About a year and a half ago I reviewed the game Spy Alley. Heading into the game I can’t say that I had high expectations as it looked like another pretty generic deduction mechanic mixed with a roll and move game. After playing Spy Alley I was genuinely surprised as I found it to be a hidden gem. I bring this up because one of the people behind Spy Alley designed the game that I am looking at today, Moose Master. I am a pretty big fan of the party game genre so I am always interested in checking out a new game especially when it is a game that the whole family can enjoy. Party games may not be the deepest games, but if they can get a laugh out of the group they can be quite enjoyable. I was hoping that Moose Master would be a good game to add to my party game rotation. Moose Master may not be for everyone, but if you enjoy silly party games you should have quite a few laughs.
We would like to thank Eric Stephenson for the review copy of Moose Master used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
How to Play Moose Master
- Sort the cards into three separate decks based on their types. Shuffle the Moose Master and Penalty cards and place them face down in the middle of the table.
- Choose two of the Moose Rules cards and place them face up on the table. The rest of the Moose Rules cards are placed face down on the table.
- Choose which of the two ways of playing the game you would like to use (see End of Game section).
- The player with the best laugh will start the game. Play will proceed in a clockwise direction.
Playing the Game
A player will begin their turn by drawing the top card from the Moose Master deck and placing it face up on the table so all of the players can read it. The card is read and the players will take the corresponding action. There are a number of different Moose Master cards that have various effects on the game.
The player who draws this card will place it in front of them. When the player who controls the Moose Master card violates one of the Moose Rules they can avoid taking the penalty card by placing their hands on their head to simulate moose antlers. If another player sees the Moose Master player breaking one of the Moose Rules cards and makes the antlers before them the Moose Master will have to take the penalty card. The Moose Master card is also passed to the player who made the antlers first.
If another Moose Master card is drawn, the previous Moose Master card is discarded.
Copy Cat Master
The player who draws this card will be the Copy Cat Master. This player will choose an action and one of the other players to be their mimic. Whenever the Copy Cat Master performs the action their mimic must repeat the action within three seconds. If the other player fail to mimic the action they will have to take a penalty card.
The Copy Cat Master card will be discarded if the mimic player has to draw a card or another Copy Cat Master card is drawn.
The player who draws this card will be the Echo Master. The player will choose a word that will be echoed and the player that will be their echo. Each time the Echo Master says the chosen word the echo has to repeat the word within three seconds. If they fail to repeat the word within three seconds they will take a penalty card.
The Echo Master card will be discarded if the echo fails and has to draw a penalty card or if another Echo Master card is drawn.
The player who draws this card is the Question Master. Whenever the Question Master asks a question all of the other players have two ways of responding. First they can ignore the person’s question. Otherwise if a player responds they have to respond with another question. If a player responds without a question they will have to draw a penalty card.
The Question Master card is discarded when another Question Master card is drawn.
The player who draws this card is the Thumb Master. At any point during the game the Thumb Master can put their thumb down on the table. All of the other players must then put their thumb on the table as quickly as possible. The last player to put their thumb on the table will have to draw a penalty card. Once this is done the Thumb Master card will be discarded.
When another Thumb Master card is drawn the previous Thumb Master card is also discarded.
The player who draws this card will draw a penalty card.
The player who draws the card will choose a category. All of the players then take turns in a clockwise direction listing a different item that fits into the category. The first player who can’t list an item that fits the category or repeats one that has already been said will have to draw a penalty card.
The player who draws the card thinks of a simple action and performs it. The next player clockwise will repeat the action and add another simple action after it. The next player will repeat the first two actions before adding on a third action. This continues until one player messes up the set of actions and will have to draw a penalty card.
The player who draws this card will have to name a famous person. The next player clockwise will then have to come up with another famous person whose first name starts with the first letter of the previous person’s last name. For example if the first person says George Washington the next player will have to name someone whose first name starts with a W. The first player who can’t come up with a name has to draw a penalty card.
An alternative rule can be used when players name a person whose first and last name start with the same letter. In this case play passes in the opposite direction.
The player who draws this card will choose a word. Starting with the next player clockwise each player picks a word that rhymes with the first word. The first person who can’t come up with a rhyming word has to draw a penalty card.
Rock Paper Scissors
The player who draws this card will choose two of the other players to play rock paper scissors. The player who loses two rounds will have to draw a penalty card.
The player who draws the card will begin a story by saying a word. The next player clockwise repeats the word said by the first player and then adds another word to the story. This continues with each player repeating the story so far and adding another word to the end. The first player to make a mistake in the story will draw a penalty card.
When one of these cards is drawn all of the players will race to perform the action shown on the card. The last player to perform the action will take a penalty card.
Throughout the game players need to keep track of all of the other players to make sure that they are currently complying with all of the rules in play. At any time players could be dealing with rules from Moose Master cards in addition to the two Moose Rules currently in play.
Whenever a player breaks one of the rules they will draw the top penalty card and place it face up in front of them. If a player draws a cards that has a special action they will perform the action before continuing.
End of Game
Games of Moose Master can end in one of two different ways. Players will choose which of these two options they would like to use before they begin the game.
The first way to play Moose Master involves elimination. When a player acquires their seventh Penalty card they are eliminated from the game. You will continue playing the game until only two players remain. The last two players will share the victory.
Otherwise you can play through the entire deck of Moose Master cards. Once all of the cards have been played the players will compare how many Penalty cards they acquired during the game. The player who has acquired the least Penalty cards will win the game.
