“If there is a Hell, this is the game they’re going to make me play.”
Those are the words that co-Meeple Jennifer wrote to me about Angry Sheep, the failed Kickstarter attempt from 2013 that was finally published this month by Iron Box Games. Surely she was exaggerating, I thought. There’s no way a simple dice-rolling game could be that bad.
As I sit here, rocking back and forth in my chair, flashes of plastic, menacing sheep in my mind, only one thought is coherent enough to comprehend.
I should have listened to her.
I met with Jennifer that same day and sat down with her to play Angry Sheep.
“Oh, it comes in a nice plastic tube, like Zombie Dice!” I proclaimed excitedly. “And these plastic sheep figures are really cute.”
“Yes, they’re perfect to use in Agricola: All Creatures Big & Small,” Jen responded with a heavy sigh.
Jennifer quickly explained the mechanics of Angry Sheep, which didn’t take long; that should have been my first warning. The objective of the game is to be the first player to accumulate a set number of white sheep based on the number of players. For the two of us, we needed 20 sheep to win, a task that seemed simple enough.
Sheep are earned by rolling dice and matching pairs of the various unique icons; some grant you sheep from the pool, while others let you steal sheep from your opponents. The problem is that the same dice that grant you sheep also contain icons that force your opponent to lose sheep. That previous turn where you snagged a bunch of new sheep? Yeah, now you lost them all and more.
And then there’s the dreaded black die and black sheep, “Sheep Guevara.” I don’t even want to explain what they do; the wounds are too fresh and the memories too traumatizing. All I’ll say is that he exists to cause players to lose even more sheep every turn.
Within the first ten minutes of the game, I successfully scored 20 sheep in my pasture. I won! Or so, I thought. You see, players can’t win if they also have the black sheep in their possession. And so began my decline, turn after turn losing more sheep until my collection was back into the single digits.
Thirty minutes later, Jen and I were still rolling, still losing sheep every turn. Surely we were doing something wrong, I hoped. But alas, Angry Sheep wanted to punish us. Those plastic beady eyes were full of hatred and contempt for me, and all I could do is weep and continuing rolling, hoping to end whatever eternal punishment we were forced to suffer.
I looked down at the table. “Oh. I have 20 sheep again. I win.” But there was no happiness or joy in my victory. I knew in my heart that, in reality, I had lost the most important of games. Angry Sheep had won.
May God have mercy on my soul.