HOUNDED (Atlas Games)
Release the hounds! The clever fox has alluded you for weeks, but today feels different. There’s something in the air, making the scents crisper. Will today be the day you finally catch her? It’s off to the fields for a hunt with Hounded!
Starting the game, the Hunting Party moves three pieces of their choosing for their turn. Each member of the Hunting Party moves differently with their own special rules. The Master of the Hounds moves one tile in any direction, the Foxhounds can move two tiles orthogonally or one horizontally, the bulldog moves one tile orthogonally and prevents the Fox from moving its full three spaces when near, and the Terrier moves one tile in any direction and can bury revealed Dens or Traps (flipping back over), but will reveal the tile it ends on. Revealing tiles is how the Fox wins, so while cutting off routes by burying Dens is helpful and necessary, moving the Terrier has its downside. To win the game, the Hunting Party has to either corner the Fox or have the Fox end its turn adjacent to the Master of the Hounds.
For the Fox’s turn, it may move up to three spaces (including through Den tiles) in any direction and reveals the tile it ends on. Revealing tiles benefits the Fox (with the exception of two hidden Fox Trap tiles and the Grass tiles) with additional movement or tiles revealed, and ultimately is how the Fox wins by either revealing the morning, noon and night tiles or by revealing 43 of the 49 tiles that make up the board.
The restricted movements and thrill of the chase make Hounded play out like the climatic ending to a game of chess. With only the King piece left, special rules balance out play for the Fox, but also add fun twists and turns with some light-hearted luck. Almost Wes Anderson design and cute meeples (and for as much as “cute meeples” normally make me groan, there’s no denying these) pull together the game for a great way to spend twenty or thirty minutes with a good friend.
One other thing to note, the play testing that had to have been involved for Hounded is impressive. How many spaces should the Fox move? How should the Hunter and his Dogs be able to move? How many beneficial tiles for each should be hidden in the board? There’s a lot of thinking going on underneath those flipped tiles. (Atlas Games) by David C. Obenour