Full disclosure: A review copy of Kittin was provided by Alley Cat Games.
More games! We’re getting into some new stuff here, with a few titles from Alley Cat Games! This might be the beginning, middle, or end of an upcoming rotation of titles, so expect to see Cat Cafe, Coral Islands, Paper Dungeons, and more as we go through a bunch of titles. Lots to do. This game’s called Kittin, so, let’s see what it’s got going for it. Games games games.
In Kittin, you gotta just … cuddle cats. You’ve worked too long to get an entire pile of cats, and if you can just get them all situated in just the right way, you’ll be able to become the ultimate cat cuddler. The problem is, your opponents are trying to do the same and steal that perfect moment away from you. You can’t let them do that. Will you be able to become the greatest cat cuddler in the world?
Basically none! You kind of just shuffle up the Cat Cards:
Then place the Kittins in the center:
And you’re good to go! When everyone’s ready, flip a card to get started.
Team Mode Setup
The game can be played in pairs. If you’re playing this way, instead of using the full stack of cards, place four cards face-up around the center.
In a game of Kittin, players race to stack cats and become the Chief Cat Cuddler. This one’s pretty straightforward.
Players don’t take turns. To kick things off, a player flips a card off the top of the stack and players just go for it. Your cats can’t be lying down (though I’m sure they’d prefer it).
When you think your stack matches the picture, shout “Meow!” to stop play. Players check to make sure it does (and that the cats are facing the right way). If it doesn’t, you cannot participate further in this round. If it does, you take the card and the round ends! Return the cats to the center and flip a new card. If there’s a tie, the rules state that the other players determine which player has the “neatest” stack.
Play continues until any player has collected three cards. That player wins!
Team Mode Gameplay
To play in teams, just choose one person to complete the current card and alternate. When someone says, “Meow!”, stop and check. If you’re correct, flip the next card in the sequence. The other players stop for verification, but they don’t have to restart; they can just continue. Just keep in mind that once you complete a card, you swap players.
Player Count Differences
Not really any in particular; players play independently and there are enough cats to go around. Honestly, divvying up the entire set of cats into four complete sets would probably solve a lot of “grabbing cats from the center” problems that could potentially arise. Beyond that, though, there aren’t a ton of ways that this game can shake out differently with more or fewer players beyond, like, the pigeonhole principle. I mean that to say that if the game ends as soon as one player takes three cards, then having more players just means that more rounds can happen before any player in particular wins. I’d say that’s about the biggest change. It’s not that Kittin definitely takes longer with more people; it just has the capacity to do so. As a result, I think I like Kittin slightly more at lower player counts than at higher player counts. It’s not that I think there’s any real problem with more players; I just prefer shorter games.
This is a pretty quick and light game, so I won’t have as much strategy. That’s common for some of the more dexterity-focused games; there’s not always a “strategy” that you can execute during gameplay.
- Check your cat directions before you build them out into your base. This is a pretty easy thing to miss, and one that will cost you bigtime, should you mess it up. Your cats need to be facing the exact same way as they do in the image, and that can be a bit subtle. You can, however, view your stack from either direction (front or back), so that may be a fine fix if you’re worried about switching up some cats inadvertently. Either way, you should check and double-check before you invest too deeply in stacking on top of them. Just try to be quick! This is a speed-stacking game, after all.
- Grab all the cats you need at once, so you don’t need to make as many trips back to the central supply. The game does a weird bit of “don’t take more than you need”, which seems to be a kind of goofy way to try and convince players to not break the game by taking too many cats, but that notwithstanding I just encourage players to check the card and grab all the cats they need at once. You want to play efficiently, and very few things are less efficient than going back to the middle to grab more cats a bunch of times in a round.
- Remember to say “Meow!” when you’ve completed! It’s like UNO; if you don’t say it, then you aren’t going to win. Just make sure it’s audible, but don’t make it weird.
- As you might guess with stacking games, start with the base. This is usually the case, though I found with some of the Kickstarter promo cards it helped to occasionally stack adjacent pieces together since they kind of interleaved. I find that grabbing all the cats I want and then getting the base set can be pretty critical to getting the whole stack together. Other than that, there’s not much to play.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Cat game! Cat fan, here, so, also a fan of cat games. I think the theme is underused, but that’s just my ongoing bias. Plus, cats tend to pile up when enough of them are together, so this game theme is somewhat based in reality, even if the cats are a bit more rigid than they are in real life.
- I’m also a big fan of stacking games. Stacking games are one of my favorite types of games. In my opinion, the ultimate is Catch the Moon, but it’s always nice to see games that are entering genres I know well and already quite like! It means that they’re hopefully trying to shake it up, a bit.
- The color and shapes of the cats are all delightful. They’re all different, but the colorings of the actual cats are great. The game looks great on the table, though I wish the pieces were bigger so that the game stood out more? I get that that’s kind of against the ethos of the game, though. I particularly like the turquoise U-shaped cat; it’s just a fun, odd shape, and fun, odd shapes are the heart and soul of weird stacking games.
