There’s a cute concept at the heart of The Muddles; players try to create ‘Muddles’ – funny little hybrids of two animals – in an effort to score the most points by the end of the game. The cards have amusing, simple and childlike illustrations, along with humorous names for the Muddles themselves.
The problem is that there’s very little decision making or strategy involved in creating your Muddles. There’s sometimes a choice of what Muddle to create, but the decision is often down to which one will net you the most points. In the event of a tie, it’s best to go for a Muddle whose card pile is dwindling (you can only create Muddles if there’s a score card left to take for that specific creature combination). Unwanted creatures can be stolen from the discard piles of other players, but this isn’t something that’ll be of use at the very end of the game (no one will be doing anything but holding on to the cards needed for the last few Muddles at the end!).
The endgame drags as players try to claim the last few cards by drawing and/or discarding useless cards where no Muddle card is left, leaving a bit of a dull slog to reach the final turns.
It’s unfortunate because, as mentioned, the overall look and feel of the game is really nice – and there’s even a cute little story book included, which is a lovely extra. It’s a nice, very well presented little package – it’s just a shame that The Muddles is pretty dull and outstays its welcome with a poorly handled endgame. Very young gamers may glean some enjoyment from The Muddles, but even kids with a very small amount of experience are likely to be bored with it very quickly. Even for the age level it’s aimed at, there are plenty of other, more satisfying games to play instead.
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