Never underestimate the power of a good filler. Those little games that take half an hour of your time, perfect to fill the gap if you’ve not got a huge amount of time, or you’re waiting for someone else’s game to finish so you can mix up your group a bit. A lot of the time they’re great to play with kids too – the quicker play time is ideal for those with shorter attention spans, whether you’re eight or you just have Attention Deficit Disorder. Or both. Whatever your reason for playing them, it’s a genre that shouldn’t be underestimated – and one of my favourite is a very curious game called Hey! That’s My Fish!
The premise is simple – players control a group of coloured penguins in a bid to collect as many fish as possible. Depending on how many people are playing, you’ll have between two and four at your disposal, leaping around hexagonal tiles adorned with pictures of either one, two or three fish. There are sixty tiles in the box which players build into a randomly created ice shelf – in turn you then place your penguins one by one on one-fish tiles. Once all penguins have been placed, it’s time to start the game.
Penguins may move in any of the six hex-directions as far as you like. You can only go in a straight line but may not jump off the edge of the ice or jump over another penguin or hole. “But there are no holes!” I hear you say. Well, no, there aren’t – not to begin with. However, when you have moved and put your penguin on its new tile, you pick up the one you just left, creating gaps in the ice that will soon get very tricky to negotiate your way around. As the game moves at quite a quick pace, those gaps will get even bigger, eventually leading to penguins getting trapped (if you’re playing well, of course).
Once all penguins can no longer move, the game is over – count up all the fish that you’ve collected (not the tiles!) and whoever has the most is declared the winner. Cries of “Let’s play again!” generally follow and as it’s such a quick game to set up, a second go is pretty much guaranteed. It’s a cracking little game which has a surprising amount of strategy despite the very simple rules. One thing though – I really cant stand the version currently available at the moment. I have the original that was published by Mayfair which has a collection of brightly coloured wooden penguins for you to push around the ice floe. Newer copies of the game – branded as Hey! That’s My Fish! Deluxe – is bundled with four plastic penguins per player which (to me anyway) are a bit… charmless, I think. There’s no difference in the gameplay at all, but I’ll always prefer the earlier version. However, no matter what version you manage to get hold of, you will have a worthy addition to your collection. Next time you’ve got a few minutes to kill when you’re waiting for another group to finish up their latest brain-burner, get your copy of this out – it’ll be time well spent, I promise you.
Hey! That’s My Fish! is published by many companies, but mine is from Mayfair Games. It was designed by Alvydas Jakeliunas and Günter Cornett. If you’re looking for a copy of the original, you’re going to have to brave the wilds of eBay or hope your FLGS has a copy sitting in the back room. However, if you’re happy with the new Deluxe version it’ll cost you around £30 from all the usual online places including IGUK.