- I also enjoy real-time games. The real-time elements make the game exciting and competitive, since players are making their own private cat stacks rather than one shared stack. It also makes the game generally play pretty quickly, which is always good for me.
- Pretty portable! Kittin is in a relatively small tin, so it’s not too hard to take places. I will say, of the two, Tinderblox is smaller and easier to take places, but this isn’t too bad either.
- The component quality is generally pretty good. The cards are a nice quality, the cats are solidly constructed, and the tin is solid and high-quality, as well. It’s an end-to-end nice production.
- The game’s cover art is very pleasant. It’s a whole pile of cats! What’s not to love?
- It can be difficult to see which way some cats are facing, which can be important. Some of the cats have subtle ear shapes that can be easy to miss if you’re in a hurry. Thankfully, it’s only on two of the cats, so, you’ll only make that mistake occasionally.
- The shapes can be a bit basic, though the Kickstarter promo cards have some more exciting configurations. They’re fun to stack, but I would love to see more complex configurations, like more rotated or upside-down or interlocking cats. That’s really what makes the more complex stacking games fun for me, in that they interlock and link together and such. These are cute, though.
- While I like the game quite a bit, I do wish it were a bit more than what it is. I get that it’s a small-tin game, but it does feel kind of basic, even if it’s cats. While I enjoy it and I think the art is impeccable, it could still reasonably be a thing you see in a tchotchke shop. I think the team mode helps a bit, but I think an advanced play mode of some kind would go a long way toward distinguishing this game from a crowded segment. I will say that the components are nice, and I didn’t have to bend any cards like you do in Cat Tower, so those are positives. It just feels like it’s missing a particularly compelling hook beyond its sub-$15 price point and theme. Maybe those work for you! It’s just not quite as powerful of a hook for me.
- The team mode seems to be their attempt to set Kittin apart, but it seems fine? This is probably the distinguishing factor that sets Kittin apart from other games, in that it has a team mode to support larger player counts of some kind. I don’t really love that kind of game (especially since one teammate is sitting out and can only “give advice” when it’s not their turn to stack the cats), but I imagine that it’s fun for the kind of folks that … do like that kind of thing. To me, it feels like they’re just creating a way to artificially inflate the player count while half of the players sit around and wait for the other half to tag them in. Again, this is why I don’t particularly care for these types of game modes; if I’m playing a game, I generally want to play it.
- 2 – 8 players isn’t an entirely accurate statement, given that team play only supports 4 / 6 / 8. This irks me because I have been mad about misleading player counts for a while, with regards to games. It’s not a 2 – 8 player game; it plays either 2 – 4 players or 2 – 4 teams. You cannot play Kittin at 5 or 7 players without playing the team mode with single-player teams, which isn’t what the rules specify. I understand that publishers want to have player counts be as large as possible so that people are incentivized to buy the game and play it with their groups, but I don’t think 2 – 8 players is an accurate statement about this game’s realistic player count.
- Letting other players break ties is a little bit of explicit kingmaking that will probably annoy players. Kittin’s rules provide no guidance as to what the “neatest” stack is, so, I worry this will essentially just be players picking who they want to win the round, in practice. It’s not my favorite way to break ties that I’ve seen in a real-time game, honestly.
Overall: 7.5 / 10
Overall, I think Kittin is pretty fun! On the grand scheme of stacking games, I think it’s probably on the lower end of the “stacking games I’d play regularly”, but still leagues ahead of the original tier of stacking games that largely defined ( / plagued) my childhood. I think the quickness of this game does it a lot of favors, even if the game isn’t particularly solid on what happens in the event of a tie. Additionally, the game does a lot for itself aesthetically! For a small game, there’s a lot of effort put into its appearance. The tin is solid (though, frankly, I’m not a huge fan of tins for games), and the design on the tin definitely conveys that this is going to be a cute game. So that’s good. The pieces are nice and colorful, and the cards are good quality, too! It’s a solid production. I think my worry is that even in the real-time game space, this game doesn’t often do a ton to distinguish itself beyond a game for cat fans. That doesn’t make it a bad game, by any stretch; just a fairly straightforward one. A lot of games end up in this space, for me. I solidly enjoyed Kittin, but I would be hard-pressed to say that it’s a standout title. It’s solidly fun, and sometimes that’s enough. You see a lot of cat-themed items in gift shops and rest areas around the country; in the same way that I often recommend PUSH in lieu of UNO and a lot of those types of card games, I’d kind of recommend Kittin in the same way. I think it’s accessible to a lot of players based on how quick and simple it is, and it’s a good look at what makes modern board games so fun. If you’re out to collect cat games, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kittin ended up on your radar, and if you enjoy quick stacking games and are looking for one that’s colorful and ultraportable, you might enjoy Kittin as well! I had a nice time with it.
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