Full disclosure: A review copy of Pusheen Purrfect Pick was provided by Ravensburger.
Another game that I’ve been waiting to talk about forever. I’m finally in a place where I’m playing more games, again, so I’ve been ramping up with trying to get a few games that I’ve really wanted to try played. Haven’t been able to play all of them, naturally, but I’ve been trying to make inroads with a few titles. Some you’ve seen, and some you’ll see in the near future. I did, unfortunately, burn up most of my holiday buffer with moving (it took longer than I expected, naturally), but I’m starting to get fully settled and me being settled means that we can start getting the review engine back up and running. To that end, I’ve got a few new reviews for y’all coming soon, and one of the first ones is this, Pusheen Purrfect Pick. Let’s check it out and see what’s up!
In Pusheen Purrfect Pick, it’s time to hang out with Pusheen and friends! You can hang out at Pusheen’s House or in the park, which is nice, to have options like that. Your goal is to spend a delightful weekend together, so make sure you bring the essentials! If you bring the right stuff, you may even be able to capture some cool snapshots and preserve those memories forever. Naturally, you can make a little competition out of it, especially because all your friends are showing up, even Dragonsheen! Will you be able to have the best time?
Place the game board. Note that you can play at Pusheen’s House or the Park, depending on your mood. Both are fairly foreign concepts to me as of writing time, but you do you:
Shuffle the Essentials cards; place it facedown next to the board. Reveal one card face-up in each of the indicated spots on the board:
Shuffle the Snapshots and reveal four:
I just wanted to highlight the Pusheen figure; you’ll give that to the start player:
You’re all ready to start!
In Pusheen’s Purrfect Pick, your goal is to collect everything you need to take fun photos with your friends. Each photo will earn you some stars, and the first player to collect 10 stars wins!
To start a round, the start player will place Pusheen on any pawprint space on the board. Once they do, players in turn order (starting with the player who placed Pusheen and going clockwise) will take one Essentials card. They may take any of the adjacent cards or draw a card from the deck. The card should be placed into your hand unless otherwise stated. If you take an Action card, immediately perform its action and then discard it.
After taking a card, a player may discard the required Essentials cards to take one Snapshot card from the face-up Snapshot row.
If, at this point, any player has 10 or more stars, they win! If not, refill any empty spots on the board or in the Snapshot row with cards from their respective decks.
Finish the round by pulling Pusheen from the board and giving it to the start player’s left. That player becomes the new start player, and play continues until one or more players win! Note it is possible to tie, if multiple players end up with the same number of stars at the end of a round and they have more than 10 stars.
Player Count Differences
At higher player counts, you’re going to have more trouble predicting what cards are being taken and by whom. This is, depending on your players, largely because players can start pulling cards from the deck if they don’t like anything on the board. With more players, I assume that more of those players will pull from the deck, meaning you won’t get to see what cards they get. That makes the game a bit more contentious, as you cannot prepare for them to take certain Snapshots (or guard against certain Action cards). That’s kind of exciting, but it can also feel a bit more random. For a game that’s this light, that probably doesn’t … matter, all that much, but it’s something worth noting depending on your play style. The game can also be a smidge mean, which is kind of interesting. At two, it’s usually fine for me to play a bit meaner, since there’s no chance of dogpiling. At higher player counts, players can accidentally all pile on the same player (or intentionally; I know how some of y’all are), and that isn’t as great for me. All things considered, I probably prefer Pusheen’s Purrfect Pick at lower player counts, for those reasons. It’s not a major factor, but it’s enough for me to personally like this more in the 2- or 3-player space.
- Keep an eye on what cards your opponent is taking. This is kind of a light game, so there’s not always a ton you can do in the strategy space beyond trying to outpace your opponent. In order to do that, however, you do kind of need a sense of what they’re going after. If you’re watching what cards they take, then you’ve at least got a shot. You should try to match up the cards they’re taking against the Snapshots that are available. That will give you at least some sense of what they might be going after, and if you know that, then you can potentially mess them up with your Pusheen placements, when it’s your turn.
- Try to place Pusheen on your turn such that your opponent can’t really take anything useful. Like I said, if you know what your opponent is going for, you can place Pusheen such that they potentially can’t get it. They still might be able to pull it randomly, but a lot of players don’t think to pull from the deck when they’ve gotten the short end of a placement. That can help you quite a bit. Naturally, don’t place Pusheen in a spot where everyone gets easy access to high-value cards, unless you have no other options.
- If you don’t have any good options, try drawing from the deck. Honestly, I’m inclined to say that you should pretty frequently pull from the deck, rather than explicitly drawing something face-up. It makes it much more difficult for your opponent to guess your actions, and, like Ticket to Ride, you’ve got some chance of drawing fairly useful cards. There aren’t a ton of cards that can really hurt you, anyways, if you draw them. I tend to only take from the board if there’s something I explicitly need available to me. Otherwise, I’m pulling from the top of the deck and hoping for a Wild or something. It’s more useful, anyways.
