15 February 2021
Not a piep out of you
With a delicate flutter, Piepmatz, a set-collecting bird game, lands on the gaming table as a surprise in both looks and gameplay. At first glance understated, its antique-like art style reveals more detail the longer you look. While the cards maintain the faded grey look throughout, it is the songbirds that really stand out. Piepmatz may not have the naturalistic level of detail of Wingspan, in drawings or information, but every card clearly holds a reference to the little songbird depicted on it.
Gameplay equally unfolds to reveal layers of detail unexpected for such a little game. There is the conventional part of the game: where players try to collect as many birds as possible of the same species, bird mating pairs and seed cards to score points at the end of the game. Yet in order to do that, they have to do something quite interesting. Birds gather around the bird feeder, but it has only a couple of spaces available, so more are waiting in line on the ground. Players lay down bird cards of various denominations to add to the line. As soon as their value exceeds the bird currently at the bird feeder, it gets displaced by the biggest card in the line, while the player gets the replaced card and adds it to their set. The difference between the cards also allows players to pick up the corresponding seed cards for extra victory points. This may sound like a lot of math, but in the flow of the game it becomes almost unnoticeable.
The strategy, of course, comes from how to play your cards right to displace the specific birds and to avoid picking up squirrels and crows, which are occasionally found at the bird feeder, who will steal some of your cards. All these different elements of the game leave quite a lot to think about, but also pave many roads to how one could win the game, which entices you to return to the bird feeder once again.
Designer: Ben Pinchback & Matt Riddle
Publisher: Lookout Games
Time: 20-40 minutes
This review originally appeared in Issue 51 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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