Abducktion is a light strategy game from the makers of Ransom Notes and Charty Party that’s sort of like Tetris–if only Tetris had ducks, duck ponds and a UFO. The game has everything Mandi likes–pattern recognition and following the rules–so she won when we played it at Compulsory Merriment. Sort of.

Each player gets a hand of movement cards, an individual stream board and 10 ducks in various colors: white, yellow, pink and blue. The ducks are chosen at random so you gets what you gets. Everybody places the ducks on their individual boards and, once that’s done, three pattern cards are laid in the center of the table.

The object of the game is to move the ducks of a particular color into a pattern that matches a formation card. You’ll use action cards to move your ducks or to duck up your opponent by moving their ducks.

When your ducks match a pattern on one of the shared formation cards, you earn the card and abduct the ducks into the UFO. Float your remaining ducks down the board, replace them with a random grab from the UFO, collect two action cards, put a new pattern card on the table and off you go to the next turn.

There are a couple tricks involved here. First, you need to have enough ducks of the same color to even think about earning a formation card. More importantly, you need to visualize several maneuvers ahead. Like, “I have 3 yellow ducks. If I play my Wormhole card to swap a pink duck with Chris’s yellow duck then play my Parallel Universe card to swap the top and bottom rows then play my Teleport card to swap the position of 2 ducks, can I move my ducks into the Duckfoot formation?”

Turns out, I’m pretty bad at this.

Abducktion has a solo mode but, if you’re playing with other people, they’ll probably mess up your best laid plans by stealing ducks from your board, by playing cards that require all ducks of a particular color to be removed from the board or by taking the formation you’re working on before you can get to it.

Mandi commanded her ducks like a virtuoso conductor–spinning, stealing, swapping. I had to leave before I played my last turn so we figured Mandi won because that’s just our life at the FLGS. Then Mandi said, “See? If you would have played your last turn you would have won.” I didn’t see it until Mandi took pity on me and pointed out the move, whereas Mandi saw it from across the table, backwards and upside down.

Despite the humiliating defeat at the hands of our usual suspect, we all liked Abducktion and we’d play it again. It’s quick to learn, simple and silly, but weirdly thinky and strategic.

15 minutes playtime, 1-4 Players, Ages 8+