Title: Cat Lady, Cat Lady Box of Treats, and Cat Lady Kittens
Designed By: Josh Wood
Art by: Josh Wood
Published By: Alderac Entertainment Group
Released: Base Game 2017, Box of Treats 2020, and Kittens 2021
Player Count: Base 2-4, or 1-6 with Box of Treats
Time to Play: 30 Minutes
Introducing a purrrfectly fun game for Cat Lovers. Cat Lady by AEG is a simple card drafting, set collection game about rescuing cats. The original base game is designed for 2-4 players; the Box of Treats expansion increases the player count from 1-6 and adds expansion modules you can mix and match for a more customizable game; finally the Kittens expansion adds a cute little twist with some really adorable baby cats.
How to Play:
First, decide how many people will be playing. Then remove any cards that are not for your player count. If you are going to play with any of the expansions add those cards to the deck, again checking the player count on each card. If playing with Kittens, shuffle three kittens into your deck regardless of player count. Create a 3x3 grid of face-up cards, putting the remaining deck on the side.
Shuffle the stray cat deck and deal three stray cats face up that will be used for the game.
If you are using the Shared Goals expansion (need at least 3 players to use this one), deal one goal face-up between each player and add two goals off to the side.
Place the food tokens, victory point (VP) tokens off to the side.
The person with the most cats goes first an the person to their right selects a row or column to put the cat token on initially.
In Cat Lady, game play is really straightforward. Each turn a player will select an available row or column of three cards to add to their hand. They can take any row or column, except the one with the cat token on it. Once they have picked their row/ column, the cat token moves to the spot they just chose and it becomes blocked for the next turn. If a player collects a food card, they discard it and take the food token that matches the type of food they receive. Food is important since it will be how you feed your cats, and only fed cats will score points, hungry cats will actually lose you points!
Player's continue to collect cards until the deck runs out, at which point they score. See, I told you it was easy! There are some cards, that allow you to take other actions during the game, such as lost cat cards which allow you to adopt a stray cat, use a cat brush to swap one of your cats for a cat on the board, or a water bottle which will allow you to move the cat token. But most cards will not do anything other than be used for scoring.
Where the strategy comes in, is deciding what cards to draft each turn. There are a variety of different types of cards that all score points differently:
Cats and Kittens - score the amount of points listed on them if fed. Some cats have a * and they score points based on the criteria written on them
Costumes - collect the most, gain 6 points. Collect the least, lose 2 points
Catnip - the more catnip you collect the more points you score for your fed cats. However only have one catnip? That's going to cost you points!
Toys - score points based on sets of toys collected. The more complete a set of toys is, the more points it is worth
Boxes - score points based on the number filled boxes you have. Boxes can only be filled by cats matching it's requirements, even if the cats are hungry they can still count.
Whoever has the highest score wins!
What's purr-ty cool:
One of our favorite things about Cat Lady is that you can teach it in less than five minutes, even to new gamers. The concept of what you do on your turn is so straightforward it makes Cat Lady a really great game to dive into for newbies. However, even more seasoned gamers can enjoy Cat Lady. There are a lot of different ways to score points, and mixing in the expansion modules can add some cool new challenges to help you maximize the points you score from the card you collect.
We love all the mix and match pieces of the Box of Treats expansion. It's a lot of fun to try different combinations of these add-ins together as it makes each game a little different.
I am particular fond of the shared goals add-in. In this you have to work with the players on your right and left to try and achieve an objective together. If you do, you both score bonus points.
I like the new feeding options provided in the Box of Treats expansion as well. For players familiar with the base game, this expansion adds shopping bags and treats. Shopping bags allow you to exchange the card for one of each type of food at a time of your choice, and the treat allows you to fully feed a cat, but that cat is only worth one point now. These variations come in handy when food is in short supply and you don't want a lot of hungry cats.
The kittens expansion if also a fun add-in. Kittens score points like cats, when they are fully fed, but can be fed by meeting the food requirements on their card or by pairing them with a fully fed cat of the same color.
One last thing we love about Cat Lady has nothing to do with the game play, but it still one of our favorite parts of the game; it's the names of all of the cats. Every cat in the game has a name and some are just so funny. My personal favorite is Cow, who eats everything you want to feed him.
Cat Lady makes a wonderful gateway game. It's light and quick and has a great theme. While we focused on the multi-player game for the review, it has a solid solo mode to when you add in the Box of Treats expansion.
There is only one thing missing from Cat Lady and that is a tabby cat! Pudgy Cat would like to know when an expansion featuring her is coming and can it include cheesecake and popcorn because she is a weirdo and would prefer that to chicken or tuna.
The cat's meow:
"Just like the cats in the game, I too would like the food cubes and treats. Please don't furrget to feed the cat!" - Pudgy Cat
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.