Cat's Mansion from Spear Games (UK) is a delightful-looking
board game - if you're a cat lover, which I am. The components
are so attractive, no cat companion can resist: five little cat
statues as pieces, all different colors and poses; little silvered
toy mouse, food bowl, pillow, and wrapped present - these are
irresistable. While the board and cards aren't anything special,
neither are they ugly - they're fairly attractive, very serviceable
But the game is far too simple to have a good replay value. I've
rarely seen a game last more than ten minutes, and you really don't
feel like trying it all that often, cute as it is. It looks
like Cat Clue - "Ah! The Black cat did it in the
Conservatory with the toy mouse!" But it's not - it's a simple game
of match your secret cat with its secret object, and it's too easy
So I came up with the following rules which uses the components of
this game, in an attempt to create something I'd want to play now
and then. CAVEAT: I have only tried these once! But they
went fairly well, so I offer them to you.
So if you have Cat's Mansion and feel like being a
guinea pig, give them a try and send
me feedback on them. All criticism, constructive as well as
destructive, welcome - so long as you actually try the rules.
For three to five players.
Extra equipment needed
Poker chips (or a deck of cards: number cards = value 1, face cards
= value 5; or glass tokens, etc.); one small coin per person; 2d6.
Put the cats on their starting pillows; shuffle the cat cards and
have everyone draw one, keeping it face up in front of them: this
is the cat they will play this game. Give each player the three
PURR cards for their cat. Give each player 20 value
in poker chips (or playing cards or what-have-you).
Separate the Miaow cards into two stacks:
- The Toy Mouse and one coin per person on the asterisk by the Bedrooms;
- The Food Bowl on the asterisk near the Dining Room;
- The Pillow on the asterisk near the Drawing Room;
- The Present on the remaining asterisk.
Stack Two: the remaining Miaow cards. (If playing
with three or four players, remove the three remaining Miaow
cards for each cat not in play. Do not change Stack One, however,
unless you want a shorter game.)
- Front Hall and Wine Cellar with Brown Cat
- Billiard Room and Kitchen with Grey Cat
- Reception Room and Pink Bedroom with Black Cat
- Drawing Room and Dining Room with Orange
Marmalade Cat pictured
- Conservatory and Blue Bedroom with Blue
Persian Cat pictured
Shuffle each stack separately. Deal out Stack One across the top
of the board, ten cards in a row next to each other, face up. This
is now called the Race Order Layout. Set Stack Two to the
side, face down - it is now called the Turn Order deck.
Object of the Game
The game is a race through the Mansion. The winner is the first cat to
visit all the rooms in the order shown by the Race Order Layout. (As
they were dealt, first to last.)
Move order is determined by the cards in the Turn Order deck. Each
turn, the top card is turned face up: the cat pictured may take its move.
This stack has three cards for each cat, so each cat will move
three times before the Turn Order cards are reshuffled. Bonus:
if the cat whose turn it is happens to be in the room shown on the
Turn Order card at the beginning of its turn, it moves one space
more than normal.
Movement is determined by Energy Points (EP): the poker chips or
playing cards or what-have-you all players start with. You may
move up to four spaces each turn, paying an EP cost as follows:
Move: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
EP: | 0 | 1 | 3 | 6
You spend EP (if any) and move the number of spaces you are entitled
to. You may engage in a "Cat Spat" and, if you win, decide to
spend more EP to continue moving.
Moving one space (sauntering) is always free. Four spaces
is the maximum number of spaces a cat may move in any given turn,
unless it started the turn in the room drawn for its move from Turn
Order cards, in which case it could move five spaces if it paid 6
Movement is only orthogonally - not diagonally.
All movement off or onto a starting cushion is to or from the space
directly in front of it, closest to the bedrooms - never to or from
the side - unless blocked.
You may move adjacent to a cat which is on a starting cushion, but
a cat that is blocked from leaving a cushion may leap over you to
exit. If that space is also occupied, a cat on a starting
cushion may exit diagonally. A cat coming off its starting cushion
may "Cat Spat" on that movement phase, or may move past another
cat without having to fight.
