We all know the stereotype of the old lady living alone with hundreds of cats, right?
Of course you do.
What’s the next best thing to becoming a cat lady, though?
Playing a card game where you get to collect cats, of course!
Let’s see how it plays.
The cards are shuffled and a tableau of nine cards is dealt out onto the table in a 3×3 grid.
Whoever is first player (the rulebook says who has the most cats, but do we really want to be dictated to by authority?) gets to go first, but before that happens, the player to their right places that nifty plastic grey cat on the table.
What does the cat do? It prevents a player from choosing the row or column where the cat is (they’re always getting in the way, just ask my cat).
On a player’s turn, they will take three cards from a row or column (with that one limitation). If the cards they take are cats, the player will put it in front of them. If any of the cards are food, they’ll turn them in for the appropriate food cubes.
The row/column is then replaced and the grey cat is moved to block that row/column from being taken by the next player.
Toys and costumes and other cards are also placed in front of you so that all can see what you have.
There are also three “stray cats” dealt from the stray cat deck. These cats will be available if you turn in two “Lost Cat” cards that you can pick up from the grid. Even if all of the stray cats are gone, you can turn in two Lost Cat cards for 2 VP instead.
There are cards that you can collect as sets for big points Costumes give you 6 VP for having the most (and you lose 2 if you don’t have any) and toys (the more different toys you have, the better), but the largest batch of points comes from feeding cats.
Cat cards come with a set number of points on the left side of the card. But sometimes it is variable (Florence above gives you two points for each Orange cat you feed, which can be found on the top left corner, with Florence herself being an orange cat).
What’s this feeding stuff, though? You’re not just collecting cats?
Every cat lady worth her salt knows that you have to feed the cats or they’ll go away.
What each cat eats is shown on the bottom of the card.
Florence eats one chicken and one milk , for example.
At the end of the game, you assign your food cubes to the cats you’ve collected. For each cat you can’t feed, you lose 2 VP (they ran away because you’re a horrible person). Also, whoever has the most food left over at the end of the game also loses 2 points (all tied players lose the points).
Total up your points at the end of the game, and whoever has the most is the winner!
(I want to see a game where whoever has the second-most points is the winner…)
Is Cat Lady a mean old woman who sics her cats on you or is she a nice one who lets you cuddle them?
For a nice filler game that almost anybody can understand, you can’t really beat Cat Lady. It takes 20-30 minutes to play and less than 5 minutes to teach.
It’s a fun twist on the set collection mechanic with the way certain rows/columns can’t be taken and how you have to feed the cats you collect. You have to balance how much food you take and how many cats you take and really try to focus on what will get you the most points.
Broad strokes do not work in this game. You can only feed so many cats and if you’re collecting nothing but food, you’re not getting any cats! It’s a nice balance.
And yet you don’t have to go heavy on the cats if you don’t want to. Find a way to collect all five toys in a set and you get 12 points. Considering I won two games with 28 points in each game, and one of them with a full set of toys, that’s a pretty hefty portion of what you can get.
Getting Stray Cats can be a good thing, but they’re not required.
Sure, stray cats can be powerful, but it’s not hard to win without them if you remember to concentrate on other things.
The cards are probably the weakest part of the game, as they are kind of flimsy. I’m not sure how well they’ll hold up under constant usage, which this game could easily get (and very well deserves).
The food cubes are nice solid wood, though and in vivid colours (white/red/blue/purple).
The artwork is super-cute. It will have you going “awwwww” and falling into a sugar-induced trance at the drop of a hat.
I really like it.
This is a game designed for beginning or ending a game night, or getting a couple of games in on your lunch break. Its 20-30 minute play time is perfect for that.
I greatly enjoyed my time with Cat Lady, and kudos to Josh Wood for designing (and drawing) such an attractive game!
I heartily recommend it.
And so does my cat.
(This review was written after 3 plays)