Yee-Haw! Circle the Wagons!February 17, 2020 0 By Ryan Sanders
Ryan looks at Circle the Wagons. A 2-player map-building game that fits in your back pocket.
Editor’s note: A version of this article was originally published on our brother site, The Inquisitive Meeple back in 2017. This article has been edited (including the cutting out of an interview with the designers) and reworked/updated a bit to better fit the style of Adventures in Gameschooling.
Once upon a time, I worked for Button Shy. While I worked there I was introduced to a soon-to-be-published game called Circle the Wagons, and I feel in love with it. Why? Well, let’s dive into that –
Circle the Wagons is a 2-player game, designed by the trio of Danny Devine (Garden Dice), Paul Kluka, and Steven Aramini (Animal Kingdoms), with art from Beth Sobel (Herbaceous, World’s Fair 1893 and Lanterns) and is being published by Button Shy. Circle the Wagons was the winner of the 2016 Button Shy Wallet Design Contest, beating out over 70 other games.
The true key that makes the gameplay shine is the 3 scoring goal cards that are placed out at the start of each game. The goal cards add another dimension to the gameplay that steps it up from being a good game to an excellent one. It’s clear that a labor of love went into making these cards, as it’s not just the same scoring goal with symbols switched and a different name for each card. We see a bit of experimentation from the designers in the types of scoring goals. Additionally, the goals that are given don’t feel like they were just pasted on. Instead, we see goals that range from bootlegging, to mining gold, to building up your army forts, to cattle ranchers wanting water for their cattle. That is goals that feel like they naturally belong in a Westward Expansion era themed game.
In the end, Circle the Wagons has a weightiness to it that one may not expect from a micro-game that is made-up of only 18 cards. Now readers shouldn’t expect a medium weight Euro, I mean we are talking about a 15 minute (max) card game. There’s no going around it, Circle the Wagons is what would be labeled a ‘filler,” but at the same time it isn’t a “turn your brain off” filler, but one that you will need to keep your wits about you when playing. For me, Circle the Wagons has become the standard to compare other games to when it comes to card-only microgames.
Small in size, but big in gameplay. Don’t let the 18 card format fool you, Circle the Wagons may fit in your back pocket, but there is a lot of gameplay packed in as well.
If you like to pick up your own copy of Circle the Wagons, you can order it from Button Shy,
About The Author
Ryan Sanders is the founder, owner, and editor-at-large of Adventures in Gameschooling. He’s also the guy behind its social media accounts. God has blessed Ryan and his wife Mary, with five children, which he homeschools. As a Christian, he believes that he should not only look out for your own interests but other peoples too (Philippians 2:4) and this is one of his guiding principles for Adventures in Gameschooling. Ryan’s expertise is informed by almost two decades of experience as a stay-at-home father and from the running The Inquisitive Meeple where he performed over 300 written and podcast interviews within the board game industry.