You may not move onto a space occupied by another cat. You
may move onto a space occupied by an object (Mouse, Bowl,
Pillow, Present), but not if another cat is there first.
Moving adjacent to another cat starts a "Cat Spat" - see
below. This is only orthogonally - you may be diagonally adjacent
to another cat without a problem. (See variants
for a different way to play this.)
When you end your turn in a room in the correct order as shown by
the Race Order Layout cards, place one of your Purr cards
above it. In this way, players can keep track of their progress
through the Mansion, making sure they don't miss any rooms. You
must go through the rooms in order, ending a turn in each room -
if you go into a room too early, or simply pass through it without
stopping, it doesn't count, and you must go back into it in the
correct sequence later. Your other two Purr cards are used
in Cat Spats.
Moving onto a space containing one of the four objects ends your
turn. The objects may not be moved the entire game.
If you opt to spend your entire next turn with the object, you gain
- The Toy Mouse: you play with it, honing your Cat Spat
skills. Take one of the coins in the space, which you can turn in
later for a Cat Spat bonus. No player may have more than
one coin at a time. Once used, put the coin back with the Mouse
- you can get it back by spending another turn there, or by trouncing
another cat in a Spat. While you're at the Mouse, you look so
fierce that no cat may move adjacent to you.
- The Food Bowl: gain five energy. You may not
eat two turns in a row, and must move off the bowl after eating.
While you're at the Food Bowl, you growl so fiercely if anyone even
thinks of approaching, that no cat may move adjacent to you.
- The Pillow: gain three energy - but do not take
the tokens until the beginning of your next turn. You may rest
here as many turns in a row as you wish. Other cats may Cat Spat
with you while you're resting, however - such a Cat Spat might
mean you gain no energy for that turn - see Cat Spats.
- The Present: this is a surprise, of course - you'll have
to open the present to see what's inside. If you decide to stay
for a turn, shuffle the four cards marked OBJECT and
draw one - the object shown is what you've found. If you get the
PRESENT card, you choose which of the other three
you've found - OR you have found a secret passage to your
own starting cushion (move immediately there for free and your turn
ends). The rules for an object in the Present are identical to
those above. The four cards are always shuffled when any cat spends
a turn here, even if the same cat has been here before. If you
don't use the object you found, you may search in the box again on
your next turn - but shuffle the object card you drew back into
the deck, and you may draw it again if you're unlucky ...
Other Ways to Gain Energy
You can rest in either Bedroom or on any of the starting cushions, and
gain three energy per turn. These catnaps can be interrupted by
Cat Spats just as napping on the Pillow can be. In addition, it's
risky to catnap on another cat's cushion - see Cat Spats.
You can never have more than 25 energy stored up, no matter how much
you rest or eat.
If you move adjacent to another cat, a Cat Spat ensues. (Note:
moving diagonally adjacent to another does not cause a Cat Spat,
and movement off a Starting Cushion has special waivers - see above.
Starting Cushions are not considered adjacent to each other, as
you cannot move from one to another.)
The player moving is considered the attacker.
To resolve a Cat Spat, each player rolls 1d6 and adds any Spat
Bonuses. The possible results are:
- Attacker's score is higher than the defender's:
The attacker may move the defender's cat one space in any direction,
even diagonally (but not to an occupied space, of course).
A defeated cat may be moved adjacent to another cat without causing
a Spat. The attacker may occupy the defender's now vacant space
- and may continue moving by spending more energy, if it hasn't
moved the maximum distance yet. It may not attack the defender
again in the same turn, but may attack other cats if it keeps
moving. Simply occupying the defender's space does not require it
to fight another cat, however. If the attacker's score is at
least twice the defender's, the attacker gains a coin from the
- Tie: roll again, continue to count any bonuses from the
- Defender's score is higher than the attacker's: The
defender moves the attacker one space in any direction, even
diagonally (but not to an occupied space, of course). The attacker's
turn is over. The defender may occupy the space the attacker came
from if desired. If the defender's score is at least twice the
attacker's, the defender gains a coin from the Mouse space.
