This Quick Look game review is in conjunction with our good friends at EverythingBoardGames.com.
Designer: Cory Mimms
Artist: Charley Harper Art Studio
Publisher: Pomegranate Communications, Inc.
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 30-60 min.
From the publisher:
Grab your binoculars and keep an eagle eye to the sky with Charley Harper’s Spot the Birds. It’ll be a hoot! Peregrinate through the board’s five habitats—the Backyard, the Desert, the Woodland, the Wetland, and the Shores—and track each bird you spot by collecting the tokens for each space you land on and placing the token on your birder’s journal. Roll the die to see how many spaces you move along the outer loop (the habitat loop).
Along the way, you’ll discover how to be a good bird steward. But watch out—you’ll need to dodge storms, avoid falling in a river, and beware of birds that poop on your head (it happens). All of these will negatively impact your turn, in some cases sending you backward or in other cases making you put a token back, and some will have a global impact on all players.
The game has three different levels to play at, from standard to more difficult. Once you spot the required number of birds, which is determined at the beginning of the game, then the game becomes a race to the finish. Turn up one of the four trails to the Bird Sanctuary and be the first to reach the end and you’ll rule the roost!
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
I received a copy of this game for the purposes of this review, but all opinions here are mine or those of my family and friends, and not of the publisher.
Overview and Theme
If you are a fan of Charley Harper (like my family is!), you are in for a treat with this new game… if you’re not a fan, just wait… you will be!
Charley Harper was an American modern artist who used a style he called “minimal realism” to create prints, posters, and illustrations of the natural world, mostly birds, in a brightly charming style. He described his work this way:
“When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures.”
Pomegranate Communications and designer Cory Mimms have collaborated with the Charley Harper Art Studio to create an endearing, engaging board game for kids and families that features his signature style illustrating a variety of North American birds in five common habitats.
Game Play and Components
Try to mark off a certain number of birds from each habitat (4, 6, or 8, depending on how long or difficult you want the game to be) and be the first to make it to the Bird Sanctuary space in the middle of the board to win.
The quality and beauty of the components, from the box to the board to the Birder’s Journals, is extremely satisfying. The board is lushly illustrated in five habitats (Backyard, Desert, Woodland, Wetland, and Shore) with a total of 40 amazing Charley Harper illustrated species, from the blue jay to the eagle. The Birder’s Journal boards are thickly laminated cardboard, making them sturdy and easy to use – the chips are easy to pick up and put down, but stay put when you need them to.
For our family and friends, game play was easy to learn (roll and move) yet different enough, with the addition of collecting sets on your Birder’s Journal, to make it feel like a fresh experience. All the kids I have played the game with so far really enjoyed the anticipation of landing on a good space – or the dread of landing on an action space that could make you miss a turn or lose one of the chips from your journal! Older friends were able to enjoy playing along, too, appreciating the elegant illustrations and the positive environmental theme.
As a gameschooling mom, I instantly fell in love with this game. The fact that I already knew Charley Harper’s work was a plus – my kids had Charley Harper’s ABC’s and other board books when they were babies, so opening this game felt warm and familiar. I was thrilled to see what a good job the company and designer did with this game – not only are there 40 birds to learn in their appropriate habitats, but the rule booklet includes birding tips and ways to be a bird steward and keep our environment healthy and safe for birds.
The art! Oh, the art. These bright and bold birds and their equally adorable environments will draw you in from the moment you pick up the box.
The game play itself is easy for kids to understand – roll, move, collect birds – but also has the interesting set collection aspect on the individual Birder’s Journals to make it more interesting for players of all ages.
All the extras make Charley Harper’s Spot the Birds just that much more special, from the birding tips in the rulebook to the differentiated game play (collect just 4 birds in each habitat for a faster, easier game), to the language, birding roles, and bird puns sprinkled throughout the rules.
Charley Harper’s Spot the Birds is obviously a game aimed at kids and families. Experienced gamers who play without kids won’t find much to sink their teeth into here, but that’s okay!
Players Who Like
Anyone who has enjoyed playing games about birds from Hoot Owl Hoot to Wingspan, and families who enjoy a relaxing dice-powered stroll through a game from Snail’s Pace Race to Careers will find something to smile about in Charley Harper’s Spot the Birds.
In case it’s not already obvious.. we’re in love with Charley Harper’s Spot the Birds! The production value is amazing, from the weight of the box, board, and birder’s journal mats, to the exquisite Charley Harper art throughout, to the extra touches added in the rule book. Game play is fun and adjustable for your family’s own interest and attention span. This gorgeous box has a permanent spot on our gameschooling shelf!
About the Author:
My name is Alexa: I’m a life-long game player and homeschooling mom to two awesome kids. I’ve loved board games since my early days playing Scrabble and Gin Rummy with my grandmother, and life only got more interesting when I married a Battletech enthusiast and fellow game lover. We’ve played games with our kids since they were small, and I helped start a thriving homeschool co-op where we have weekly sessions of board games with kids. In a family with kids raised on Catan and Pandemic, life is sure to be fun!
You may run into me on Twitter, BoardGameGeek, and other social media as MamaGames. Be sure to say hi!
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