Full disclosure: A review copy of Yeti in the House was provided by itten.
Another itten title! I’ve been powering through a few of these from time to time, and I covered a bunch in the past, like Moon Base, a super-cool two-player game that came out last year. I really do love itten, honestly; their games are frequently weird as hell but there’s something genuinely earnest in that. Stonehenge and the Sun requested that I put a hook in my ceiling! Tokyo Highway comes with its own Tweezers. I only read about Egg a while ago, but, Egg. So what’s Yeti in the House? Well, that’s what the review is for; let’s find out.
In Yeti in the House, you play as either a Search Team, emboldened by legends of a snowbound Yeti, or the Yeti themself, who dreams of friendship but is enough of a misanthrope that they don’t want to be found. With only a blurry photo, the Search Team sets out on their mission to track that Yeti down. Will you be able to avoid their excursion? Or will they be able to make a legendary find?
None. Just take the components (mountain, footprints, and Yeti), and you’re ready to start:
First off, you’re going to split into two groups. One player will be the Yeti, who secretly wants to be found, and the other will be the Search Team. The Search Team places the Mountain token somewhere in the room. They then leave the room or close their eyes; whatever makes it so they can’t see the room.
The Yeti player then must hide the Yeti somewhere in the room so that it can see the Mountain. They must then also hide the Footprint tokens. The rules say it must be “distant” from the Yeti, but, you know, that’s not really an exact science, so, do whatever, I guess.
Once they’ve hidden everything, they should take a picture of the Yeti and do some photo editing to obfuscate the Yeti’s location. Just some light retouching, or, go ham, but it should be somewhat legible.
After doing that, invite the players to open their eyes or to return to the room and start trying to guess where the Yeti is. They should try to avoid searching; they should really just look at the photo and then make a guess. The guess needs to be specific (“behind the ceremonial dagger on the mantle” counts), and then you check! If the Yeti is there, the Search Team wins; if either of the Footprints are there, the Yeti wins! If neither is true, well, you can either keep guessing, or you can give each player one guess or something; the rules aren’t especially clear about when you stop.
Player Count Differences
There aren’t really any. You just have more people on the Search Team who can guess. Usually, I let every player make their own guess, so it may be harder for the Yeti player to win, unless they’re good at subterfuge. Then, the extra players may just be more likely to find the hidden footprints and lose it all.
- I mean, look for things in the photo that seem like they’re unique or easy to place in certain parts of the room to narrow your search scope. That’s just … kind of how you’ve gotta go about it, short of getting up and looking for the Yeti. If you keep in mind that the Yeti is always visible from the mountain, then you’ll occasionally have better results. Look for the angle of shadows and light to see; maybe it’s near a light source or a window or something? Try to glean as much information as you can.
- Watch out for having text in the photo. Don’t put it on a book cover that’s obvious or certain patterns or structures that make it really easy to figure out where it is. If you have plaid curtains, don’t put it by the curtains. But maybe put it by the curtains if you have more than one set, or if you have other plaid stuff in the room! Confuse them.
- Put all your effort into editing that photo. Go ham, provided it’s still legible. Crop it weird, make it black-and-white, up the contrast; do whatever you want. Your goal is to trick them into picking a footprint location, not the real Yeti, so get creative with how you obfuscate its location with your photoediting skills. Just, if they can’t see the Yeti in the photo, it’s not good.
- Look for repeated patterns / shelves that look similar and try to hide the Yeti and the footprints in places that seem like they’re the same. This is my favorite thing, especially for you folks that have Kallax shelves or other very regular IKEA furniture. If you present a photo of the Yeti with some furniture tells, but the furniture is regular enough that there are plenty of places for it to be while taking the same photo, you can usually trick them into guessing the Footprint spot and giving you the win. It’s a bit risky, though, so you may also just want to hide it in a place where it can’t be found. Then you kind of win the Yeti game via attrition, at least. Just make sure you don’t lose it? This is definitely the kind of game where pieces get lost.
- Try not to look at the Yeti or loiter too long when you’re placing the Yeti so you don’t give off unintentional clues to its location. Just about standard stuff for any game where you’re hiding something. You’ve gotta be sneaky! If you spend too much time unintentionally looking at the spot, you’re going to start cluing people in that they should be looking that way. That said, you should also not not look at the spot ever. Just try to be casual! Don’t let your eyes linger on the Yeti’s location for too long.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- A truly silly game. It’s hide-and-seek with a lonely Yeti. Very on-brand for itten, I feel like. It’s definitely a strange one; not sure it’s the best for game night. It’s good for a lark, though!
- The photo editing is most of the game, to be honest. And I love editing photos! Mostly. It’s fun to see the kinds of images that players end up making to try and obfuscate their Yeti’s location, too. I find that more fun than trying to figure out where to hide something, at least.
- Plays quickly. It’s hide-and-seek with maybe a few guesses. You can’t even go looking for the thing.
- Very easy to let all players have a turn. Since it plays fast, you might as well let every player be the Yeti player at least once. Each round takes 5 minutes, maybe even less.
- Very portable. Very small box! One of the tiniest I’ve seen; it’s basically the size of a matchbox.
- Can be played … pretty much anywhere. Anywhere where you can place a mountain and hide the Yeti, at least. I would recommend not playing this on an airplane, of course.
- Some kinda nontrivial advantage for the person whose house you’re playing it in. They kind of recognize all the places that you can hide the Yeti, unless you really surprise them.
- I’m a bit worried about pieces getting lost. You can hide some of those things and have trouble finding them. That’s … less good. Just make sure you keep track of where everything is, not just the Yeti.
- The rules aren’t super clear about how much players are allowed to look around. They just say the players come back. I usually don’t let them search; I just have them close their eyes and they can’t move from their seats. It works pretty well.
- Unless you’re frequently playing in significantly different locations, I worry the game will get stale rapidly. You can only find so many good places for the Yeti. That said, you have many rooms in the house and many places to play, so, that could potentially be useful to help keep the game viable. Having some restrictions on how to place the Yeti would be cool. Essentially round-modifier cards could go a long way to making the game lose that staleness threat, I think. Or just mix it up a bit more.
Overall: 6.75 / 10
Overall, Yeti in the House is a cute little game! I think, personally, it’s going to eventually get a bit stale for me, since, you know, it’s not like there’s many ways to switch it up beyond moving to a new house and trying it there. Ironically, that does kind of make it an ideal game for the renters’ hellscape that is the San Francisco Bay Area. So that’s a potential avenue of appeal. At its core, it’s a silly hide-and-seek game with some smartphone-based hinting, which is nice for players who have smartphones but obviously very difficult to play without them. I’m into it, though! I like the editing, I like the process, and I think it’s a very off-beat game, which is still pretty on-brand for itten, and I respect that. I think, for larger appeal, having a bit more scaffolding and rules polish would take the game a long way, though. And a more advanced mode, or something. Adding a bit of extra foundation could make it into a really neat party game, I think. As is, it’s a cute concept, and I could see this game going over really well with kids. If you have a chance to check it out, or if you really like games with a photo-editing component, I’d say you might enjoy Yeti in the House! It’s definitely weird, but it’s weird in a fun way.