- There are a variety of useful action cards! You can get action cards that allow you to take cards from other players or draw additional cards or discard useful cards from the board. I particularly like the last one, as it allows you to get rid of other, more useful cards that you may not be able to get access to on your subsequent turns. Chests, for instance, might be worth discarding if you can’t get them for yourself. One will let you clear out the Snapshot cards, which is a great way to mess your opponents up if they’re almost able to get one.
- Also, check the abilities on the Snapshot cards; they may be worth picking up. Some of the Snapshot cards are much more useful early in the game, and others can help you get additional points or additional Snapshots more easily. Keep an eye out for those and try to pick them up if you can, situationally.
- If another player grabs a Ski Trip, don’t let them get more. They only need 10 stars to win, and the Ski Trips compound pretty rapidly. If you let them get two or three, the game might start getting away from you. Even though they’re not the most valuable cards, it’s often worth grabbing them to prevent other players from loading up, given their ability to be worth additional points very quickly.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I mean, if you’re a fan of Pusheen, this game will likely appeal to some core and fundamental part of your psyche. I’ve been hyped for this since it got announced. Even though it’s not exactly, like, a game that’s as strategically stimulating as I would like. The theme is extremely cute, it’s bright and colorful, and it’s probably exactly as heavy as it should be. It’s a simple game, but it’s very much a game about cute friendships and some cutthroat betrayals. As it should be.
- Additionally, the art choices are very good. It’s just overall a very cute game. The various images are Pusheen and friends just hanging out and having a good time. I’m a big fan of how much they put into this game. It’s simple, but not too simple.
- There’s also a lot of bonus art that could have been duplicated, which I appreciate. The card Ski Trip rewards you for having additional Ski Trip cards, and that could have very easily been the same card repeated a few times. It’s not! It’s multiple distinct cards, some even being more valuable than others. I appreciate this. It’s a nice touch.
- Plays pretty quickly. It’s very much on the lighter end of the game spectrum. That does make it easier to learn, as well.
- I like the core mechanic of placing Pusheen in a spot and then letting everyone pick cards. This does a good job of setting itself apart from a lot of the “draw a card, play a card” and “draw cards until you have enough” types of games that are often associated with licensed titles. It’s a simple tweak, but it’s a good improvement to make this feel relatively novel.
- The Pusheen figure included in the game is a lovely touch. It’s super cute!
- Not too challenging to learn, either. You’re pretty much just trying to collect cards, but the person who starts the round gets to choose where you pull your cards from. Beyond that, it’s matching icons. It all works pretty well.
- The game can be surprisingly mean, depending on what cards you draw, but it’s more funny than hurtful. You wouldn’t expect it from a Pusheen game, but some of the action cards are very aggressive. They let you take cards from an opponent or burn useful cards from the board or, in one particular case, force all of your opponents to give you a card. It’s a bit of an odd fit for this style of game, honestly, given how cute it is. It’s like if a Hello Kitty game had hate-drafting.
- The cards vary in utility, which can make certain lucky draws a bit swingy, as they can earn you a ton of points randomly. That’s definitely my major gripe with this game. There are Action Cards, for instance, that let you draw two cards. Drawing that from the top of the deck is pretty much explicitly better than drawing a random card. It’s similarly possible to be in a game where, due to luck, you almost never see any Action cards or special Snapshots, giving the players who do see them a decent advantage. It’s not particularly bad in a short, light game, but it can be frustrating to players who are on the receiving end of unlucky draws.
Overall: 7.25 / 10
Overall, I think Pusheen Purrfect Pick is quite cute. I’ll be real; I enjoyed it, but it’s probably a bit lighter than the games I would normally play. Nice thing is, it’s also the only Pusheen game that currently exists, so, purely on theme alone, it stays in my collection. I love having an exclusion clause for this sort of stuff. If nothing else, it really nails the aesthetic it’s going for. it’s a lot of bright, colorful pastels, and that looks great on the table. I also appreciate just how much art they used. The board didn’t need to be double-sided, but it is! The Ski Trip cards didn’t need to be unique, but they are! That’s a nice touch, and games with that level of care and attention deserve a bit of additional praise. It’s also just unbelievably cute. It would do well with Bunny Party in Maple Valley if you were covering the cutest games from the last year, but unfortunately that’s not one of the American Tabletop Awards’s focus areas. Maybe for 2022. Probably not. Anyways. The major factor that pushes this from a “licensed game” to a “pretty fun licensed game” is that I actually think the Pusheen placement determining what your card options are is pretty clever. It’s negated a bit by being able to draw from the deck no matter what, but it does make the game a bit less “take random cards until you have enough to do what you want”, which I appreciate. There’s often a temptation to lazily throw a game together if you’ve got a good license, and I’m glad we’ve been moving away from that as an industry practice. I’m not terribly surprised that a game with the Pusheen license isn’t a 90-minute Eurogame, personally, though I’d love to see what that looks like. I think it’s smart to recognize that making a cute and quick and simple game will likely be a good use of a family-friendly license. And it lands pretty well; this is definitely a game that I’m usually willing to play. It’s so short! Plus, it’s very cute, and there’s always more room for cute games in my collection. If you’re a Pusheen fan and looking for a cute, simple, and quick game, you might enjoy Pusheen’s Purrfect Pick! I had fun with it.