|Game Designer:||Josh Wood|
|Play Time:||30 minutes roughly|
|Our Recommended Age:||5 or 6 with a little help|
|Warning:||Swallow hazard. Contains small parts. Keep away from small children or people who put things in their mouth.|
|Contents:||102 Game cards 13 Stray cat cards 6 Victory point tokens 1 Cat token 60 Food cubes (20 red, 20 blue, 15 white, 5 purple) 1 Rulebook|
We are on our way to becoming the crazy cat lady but as a family. Since we only have 5 cats at the moment we will just have to settle for the title by playing this adorable game from AEG, Cat Lady. Adopt cats and buy them costumes, toys, and catnip to earn points at the end of the game. Watch out though! Cats need to be fed both in real life and in this game and if you can’t feed your cats…well in the game you lose points which you need the most of in order to win the coveted title of Cat Lady! (yes even if you are male you are Cat Lady under our house rules)
AEG puts out quality games that are fun for our whole family and Cat Lady does not disappoint. Not only does it feature adorable cats but also punny cat names such as LeVar Purrton, Chairman Meow, and Pablo Picatso which is my favorite.
The pieces are all very well made from the sturdy beautifully detailed cards to the wooden cubes to represent Chicken, Milk, Tuna, and a Wild. There is also a wooden cat token which is used to mark where you pulled cards from on your turn. The victory points, have hearts on them and are made of quality chipboard. The pieces and the artwork all come together wonderfully and creatively for the theme of Cat Lady. The artwork is cute, simple and with enough extra detail to make the game fun without taking too much focus away from gameplay.
The box is a sturdy lift top lid type that we have come to love and the inside has a cardboard insert so all the pieces fit into a section in the middle without moving around the box loose which I like. I am hoping this is to make room for future expansions such as Box of Treats which came out in 2020. I know when we buy the expansion we will combine them into one box so I like it when companies account for that option and AEG is one company I know cares about their gamers.
Cat Lady has the stats on the box, like most games, that say how many players, playtime, and recommended ages, however, this box doesn’t show the standard meeple and time clock, it shows cats! Even the box goes along with the theme which is fantastic! It says it takes about 30 minutes but if you have a daughter like my Diva it can take a little longer, she likes to think on her turn instead of beforehand and has my gift for gab. Times obviously will vary but the number of players cannot. The game is set up for 2 to 4 players and plays great with any of that number and the expansion allows for up to 6!
The recommended age says 14, however, this is usually based on tiny parts and the age of test players they could get for the game a lot of the time. Sometimes it has to with content but in this case, content is appropriate for any age, however, there are still small parts so if you have a kid, or adult, who puts things in their mouth maybe don’t play this game yet or swap out the tiny parts for big game pieces. My kids were 8 and 10 when we played and love it, however, they could have played just fine at age 5 or 6 with a little help. Now, let’s see what I’m talking about and learn how to play, well, learn how we played.
To have the most Victory Points, VP, at the end of the game, and be the craziest Cat Lady! That last bit was added as we treat it like a title when we play.
First Shuffle the cards!!! The 13 cards of Stray Cats to be precise and then lay them face down in a pile to the side of the playing area. You’ll want to look at the instructions as I am probably about to confuse you with my description. The Game Cards will be shuffled and put at the top of the playing area and are the Main deck for the game. Before you do that though you will have to remove some cards based on how many people are playing. We played with 4 people so no cards were removed, but if we play with just 3 people then all cards with a number 4 on them in the top right corner will be removed from the game along with 2 randomly drawn cards. THEN shuffle and put the Main Deck in its place.
Now pretend there is a 9 x 9 grid in your playing area with the Main Deck at the top above it. 3 cards across and 3 down to form a square. Picturing it? Ok, good, deal 9 cards from the Main Deck into those spots face up. Just one per spot. Next deal 3 Stray Cat cards face up off to the side of the play area and put the wooden cubes however you like off to the side as well. We like to keep them separate and in small paper cups because we might have some OCD tendencies but you can place them however you want as long as everyone can reach them.
Play moves clockwise, or to the left and the first player is the person with the most cats, which is always me with 2.5 of the cats being mine. One belongs mostly to my husband but is also mine and my kids each have one of their own while two are just mine. Going first doesn’t help me though, I still lose. The person to the right of the First Player places the Cat Token next to a row or column and then the First Player can start the game!
One of our cats, Gretel (her brother’s name is Hansel!) decided she wanted to play too and joined in…as the Cat Token. Sort of.
On your turn, you will take an ENTIRE row or column of your choice EXCEPT for the one that the Cat Token is next to. Horizontal or Vertical only, not diagonal. So if the Cat Token was placed next to the top row you could still take any of the three columns and would still get the card from the top row that way. Once you have chosen a row or column place the Cat Token next to it and then replace those cards from the deck.
Cat cards get placed in front of you when you take it. Food cards get discarded in exchange for the Cube of that color, White for Milk, Blue for Tuna, and Red for Chicken. The purple is for Wild food and can be used as any type of food needed. Keep in mind that you can and will lose points for having TOO much food leftover. Wouldn’t want to be wasteful.
Costume cards go into your hand till the end of the game and if you don’t end up with at least one you will lose 2 VP but if you have the most you could gain 6 VP for that so keep that in mind.
Toy cards also go into your hand till the end of the game but are scored based on how many different ones you have. If you have 3 Unique toys you will get 5 VP.
Catnip is another hold til the end of the game card and you want at least 2 or you lose 2 VP, however, if you have 2 or 3 you gain 1 VP for each of your cats who have been fed and if you have 4 or more you get 2 VP for fully fed cats.
You can play Lost Cat and Spray Bottle cards at any time on your turn. They go into your hand when you get them until you choose to play them and neither have any value if still in your hand at the end of the game. The Lost Cat cards can help you gain Stray Cats, which will need to be fed, as well as being able to gain a token worth 2 VP by discarding 2 Lost Cat cards. Spray Bottle cards allow you to move the Cat Token so this could come in handy if the column or row you want is blocked OR if you want to block the next player. My son uses these when he can but he also usually sits by his dad so I can’t blame him.
The game is over when you can no longer fill in an empty row or column with cards and then the fun begins! You feed your cats based on the type and amount shown on their card. There is a number on the left of the card which will turn into VP if your cat is fully fed, however, if you fail to fully feed your cat you lose 2 VP regardless of that number. The player with the most leftover food AFTER feeding cats now loses 2 VP and if there is a tie BOTH players lose the 2 VP. Harsh.
Now add up your points based on cats, toys, costumes, feedings, stray cats, catnip, and any VP tokens obtained during the game. It sounds more confusing then it is. Just make sure you just check the instruction booklet as they do a much better and more in-depth explanation of points. The player with the most VP wins and is crowned Cat Lady!! Unless there is a tie, then the person who has the most fed cats is the winner and if there is still a tie, which we haven’t come across, then you have to play again and THAT person gets the title!! This time my husband was the Cat Lady!
This game is fantastic for family game nights. Fun for adults as well as kids and easy to understand and play but still challenging enough for a group of adults to play in between those LONG games with long set up times. Sometimes you just want a light and fluffy game and Cat Lady is a purrfect choice.
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