Review – 13 Beavers

If you can't guess it, dam it!

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Designer Matt Edmondson

Artist N/A

Publisher Format Games

Category Push-Your-Luck, Racing

Length 15-30min

Release Date 2024

Player Count 2-6

13 Beavers is a silly, push-your-luck game where players control racing beavers. Avoid lava, wolves, and stinky fish while catching strong tides and speed-boost fish (and maybe even risking the Tempting Tunnel) to be the 14th beaver in Beaver Paradise!

Review

To begin, set up the board and have everyone choose a beaver. After flipping over the top card of the deck, the current player will guess if the next number will be higher or lower than the current number. If you guess correctly, your beaver moves one space ahead of the dam. You can then choose to guess again, or concede the turn by saying, “Dam” (kids love this part). When you decide to dam, you simply move your dam to where your beaver is. If you decide to guess again, repeat the first process. However, if you ever guess wrong, you have to send your beaver all the way back to your dam. 

There are multiple fun activities beavers can encounter on their search for Beaver Paradise: the Tempting Tunnel, which allows you to skip over 75% of the map if you correctly guess the exact number of the next card; lava, which essentially force you to guess again because you can’t build a dam on lava; an optional fishing pond, in which you will catch a double-move fish, a time-travel fish (which lets you put a wrongly-guessed card back on top of the pile), or a stinky fish (which forces you backwards 2 spaces); optional rapids that will either move you forward or backwards 3 spaces, depending on if you correctly guessed the next card; and finally, the lair of a wolf who will force you to lose your turn until he falls asleep.  

There are, you guessed it, 13 numbers, so the guessing process is usually pretty straightforward: if the top card is a 10, you guess lower; if it’s a 2, you guess higher, and if it’s a 7, you have a 50/50 chance either way. Despite this simplicity, when playing with an energetic group, there’s still an incredible thrill of correctly guessing the card and stringing together a multi-move turn. The choices are few, but they are meaningful. The tension runs high for most of the game as well because until someone has reached Beaver Paradise, anyone could string together a massive turn and win.

The artwork is hilarious and vibrant on both the cards and the gameboard. The components are well done too: how many non-fishing games include a magnetic fishing pole just for the gimmick factor? The beavers are colorful and fit into their dams nicely, and all the cardboard punch-outs are nice and thick. Kids will really enjoy this game, and there’s some educational probability opportunities here as well.    

13 Beavers’ biggest strength is also its biggest weakness: simplicity. You feel like you have a lot of control when you guess correctly, and long runs can be exhilarating. My wife once moved eight spaces in one turn to overtake first and second for the win. It was incredible! However, there are also times when you’re stuck in one spot because the cards just don’t fall in your favor. For example, if you draw the same card that you’re guessing high or low on, you remain in place, which is a huge letdown given the general high excitement in the game. Moreover, it’s generally the same mechanic over and over, so it can lose its novelty quickly.

The component quality, vibrant and hilarious artwork, and the sheer excitement and energy potential of 13 Beavers make it better than it has any right to be. In some sense, I would put this in the same category as Fireball Island: it’s not a great game mechanically, but if you wait long enough in between plays, it’s an absolute blast. 

Format Games (Asmodee North America) kindly provided a review copy. 

The Bottom Line

Easily my favorite 6.5/10 game: vibrant artwork, tension, and simple push-your-luck, never-over-til-it's-over!

 

6.5

spencer
Author: Spencer Patterson

I'm a resident director, writer, and board game reviewer. My wife is my favorite gaming partner, and our daughters are my favorite reading partners. X: @unstuffedwhale