Into The Woodland: Our Top 5 Anthropomorphic Animal Board Games!

June 28, 2022 by fcostin

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It seems life really does imitate art. Whilst I am not spending time foraging for the perfect pinecone, or eagerly waiting for foxes to prance towards their woodland dens; I am settled down in my board game cosy-spot becoming one with the Anthropomorphic creatures expanding into new territories.

Top Five Anthropomorphic Board Games - Featured Image

Lots of board games come and go on my tabletop but the returned theme of fantastical anthropomorphic creatures bounces back on the regular. It wasn't until I was showcasing my full scope of board games within the whimsical category with a friend, they asked me which one was my favourite and why. It is always a question I have difficulty answering.

Narrowing it down to my top five board games that will throw players into the woodland, playing and communicating amongst creatures, big, small and fluffy. Root, Everdell, Mice & Mystics, Familiar Tales and Creature Comforts have been selected. With three titles that have stood the test of time and two promising titles that are new this year, all uniquely different - it's hard for me to keep my head out of the wilderness!

Root

If you like your anthropomorphic characters a little on the savage side, Root from Leder Games has both adventure and war covered. It is always a game of politics which uncovers the dirty tactics of each player scattered across the table. Across an hour-long game, players fight for their right over the Woodland, each with an independent purpose to rule over the Kingdom of cats, birds, foxes, mice and many more - to ultimately take root.

Root A Game Of Woodland Might And Right - Leder Games

Root: A Game Of Woodland Might And Right // Leder Games

Purchase Root @ Wayland Games

The fate of the woodland is in the players' hands - all with their own motives to take root alongside their mighty faction and their own path to conquer.

Gameplay Preview - Root

Gameplay Preview // Root

The Marquise de Cat are causing a bit of drama in the lands, hoping to exploit the woodland for all its wonderful goods. The forest has said no and began to rebel bringing the Alliance forward to stop this fluffery. The birds, Eyrie, step in from the woods to conquer their ancient purpose under new leadership, whilst the Vagabond explores the world on their own hidden journey.

As the game is asymmetric, each player has their own winning conditions to meet depending on what faction they choose: The Marquise de Cat faction will collect wood to build structures and recruit troops, and the fragile Eyrie Dynasties are adamant about claiming the woods as territory and building roosts. The Woodland Alliance hides in the shadows to recruit, patiently building sympathy for their crusade. The Vagabond is then stacked with items to explore the wide wilderness. The Vagabond will be able to make friends and trade but will be out on their lonesome completing a series of quests. Ultimately the winner is dictated by the player who reaches thirty points first or completes their own task for Dominance after ten points.

Woodland Alliance Player Board And Prep - Root

Woodland Alliance Player Board And Prep // Root

Each turn will be different as each faction is unique in playstyle. However, as each player has a desired output of play, they are likely to get into a scuffle with opposing teams, battling for dominance across the woodland. By the roll of the dice, the opposing sides will battle it out deducting casualties by the number on said dice. There is also the implementation of cards which can be used to spend as part of a requirement or use to craft to earn victory points.

Card Preview - Root

Card Preview // Root

If you have completed Root and want to expand the world further - there are plenty of opportunities to explore as part of a growing world. With new factions and a chance to tamper with the player count, Root's only getting bigger. Cooperative play and two new factions came as part of the Riverfolk Faction and solo play and varying difficulty arrived in the Clockwork Expansion. You can even begin heading underground with two new factions in the Underworld Expansion. Plus, an upcoming expansion this September adds two further fiery factions with The Marauder.

The game is truly brutal, and it does require a good few run-throughs alongside your opponents to work out exactly what their game plan is without any surprises! Root will always cause arguments across my table, especially when I play my own game of Vagabond! If you enjoy a game of area control and fierce strategy, this mighty title may be for you!

