-Game by Josh Norris
-Art by Jenny Parks & Jacqui Davis
-Published by The Original Sasquatch
I first heard about CATASTROPHE as I was preparing to attend PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia this past December. It looked fun and who doesn’t love a good cat pun! CATASTROPHE is a 2-6 player game with an average play time of 30-45 minutes and with a recommended age of 10+, I thought this would be a purrrrfect game for my feline-obsessed 10 year-old! The game mechanics didn’t appear that complicated so I made a point to check it out during the 2 days I spent at PAX.
I recognized game designer Josh Norris right away behind the CATASTROPHE booth but it helped that he was standing in front of a wall of cat art depicting some of the hilarious cats that appear on the game’s Power Cat Cards, like Butch Catssidy & the Sundance Kitty or Catthulu. This entire review could just be about all the amazing Power Cat cards, and that’s coming from a dog person!
I was with fellow GateCrasher Dan Nixon and when a spot opened up, we decided to sit down and demo the game. The rules of the game were quickly explained to us; there’s a board with 9 levels on it and the goal is to outlast your opponent so that you aren’t taken by the Grim Reapurr.
Players take their character card and corresponding player token. Each player is dealt 5 main cards and 2 Power Cat cards. The main cards consist of attack cards, reaction cards, curiosity cards, and ally cards. During each turn, the player runs through 3 phases: the Claw phase (you play as many main cards or Power Cat cards as you’d like), the Paw phase (you draw 3 main deck cards), and the Catastrophe phase (you draw and immediately play a Catastrophe Card).
As Dan and I started to play, something surprising happened. We both became completely wrapped up and enamored with this game. I thought my kid would like it, but I had no idea how much I’d love it. The artwork for the Power Cat cards is fantastic and the punny cat names are great, but there’s so much joy and whimsy in every phase of this game. The rules are straightforward so you only need to go through them once and everything you need to know is on the cards in front of you. The game also has a dice rolling component to it and each player starts out with 3 yarn balls that they can use to re-roll or to make an opponent re-roll, with opportunities along the way to earn additional yarn balls. All of these game mechanics fit together so well to create a fantastic experience for the entire family, even those friends that aren’t into board games will have a great time. When Dan and I finished the demo, both of us had huge smiles on our faces even though I absolutely destroyed him by stockpiling a few “Curiosity Killed the Cat” cards, which allows you to choose an opponent to lose 1 life, moving them down the game board and closer to the fated encounter with the Grim Reapurr. Afterward, Josh was kind enough to give me a review copy of the game.
The real test of the game, though, wouldn’t come until 2 months later when Dan and I finally had a chance to get together with our kids for Game Night. My 2 daughters, Charlotte and Penny are 10 and 5, respectively, and Dan’s 2 daughters, Sophia and Emma, are 10 and 8. Sophia was kind enough to team up with Penny so collectively we had 5 players. The kids quickly picked up the rules. There were only a few things that needed reminders, such as certain main deck cards that can be played during any player’s turn and don’t forget to use your yarn ball to re-roll!.
I can’t speak for Dan, but for my part, I didn’t hold back. I wanted to win. Unfortunately for my ambitions, Emma had other plans and used several attack cards in a row against me. Without anymore yarn balls, I was unable to roll the 5 or 6 I needed and was sent to the Grim Reapurr’s level. When all the cat dander cleared, Charlotte emerged victorious from that first game.
We have played more than a few games since, and every time, it is an absolute blast. CATASTROPHE is easy to learn and with an average game time of 30-45 minutes, it’s a perfect first game of any game night to play to loosen everyone up and let them know they’re in for a fun night. It’s also enjoyable for both kids and adults with the combination of deck-building and dice-rolling allowing for both strategy and chance, which levels the playing field so anyone can win. Truly fun for the whole family, even for a dog person like me.
Check out the website here: https://www.catastrophenation.com/ where it looks like you can pre-order CATASTROPHE.