Players take on the roles of rabbits and moose. One player, acting as narrator, lays down cards that indicate which animals are most likely to get away. The other players use their hands to make rabbit ears or moose antlers of various shapes in an effort to look like an animal the hunter won't shoot.
When the narrator turns over the hunter card, the other players freeze, and the narrator scores each animal according to the cards. Players advance their rabbit and moose figures along the forest trail, distancing themselves from danger based on how well they scored.
Then a new player takes the role of narrator and starts the next round. The game ends after everyone has been narrator two or three times, and the player whose figures are farthest ahead wins.
- 1 sheet with a poem on each side
- 6 player cards, one in each color
- 12 figures (1 rabbit and 1 moose in each color)
- 15 trail cards
- 111 scoring cards
In the first round, the narrator is the player who looks most like a moose. In case of a tie, choose the player who looks most like a rabbit. If players are still tied, choose the narrator randomly. Or just pick the narrator any way you like.
The narrator sits on one side of the table with the other players on the opposite side. A rectangular table is ideal, preferably a table long enough for most of the players to fit on one side.
Lay the trail cards in a row in the center of the table. Each player (including the narrator) chooses a color. Place the player card with your color in front of you to remind people which color is yours. All the moose and rabbit figures should be placed on the fifth card of the trail with their noses pointing forward (towards the longer part of the trail).
The narrator lays the poem sheet on the table so that the shorter poem (the one with 6 lines) is up. The scoring cards should be shuffled, and the narrator takes this deck in hand.
Each round is played the same way, with the narrator leading the action.
The narrator places his or her player card in front of one of the other players. Whatever happens to that player's animals will also happen to the narrator's.
The narrator begins to read the poem slowly and clearly. On the first word of each line, the narrator draws a card and looks at it (but the other players can't see it yet). When the narrator gets to the boldfaced part of the line, he or she places the card on the table face up, oriented right-side-up to the other players (and upside-down to the narrator).
The narrator does this for each line, so that at the end of the poem there will be six cards in a row on the table.
The narrator immediately begins the poem again, drawing a new card. This card is placed on the table on top of the first card. (Again, it is placed face up, oriented toward the other players). The next card covers the second card, and so on.
The card drawn for the last line covers the last card in the row, and the narrator begins again. Thus, the table will have a row of six piles of cards. In each pile, only the top card will be visible. These top cards will be continually changing as the narrator covers up the old ones with new cards from the deck.
Tip: Creative narrators can play around with their recitation. The poem could be jolly, goofy, or dramatic. You can even sing it. Don't worry about looking silly. The other players will be looking sillier.
The poem should be read steadily, but not too quickly. New cards should appear at a reasonable tempo.
The first time through the poem, a hunter card has no effect. The narrator just lays it down in its place in the row, as though it were a scoring card. However, if the poem has been read at least once that round (so that each of the six piles has at least one card) the hunter card ends the poem.
The narrator looks at each card before putting it on the table. If the narrator sees the hunter card, instead of reading the second (boldfaced) half of the line, the narrator says, "Bam!" and slaps the card down onto the bare table. (The hunter card should be laid in front of the narrator so that it does not cover up any of the six piles).
Instead of finishing the line, he says "Bam!" and slams the hunter card down in front of him, not covering any of the other cards on the table.
Example: The narrator has just read the poem the first time through. Six cards are on the table. Two of them are hunter cards, but that doesn't matter: a hunter in the first six cards has no effect. The narrator begins reading the poem again. On the first line, he covers the first card. On the second line, he draws the next card and sees that it is a hunter.
The Other Players
When the narrator says, "Bam!" the other players must freeze and hold their positions.
Players hold their hands to their heads to indicate moose antlers or rabbit ears. Because they do not know when the hunter is coming, they should have their ears or antlers up all the time (except, perhaps, the first time through the poem). They can change their ears and antlers at any time until the narrator says, "Bam!".
Once this happens, the players cannot alter their ears and antlers and they cannot stick out their tongues. Any tongues that were stuck out when the narrator said, "Bam!" must remain stuck out.
And that is the essence of the game. The cards that the narrator deals out have various point values which indicate the optimal appearance for survival.
