Gouda! Gouda!

Pros: Hilariously fun; simple; VERY easy to learn
Cons: When you only have 2 players there are some slightly degenerate strategies
Rating: 4 out of 5

First published 1/16/2003

“Gouda! Gouda!” is a board game for 2 to 6 players, age 8 and up. You move a “gang” of 5 mice (all the same color) from one end of the board to the other in a race for cheese. The game uses dice with red, yellow, and green sides, and depending on the colors you roll you can move forward, stay where you are, or move back. (There is a straight line from one end of the board to the other, but there are also some diagonal side-paths that let you cause trouble for the other player.)

The board itself is pretty amusing–it shows a room in which the mice have placed everything from boards to pipes to spatulas across a web of metal drums, boxes, and cans to help them reach the table with the cheese on it! Each die allows you to move one mouse, so your mice quickly become separated. And if another player’s mice are on the same space as yours, you can move his mice, too! Of course, that also means that he can move your mice. At the other end of the board is the cheese marker. Whoever gets a mouse to the cheese first, wins!

Is That It?

Okay, so that sounds rather simplistic, doesn’t it? But don’t worry–that’s just the “quick-start” game, designed to get you familiar with the rules. There are some variations you can use to make things more interesting.

Option 1: Special Powers You get to use special powers! (Whoda thunk it? Super-mice!) Each player draws three special power tiles at random and keeps them hidden. You can play your tiles on your turn or an opponent’s turn. Once you use a power, you discard it. These tiles allow you to get a reroll, take an extra turn, transfer the result of a die roll to a different space than the one you announced, improve the results of the dice (red becomes yellow; yellow becomes green), deteriorate the results of the dice (green becomes yellow; yellow becomes red), or cancel the results of a die roll. We play this variation as a standard rule now.

Option 2: Fiesta Cheese Medley You place three cheese tokens at the top of the board instead of one. Each mouse that gets to the top takes a piece of cheese and then leaves the game. Whoever gets the most cheese wins.

Create Your Own Option: There are even a few simple suggestions for creating your own optional rules!

Minor Confusions

Don’t be worried when you see that the rules are in French. Flip the page and you’ll find them in English. I believe the other two languages are German and Spanish.

The “special powers” option says, “shuffle the special power cards into a deck face down…” If you open up the box, though, you won’t find a deck of cards. What you will find are a bunch of small cardboard tiles with symbols on them, which you can lay out face down on the table. This is what the instructions are referring to.

Slight Lack of Balance

When you only have two players, it’s too easy for the player who gets his mice ahead first to effectively keep the other player from getting past him, if he’s clever. If you find yourself having this problem, we recommend taking one of the suggestions in the create-your-own-option paragraph: hand out a couple of extra tiles to give the players ways to break out of these situations. Then save a few tiles for when you need them! Playing with the “fiesta cheese medley” option also helps to combat this particular problem, although not entirely.

“Gouda! Gouda!” is a silly game that’s easy to learn. It may lack the complexity of “Settlers of Catan” and the elegance of “Carcassonne,” but it’s good simple fun, and I definitely recommend it!

Look for this game at Funagain Games.

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