[Note to Editor: I can't figure out how to include two main links here, but I couldn't resist reviewing both games at the same time. URL for Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus on BoardGameGeek: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/7120 -- and URL for Circus Flohcati is given above.]
Reiner Knizia is by far the most prolific board game designer alive, with over 400 published titles so far (let's see any video game designer match that). Most of his games are abstract strategy game with an appropriate, unique theme layered on. Apparently, he has published so many games that he's now starting to repeat his themes; today we present two very different games based on the flea circus, by the same designer.
Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus is a fast, light card game for two to six players. The game starts with 60 points' worth of animals in the center of the board (cats are one point, dogs are two, and you can make "change" if you need). The animals are pure eye/hand candy, yet there is something charming about lining up a bunch of stray animals in front of you. On your turn, you play one of several flea-circus acts from your hand. Each card has a number printed on it, representing the number of animals you attract from the center; however, if another player played an act of the same kind as their most recent card, you take the animals from that player instead of the center. In this way, players often must make choices between grabbing animals from their opponents (which means a larger point swing) or taking from the center (which causes the game to end). There are a few other cards for variety as well, but overall it's a pretty tight mechanic for a draw-one-play-one card game.
Circus Flohcati (which is "Flea Circus" in German) is also a fast, light card game, but the similarities end there. The Circus Flohcati deck consists mainly of ten suits (each representing a circus act), each containing eight ranks (0 to 8). You do not have a hand of cards to play from, as with most card games; rather, you build your hand by taking a face-up card from the center of the table on your turn. If you don't like any of the cards, you can flip up a new one... but if the new card matches the suit of any already face-up card, it is instead discarded and you lose your turn. Circus Flohcati is therefore a press-your-luck game, where players must decide whether to bite the bullet and take a low-value card (and at least get something), or take a chance and try for something better. Normally, each card is worth face value in points at the end of the round, but you only count the highest card in each suit; therefore, if you already have the 7 of, say, clowns and the 6 of clowns is on the board, that card isn't very useful to you. But then again, leaving it there is going to help someone else, and if you search for something more useful you might lose your turn... and it is these agonizing decisions that form the core gameplay.
In short, two flea-circus themed card games for all ages. Take your pick.