Not all moose antlers are alike. Some antlers are wide, and some are compact. Some antlers point up, and some point down. Rabbit ears have their peculiarities, too. Some ears are on top of the head, and some are on the side. Some ears are straight, and some are floppy. And then, of course, there are the tongues... but we'll get to those in a minute. Most cards depict either a certain type of antler or a certain type of ear along with a point value.
Animals with higher point values are better: they are the ones most likely to escape the hunter. Some cards have negative point values, indicating that these are features players should avoid.
After one time through the poem, six cards are on the table. As the narrator keeps reading, these cards are covered up by new ones. Once a card is covered up, it no longer applies. Only the top card on each pile counts. Players try to make the ears or antlers that give them the most points. (See "Scoring" below).
In order to score points, a player must have either rabbit ears or moose antlers, but not both. Anything else is just a funny-shaped bush, which scores no points.
Moose antlers always come in pairs. A moose with only one antler is not a moose. It is a funny-shaped bush. You cannot mix antlers and ears. The two antlers can be the same or different.
An antler can be wide or compact. It can point up or down.
Thus there are 4 different types of antler :
To make an antler, stick out your thumb and press it against your temple. An antler without a thumb is not an antler. Your fingers should point up or down. If you aren't physically able to point your whole hand down, you should at least bend your fingers so that they point down.
Your fingers should either be spread wide or they should be so close together that they touch. Try to avoid holding your fingers parallel but not touching.
Rabbit ears always come in pairs. A rabbit with only one ear is just a funny-shaped bush. You cannot mix ears and antlers. The two ears can be the same or different.
Ears can grow either on top of a rabbit's head or on the side. They can be straight or floppy. Thus there are four types of ears:
An ear is made with two fingers. The other fingers are closed in a fist and the thumb is tucked in beside them. These two characteristics provide a clear distinction between an ear and an antler.
If you have difficulty sticking out only two fingers, you can use all four, but your thumb needs to stay tucked in. Make sure the other players can tell the difference between your rabbit ears and your moose antlers.
An ear on top of the head must be clearly on top. If two ears are on top, they should touch. (It is allowed to have one ear on top and one on the side). To keep things clear, it helps to hold the ear on the back of your head, as shown.
An ear on the side of your head should be held next to your temple. Avoid making ears that are not clearly either on top or on the side.
To indicate a straight ear, point your fingers straight out. To make a floppy ear, your fingers should be curled. In theory, a floppy ear could almost look like a fist, but a proper floppy ear is cuter than a fist, as you can see from the following illustration:
Some animals have identity issues. A moose that sticks out its tongue thinks it's a rabbit, and a rabbit that sticks out its tongue thinks it's a moose. Don't ask why. It is just one of those mysteries of nature.
In addition to making antlers or ears, you can choose to stick out your tongue. This turns you into a rabbit with antlers or a moose with ears. Why this might be a good idea is explained below.
Each card depicts an attribute and a point value. A player who matches the card scores the indicated points (which can be positive, negative, or a multiplier of other points).
Single Ears and Antlers
To match a card depicting one ear or one antler (on either the right or left side of the card) you have to have the same type of ear or antler on the same side of your head.
Cards are dealt facing the players. Read them as though you are looking into a mirror.
So if you see a wide antler pointing up on the right side of the card, you can match it with a wide antler pointing up on the right side of your head. Your left antler does not score points with this card.
Ambiguous Ears And Antlers
Some cards can be matched in two ways. This is indicated by an ambiguous illustration. For example, the shape of the antler or the position of the ear might not be clear.
Example: The player on the left matches all six cards. The player on the right matches none of the cards.
Note that a single ambiguous ear or antler can only be matched by an ear or antler on the correct side of the head. The ear or antler on the other side of the head will score no points for that card.
Double Ears And Antlers
Some cards depict both ears or both antlers. If either of your ears or antlers matches the card, you score the indicated points.
If both ears or antlers match, you score those points twice.
Example: The player does not match the first card (neither antler is compact and pointing up). The player has one antler matching the second card (pointing up) and scores 1 point for this card. Both antlers match the third card (wide antlers), so the player scores 2 points for it.
