, or your FLGS, and will typically run you $59.95
Images Courtesy of Plaid Hat Games
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