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Boards Eye View looks at HONK!

August 25, 2023

Honk! is the sound made by geese, and there’s a gaggle of geese in this 2-5 player game from Sinister Fish Games. Matthew West’s design is aimed squarely at children and as a family game.

The game is played with cards, cardboard geese and cardboard eggs, including ‘golden eggs’ that have different values (1-3) on their reverse. You set the game up by laying out all the golden eggs face down and then randomly dropping the geese on top so that they overlay the golden eggs and each other. The geese all have their food requirements on them, and this will be various combinations of two or three of the the five food cards available from a display. On your turn you can either draw into your hand two different food cards or you can feed (pick up) a goose by paying from your hand the food cards indicated on that goose. You can only pick up a goose that isn’t overlapped by another goose. When you pick up a goose, you collect one (ordinary) egg that’ll be worth one point at the end of the game, but when you pick up any further identical geese they will net you extra eggs for each goose of that breed that you’ve already collected. If picking up a goose reveals any golden eggs, you collect them too.

The rules then are super easy, so the game can be played by nursery age children but there’s some strategy that older children will quickly discover. Players can find they are competing to feed the same goose: so when you take the goose I was hoping to get, I can be stuck with food cards that aren’t immediately helpful (and, note, there’s a seven-card hand limit). Canny players will also realise that it can be best not to pick up a goose if that’s going to give an opponent ready access to a goose that’s sitting on top of valuable golden eggs…

At around 15-20 minutes, Honk! is never in any danger of overstaying its welcome, and the fact that the golden eggs don’t get accessed until the latter part of the game, and their actual values are concealed, means that you’re never certain of the winner until the game ends. It’s a game that works at all player counts, and it’s always refreshing to find a family game that adults can enjoy rather than endure playing with young children.

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