Review: Wild Wooly
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Year: 1995
Tagline: He’s Wacky! He’s Wild! He Wants OUT!
Players: 2 to 4

Since my copy is missing the box, this photo is courtesy of @mevans444 on Board Game Geek

how we met

A couple of winters ago, our friend Alex wanted Bill to sell some of his childhood items on eBay. He brought over a couple of boxes, mostly dinosaur junk (jk, I love dinosaurs). Amongst the old toys was a ziplock bag containing Wild Wooly! And I stole/kept it. It’s just. so. 90s.

This version was only missing the box and instructions. NOTE: Hasbro keeps instructions online for their games so missing instructions are often just a google away.

how it plays

Wild Wooly is a rare and wild creature that you captured, and now your job is to create the best cage wall that you can! And quickly before he tries to burst out of the cage!

Wild Wooly!

Each player gets one side of the cage to guard. There are cardboard doors for sides where you may not have a player / for fewer than 4 players. Each player gets 7 cage bars in a specific mix of colors. They then place the cage bars in whatever manner they choose on their side of the cage as long as each top and bottom hole only contains one bar. You can’t just stack them in a couple of places.

What the cardboard wall looks like. This is used when you have fewer than four players and when someone goes out.
Here is a look at the slots that you can use to plan your cage wall strategy!

The game also includes a series of cardboard foods. Set these to the side where all players can reach them.

Once all players are ready, poke Wild Willy in the nose. This will anger him and cause him to try and escape the cage! Once he has started moving, the youngest player should start play by spinning the spinner and then play will continue to the left.

One of these things will happen after you spin:

  • Single color: remove a bar of this color from your own side of the cage
  • Rainbow space: remove a bar of your choice from your own side of the cage
  • Feed the beast: throw one of the food items to Wild Wooly to calm him down
  • Wild Wooly: remove any color bar from any of your opponent’s cage sides
A closer look at the spinner and food bits. I know a couple of humans that are calmer after a key lime pie slice, so it makes sense.

Soon, Wild Wooly will break out of one side of the cage!!! The player in charge of that side of the cage is eliminated, as they should be. Place a cardboard cover on that side of the cage, place Wild Wooly back into the cage and continue play. Repeat this process one more time if needed, until you have one player left and they win Wild Wooly!

how it went

Every time I have played Wild Wooly with a new group, two things have happened consistently. The first thing is that everyone gets a strange look as I begin to set up the cage. It’s a kind of, “Oh what does she have now?” look. The second thing is that everyone wants to play again immediately.

The cage bottom has a nugget on it, which makes the cage shake and rattle as Wild Wooly throws his weight around. This is much more fun than if the cage just sat flat on the table.

In my personal opinion, there is no real solid approach to building the cage wall that will get you a better outcome. (Side note: I have almost never won, so grain of salt and all that) The escapes seem to be somewhat random. But it can be a lot of fun to watch someone with a wide open space that Wild Wooly would just glide right on through, and watch him just flirt with getting near it. He’s a wiley one, that Wild Wooly.

Here is a look at our later play, with Wild Wooly searching for an exit.

I appreciate the absurdity of having to feed the beast. I can just imagine playing this as a kiddo and throwing a cardboard hot dog at Wild Wooly, hoping it will calm him down.

The first time we played with my regular group we played a few times in a row. I think both Bill and Keri won. I certainly did not. Most games had me go out, then John, then either Bill or Keri. Maybe there is a strategy to cage building?

Nah, I don’t believe it.

The deconstruction of your cage wall is at the luck of the spin, especially if you only have one bar of that particular color. The rest of the deconstruction is based on whether your terrible friends decide to target you. And finally, the random way in which Wild Wooly moves decides the escape. Such are the trials of caging a wild beast.

Finally, a very quick look at Wooly in action.

play or pass

Play! I’ll admit there is a lot of randomness and luck involved here, so Wild Wooly is not very gamely. But it’s cute and scary and tons of fun.