You match this card if you stick out your tongue. Sticking out your tongue also has another effect. (See below).
To match this card, you need to look like a rabbit. Remember that a moose sticking out its tongue looks like a rabbit, so you can match this card with antlers if you stick out your tongue.
Of course, you can also match the card if you have rabbit ears, but only if you do not stick out your tongue.
To match this card, you need to look like a moose. If you have antlers, you match this card only if your tongue is not sticking out. If you have ears, you match this card only if your tongue is sticking out.
It is important to understand how these cards work because they frequently double your score.
A hunter may be among the six scoring cards if it was turned up the first time through the poem and not covered before the poem was stopped. No players score any points from a hunter card.
This card applies to all players, whether they have ears or antlers. It turns positive scores negative and negative scores positive, as explained below.
Players can change their ears, antlers, and tongues until the narrator reveals the hunter with a "Bam!" At that time, all players must freeze. They will receive points based on the six cards showing on the table. (The hunter card that the narrator slams down does not affect scoring and should not cover any of the six piles in the row).
The narrator calculates the score for each of the other players, starting with the player on the left and moving right. For each of the six cards, check to see if the player matches it. If so, slide that card up out of the row. If the player matches it twice (double ears or antlers), slide it up and rotate it 90 degrees. Add up all the points (positive and negative) on the cards the player matches. If the player matches the card twice, give the player twice the points.
Example: The player matches two cards once (for +2 and -1 points) and one card twice (for +1 point twice). This adds up to 2 - 1 + 2 = 3 points.
Some cards have a x2 multiplier. If a player matches one of these, add up the points on the other cards and then multiply by 2. A player who matches two x2 cards will have his or her score multiplied by 4.
Example: This player matches a +1 card and a -2 card, as well as a x2 card (because a moose with its tongue sticking out matches a rabbit card). The total is -1 x 2 = -2 points.
The score reversal card (±) is a special case. It applies to all players and reverses the calculated score. Positive scores become negative, and negative scores become positive. Two score reversal cards cancel each other out. (If there are three score reversal cards, then the reversal applies, but four cancel each other out again, etc).
Example: The player matches a -1 card (twice) and a +1 (once). The player has antlers, but sticking out his tongue has turned him into a rabbit, so he does not match the moose cards. The total is -1 point. After applying the score reversal card, this counts as +1 point.
Whether positive or negative, your score indicates how far you move one of your figures along the trail. Which figure you move depends on which animal you are portraying. If you have rabbit ears, you move your rabbit figure, and if you have moose antlers, you move your moose figure, but only if your tongue is not sticking out.
If your tongue is sticking out, then moose antlers mean you must move your rabbit figure and rabbit ears mean you must move your moose figure. After calculating your score, the narrator should announce your move: for example, "Moose ahead 3" or "Rabbit back 2". Once your score is announced, you can finally lower your hands (and even pull in your tongue) and move the appropriate figure. (The figures' noses indicate which direction is forward).
One of the narrator's figures is moved, too. At the beginning of the round, the narrator bet on one of the other players. After being scored, this player also moves the narrator's figure (of the same type) the same number of spaces ahead or back.
After scoring a player, the narrator should not wait for the figure to be moved. Instead the narrator should immediately return the cards to their places in the row and start scoring the next player. Scoring should move as rapidly as possible. After a few minutes of wearing antlers or rabbit ears, people start to get uncomfortable.
Players should follow along as the narrator scores and check to be sure it is done correctly, pointing out errors either verbally or by shaking their heads wildly and making inarticulate noises. (It's hard to talk with your tongue sticking out).
Tip: Because all players are getting their points from the same six cards, it is common for two or more players to be portraying the same animal. Scoring will go faster if you handle all of them at the same time. The narrator should watch for look-alikes, and if you see the narrator scoring another player portraying the same animal as you are, you should point this out.
Example: When the narrator said "Bam!" the other player froze in the positions depicted. The narrator immediately begins scoring, from left to right. The first player matches the second card (once) and the third card. The narrator says, "Moose forward 3", and the player moves his moose figure 3 spaces ahead along the trail.
