Both party games and dexterity games tend to get a bad rap from ‘serious’ board game players, but there’s definitely merit in both types of game in many cases; for example, word guessing game Codenames is a clever, accessible concept that I’d definitely place into the party game category – but it’s a game that even gamers who take themselves seriously can enjoy.

It’s into the category of ‘dexterity game’ that A Game of Cat & Mouth fits best, but it’s such a pleasingly clever design and concept that surely only the most miserly of players are likely to find no joy in playing. A two player game in which players take turns to fling balls through a cat’s mouth using cleverly designed magnetic cat paws, A Game of Cat & Mouth has a sort of pinball-esque quality that’s very compelling.

Though only a two player game, it’s really easy to set up a tournament on the game’s website – and it’s just as fun to watch people play as it is to take part yourself. Points are scored by knocking the cat’s nose – a black ball – into your opponent’s side of the arena or by emptying your side of the board of all balls. The first to five points wins. That, in a tiny nutshell, is it.

One of the things that makes A Game of Cat & Mouth so special is the wonderfully colourful, hugely appealing and brilliantly engineered box, which is the carry case for the game and also the entire arena – with the components stored inside. It makes the game as portable as it is accessible; it’s a game that can be deployed, set up and explained in seconds, yet provides a ridiculous amount of ball-flinging fun. It’s hugely compelling, fast paced and can get very competitive indeed.

My only complaint is that, with balls flying all over the place, it does seem very easy to lose them (a decent supply of extras wouldn’t have gone amiss. That said, the team at Exploding Kittens – the game’s publisher – do seem to be pretty helpful in assisting with the replacement of lost or missing components, which is reassuring.

Overall though, A Game of Cat & Mouth is an absolute joy to play and it’s a marvel of smart design, with not one bit of the packaging or component space wasted. Truly fun, even for the hardcore gamer – though they might dismiss the game as just being a bit of daft fun, once they’ve played it for themselves, I’ve no doubt they’ll be hooked.

A Game of Cat and Mouth can be purchased directly from the publisher here.

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