Table Top TableTopTakes

Table Top Takes: Boop from Smirk and Laughter

Cats love to sleep. Cats love to sleep and play on quilts. But cats often want to do it by themselves. And that’s what the simulation game, Boop from Smirk and Laughter is attempting to demonstrate in it’s game play. The difficulty of getting cats adjacent to each other. Not really, it’s an abstract game about getting cats in a row for two players. Is Boop a fun gaming experience?

How To Play Boop

Boop is a pretty simple game. You put down a kitten and boop any adjacent kittens one away from you. The goal is to get three cats in a row. But as you put things down they are always booping further away from the other kittens. So you are trying to setup a situation where you either can boop a kitten into place or have kitten in a position that it can’t move.

Once you complete getting three kittens in a row you turn them into cats. And now your goal is to get three cats in a row. And you can turn kittens into cats in multiple times. Kittens can boop other kittens around but they can’t boop cats around. But cats can boop kittens and cats around. So the goal at the end is get three cats in a row, or for one player to have all eight of their cats on the board.

What Doesn’t Work

Honestly, no major complaints here. I think that like most abstract games it will have one inherent issue with playing it. This isn’t something that needs to be correct, just should be known. The more you play, the more you will know the patterns. So if you play a lot, you will get better faster than the people you play with, unless it’s one person. It is a game of skill and planning, so the more you can do that and experience that, the better you will get.

Now, I do want to quickly touch on that this isn’t an issue. When I look at Boop, I place it in the category with other abstract games like Quarto or Chess. Complexity might be very different. But Boop is a game of learned strategy which is what games like Quarto, Chess, the Gyph series, and more abstract games are known for. So Boop is going to become snappier and quicker for you the more you play. But you might pass the people you play against in skill level.

Boop Pieces
Image Source: Smirk and Laughter

What Works

First off, let’s talk about how cute this game is. The cats are cute, the kittens are cute, the quilt you play on is cute. Boop doesn’t do what a lot of abstract games do and create something that is purely functional. Boop is functional, but it is cute and fancy as well.

The next thing is that Boop is simple. It’s not the simplest abstract that I’ve played, but it’s not near the most complex. Actions are very simple and lead to simple decision making, though there is a lot of strategy. This is a solid balance because I want, in an abstract, a game that won’t bog itself down with too many decisions. Turns won’t have too much analysis paralysis because the options are just limited enough.

Finally, Boop does offer good strategy. You need to think about how you’re trying to setup your pieces to make it so your opponent will set you up, or your opponent can’t cover everything to let you complete a row of cats or kittens. It’s smart that way and offers you chances to be clever in what you are doing. Again a hallmark of a good abstract game.

Who Is It For?

I think it’s for fans of abstract games. But I don’t think that is who they mainly cared about. This is for gamers who might have someone who doesn’t like abstract games that well in their life. Boop offers a theme, which is pasted on, that is cute and that will draw people to the game. Because it’s not just the theme it’s the components matching that theme. So this is for people who like abstract games and maybe play with someone who doesn’t as well.

Final Thoughts on Boop

I think it’s important to talk about where I come from with abstract games. I am not the biggest fan of abstract games. Boop was added to my collection because of the theme, not because of the style of game. I took a chance on it for that, because I do want to find a streamlined abstract game that I like.

For me, Boop is a fine game. I had fun with it, but I don’t think it is a long term game for my collection. Why, because when I pick a two player game, I want to play Dice Throne, a little bit longer but more epic feeling. Or if I want a fast two player game, Hanamikoji which is a shorter game with as much theme. But there is more randomness in both, which means that me playing a lot does make me better, but won’t create as much of a gap.

That is very much a me thing. In terms of theme and game play, I liked it. I love cats, own three of them, so it makes sense that I’d like a cat themed game. But the game play is just good for me, and that comes down to my taste. I think you’ll see how that is reflected interestingly in my grade.

My Grade: C+
Gamer Grade: B+
Casual Grade: B+

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