Cobra Paw is the new tile snatching dexterity game by Bananagrams which pits 2 to 6 opponents against each other in a mad, tile grabbing frenzy. Each turn, two dice are rolled and these dice determine which tile the players are trying to capture. The person that captures it becomes the next dice roller and things continue in this fashion until one player has collected a certain number of tiles.
Components and Setup
Cobra Paw comes packaged inside of an attractive orange box bedecked with a ninja cat on the front cover. Open the box and you’ll find 21 double-ended tiles along with two large, black dice. That’s it. The dice and tiles are covered with 6 unique symbols. All of these components are large and polished and have a nice heft to them.
The setup for the game is simple. Simply turn the box upside down and dump everything onto the table (making sure the tiles are face up and none are stacked atop another), select a start player, and you’re ready to go!
The Tiles and Gameplay
Cobra Paw is a very simple game to play. Each tile has two symbols on it corresponding to the symbols printed on the two dice. When the dice are rolled, two symbols will be shown and the players will attempt to be the first to place their fingertip onto the tile that matches the symbols. The person that manages to do this first collects the tile and places it on the table in front of them. Note, it is possible to steal tiles from other people, so it’s up to each player to defend what they’ve already collected!
The game lasts until one player has collected some agreed upon number of tiles. The game suggests 6 tiles for a 3 to 6 player game and 8 tiles for a 2 player game. Obviously, this could be adjusted if you wanted the game to last a little longer or run a little shorter.
When my wife and I were walking around Gen Con, we must have passed the Bananagrams booth a hundred times. My eyes were searching for the heavy euros – the deep, brain burning games that take several hours to play. It didn’t even cross my mind to stop and demo some silly party game. Silly party games, I believed, were beneath me. I wanted a game with some real meat to it… something I could really sink my teeth into. Lucky for me, though, I’m married to an amazing woman who’s taught me the beauty inherent in simplicity. Cobra Paw had caught her eye from day one and she eventually convinced me to stop and demo it with her. That was a fortuitous turn of events.
She absolutely loved it and, much to my surprise, I loved it, too. The game plays lightning fast and it’s just a lot of fun. It feels really good when you’re the first to touch the right tile and it’s exhilarating watching your collection grow and shrink as everyone races to come out on top. The way that the game is designed, when there are a lot of tiles in the pool at the beginning of the game, it’s a pretty even spread and everyone’s got a similar amount of tiles. As that large pool grows smaller, though, things start to get really frenetic and silly as people are trying to steal tiles from each other.
Cobra Paw is a super simple, silly fun game. As such, there’s not a lot of depth to it and that’s perfectly okay. Not every game needs to be a heavy brain burner. What irritates me is when a game pretends to be something heavy and turns out to be pure fluff. Cobra Paw is exactly what it advertises itself to be. There’s no pretense here.
I really enjoy playing this game and cannot think of a single negative thing to say about it. I seem to have a preternatural skill at the game, too. Out of the 9 games of it that I have played so far, I have won every last one. Maybe you can take the crown from me. Care to try? If so, bring it on. I’m game.