Reviewed by David Savage
We are big fans of games in our house and seem to be playing a lot of the tabletop / pick up and play games over the past few weeks. The reason we like them so much is that they take minimal setting up, they can be played quickly and do not take up a great deal of space. Because no board tends to be used in these games, for the most part, the boxes are compact, and the games are ideal for using as travel games. They are also perfect for using to fill in time on rainy days and to fill little chunks of time when the kids just need a bit of calming down or a bit of order restoring to the house after a few days of being stuck indoors.
The latest game to drop through our letterbox was Cobra Paw, which the 9-year-old in our house was immediately curious about and the reasons are clear to see! The game is packaged in a distinctive hexagonal box with a very cool looking Ninja cat, Master Meow, depicted on the front. The box is really nicely themed with Ninja images and references and I have to say that we all thought it was an intriguing proposition – none of us knew what was awaiting us, or what we would be doing with the 21 Clawfuku Stones, the 2 Catnippon Dice or most importantly, the MEOW contained inside. All we knew was that it was a game that would take 5 – 15 minutes and was for 2 – 6 players, aged 6+.
We opened the box and the cool Ninja theming continued to the instruction guide, which as well as being fun, was very clear in describing the rules for the game along with few variations of gameplay. The two Catnippon dice are identical to each other and each one depicts six different Ninja-style images, rather than the numbers you would see on a standard die. The 21 Clawfuku stones are actually domino-style plastic tiles, each depicting two of the Ninja images, each one having a unique combination of two of the images on it.
The rules for the game are incredibly simple (all of the best games are), and the four of us (two adults and the kids, aged 7 and 9) had the rules grasped in no time at all. The tiles are all placed on the table, face up, in front of the players and play commences when the youngest player rolls both dice. The combination of symbols that the dice show represent the Clawfuku stone that all of the players are now searching for – once you spy the correct tile, you then have to grab it with your fingers (using the whole paw is considered shameful), and pop it in front of you, in your winnings pile. The aim of the game is to collect 6 stones (or 8 if you are playing with just 2 ninjas) – it is actually easier said that done because as well as the pool of tiles in the middle of the table, if the dice land on a combination that you have already captured, these are fair game for grabbing too!
This game is great fun and we all thought that is was fantastic. Both of the kids were really keen on the Ninja theme, and I particularly liked the superb quality of all of the components of this game, from the box to the instructions to the playing pieces. The dice and tiles are made from superb quality plastic and they are a good weight and size. When in play and the pieces clatter together, they make an oddly satisfying clattering sound which is oddly nice to listen to! The Ninja symbols are properly embossed onto the dice and the tiles, so they will stand the test of time, lasting far longer than if they were just printed on.
Cobra Paw takes no time at all to set up, can be played for anything from 5 minutes to half an hour and we all found the rules so very easy to remember and to play. The game has come out several times since we received it, each time without an adult needing to suggest it to the kids which is always an indicator that we’re on to a winner. I have no doubt that they will continue to get it out for wet weekends and rainy days and its also a massive bonus that they don’t need any adult help to play it either.
Available to buy from Amazon here.