My Thoughts on Moose Master
At its core Moose Master is a pretty simple game. You basically draw a card and do what it says. Some cards have players perform various actions while others have players compete in different mini-games to determine who has to draw a penalty card. That may be what Moose Master is on the surface but the real meat of the game comes from the rules that the players have to abide by. During the game all of the players will have to follow at least two rules. These rules can range from being barred from saying common words, avoiding certain actions, and doing other things that you subconsciously might do without even noticing. Some of the cards drawn during the game add even more rules that players must follow. While you are busy trying to complete the various tasks from the cards that are drawn, you need to keep these rules in mind as whenever you break one of them you will be forced to draw a penalty card. The main objective of the game is to try and avoid drawing penalty cards.
The various little mini-games that you play throughout the game can be kind of entertaining. Competing to name items in a category, trying to list a new celebrity based on the last name of the previous celebrity, or adding to a story or a set of actions created by the other players can be fun. I wouldn’t consider them to be highly original though as they are pretty basic party games. On their own these mini-games may be entertaining for a while. What makes or breaks the game (depending on the person) is the addition of the rule cards that players must follow at all times. At first it might seem really easy to follow a few basic rules. You will quickly realize that it is much easier said than done though. The rules might be quite simple, but that is the reason why they are surprisingly hard to follow. At least in our group players would regularly break the two Moose Rules without even noticing before it was too late.
Things become even more difficult when you factor in the additional rules that can be imposed on players based on the cards that are drawn. Most of these cards force a player to mimic the player that drew the card. Whether they have to repeat a certain action or word, this gives a player the ability to mess with one of the other players. In addition to trying to follow along with the game this forces a player to pay attention to one of the other players so they know when they have to repeat a word or action. When you add in the Question Master card where players have to answer all of your questions with their own questions, players can really mess with one another. The mini-games by themselves would make for a pretty basic game, but when you add in these other mechanics there is quite a bit more to the game.
When most people first see Moose Master they will probably think that it is just a silly game. They would be right that Moose Master is silly, but there is also more to the game than just being silly. Moose Master doesn’t really have any strategy as you can’t make a plan that will improve your odds in the game. It can be kind of random at times, but there is also some skill to the game. There are a couple of ways to be good at Moose Master. Players that are good at paying attention to details will do well as they will avoid drawing penalty cards. An even better skill though is being able to mess with the other players. Some players will be really good at slyly saying the echo word, doing the mimic action, or asking a question where the other player won’t notice and thus break the rules.
There is some skill to Moose Master but it is not meant to be taken as a serious game. Moose Master is basically a game that that you play to have a good time where you don’t really care who ultimately wins. To fully enjoy the game you can’t take it too seriously. Ultimately you play Moose Master to get laughs when players make mistakes and are forced to draw penalty cards. If that is what you are looking for you will probably have quite a bit of fun with Moose Master. I could see some gaming groups having a lot of fun with Moose Master if the players don’t mind laughing at themselves.
Most of the time party games tend to be gauged towards either families or adults. I would say that Moose Master is meant more for families, but I can see adults enjoying it as well. Nothing in Moose Master is objectionable (unless players go out of their way to make it objectionable) so parents don’t have to worry about playing the game with their kids. The game for the most part is pretty easy to play as all of the cards are pretty self-explanatory. I would say that the game has somewhat of a learning curve though. This mostly comes from the number of different cards in the game. It will take a while to explain what you have to do with each card, and it may take most of a player’s first game to remember what they are supposed to do with each card. After you figure out what you are supposed to do with each card though the game is quite easy to play. While the game can be played by children I think the right group of adults could enjoy the game as well. If you don’t mind that the game is really silly you will probably enjoy Moose Master.
This illustrates the biggest issue I had with Moose Master though. Some people will really like the game and others will not like it at all. This is illustrated by the group that I played the game with. Some of the players enjoyed the game quite a bit while others didn’t really care for it. I attribute this to the game being so silly. People who don’t mind silly games where you end up laughing at yourself will probably like Moose Master. More serious gamers probably won’t like the game though as it is built on the silliness and not meant to be taken seriously. The silliness could really turn off some players especially since some of the mimic abilities can be abused to the point where players can be kind of annoying. This could be a real strain on some players until they decide to ultimately quit.
As for the components there are some things that I liked and others that I thought could have been better. Overall I thought the artwork was decent and the cards are easy to read and understand. The card stock is solid where they should last as long as you take care of the cards. I applaud that the game includes 110 cards as well. The problem is that I think the distribution could have been a little better. Unless you are playing with a large group you will not use all of the penalty cards in one game unless the players constantly break the rules. Instead I wish the game would have included more Moose Master cards including a couple more types of Moose Master cards. While the mini-games are kind of fun I can see them getting a little repetitive after a while. Adding in a few more types of cards would have added a little more variety to the game.
Should You Buy Moose Master?
Moose Master is one of those games that you will likely either love or it won’t be for you. Basically Moose Master is a silly party game. Players have to complete various simple tasks or compete in little mini-games. These mini-games are solid but are nothing special. Most of the gameplay comes from trying to follow the game’s various rules. The rules may seem simple at first but things get more complicated as you try to keep track of the current rules while also paying attention to what is currently going on. It is much easier than you would think to break the rules which can lead to quite a few laughs in the right group. Moose Master has very little strategy but it does rely on some skill as some players will be really good at getting other players to break rules. Moose Master is ultimately a silly game though. The game is not meant to be taken seriously as the ultimate winner is not important. It is more about having some laughs and just having a good time. Some people will really enjoy this while others won’t like it.
For my recommendation I would say read through the How to Play section. If the game’s rules and premise sound like something that your group will enjoy, I think they will really enjoy Moose Master and you should consider picking it up.
Buy Moose Master online: Amazon