One Board Family: Gem Hens Review
There are those days when you wake up and think to yourself, I really need to go outside and feed my chickens. Then there are those days when you wake up and you feed your chickens and then they start scratching the dirt and turning over precious jewels. I could have been dreaming that or I may have been playing Gem Hens. Let’s go ahead and go with both, with the former happening after the latter. I enjoyed Gem Hens so much that I dreamt about chickens making me rich.
Gem Hens is a 2 – 4 player dice rolling, programming movement, and set collection game released by Social Sloth Games. If the name, or my first paragraph, didn’t make it blatantly obvious, in this game you will be moving chickens around a grid-patterned board to pick up gems.
What I failed to mention until now is that you will be collecting those gems and placing them onto another board to build a Faberge egg that will score you victory points at the end of the game. You still with me? Eggcellent! You see what I did there? It’s supposed to be spelled excel…you know what, never mind.
Chuckin’ Dice, Collecting Gems
To start a round, all players will be rolling a personal die pool as many times as you would like until a timer runs out. I believe it’s about 20 – 30 seconds. During that time you may accept the pip value on one or more of your die and place it in the spot on your board that holds each particular value die. Once you place the dice, they are locked. The timer is included to stop players from being able to constantly re-roll for as long as they’d like to get exactly what they’d like. This is important because player initiative is determined by re-rolling any value 6 dice you have locked on your board.
Once all players re-roll any 6s, the starting player will be determined by the total value of those dice and then players can place the rolled dice in their proper sections on their board. The game then becomes a turn based dice placement, programming movement game.
In Gem Hens, you will use dice to move your chickens around a 6 by 6 grid, to throw grains and shove chickens. Any value 1- 3 die can be used as movement in the game. Grains, which are gems, will be randomly drawn from a bag and placed onto the board by placing any 4 or 5 value die you own onto the edge of the board. Then all grid squares with matching die at points on the X-Y access that meet will get gems drawn and put on the board.
These gems have different values for set collection and you are going to be housing them in a giant personal Faberge egg board. The way you collect and place these gems is very important so beware. You may also use dice to push other chickens out of the way so that you can get to important gems. You may never jump chickens when they are in your way. You must spend a movement die and a second die as well to move the chicken enough spaces to get what you want. Trust me, other chickens will get in your way.
The board is tight with 4 players, designed to force player interaction. It’s not always a bad thing though. A shoved chicken will pick up any gems he lands on after being shoved. It’s a nice perk of being a chicken and getting bullied by other chickens. The game will be played over 3 rounds, and after those rounds, players will add up the values of their collected gems based off of a very handy reference chart included on each player board.
Gem Hens theme is very silly. It has elicited many chicken jokes in my plays at the table. However, it is very strategic and can get cutthroat as valuable gems litter the board and everyone makes plans on how to get to them first. Use your dice carefully to position your chicken optimally and you will become rich beyond your wildest dreams! Now, I’m off to go train some chickens to hunt for diamonds. I’m going to change the world!
You can purchase a copy of Gem Hens from your local game store or purchase it on Amazon.
Lots of dice to chuck
Fun and unique theme
Sometimes the chickens have a tough time standing
Real time mechanic of the sand timer may turn off some players