Everdell

Everdell from Starling Games is an absolute delight to bring out at games night, and I am yet to find a player that does not lap up the charming artwork and sophisticated gameplay. Running across roughly a ninety-minute game, players will be at work creating a harmonious town full of character and charm all amongst the eaves of Everdell Forest.

Everdell - Starling Games

Everdell // Starling Games

Past the trees and in the heart of the woodland lies the Evertree, the heart and soul of the bustling town of Anthropomorphic critters. From turtles to squirrels - each creature is keen on seeing the growth of their wonderful community that's located around the roots of said tree.

Gameplay Preview - Everdell

Gameplay Preview // Everdell

Although the wonderful atmosphere is idyllic, there are many ideas as to how the communities can grow during the seasons. Adding a competitive slant during gameplay, each player works to rake in points to build the perfect town. The winner has the most points by the end of Autumn!

There are many different places players achieve points, whether that be by completing events, or simply by having the likes of a School or Doctor in place - anywhere where there's a golden circle scattered amongst the cards - you can rake 'em in.

Player Hand Preview - Everdell

Player Hand Preview // Everdell

Combining card-drafting and engine-building during a turn, players will be either placing their workers out for business or playing a card from the centre (meadow) or from their hand. When they send out their workers, they could be collecting some resources. These can be wood, rocks, amber and berries. You can also play a card, spending those sweet resources that you've just piled in.

The cards work wonderfully with one another, providing a chance for players to create combos that will benefit players later in-game. This comes in the form of saving resources or even adding perks. There are a lot of cards in the deck too, providing a fresh outlook to gameplay each time that deck is shuffled! I find that the more I play, the more comfortable I am with the cards and combos. My current gaming group's playthroughs are a lot more seamless than they were on the few run-throughs.

Animeeples - Everdell

Animeeples // Everdell

I would be bananas to not mention how gorgeous everything is within the box when it comes to the components and artwork. From the Amber & Twig resources to the Animeeples and the Evertree that sits at the head of the board.

Worker Meeples - Everdell

Worker Meeples // Everdell

There are plenty of places to go after you feel you have everything you need from Everdell. You can travel to visit a new group of underwater characters in the Pearlbrook expansion, head past the Everdell Valley into uncharted lands in the Spirecrest expansion, and get stuck into celebrations of the town's 99th year in prosperity within the Bellfaire Expansion.  There's also a future carved out for the world of Everdell with the addition of a train station and a new villain in the upcoming expansions New Leaf and Mistwood!

Do not let the adorable critters trick you into a lack of challenge. The game requires strategy and a clear bit of concentration to ensure you are set up and raking in the points across each season.

Mice And Mystics

Adventurers have been shrunken down to the size of a thimble with Mice And Mystics! Every so often when tensions get a little high, it's good to give my game group a chance to cooperate, it's smiles all around in this mighty mouse story-driven adventure. Players will be gearing up in their adorable and dainty-sized suits of armour to save the Kingdom in peril, sneaking by soldiers unseen, adventuring and battling against horrors both creepy and crawly - on a small scale!

Mice and Mystics - Plaid Hat Games

Mice And Mystics // Plaid Hat Games

Purchase Mice And Mystics @ Wayland Games

Loyal to their King, our heroes have caught wind of a conspiracy: evil wrongdoings are afoot thanks to the sinister Vanestra. With that, they have transformed into mice to escape her evil clutches. They will be set out on an action-filled dungeon-crawling quest to find Vanestra's weakness and take her down alongside the evil minions who get in the way of your pointy sword! You'll be rolling the dice to Scurry, Recover, Search or Attack - which highly depends on luck.

Painted Mouse Heroes - Mice And Mystics

Painted Mouse Heroes // Mice And Mystics

Bringing to mind tales of swords and sorcery, players will be scaled down to the size of a field mouse. Heading through eleven chapters of the story, they'll undergo missions under a tight time constraint. Exploring a now gigantic twenty-storey castle with teeny tiny feet and heading into different rooms to battle the likes of cockroaches, rats, spiders and even the castle housecat, Brodie.

