How to Play
Shuffle all of the cards and deal them out equally. Players should sort their cards by number. Each player can hold as many of their cards in their hand as they want. The dealer starts the game by playing any one of their cards into the center of the table which forms the “Pond”.
Playing the Game
Once the first card has been played, the game begins. All players play cards at the same time. When playing cards the following rules need to be followed:
- Bigger (higher number) fish must be played on smaller fish (lower number).
- Fish of the same color cannot be played on each other.
- Puffer fish cards can only be played on top of cards of the same color.
- No fish can be played on top of a puffer fish. When a puffer fish card is played, play is paused. The player who played the puffer fish card gets to play one card of their choice in order to resume the game.
A player who breaks any of those rules, must take all of the cards from the pond and add them to their hand. The player also has to take all of the cards from the pond if they:
- Try to take back a card that touched the pond.
- Play a card that misses the pond or is thrown onto the pond.
- Play more than one card at a time.
If a player is forced to pick up the pond, that player gets to start the pond again by playing card that they want.
If a situation occurs where no one is able to play a card, the pond becomes frozen. All of the cards in the pond are shuffled and are dealt out equally to all of the players. The dealer then plays a card to start the new pond and play continues.
Winning the Game
The first player to play their last card to the pond wins the game.
Geeky Hobbies has taken a look at quite a few speed games in the past including games like Blink, Ratuki, Retro Loonacy, Set, and others. While they are far from strategic I like playing a speed game every so often because it is just fun trying to get rid of your cards as fast as possible. Most of these games are pretty similar and don’t really distinguish themselves that much from the other games in the genre. While Big Fish Lil’ Fish is not as good as some of the other games from the genre, it is still an enjoyable speed card game.
Despite Big Fish Lil’ Fish having next to no strategy, I still had fun with the game. The game is just mindless fun. Basically each player is trying to play their cards faster than the other players. The game plays like your typical speed game where you need to be quick in order to be good at the game. Some people are naturally going to be better at the game than other people. If you don’t like chaotic fast games, Big Fish Lil’ Fish isn’t going to be for you. While not really deep and mostly made for children and families, adults can still have some fun with the game.
Big Fish Lil’ Fish has a recommended age of 6+. I am not sure if the game is going to be right for all six year olds though. First you need to be able to count up to 48 to play the game. Younger kids with good counting skills shouldn’t have too many troubles but kids that have trouble counting up to 48 may have some trouble. You may have to play with a variant that uses less of the cards. Big Fish Lil’ Fish could be a good tool to help kids with their counting skills. The rules are pretty simple but may take younger kids a while to get a hang of. Before playing a card you have to consider a couple different things so parents will likely have to give younger children some advantage or not play their hardest in order to keep younger children in the game.
Big Fish Lil’ Fish plays quickly. Unless you get stuck in situations where no one can play any cards, most games should take around five minutes to complete. That isn’t surprising since speed games are meant to be fast. It is probably best if you play multiple rounds with the ultimate winner being the player who won the most rounds. Big Fish Lil’ Fish is fun for a couple games but it is not the type of game that I would play for an hour at a time. I would play a couple games and then put the game away for a while before I played it again.
The biggest problem with Big Fish Lil’ Fish is that the game has a high reliance on luck. If you get bad cards you won’t win the game. You want to get a lot of high valued cards and puffer fish cards. Low valued cards have absolutely no benefit in the game so if you get stuck with a lot of low valued cards you will have a very hard time winning. Low valued cards are so worthless because there are so few times that you can actually play them. If no one starts the pile with a low valued card you may never be able to play the cards. If you have a lot of low valued cards you are going to have to play them really quick because you may only have one or two opportunities to play them. You can get stuck in a situation where you only have one card left but the card is so low that you will never be able to play the card.
Basically the only strategy in the entire game is to try to get rid of your low valued cards as quickly as possible. While you could mess with the other players by playing a card that is much higher than the current card, you could be preventing your opportunity to ever get rid of your lower valued cards. You should sort your cards from the lowest value to the highest value and try to always play your lowest valued card that you can at any given time. If you play the game like this the fastest player who has some luck will likely win the game.
This is the reason why the puffer fish cards are the most valuable cards in the game. Puffer fish cards are pretty easy to play since they only have to match a color in order to be played. More importantly they let a player control the flow of the game. When a player plays a puffer fish they get to stop the game and restart it with any card that they want from their hand. This likely will be their lowest valued card since whenever you have an opportunity to get rid of one of your low valued cards you take it. Getting a lot of puffer fish cards gives a player a pretty big advantage in the game.
Being able to restart the game with any card also gives the player an advantage of knowing what card will be played next. This is a big advantage in the game since knowing what card is being played next allows the player to set up their next play. The player who played the last card might be able to play a second or even a third card before the other players have a chance to play a card. Playing runs of cards is pretty prevalent in the game because the player who played the last card will know what card they can play next immediately while the other players have to process the last card played before they can play a card.
Big Fish Lil’ Fish can be played with 2-6 players. I personally would recommend at least four players but six players may make the game a little chaotic. The reason I recommend at least four players is that players have way too many cards in their hands to start the game otherwise. With three players it is impossible to see all of your cards at the same time. Sorting the cards by numbers helps but it is still hard to navigate through your whole hand while focusing on the cards played by the other players. When players get rid of some of their cards the hands become more manageable. These type of speed games play better with more people though so I would recommend playing with four or five players.
Component wise the game is pretty much what you would expect from a card game. The card stock is pretty typical. After extended play though they will show signs of wear since with these type of speed games the cards always end up getting creases and dents when two players try to play a card at the same time. The artwork is pretty good and the cards are designed well since the bigger fish are displayed larger on the cards and all show the numbers in the same corners making it easy to compare which fish is bigger.
Big Fish Lil’ Fish is a solid game. It really doesn’t distinguish itself from other speed card games but you can still have fun with the game. It will likely be better for families but adults who like speed games can still have some fun with the game. The game is mostly just mindless fun since there is next to no strategy in the game. Luck of the draw does come into play a little too often as well.
If you don’t like speed card games, Big Fish Lil’ Fish is not going to be for you. If you like speed card games though I think you can have some fun with the game. If you can get a good deal on the game I think it is worth picking up.