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Subject: A no rules review rss

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John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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I’m writing a series of reviews that are not just rules re-writes. I have done those kinds of reviews in the past and some people like them and some don’t.

Instead I am going to concentrate on two aspects of the game. A look at what you actually get in the box. The components of the game, a look at both the quantity and quality.

Secondly, my experiences with the game including what I like about it and anything I don’t like about it.

Leaping Lemmings is a race game, where each player is in control of a tribe of 10 Lemmings. The aim of the game is to get your Lemmings to dive off the cliff in as spectacular style as possible. The main impediment to your Lemmings fulfilling their mission are two circling Eagles who’s favourite food just happens to be Lemmings.

The big surprise is that the game is published by GMT games, much better known for producing war games. So how do they fare in the non-war game world?





The box is a little slimmer than most GMT boxes but still made of the sturdy cardboard their games are known for. I don’t know what GMT do to make such sturdy boxes but they feel like you could stack them 20 deep and the bottom box would be just fine.

Inside the box you find a board, which folds out into four times the size of the box, making it smaller than most of their games. The main part of the board is the terrain from the Lemmings start position to the cliff. It is overlaid with a hexagonal grid (Well it is a GMT game). The map is mounted. There are a number of tracks and boxes either side of the central terrain.

You get some cards. There are movement cards. These have a value from 2 to 5. Each turn a card is turned and each player can move one of their Lemmings the amount shown. There is also a game over card. At the start of the game this is shuffled in with six cards drawn at random from the movement deck and placed under the other cards. So you are never quite sure when the game will end.

There are action cards. Players get a number of action cards (varies depending on number of players). These cards all give an advantage to the player using them. For instance, fast start, move a Lemming still in the start area double current movement. However if you don’t use them, they are worth 1 victory point at the end..

Each player also get’s their own tribe card. This can be used once in the game to turn the current move card into a 5 for that player. Again it’s worth a victory point if you don’t use it.

You get a short but thorough rule book, player aid cards, enough for every player. These summarise the turn structure, use of favours and all the action cards.

You get two dice, one red and one blue. These are used to move the Eagles. Each Eagle patrols half of the board. The players take it in turns to control the eagles and each eagle has six zones of control that they can be in. They can be moved either clockwise or anticlockwise around the zones by the controlling player.
You get a sheet of counters. These contain the Lemmings, both Eagles, VP counters for each tribe, and food pellets. (And a very important proof or purchase)

Each tribe of Lemmings has a theme and the graphics on the counters reflect that, you have the Vikings, The IQ team and more. Also all Lemming counters are double sided and named. This means you can have a team of all boy Lemmings or all girl Lemmings or mix. I found myself (John) was a member of the Viking Tribe. (Never thought of John as a Viking name myself). The Eagles are both named too.

The food pellets are placed on the map and collected by the lemmings. They have three different values on the back, 1 or 2, which are worth 1 or 2 victory points at the end of the game, or they are marked favour. You can trade favours in during the game for extra movement points, score extra points when you dive off the Cliff and trade in for more action cards.

Overall very nice components. All high quality and all do a great job.




The game itself is a lot of fun. The theme is great. You are a scientist in charge of a team of genetically modified Lemmings, having a contest to see whose Lemmings can dive off the cliff with the greatest style. That alone should sell it.

I think it’s a very clever game that can appeal to nearly anyone. The box says from 13 years, but I think 8 or 9 year olds would be fine and even younger could play with some help from mum and dad. Although for a game that looks so cute there is a surprising amount of Strategy to the game.

Good use of the terrain. If an Eagle catches you in the open you are Eagle chow, though they only eat one Lemming at a time so you may survive, depending on who is controlling the Eagle. However there are some bushes dotted around the board, you are safe from the Eagles while you are in a bush. There is a stacking limit for all hexes but it’s a lot less for the bushes, so you can’t just run from bush to bush.
Who’s on top? In a stack of Lemmings only the Lemming on top can move. So jumping on top of another Lemming will stop it moving, at least until you move off. (Unless of course someone them jumps on top of you). If you can’t do any other move on the board you can have one of your Lemmings claw his way to the top of a stack as his move, but so far I have never seen that happen in a game.

Control of the Eagles. Control of the Eagles passes round the players. You can plan ahead for when you get control. Obviously you can use the Eagles to eat other Lemmings, but all Lemmings disperse when an Eagle enters an area, even those in bushes. The Eagle player can eat one Lemming, if any are out in the open, top one only if there is a stack. He then moves all other Lemmings out of the area. Eagles also block the Lemmings from moving through the area they are in, so they can be used to block other players routes. (of course on their turn the other players will be doing this to you)

Cliff diving. You can score between 1 and 5 points for each lemming that jumps of the cliff. You score remaining movement points when you jump from the cliff. So for maximum points you want to end a turn on the cliff edge and get a 5 movement card next turn. Of course being on the cliff edge makes you a top target for all the other players, Especially whoever controls the Eagle.

The game suggests that it takes between 10 to 15 minutes per player. (The box actually said 12 minutes per player, which I thought was a very impressive bit of timing) I would say it’s about right. I played a 5 player game in around an hour. So it’s not a filler but neither is it an all nighter. It’s quite a good game to start or finish and evening with.

Not much I did not like really. You get 10 Lemmings but I can’t see anyone actually getting all 10 into play, but not really a problem. Maybe the food pellets can be uneven, if one player kept getting the 2 vp ones they would be fairly lucky. But really I am clutching at straws to find bad points.

I enjoyed it a lot and I am looking for ward to playing it a lot more.
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Larry Welborn
United States
Anderson
South Carolina
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Great review.
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Jacob Russell
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
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I like that GMT is stretching out a little bit. I've been getting interested in their Circus Train game too. Are these all part of the same imprint? They seem to be getting good reviews. I guess years of solid wargame design is a transferable skill.

Thanks for doing this, I appreciate these kinds of reviews and like the omission of rules.
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Jay Sheely
United States
Salt Lake City
Utah
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I've been enjoying this game a lot too lately.

GMT has 2 more 'Eurogames' coming out soon. Dominant Species and Urban Sprawl and these are 'all-nighters'. I'll probably get one or both.
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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JonJacob wrote:

I like that GMT is stretching out a little bit. I've been getting interested in their Circus Train game too. Are these all part of the same imprint? They seem to be getting good reviews. I guess years of solid wargame design is a transferable skill.

Thanks for doing this, I appreciate these kinds of reviews and like the omission of rules.


Circus Train is not a GMT game, but Victory Point.

And as to the reviewer, we often get all the lemmings on the board: my son has a lot of sacrificial lemmings whose purpose is to grab pellets, and so he ends up with a lot of eagle meals.
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T. Wesley
United States
Annandale
Virginia
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My 8-yr old daughter plays & enjoys this game - though she does need a little help with her strategy sometimes - so I'd definitely say this game is appropriate for younger kids.
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Ken Ferguson
United States
Howell
Michigan
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Thanks for mentioning that your 8 year old daughter likes the game. I have a 7 year old daughter that I am considering the game for. It seems like the game is a war game in essence, but hopefully the theme will cover over that.
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