Players will wander across the double-sided tiles to explore new environments and areas guided by the scenario. Trawling through beast and bug, each player will be hoping to power up their mousey character to see them further grow and change throughout the campaign. They do start off the game with special abilities and items to grow as the storybook unfolds though which is handy.

Gameplay Preview - Mice And Mystics

Gameplay Preview // Mice And Mystics

The addition to this, we also have The Cheese System which is wonderful, encouraging players to collect cheese tokens throughout their journey. They ensure players can level up their character to unlock special abilities and use them in battle. But, the opponents can also use cheese too! They are able to bring them out to enhance their onslaught of enemies and speed up the time.

The game comes with a ton of different miniatures to represent your characters and their foes on the tabletop, each showing off all of the mouse heroes and creepy crawly enemies approaching.

Enemy Miniatures Painted - Mice And Mystics

Enemy Miniatures Painted // Mice And Mystics

The story itself is what drew me to Mice And Mystics and that thirst for royal adventure. We played each chapter as part of an overarching campaign across a few weeks, and really enjoyed the growth of the title each time. Although I have not played the expansions myself, there are two that were released. Mice And Mystics: Downwood Tales adds new allies to explore alongside and a new storybook is available with Mice And Mystics: Heart of Glorm, allowing players to continue on with their adventure.

The game requires players to continuously work together to accumulate strategies and push through minions to make sure mice are in a worthy position. This is a game that can be quite time-intensive if you play through the whole story in bulk - but, we have found there is a lot to love about unravelling the story one piece of cheese at a time, over and over again.

Familiar Tales

Although new to the scene this year, I couldn't keep myself away from an adventure that places a frog with an attitude problem as one of the main defining heroes. If you have played Mice And Mystics, you may want to enter the world of Familiar Tales, too.

Familiar Tales - Plaid Hat Games

Familiar Tales // Plaid Hat Games

Not overarchingly anthropomorphic it does however feature some incredible whimsical animal critters - the new Familiar tales, also by Plaid Hat Games, in an adventure where players must save, and place themselves as a personal shield, to a Princess in peril.

Inside The Box - Familiar Tales

Inside The Box // Familiar Tales

Embarking on a fantasy-fuelled adventure, four of the Wizard's familiars have been tasked to keep the Princess away from harm and help mould her into a noble royal to rule over the kingdom of Principalia. Hoping to face as little misfortune as possible, you take on the role of Blaze the fearsome fox, Chalk the endearing Stone Golem, Flicker the innocent Fairy and Gibbert the whimsical Frog - once human - who crossed the wrong witch!

Enemies are on the hunt to murder the young Princess across three different eras but her familiars will be getting in the midst of the conflict to stop evil Lord Perish and his merry band of minions who are keen on taking the child. They want to see her perish so they can put a new ruler on the throne.

Story Book - Familiar Tales

Story Book // Familiar Tales

Across a spiral-bound storybook, players will take to the pages across maps and locations. You are then encouraged o Move, Fight, Forage, Craft, and Care during a turn. Utilising cards, players will need to undergo a skill test that will determine the success of each outcome (which will be referenced on the card itself) - all of these have long-standing effects later down the road. This is especially the case when it comes to caring for the child throughout her three stages of growth.

Everything you need to reference to do with said location will be available to read on a given page including instructions for setup, play, enemies and victory. So, there's no need to hunt down the conditions in a separate rulebook.

Gribbert Components - Familiar Tales

Gribbert Components // Familiar Tales

The game does work closely with a management app and although I am not too keen on screen time when I am wandering the whimsical lands of adventure and opportunity - the app is incredibly helpful. It is there to tell you where to head to in the location book, offer references to symbols, provide choices that determine the next stages of the narrative and general support on a player's turn.

