Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tiki Topple - all ages fun

Tiki Topple comes to us courtesy of Massachusetts based Gamewright. I found myself very happy with the game, both as a great choice for younger players and as a light but engaging choice for older children and adults.

Tiki Topple includes a board, nine wooden tiki heads, some counters and a deck of cards. The game is played in rounds. In each round the nine tiki heads are arranged one on top of the other along the game board. Each tiki head is a different color. They form a sort of nine piece statue laying on it's back. During the game the heads will be moved up or down the line. For example the red colored head might be moved down to the bottom. Or the blue head may be moved up two spaces. In this way the statue remains intact but the component heads move up and down.

The object of the game is simple. Each player has a certain head which they want at the top of the statue. The specific color is kept secret from the other players. For example you may be trying to move the blue tiki head to the top. The player next to you may be trying to move the orange head to the top. Players take turns playing cards from their hands which move the heads up or down. One card may allow you to move any tiki head up one space. Another card may let you remove the bottom tiki head from the statue. There are a limited number of cards and the round ends when the cards have all been played.

At the end of the round players score if their specific tiki head is at the top of the statue. You can score lesser points for second and third place positions with two other colors. This serves two purposes. One is to spread around the points a bit and keep one player from dominating. The second is to prevent the phenomena of one "winner" and three "losers" which can be a real source of trouble when playing with younger children.

The game ends when one player has scored thirty five points. I'm estimating that most games may need five rounds to play. This would make Tiki Topple a relative quick playing game, but one that would require some attention span on the part of its players.

I like games with some hint of strategy to them. Tiki Topple offers that potential. Younger players understand the basics of moving your piece up and moving other people's pieces down the statue. Older players, on the other hand, may find themselves studying the other player's moves. Which head are they trying to score with? Which move is a bluff? Should you concentrate on scoring highly yourself or disrupt your opponent's plans?

Tiki Topple was a very nice discovery. It's simple, light, and has the potential for some strategy and thought. The components are good quality and the tiki heads are just sort of appealing in their own right. Thanks to Gamewright for the review copy, you can find your own copy all across town, I might start at Henry Bear's Park in Arlington.

Pros: simple, nice components, good range of ages

Cons: none are apparent

Beyond the Basics: fairly good replay value, some potential for strategy

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