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Game Preview: Tuki, or Stack Quickly to Quash Opponents

W. Eric Martin
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The 2019 Origins Game Fair opens on Thursday, June 13, and while BGG's Origins 2019 Preview lists 270 items for sale or demo (as of this date), few of those items are debuting at Origins itself. Publishers focus their mid- to late year game debuts on Gen Con and SPIEL — which shouldn't be surprising given that they want to have something new to attract buyers to pay for the huge costs of those fairs — but that means those few publishers who do debut at Origins have the spotlight largely to themselves.

For the third year in a row, Canadian publisher Plan B Games is taking advantage of this lack of competition to highlight Century: A New World, the third title in Emerson Matsuuchi's "Century" trilogy (and a game that technically debuted at UK Games Expo in late May 2019), and Grzegorz Rejchtman's Tuki from its Next Move Games imprint.

Tuki follows Azul and Reef in Next Move's line of themed abstracts, with "abstracts" here meaning not a perfect information abstract strategy game as one might normally think, but rather a game that could probably have other settings without changing the gameplay too much. The game settings work in a minimalistic way — in Azul, you're laying tiles; in Reef, you're building a coral reef; and in Tuki, you're building sculptures of a sort — but the gameplay isn't about the setting. You probably don't care one way or another what your actions represent and are instead focused solely on the gameplay, although all of the Next Move games do have components that are pleasing to handle and look at.


Check out those counterweights on the build in the back!


"Tuki" is apparently short for "tukilik", which in the Inuit language of Inuktitut means "thing that has meaning", and the meaningful things you build in this game are "inuksuit", which is the plural of "inukshuk" — and an inukshuk is a stone sculpture of sorts used to convey information in a tundra-like environment that has little around in the way of geographic landmarks. Some of this information is conveyed at the start of the rules, and I've looked up other information on my own, but again the setting is secondary to the gameplay.

In the game, players have three colored sticks (or four in the advanced version of the game) and four white pieces of snow. You can use the snow in whatever manner you need in order to recreate the pattern of colored sticks showing on the target card. Each card has three orientations, and you determine the orientation of the card via a die roll, which is a clever way to bake replayability into the game design. Half of the die faces have a white dot on them, and when that dot shows, then you need to place your sculpture on snow (as in the image above) instead of allowing your colored sticks to touch the table.

In general, the slowest player to finish each round receives the target card, and when someone gets five cards, they're out of the game. In a two-player game, the other player wins, and in a game with three or four players, everyone who isn't out plays one final round, with the player who finishes first winning the game. I fill out this game description and offer comparisons between Tuki and other real-time games in this overview video:


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