Full disclosure: A review copy of Similo: Wild Animals was provided by Luma Imports.
I think this technically counts as the home stretch, now. These types of reviews are interesting, because normally I do a batch of different games from different publishers, so they tend to all get written at about the same time. For Button Shy / Hanamikoji / these Similo sets, I’m writing them all at the same time, but I need about a week between dropping reviews of them because I like to try and mix up what publishers and games I cover each week. Keep things fresh. Plus, while I like Similo, I’m not sure folks would find two weeks of nothing but Similo as compelling of a read. So by now we’re looking at August, which, writing from the perspective of early June, is wild to me. Almost unfathomable. So let’s see what’s going on with this, our second-to-last Similo review! For now, at least. Who knows if they’ll make more?
In Similo: Wild Animals, your collection of animals has basically doubled! You’ll put Noah to shame, I suppose. Now, you have the possibility of a secret character from around the world! Penguins and komodo dragons and lions and giraffes and, I guess there’s a hummingbird in here? That’s wild, I suppose. Who’s to say? You’ll have to figure out what characteristics match and which ones don’t if you want to have any hope of guessing correctly. Will you be able to pull it off?
- Again, read the cards! Especially the Dromedary; don’t just assume it’s a camel. I really did think it was a camel. First off, learning things is fantastic; we should all be so lucky, and second, it’s just a good idea to make sure you have the same information as your co-player. Reading the cards can help clarify assumptions and make sure that all players are building off of the same foundation. If you assumed that the flamingo exclusively ate people, for some reason (terrifying, if true), then you might not give the same clue as you would if you correctly knew that it eats mostly fish. Plus, the card also tells you why it’s pink, which is fun.
- You’ve got a lot of interesting splits on this one, so use those to your advantage. There are a lot of fun animal colors that you can leverage, for instance, or you can just shoot for “lizard-ish”, if you get lucky. What kinds of foods does your secret character eat? Do you have animals in hand that match that? Or do you have animals in hand that specifically don’t? There are a lot of fun ways to provide information and derive meaning from clues in this set, so have fun with it! Try to experiment a bit.
- I wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying to split on where the animal(s) normally live, just because not everyone might have that down to continents. If you want to try and split on biomes, that may work better. Most of the cards will, to be fair, give you continent-specific information on the various animals, but I still think going for “tropics” versus “tundra” versus “the ocean” versus “deserts” will serve you better, if you’re trying to give clues about where your secret character lives. Naturally, your opponent will derive whatever meaning they want from your clues, but it’s good to keep your intended clues in mind so that you can try and play consistently.
- There’s some size variance between the animals in this set, but they definitely tend to be larger, on the whole, so you may not have as much success there, either. Hummingbird is real tiny, granted, but beyond that there doesn’t feel like there’s as discrete of a range of sizes as there was in the Animals set. Here, you’ve got a few small animals, a few medium-sized ones, and then a lot of “big-ish” animals. I’d recommend not trying to make your clues size-related, but that’s just me.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- A lot of people’s favorite animals are here. Or, at least, mine is. Every time a game has a penguin in it, I like it a bit more, even if I didn’t enjoy the gameplay a ton. Thankfully, here, I both like the presence of penguins and enjoy the gameplay, so it’s the best of both worlds.
- I really appreciate how self-important the Toucan looks. It’s incredibly pompous. We used that a lot when we mixed this set with Fables to convey a sense of royalty, which I appreciated. It just looks so … full of itself. Not what I’d traditionally associate with a toucan.
- I think it’s fun that they make a distinction between a Camel and a Dromedary. I learned something! But it was an interesting thing to have learned, so I am appreciative of this set. Honestly, I think I’ve learned something from every game of Similo that I’ve played, and I think that’s great. I love that I can always pick up something new from a game.
- There are a bunch of very-specific overlaps between cards in this set and other sets, which I think is fun. I mentioned the Toucan, for instance, but using the Bat to convey a lot of different evil characters works well, also, especially for the Spookies set. There are a lot of fun things you can do with these animal-themed sets, so try and find out your own!
- Again, incredible work on the art, here. I really like the art for these games. Every game stands out as distinct, but they have the nice thematic undertones that show how much care was put into the foreground and background of each card. I mean, it’s what, 180 distinct illustrations across six sets? That’s not nothing.
- I do like the idea that you could just consolidate all of these into a smallish box and take them on the go. Maybe I’ll do that at some point, like a Similo: Travel Box. Though honestly, I can just pass-and-play on Board Game Arena, and that works well enough for me. I’ve actually only played Similo in person maybe twice?
- “Wild” Animals is a bit of a confusing name for this set, since it’s really more, say, Animals of the World, but I get it. I guess they’re wilder, per capita, but I’d still rather deal with a penguin than a bear.
- I wonder why only the Animals and Wild Animals sets had paper rulebooks instead of cards. Not bad, just intriguing. Again, maybe just a quirk of when my specific copies were manufactured, but an interesting quirk, nonetheless.
- While I do prefer this set, animal-wise, to Animals, I’m a bit surprised that this is where they decided they needed a thematic duplicate set. It seems like they went for five fairly distinct concepts and then threw in another Animals set, which, again, fine, but I’d have been more enthusiastic about other expansions before this one. That’s just me and my preferences, though. I’d be interested to see what else makes it into the Similo line. I’m aware of a Harry Potter one, but I don’t really care about that at all, so I’d be more inclined to see less franchise-y stuff, anyways.
Overall: 7.25 / 10
Overall, I like Similo: Wild Animals! I think I prefer it a bit to the standard Animals set, mostly because I find the choices of animals here to be a bit more interesting and dynamic than, say, a horse or a bear or a goose. Especially when mixing, there’s a lot more you can say with a penguin or a komodo dragon than with a house mouse (though if you’re playing with Fables, that’s an excellent clue for any Cinderella-related characters). I like the challenge of that, and since these are a wider variety of animals, I think there’s just more to do, here. I’m a bit surprised that they went for this expansion of an animal set rather than adding new types of sets or expanding other sets, but who knows what goes on in the mind of the Similo creators. Either way, I think there’s a lot of nice stuff here. As mentioned in every review, Similo really gets its art style, and each card is particularly excellent, here, as well. Plus, it’s a fun set to mix with other sets, which I’m always a fan of. If you’re looking to expand on your collection of Similo animals, you just want to go a bit wild, or you’re a completionist at heart, you’ll probably enjoy Similo: Wild Animals! It’s a neat set.
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