Retreating before Combat
If the defender spends one energy token, it may retreat one space
orthogonally before the combat. It may move adjacent to another
cat - it is cowed, and no threat to anyone.
- +2 if defending your home territory. Your home territory
is defined as your starting cushion and the two rooms
in the Race Order Layout with your cat pictured on them. If either
you or your opponent is in your home territory, you get this bonus.
- +1 if your or your opponent are adjacent to your
home territory (but not in it), as defined in the previous paragraph.
Adjacent is orthogonal, of course, and one of you must be next to
the starting cushion or next to an entrance to a home
territory room to get the bonus.
- +2 if you spend one of your two Purr cards. (The
third Purr card is not available for a bonus, since it keeps
track of your progress.) You may spend at most one Purr card
per Cat Spat. Attacker must decide first, and then the defender,
whether or not to spend a Purr card - once used, they're removed
from the game. You must decide before the dice are rolled.
- +1 if you have a coin from the Toy Mouse space. This is
returned to the Mouse space when you use it. It's mandatory to spend
it if you have it - the edge gained from Toy Mouse practice has to be used
in the next combat or not at all.
- +1 for every three EP you spend. The attacker must first
announce, before rolling the dice, whether or not she's spending any
EP, then the defender.
- +1 if your opponent is resting - that is, didn't move this
turn in order to gain EP.
Other Cat Spat Details
If you're attacked while Resting, you lose any EP you would have
gained that turn if you lose the combat. If you manage to win
while resting, it was such an easy fight you still gain EP for
You may fight more than one Cat Spat per turn, but only one per
opponent per turn. If you move to a space which borders two or
even three other cats, fight them one after the other, in any order
you choose. If you lose a fight, you retreat and don't fight any
further that turn.
If you begin your turn adjacent to another cat, you may move away
without spatting, or you may "cat spat" it.
Cat Spat Example
The Black Cat decides to bully her way by the Grey Cat, who's
resting on the pillow. Blackie has a coin from the Toy Mouse space,
and must spend it (return it to the Mouse space), so she's at +1.
Her opponent didn't move the previous turn, trying to gain EP for
resting, so Blackie's at another +1. The Grey Mouser has no
Blackie decides not to spend three EP, and the Grey Mouser, who's
resting for a good reason, likewise decides not spend any EP. They
are not near their home territories, and neither wishes to spend a
Purr card. So Blackie has +2 and the Grey Mouser +0.
Blackie rolls a 3: with her +2, that gives her a 5. But the Grey
Mouser rolls a 5, so this round is a standoff. Both players roll
again, Blackie is still at +2. This time she rolls a 1 and hisses
at the dice as the Grey Mouser rolls another 5: the Mouser wins 5
The Mouser retreats Blacking to any adjacent space, choosing the
space Blackie came from since it's the least desirable space to be
on, and the Mouser doesn't want to occupy it. The Grey Mouser
retains the pillow, and will indeed win 3 EP for resting - Blackie
was a pushover. However, since his score wasn't double her score,
he does not take a coin from the Toy Mouse space - she wasn't
that much of a pushover.
A five-player game can drag a bit, for a few reasons:
So here are some suggestions to alleviate those problems, in
- too many rooms to visit,
- too many cats trying to use the same corridors at the beginning,
- too much fighting at first.
Deal out the Race Order Layout cards as usual. When all
ten are dealt out, remove the cards with the second appearance of
each cat, so only five rooms are remaining in the race order layout,
each with a different cat on it. In this case, the race isn't over
until all five rooms have been visited in order, and you
return to your starting cushion.
A cat may start at either end of the Race Order Layout.
Those starting from the last room card dealt should use their "Purr"
card markers upside down so all can see easily which cat is going
in which direction. This should relieve the opening congestion
quite a bit.
Smaller "Personal Space"
You can walk by another cat without Spatting. To instigate a Cat
Spat, you must move directly onto another cat's space.
Only fair to tell you that parts of these rules were inspired by
Hare and Tortoise, Deep Space Navigator,
Desperado, and Hordes of the Things.
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