Tag Archives: cooperative

Birdie Fight

A lot of games make their way through the Sweet Lemon office; unfortunately, we can’t try them all.

However, the moment I saw Birdie Fight’s exquisite box art, I knew it had to be one of those lucky games we cracked open.

While the mechanics spring from designer ゆお (Yuo), the immediate star is illustrator ことり寧子 (Kotori Neiko). The pair have worked together on other projects and I’m a big fan of the results.

But is it more than just a charming theme?

That may depend on your tendency to analysis paralysis…



Strap yourself in because this gets (moderately) quirky.

There is a place called “mysterious forest” in the depths of the mountain. This is a paradise for small birds. But these small birds don’t get along well!

The players are forest spirits secretly guiding their favored species to victory in the battle of the birds. Also: there’s an owl.

Okay, so there’s not much of a backstory, and this is essentially an abstract game – but the illustrations do carry a charming sense of place.

Because favored species are secret, motivations can seem mysterious and indirect as players delicately nudge the forest in different directions.

If this seems superficial or light… don’t be fooled.


Birds of the mysterious forest come in four species: blue, white, red and green. They’re also ranked in strength from 1-7, making a total of 28 cards.

Ten scoring chips of various values are randomly distributed to form the top and side of an invisible 5X5 grid. These chips represent spoils of war for the bird species that control those columns and rows at the end of the game.

Each turn, players select a card from their hand and play it to the grid. The only exception is the vicious owl, which attacks and replaces a previous card, permanently altering the grid.

The overall visual effect is something like Sudoku, only far prettier.

Play continues until the hands have dwindled to a single card. This final bird determines which species each player scores, revealing and crystallizing motivations for the first time.

Points are carried into the second round, when a final winner is declared.



28 dainty little birds, each unique and each awash with loving detail, plus the coolest looking owl this side of Twin Peaks?

Yes sir, Birdie Fight sure is beautiful, but there’s a caveat.

Those point chips are horrible: faded colors, bubbled plastic wrap, and random industrial markings stretched across the flip sides.

Okay, they’re literally home made, and such quirks are common for indie games in Japan, but it’s such a shame when everything else is so polished. I mean, the strength values even subtly illustrate life cycles from youth to adulthood and nesting!

It doesn’t ruin the game by any means, but if you have anything else around the house to replace those chips, you’ll want to do it.

What do others think?

Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nothin’.

I haven’t found a single English-language review.

Leave a comment below if you’ve tracked down something elsewhere, otherwise I’ll check periodically to add to this section.



Let’s be clear: this is a very well designed game.

Birdie Fight takes about a minute to explain and 20 minutes to play. However, a lot of intricacy emerges from these simple rules.

Competitive players will quickly find their brains burning up, while for more casual players it’s a… more casual experience.

This makes Bird Fight a classic couple’s game. The cooperative mode in particular begs for repeated play over the coffee table, rules long-since internalized to the point you barely mention the game itself.

But – every now and then – that high score increases a little.

If only those chips were better!

3.5 red breasted robins out of 5.

Number of players: 1-4

Playing time: 20 mins

Age: 8+

Country: Japan

By: Kocchiya

Price: 24.99€ at NiceGameShop

Goblins Vs Zombies

Goblins Vs Zombies is Jack Darwid’s second published game (after the baroque Adventure of D but before the far more streamlined Soccer 17) and reflects a designer honing his craft.

The crowdfunding campaign launched back in 2013 promising a “fun Tower Defense card game for 1-3 Players.” It delivers tower defense in spades, with plenty of mechanical touches familiar to anyone who happily wasted their youth playing flash games.

What about the fun? That may depend on your tolerance for pain. Goblins Vs Zombies is a tricky nut to crack, overflowing with hordes of zombies that ruthlessly punish poor decisions – in other words, exactly what you want in a coop game.

Beneath some rough edges and a few quirky design choices, there’s clear love and affection for the genre. It’s an impressively deep game just looking for the right group of players.



This is a game about goblins and zombies and the crazy things they do.

In the default cooperative mode (solo and competitive variants are also included), players control goblin villages facing a zombie outbreak in the local graveyard. But these aren’t Tolkien’s goblins or George A. Romero’s shuffling undead.

This is a zany, cartoon battle with more than a passing resemblance to the sprawling Plants vs Zombies universe. Attacking zombies come in a total of 24 flavors – such as monk, ninja, pirate or thief – while defending goblins wield firecrackers, slingshots and rockets.

So is it a game for kids? That depends. Are you willing to handle the (significant) bookkeeping for them?


For such a small game, Goblins Vs Zombies comes with a lot of rules to consider.

A typical zombie card includes: name, image, health points, unit type (flying, ground or invisible), a couple of opaque keywords for unique actions, and maybe a few icons representing other qualities – as well as a dice symbol that interacts with other units once it’s discarded.

It’s all very simple after the first few rounds, but you’ll need to keep the instruction manual handy for those keywords. For example, the Wizard Zombie –

Grave / Forest: {Ambush + Flee) / {Wait}

Seem like a programming language? With so many different units, this allows for a lot of interesting interactions, but it also makes for a non-intuitive learning curve.

Once you’re at the top of that curve…

Goblins Vs Zombies provides a tense, fast-paced little battle with tough, meaningful decisions all around. Despite a paucity of direct player interaction, the fact every turn really matters will generate plenty of table talk.



Goblins Vs Zombies isn’t (quite) ready to play straight from the box. There’s about a dozen clip art tokens that need to be cut out and seem to have no visual relationship to the rest of the game. This budget vibe touches everything – it isn’t a premium product.

The artwork leans on Plants vs Zombies in a way that seems daring given the game’s mechanical similarities. And the iconography would also benefit from a few weeks with a more experienced graphic designer (something that would smooth out the learning curve, incidentally).

However, in my view, none of this is a problem because (a) the game itself actually is cheap and (b) it’s designed and printed in Indonesia. After three years living outside Jakarta, I can confirm Indonesia does not have a booming tabletop industry, so anything that fosters the country’s community should be applauded.

Terima kasih, Pak Darwid!

What do others think?

Goblins Vs Zombies is rated 6.6 on BoardgGameGeek, and seems to have been received favorably by reviewers.

Despite all those things the game has great charm and with few small tweaks I enjoy it a lot and will definitely keep it.

Georgi Dimitrov


After my first play, I can safely say this is a keeper.

Rudy Van den Broecke


Goblins vs. Zombies is a neat, unique little game that is a fulfilling addition to the underutilized tower defense genre.

Scott Coggins



Goblins Vs Zombies is a difficult, hectic, deeply thematic game. It delivers a lot of fun at the expense of some persistent bookkeeping issues (move the cards, check the cards, don’t-forget-that-thing) but manages to rise above its clear video game lineage to stake out its own space in the tabletop world.

3.5 severed zombie heads out of 5.

Number of Players: 1-3

Playing Time: 15 mins / player

Age: 7+

Country: Indonesia

By: Jack Darwid

Price: 17.99€ at NiceGameShop