Have you ever wondered what goes through your cat’s mind when it casually swats your hard earned possessions onto the floor? boop. One priceless family heirloom doomed to the floor. boop. Your fresh glass of water falls directly onto your computer case. boop. Your other cat looks up in fury at its sudden introduction to the ground.
boop. from Smirk & Dagger, designed by Scott Brady, lets you be a cat… if you reduce catness to the act of slapping everything around you. While the simple act of saying “boop” and pushing the cute custom meeples around the board is undeniably fun, boop. is more than that. It is actually a pretty clever abstract game that goes toe to toe with the best of them. What seems simple and easy at first glance will have you scratching your head and pondering your next moves.
Winning a game of boop. is simple. All you have to do is place three cats in a row. The not so simple part is that every time you or an opponent places a cat, it attempts to boop everything within reach away from it. Also, you start out with a pile of mischievous kittens and not any proper cats.
As we all know, cats are bigger than kittens, so while a cat can boop a kitten, a kitten does not have the strength to boop a cat. This is critical to the omnidirectional booping stratagem that you must employ to align your cats in an un-boopable line of victory.
In case you still don’t understand what is going on here, let me break it down in a way a simple human can understand. You start the game of boop. with eight kittens. Players will take turns placing their kittens onto the board (which is actually the back of the box and a bed, but we will get to that later). When a kitten is placed, it will knock, or to use the technical term, “boop”, every other kitten around it, orthogonally or diagonally, one space away, regardless of which team the cat belongs to. If the piece that is booped falls off the board, then it is returned to the supply. If it knocks into an already occupied space, it doesn’t move. If you manage to get three kittens in a row, you remove them from the board and they are replaced in your supply with full grown cats. Cats function the exact same way as kittens with one exception, a cat cannot be booped by a kitten. Once you manage to get three cats in a row, you win the game.
The components in boop. are a delight to play with. The “board” that you play the game on is actually just the bottom of the box flipped over but with an actual quilt that you lay on top, turning it into a comfortable bed for the cats and kittens to frolic around on. The aforementioned cats and kittens are custom screen printed wooden meeples in standard issue tabby and gray cat colors.
Getting three cats in a row may sound like a complicated way of playing tic-tac-toe but this is a legit abstract puzzler. Just one game in and you will start to get a feel for ways you can set up plays to foil the enemy cat’s best boops. With every piece played having the potential to drastically alter the board state, you need to stay on your paws and be able to adjust to the flow of the game. Proper planning can give you a huge advantage, and just like chess, being aware of the ways all the pieces on the board could potentially interact is crucial to success.
I have to hand it to the folks at Smirk and Dagger for coming up with a theme that turns a thinky abstract game into something so adorable and approachable. The rules are simple, the game is quick, and anyone with a heart is going to want to check it out when they see it. While there are other two-player abstract games with more crunch, like GamingTrend favorite Shobu from the same publisher, boop. does not disappoint.
A life long video gamer, Mark caught the Tabletop itch in college and has been hooked ever since. Epic two player strategy games are his favorites but he enjoys pretty much everything on the tabletop, just no Werewolf please. When he gets a break from changing diapers and reading bedtime stories he can usually be found researching new games or day dreaming about maybe one day having time for a ttrpg. Some of Mark's favorite games are Star Wars: Rebellion, A Feast for Odin, and Nemesis.
Just one game into boop. and you will begin to see its full potential. The mark of a great abstract game is simple rules with emergent strategies that the players get to discover as they master the game. boop. is abstract puzzley goodness at its best, and an adorable theme to boot.