Night has fallen across the city, and now that the moon’s out it’s time to come play. The rooftops of the city provide a wonderful view, protection from the streets below, and shelter from any sort of weather that could come along. With all this about, it’s not fun to keep things to yourself. Gifts like this are always better when shared with friends, so it’s time to get the furry gang back together. That’s right – you’re playing as cats and you’ll need to use that kitty cleverness to keep your felines together and snag some food along the way to become the big cat on top.
Out of the (Cat) Box
Inside Hot Tin Roof’s box you’ll find:
- 16 wooden cat pawns
- 12 cat shelters
- 24 catwalks
- 73 sardine cans
- 14 fish
- 50 home tiles
- 1 game board
- 1 rulebook
There’s a lot packed inside this box, and the tokens are colorful and bright. No matter how awesome the components may be, though, we know you only want to play in the box.
Pawing Around – How to Play
In Hot Tin Roof you play as a group of cats that are split up across the rooftops of town. Your goal is to strategically play your catwalks and shelters to create pathways for your cats to follow. Once your cats meet up together you’ll earn fish. At the end of the game the player with the most food wins and becomes the biggest kitty in town.
Before you can start running across rooftops you’ll need to set up the city. When setting up a game of Hot Tin Roof, follow these steps:
- Place the game board in the center of the table and shuffle all of the home tiles together to creat a face-down draw pile (or piles).
- Place 3 home tiles face up under the indicated dumpsters on the board.
- Create a general supply of all the sardine can tokens.
- Take 14 sardine can tokens and place them into the 5 dumpsters (as indicated on the board), some will be designated for home tiles, the catwalk, and the shelter: 4 sardine cans go on each home tile section and 1 each on the catwalk and shelter spaces.
- Put a number of fish tiles in a line by the side of the board to make the fish market. You’ll place 12 if playing with 3 players and 14 if playing with 4 players.
- Each player chooses a color and takes all of the pieces for that color: 2 pairs of cat meeples, 3 shelters, and 6 catwalks. Each player also starts the game with 10 sardine cans each.
Once you’re finished here you’re ready to get started! Like I mentioned above, the goal of Hot Tin Roof is to bring your cats together to earn fish and have the most food by the end of the game. Through the game your cats will be placed on the rooftops as you choose home tiles on your turn. A home tile will show you which two rooftops to place your cat meeples on and then you’ll need to spend your turns placing the right pieces on the board to bring them together. To make things clearer, let’s take a look at the turn breakdown.
Hot Tin Roof is played over a series of turns. Each player will take a turn and then play will pass to the left. On your turn you will perform the following actions in order:
- Sardine Can Ante: when your turn begins you MUST pay 5 sardine cans, placing 1 onto each of the 5 dumpsters spaces. (You may exchange 1 fish for 10 sardine cans in order to pay your ante.)
- Dumpster Dive: if you paid the sardine can ante, choose one of the 5 dumpsters. Take all the sardine cans in the chosen dumpster to your play area and perform the action corresponding to that dumpster. These actions include:
Catwalk/Shelter: if you choose to build a catwalk or shelter, take the piece from your reserves and place it on the board. Catwalks have to be placed on gaps between rooftops, and shelters have to be placed on a patio. You may only have 1 catwalk per gap and 1 shelter per patio.
Home Tiles: if you choose to take a home tile, choose 1 of the 3 home tiles and place a pair of your cat meeples on the patios indicated on the home tile. Then, discard that home tile and refill the green dumpster with a new home tile drawn randomly from the supply. If both pairs of your cat meeples are on the board currently you cannot choose to take a new home tile. If, at any time, you have to place your cat meeples on the board and they would be placed on a shelter, you must pay the opponent who controls the shelter the indicated number of sardine cans (listed on the shelter)
- Rooftop Racing: you may move any or all of your cats from rooftop to rooftop by following paths created by catwalks and lit by moonlight (white lines). Each of your cats must end their movement on a patio or at a shelter. As you move, if you have to cross other opponent’s catwalks or enter an opponent’s shelter, you must pay them 1 or 2 sardine cans respectively. If your cats ever meet on the same patio, you take 1 fish from the fish market and add it to your supply.
Once you finish these actions, your turn ends and play passes to the left. When a player takes the last fish from the fish market, the game ends. For each pair of cats you have on the board you must either pay 15 sardine cans to the supply, or meet the cats through the normal rules of the game, though you receive no reward for meeting them.
When this end game is reached, count up all your food. Each fish counts as 10 sardine cans when scoring. The player with the most food at this point is the winner of Hot Tin Roof!
Cute and Cuddly, or Nothing but a Hairball?
Hot Tin Roof started out as a gimmicky game for me, but after we sat down and played it I realized just how fun it was. The game is strategic enough that veteran gamers will find it appealing, but it’s also easy enough to play that younger gamers and families will enjoy it as well. The only issue is that it hits that 3-player minimum, so there won’t be many opportunities for me to play it like others.
The components of the game are great, and I have never been so happy to have cat meeples in all my life. What’s more is that the game’s artwork is colorful, warm, and full of joy. I remember watching a movie growing up called Aristocats, and the game’s artwork is nearly the spitting image of the film. It’s colorful enough to engage players, and the younger crowd will love looking at it.
For gamers who are a bit more on the hardcore side of things, Hot Tin Roof may not be a big hit for you. I’m a guy who can appreciate strategy in all forms, so this game is enough for me. You really need to be picky and choosy with what tiles you take to get your cats on the board. If you place them too far away without any catwalks for support you may end up sitting for a bit until you’re rescued. Adding to this, knowing when and where to place your catwalks is important. If you don’t place them right you could be relying on your opponents to get your cats to meet, and in a game like this that’s less than likely to happen.
In the end, I had a lot of fun with Hot Tin Roof. I would recommend this for families as well as gamers who enjoy lighthearted games. The game is quite replayable, as you’re bound to get different different home tiles each game, and choosing your strategy will differ from play to play. If you enjoy cats, racing, nabbing fish, and some strategic gameplay then Hot Tin Roof just may hit the spot.
Thanks to Mayfair Games for providing a review copy of Hot Tin Roof for review!
- unique theme
- interesting and great quality components
- amazing colorful artwork
- simple gameplay mixed with strategic elements
- great party/family game
- hardcore gamers may not enjoy this game
- 3-player minimum may make it tough for some to assemble groups to play