Enemies Artwork - Familiar Tales

Enemies Artwork // Familiar Tales

My gaming group and I have only played through the first half of the scenarios due to this being a fresh release and taking about half an hour to forty minutes to polish off one location. However, the modern aspects of the mechanics and the narrative story combined with the location book truly create unique gameplay. I am incredibly excited to finish off the game with my four-player group.

I would love the chance to explore the game with a varied player count or maybe even solo as all guardians stay in play regardless of player count. I can imagine this will certainly vary the difficulty.

A new one on the horizon, and something to look for if you are keen on cooperating in some adventure and whimsy!

Creature Comforts

Creature Comforts from Kids Table BG was another title that made my eyes sparkle last year and it is fresh to the board game scene. I have been a frequent visitor to Maple Valley recently as residents there begin to make their preparations for hibernating through the bitter winter.

Creature Comforts - KTBG

Creature Comforts // KTBG

Purchase Creature Comforts @ Wayland Games

Home to many a skunk, bunny and raccoon, Spring has sprung, and I have been showcasing a bustling town on my table recently. I haven't been doing this with my usual band of reprobates but with the kids' table. Quite often I will encourage board game night at mine and will sit down with my friends' children so they can take part in something a little lighter, as they usually want to join in on the slaughter over on our table!

Family Meeple - Creature Comfort

Family Meeple // Creature Comforts

I have been encouraging my opponents to create a wonderful home over the course of eight months in preparation for the frost, improving their warm and cosy home with the addition of 'comforts' to their den. This is a light-hearted game of cosy critters in the hunt for hibernation. Creature Comforts is just lovely!

There are loads of different comforts to choose from like a new rocking chair, some candles or a fairy garden. These will change throughout the game to provide each player with options to purchase the perfect comforts.

Board Preview - Creature Comfort

Board Preview // Creature Comforts

Before getting anything in the den, each player needs to head out to scout some resources from across the seven distinct locations on the map, sending workers out and rolling the dice to meet the requirements on the card. There is also the chance to trade these in for some true comforts, to pad out the home and stop it from being a bummer in the winter.

Players will also get a cheeky visit from some friendly travellers who offer unique goods, plus a chance to construct some items and upgrades at the workshop. Seasons will pass, and players will get together their best for Winter, whether that be food or simple quality of life changes in the den.

Resources - Creature Comforts

Resources // Creature Comforts

The roll of the dice certainly adds that extra bit of tension as you see whether players will be rewarded what they seek or return empty-handed. With harder tasks taking more difficult rolls, players will be sending off their workers to liberate wood, stone, fruit, mushrooms, yarn, wheat, coins and books by hoping to roll the required combination - which can be incredibly tricky! But, this encourages players to try no matter the outcome, aware of what resources are available depending on what time of the year it is!

Comfort Cards - Creature Comforts

Comfort Cards // Creature Comforts

If you have been looking for a lighter version of something like Everdell, or a light worker-placement game that will encourage the whole family to get involved in a rush for the upcoming winter, be sure to check out Creature Comforts. The simplicity of the game combined with contracts and dice rolling makes an overarchingly pleasurable and delightful experience, taking roughly an hour to playthrough.

Narrowing Down To A Top Five Was Difficult!

All of these titles have been an absolute pleasure to play, and I return to them time after time. Even with the newer titles, I am extremely excited for an opportunity to get them out of the box.

Libertalia Box And Components

Libertalia Box And Components // Stonemaier Games

I am yet to try out Libertalia which has had some incredible reviews and there are a good few board games like Air, Land, And Sea: Critters At War and Raccoon Tycoon that almost made the list. For every fluffy bunny and fearsome badger - there is a title thrust forth into whimsy and justice on the tabletop. Oh, and those that are all about creating the perfect woodland home!

Have you played any of these epic titles? What are some of your favourite anthropomorphic board games?

"Narrowing Down To A Top Five Was Difficult!"

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"For every fluffy bunny and fearsome badger - there is a title thrust forth into whimsy and justice on the tabletop."

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