Who doesn't love sheep? The designers Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini have some well received titles on their CVs,
The Voyages of Marco Polo and
Grand Austria Hotel.
Sheepland, however, failed to appeal to the demanding Boardgamegeek Community and currently resides at rank 2391.
Is Sheepland on a par with games like Buffy The Vampire Slayer
or could the (gasp!) the community be wrong? Let us see what hides in the box of Sheepland.
The First Impression
Actually, the box may provide a first clue to the low ranking of Sheepland. The cartoony cover depicting a shepherd and
his sheep does not give the impression of a gamers' game but rather a children's game. The board further strenghtens this
impression with its bright colors and broad brushstrokes and the sheep shaped meeples may not be something a cool gamer wants
to be seen playing with. Not even the rules seem to take Sheepland seriously with sentences like "The most recent player to
caress a sheep is the First Player and takes the First Player token". One of the major challenges of Sheepland is getting the
game to the table!
How to Play
But what is the game about then? Herding sheep obviously. The board consists of six different terrains, each of which
contains three areas. When the game starts, the sheep are spread across the board and it is your duty to bring them to your
terrains. The more sheep in your areas when the game ends, the higher your score. But which are your areas, you might wonder?
This is where the game gets interesting.
There is no such thing as "yours" when the game starts; the sheep can be moved by any player and the terrains belong to
whoever invested in them. In practice, you have three actions per turn, of which no two may be taken consecutively.
Move your shepherd along a road. You must move at least once and each movement leaves a blocking fence behind, gradually
limiting the players' options.
Move 1 sheep across your shepherd's road, to a new area.
Buy a terrain tile of a terrain adjacent to your shepherd. Each tile bought makes the next tile more expensive.
When all fences have been placed, the game ends. Your score equals your terrain tiles multiplied by all sheep that end the
How to Play Well
Those simple rules provide a gameplay far more challenging than you may think from just looking at the components. You
want to invest in terrain tiles as well as bring sheep there but you will not have time to do it all yourself. If you spend
too much time on terrain, the other players will steal "your" sheep, and if you spend too much time on sheep, the other
players will steal "your" terrain and profit from your hard work. Or perhaps you could temporarily ally with an opponent to
bring the sheep to a terrain that you have both invested in?
There is also an irrational element in the game: a black sheep worth twice as much that follows not only you but also a
die rolled each player turn. This little creature adds some randomness and prevents it from becoming a pure mathematical
Blue could invest in forest and bring a sheep there but then Red is likely to invest in fields and
steal the sheep from Blue...
Sheepland is not a heavy game but you get a lot of depth in a short playing time. The interaction is stronger and the
decisions more agonizing compared to many other fillers since you must constantly take into account your opponents' action.
Sheepland does stand a comparison with heavy stock manipulation games like
Reef Encounter (another vicious
game in a friendly clothing). Children may still enjoy playing it, and should perhaps play with fixed terrain tiles in the
beginning, but it is really not a children's game but rather a gateway game to heavy economic games.
The Quest for the Perfect Game is an endeavour to play a variety of games
and review them to extract the essence of each game. What you typically will
find in the reviews include:
What does the game want to be?
How does the player perceive the game?
What does the game do well and why?
What does the game do less well and why?
Is it fun?
What you typically will NOT find in the reviews include:
A detailed explanation of the rules.
An assessment of art, miniatures etc. with no impact on gameplay.
Unfounded statements like "dripping with theme" and "tons of replayability".
Unless stated otherwise, all the reviews are independent
and not preceded by any contacts with the game's stakeholders.
Is there a particular game that you would like me to review next? Please let us know!
Please leave a comment on the reviews or contact me directly at