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Balance cats on electricity cables in cute dexterity board game Nekojima

Hanging on by a whisker and a prayer.

Components and box for dexterity board game Nekojima
Image credit: Unfriendly Games

It’s rare to find a dexterity board game that marries theme, challenge and approachability in a similar fashion to classics such as Rhino Hero and Kabuto Sumo. Nekojima, which features high-wire balancing cats, looks to be gunning for that list.

Set above the bumping shopping districts of Japan, Nekojima tasks players with stringing denchuu (electricity poles) in a very particular fashion to connect the different vertical layers of the island. Mucking up the players’ careful strategies is a rambunctious population of cats who will also hop on the wires and test the strength of your builds.

Between one and five players will take turns placing poles atop each other, connecting the rope lines so that nothing is left hanging free. If the structure topples, you’re out for the round - steady hands will get you halfway to victory, while the rest comes down to whether hanging kitten meeples will upend the whole, delicate mess.

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A competitive mode variation tasks players with being the last builder standing, while the more meditative co-op mode will mash everyone’s brains together to see if the island can sustain an electrical tower using every pole and wire in the box before the feline menace strikes it down.

The entire board game takes up as much table space as your average cardboard box, as most of the gameplay involves building vertically and not across the kitchen table. You’ll end up with the convoluted forest of wooden poles and different coloured rope slung through like jungle vines. Cat meeples perched mischievously atop the denchuu are sure to make over-eager players sweat, as anyone who’s boldly climbed up the tower in Rhino Hero can attest - that’s just further for them to fall.

Nekojima was designed by David Carmona, Karen Nguyen and published by Unfriendly Games, and the art was provided by illustrator Gilles Warmoes. Pre-orders are currently available through the publisher’s website ahead of a wider retail release in August 2024.

Component for Nekojima dexterity board game
Image credit: Unfriendly Games

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