Crest Climbers: An Aficionado Review

Animal Upon Animal: Crest Climbers

In late 2016, I happened upon a copy of Tier auf Tier: Jetzt geht’s rund! in the Fantasy Flight Game Centre in Minnesota. For the non-German speakers among you, the game is known in English as Animal upon Animal: Here we turn!, a game from HABA’s children’s line. In it, your goal is to stack animal…upon animal (who would have guessed), in what ends up being a dexterity based stacking game, where players are trying to get rid of all the animals they have in front of them.

You know the thing about animals, though? Well, they come in all fun shapes and sizes, the kind that don’t exactly mesh well together. And that’s exactly the point; trying to balance a rhino on top of a monkey and a toucan is no easy feat, but goodness is it satisfying to pull off. Everywhere I’ve taken the game, it has been an absolute success. My girlfriend’s family enjoyed it thoroughly, which is fortunate, because it was also my Christmas present to them.

Given my experience with the original, you can imagine my delight and enthusiasm at being able to try my hand at stacking a whole new lot of animals (and trees, apparently). Animal Upon Animal: Crest Climbers promised more animal stacking goodness, but would it do something different or be more of the same old fun?

 

The Brief How-To

At the beginning of the game, the animals are divided as evenly as possible amongst up to four players. There are four of each animal (and tree) in the game, making this a very simple prospect. In the centre of the table sits the mountain, upon which a great many animals shall be stacked.

On your turn, you roll a die, after which you must stack an animal based on what was rolled. Most of the time, you’ll have to stack an animal of your choice on top of the pre-existing animal tower, trying your utmost not to have it come crashing down (which you’ll fail at multiple times if you’re me). Occasionally, you may be allowed to stack the animal to the side of the mountain, expanding the base upon which you can build. Other times, you may be allowed to give an animal to another player to stack. Or, worst of all, you may be told which of your remaining animals you must stack next. When the structural integrity of the animal mountain is already at an all time low, plopping a cow on top is probably not going to end well for you.

If you knock the tower over, you have to take two animals back (five in the advanced game), and you remove the others. If you manage to stack all of your animals on top of the tower and it doesn’t collapse, then you can bask in the glory of your steady hands. Then pretend you’re four again and the animals are a block tower, smack it down, deal out those animals, and get stacking again.

What I Like About Animal Upon Animal: Crest Climbers

Everything. Absolutely everything. HABA just do stacking games right! Rhino Hero and Animal Upon Animal both completely fill the dexterity game-sized hole I never knew I had in my collection. I have a feeling I’m going to be aiming to gather all of them if I can!

Crest Climbers is more akin to Small and Yet Great!, the very portable two player version. Unlike Here we turn!, there is no central spinning mechanic and no need to name the animals, and there’s also far less variety. In return, you get balance between players (everyone gets the same animals), AND all of the animals have gorgeous little paint jobs on them that really bring them to life. It’s a small touch, but it certainly ups the appeal significantly.

I really do enjoy some of the adorable new animals that weren’t present in Here we turn! While the snakes makes a reappearance, you’re also given some very happy beavers, cows, dogs, billy goats and squirrels! The family friendly fun that I’ve come to love from HABA just exudes from this game, and I think this will be in my collection for many years to come. Thanks to Let’s Play Games for the copy to review!

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