The narrator sees that the fourth player has the same antlers and tells her that she should also move her moose ahead three. The fourth player happens to be the one the narrator bet on, so she also moves the narrator's moose ahead three while the narrator starts scoring the second player.
The second player matches the second card (twice) and the third card, but she also matches the negative-valued sixth card. This adds up to 2 points. Because her tongue is sticking out, she is a rabbit, which matches the x2 rabbit card. The narrator announces, "Rabbit forward 4". (She can't move her moose because her tongue is sticking out). While she is moving her rabbit, the narrator moves on to the remaining player.
This turns out to be a bad round for him. He matches the first card, but he also matches the fourth card twice, for a sum of -1. Because he's a rabbit, he matches the x2 card. The resulting score is -2. The narrator announces, "Rabbit back 2", and the player moves his rabbit figure.
Sometimes players freeze in a position that is neither a rabbit nor a moose. They might have only one ear or one antler, or a monstrous combination of both. It's possible that when the narrator said "Bam!" they had just lowered their hands and were caught with nothing on their heads.
The cards do not apply to these players. The narrator simply indicates that the player looks like a bush, and the player moves both figures back one space (even if one of the six scoring cards is a ± reversal). If the narrator bet on this player, the player should also move the narrator's figures back one space.
No one likes to be last, not even moose or rabbits. After scoring all players, some figures get to catch up. The rabbit farthest behind all other rabbits is moved one space forward. (If multiple figures are tied for last rabbit, all of them move). The same applies to the last moose. If all rabbits (or moose) happen to be on the same space, then they are all last and they all move one space ahead.
Example: In this example, three moose moved forward 3, one rabbit moved forward 4, and one rabbit moved back 2. After scoring, the rabbit that moved back is moved forward one, as are the two moose that did not move.
Figures move along the trail, forward or backward. When a figure runs off the forward edge of the trail, take enough cards off the other end and put them on the forward end so that the figure can advance the required number of spaces. If you have to move cards out from under figures that have fallen far behind, simply advance them to the last space left.
Similarly, if a figure needs to move backward beyond the edge of the trail, take cards from the front. However, do not take cards out from under the figures that are far ahead. If a figure is standing on the foremost card, leave it there, and simply move the backward-moving figure onto the rearmost card. There are 15 spaces in the trail, so no figure can ever be more than 14 spaces behind the leading figure.
As the trail cards are moved from end to end, your trail might need to bend a bit to keep it on the table.
Now you know what happens in each round. To be certain, let's summarize:
The narrator bets on one player. The narrator reads the poem and lays down scoring cards. The other players use their hands to represent various ears or antlers. The narrator keeps reading through the poem until he or she comes to a hunter card. (And the narrator ignores hunter cards the first time through). Then the narrator says, "Bam!" and the players freeze.
The narrator scores each player and declares which figure should be moved and by how much. Players move their own figures (and the one on whom the narrator bet also moves the narrator's figure).
The last rabbit (or rabbits) and the last moose (or moose) moves forward once space.
This ends the round. Each player rotates one seat to the left. The player on the narrator's right will become the narrator for the next round, and the narrator will sit in the seat on the left.
The used cards are stacked off to one side, and the new narrator picks up the remaining deck and begins the next round the same way. At the end of the round, players rotate again, and a new player becomes narrator. If the cards run out, shuffle the used cards together and make a new deck. (If the new narrator thinks they will run out, it's a good idea to shuffle and make a new deck immediately, so that there will be no delays during the round).
The game ends when every player has been the narrator twice (in a 5- or 6- player game) or three times (in a 3- or 4-player game).
The order of finish is determined by the rear figure of each player. So the winner is the player whose rear figure is farthest ahead. Break ties in favor of the player whose first figure is farthest ahead. The first figure only matters when breaking ties.
Example: Orange wins because her rear fi- gure is farthest ahead. Yellow, Blue and Red have their rear figures on the same space, so their order is determined by their first figures. Yellow gets second. Blue and Red tie for third. Green is last: even though his moose is in first place, his rabbit is behind all the other figures.