Elizabeth Hargrave (designer of wingspan) has been working her magic on creating a new board game. The Fox Experiment is based upon the Russian study of domestication which uses foxes rather than wolves and focuses on the 'domestication syndrome', the suite of characteristics that domesticated species seem to share.
We were lucky enough to get a demo of this unique game at UK Games Expo and we weren't disappointed. It's a game where roll and write meets resource management with a hint of drafting thrown in. Whilst this may sound like there's a lot going on in the game, the turns are simple in construction; choose your male and female foxes to breed, roll the dice and see what traits your new pup has.
The artwork for this game is just as gorgeous and captivating as Wingspan, the theme is unusual and intriguing and the components have been well thought out. The game has great table presence and it's link to the long standing experiment adds a refreshing twist.
Game Play Overview
The fox experiment is played over 5 rounds and each round begins with players choosing which male and female foxes they wish to breed from the current pool and which position in the turn order they wish to be. Once they have completed this, each player then rolls the dice shown on the cards of their breeding pair, flips over a card for a new fox and records how many complete symbols for each trait they can make from the dice rolled (each trait has a different symbol and colour and each die has some sides with whole symbols and some with half symbols). Players then assess who has created the best fox cub that round, before collecting trait tokens and upgrading their facilities. This is then repeated for each remaining round until the game end when final scoring takes place. During the game, players will be attempting to complete a variety of contracts each requiring a specific set of traits from the foxes bred which count towards your end game score. The player with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
Pros and Cons
The fox experiment is a lovely game, it can take a few turns to get your head around exactly what you need to do due to the lack of a player aid but once you've settled into the game, you're well on your way to understanding how to concoct your own strategy for winning. The components are easy to read and see from across the table, the game board is well designed and the foxes all have varying artwork. I really loved how you got to name the foxes you were creating and how simple each turn was once you'd got your head around what you were doing and why you were doing it.
Overall, we loved this game. It has been themed really well and combines several popular mechanics in a unique style. We love that it's anyone's game for the winning right up until the final scores are calculated at the end as it allows you to really focus on what you're doing rather than what's going to score you the most.
In conclusion, we would rate this game a 9.5/10
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